What About Hell? - Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We have been engaged in a series of discussions on the general theme Simple Questions Often Asked , and we have begun a discussion related to questions which are often asked about Hell. Is there a Hell? Why is there a Hell? How is Hell reconcilable with the idea of the love of God? We said that several studies on this subject would be needed in order that we might examine all that the Scripture has to say about it, that we might find the answers to these various questions.

Review of Old Testament Terms

We first reviewed the words in the Scripture from which our English word Hell is translated. In that review, we discovered that in the Old Testament there is one word which is translated by our English word Hell , the word Sheol . It is a comprehensive word which means very literally “the place of the dead.” For that reason, sometimes you will find the word translated in your Bible by the word grave . We called that to your attention and asked you to be very careful that you do not fall into the error into which many people have fallen of thinking that people who are dead are soul sleeping . That is the belief that a person's body and his soul rest in the grave until the day of resurrection. We say that that is error, and the error grows out of the translation of this word Sheol by our English word grave . If you keep in mind that the word Sheol is indeed a comprehensive word which simply describes the place of the dead, then you can understand why it is translated grave . Certainly, this does not indicate when we compare Scripture with Scripture that there is any such thing as soul sleeping .

We also discovered in relation to this word Sheol that it is a word which describes the place of the dead without any reference to whether they are righteous or unrighteous, whether they are saved or lost. Since that is true, it should be pointed out again that before the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Sheol was a place of two compartments. The righteous went to one compartment, called Paradise, and the unrighteous went to the lower regions, called Sheol. When we begin to discuss the subject of Heaven, as we will do before we are through with this series of discussions, we will give you the Scriptural basis for the statement which we have just made and the Scriptural basis for believing that Paradise is no longer in Sheol, but is at the very throne of God in the third Heaven. We make this statement so that if you are not able to be with us throughout this series, you will realize that there is a distinction with a difference in relation to this word Sheol .

Review of New Testament Terms

We also learned that in the New Testament, there are three Greek words which are translated by our English word Hell . The most common of these is the word Hades , and it is the New Testament counterpart of the Old Testament Sheol . It is simply the Greek word for the Hebrew word Sheol . It, too, is a comprehensive word which describes the place of the dead, and it has the same connotation as the word Sheol . The second Greek word is Gehenna , which describes the fire aspect of Hell, reminding us that Hell is literally burning with fire. The third Greek word is Tartarus , which simply means “a prison.” It suggests to us that Hell is indeed a place of imprisonment for those who have been disobedient to the revealed will of God.

Reasons Hell Exists

Having reviewed the words in the Bible which are translated Hell , we want to look at the reasons for Hell. We are often asked, “Why is there a Hell? What kind of God is it who would create a Hell and send people to eternal torment? What is the reason for Hell?” Fix in your minds that there is a primary reason and a secondary reason for Hell. The primary reason is described for us in the gospel according to Matthew, chapter 25, verse 41. The setting of the verse is what we might refer to as the Judgment of the Nations , where the righteous nations are permitted to go into the millennial kingdom which will be established by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the wicked are sentenced to the place described in verse 41:

Matthew 25:

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Notice the last statement in that verse, “prepared for the devil and his angels.” The primary reason for Hell, then, is that God prepared it for the Devil and his angels. Fix that firmly in your minds: God prepared Hell for the Devil and his angels. Of course, there are a number of questions that associate themselves with this thought, and we would like to mention one or two. For example, no sooner have we made the statement that Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels than we are asked that question, “When? When did God prepare Hell for the Devil and his angels?” I must say in answer to that question that there is no passage of Scripture which declares distinctly and definitely the exact hour of the preparation of Hell for the Devil and his angels, but in the light of the uniformity of God's actions, we can infer from the Scripture when it was prepared.

Before the Foundation of the Earth

Turn to the book of Revelation, chapter 13, verse 8, where we read about the Antichrist who is to make war during the Tribulation with all the saints of God who dwell upon the earth. The statement is made that everyone who dwells upon the earth during the Tribulation will worship the Antichrist except the people who are described in verse 8:

Revelation 13:

8And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Literally, it is, “from before the foundation of the world.” You are aware that this passage of Scripture is doubly interpreted. Some folk feel that the names of the saved were written in the Lamb's Book of Life from before the foundation of the world, and there is Scripture that would seem to bear that out. Others say that the reference is to the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was slain from before the foundation of the world. If you will turn with me to I Peter, chapter 1, verse 20, you will see that certainly that latter fact cannot be disputed, that the Lord Jesus Christ was slain from before the foundation of the world:

I Peter 1:

18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Notice carefully now:

I Peter 1:

20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

You will keep in mind that God and all His heavenly creatures were active before the foundation of this globe we call the earth, and God made plans before the foundation of the world for everything that has occurred upon the earth. He made plans for the salvation of man before man was ever created. It seems to me it would follow, if we have to have a time for the foundation or the preparation of Hell, that it was prepared before the foundation of the world because an omniscient God knew that there would be a need for it by and by.

When Will Hell be Occupied?

If Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels, another question which is often asked and which we must face is, “When is Hell going to be occupied?” For surely the Devil is not there at this moment. At least some folk are willing to agree to that because something is troubling them, and it could hardly be the Devil if he is incarcerated in Hell. So if Hell is a place prepared for the Devil and his angels, when is the time of occupancy?

I would like for you to turn with me to the book of Isaiah, chapter 14, and notice the record concerning the sentence pronounced upon the Devil as to his imprisonment in Hell. We read in Ezekiel that the Devil as we know him now was at one time the chiefest of all the angels in Heaven; he was “the anointed cherub that covered” (Ezekiel 28:14). You might refer to him as the Prime Minister of all God's kingdom, but he was not content to have that position. We are told here in Isaiah that he aspired to the very throne of God Himself, and he said in so many words, “I am going to move God off His throne and I am going to be God.” Of course that was sin, and sin cannot be tolerated in Heaven. Something had to be done about it, so in verse 15, we find God's sentence upon the Devil for this sin:

Isaiah 14:

15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

When Satan aspired to be like God, God said, “You will go to Hell, the place that is prepared for you.” But as we have already suggested, some folk know by experience that the Devil is not in Hell. However, we need something more than experience because experience—if you have not found it so, you will find it—is so unreliable. I would like to suggest to you that if any experience which you or anyone else may have contradicts the plain teaching of the Word of God, then the experience is deceiving because the Word of God is irrevocable.

Job 1:

6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.

The inference of the verse is that Satan was an intruder, but he could come and go as he wished. This was a meeting of the angels, and Satan decided to attend it.

Job 1:

7And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

This is as far as we will read; this verifies our point that the Devil is not in Hell. He is walking up and down throughout the earth. If we had the time, we might turn to chapter 2 of Paul's letter to the Ephesians and notice verse 2. We would realize that Satan in this day is “the prince of the power of the air.” He is not a prisoner in Hell. He is a prince; he is a prince who is in charge of the kingdom of darkness. He is a prince who is leading the warfare against all the people who call themselves by the name of Jesus Christ.

Satan's Final Imprisonment

Even though the sentence has not been executed, we would not leave you wondering about it. We would emphasize to you as we ask you to turn to the book of Revelation, chapter 20, that the sentence most certainly will be executed and the Devil will wind up in Hell. We read here an account of what will occur at the end of the age:

Revelation 20:

10And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

You will recall that when we had our first discussion in this study, we found that “the lake of fire” and “the second death” are synonymous with this place called Hell . The Devil will be cast into the lake of fire after the Lord Jesus Christ has completed His millennial reign upon this earth and has proven to man once and for all that man cannot be saved by anything that he does, but must depend solely and completely upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Present Occupants of Hell

We are still thinking about the occupancy of Hell, and though we have pointed out to you that the Devil does not occupy Hell, we would like to remind you that it is not unoccupied. There are occupants of Hell. Turn with me, please, to the second epistle of Peter, and you will find presented some of the creatures who are already in Hell. When the Devil was cast out of Heaven, he took with him one-third of all the angels who were in Heaven; his attraction was that great. One-third of all the myriad of angels in Heaven were willing to follow him. Some of those angels are loose in the world today as Satan's messengers, doing as he wills them to do, but others of them have already been imprisoned in Hell for reasons into which we do not have time to go. That fact is presented in II Peter, chapter 2, verse 4:

II Peter 2:

4For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

The apostle goes on to say, “Why do you think that God would now ignore disobedience to His Word?” Here is a plain statement that angels are now the occupants of Hell. For further emphasis, turn to the epistle of Jude and notice verse 6, where we find a statement which amplifies this:

Jude:

6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Intruders in Hell

So we say to you that the primary reason for Hell is that Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels, and it is now occupied by some of those angels. There may be a question in your mind, “Are the angels the only ones there? If Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels, are they the only ones who are there?” The answer is no. There are other individuals there, individuals who have obeyed not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Individuals who have refused to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, individuals who refused to walk in the light that God gave in Old Testament days are in Hell today, but their presence does not refute the idea that Hell was not prepared for them. It was prepared for the Devil and his angels, and though these individuals are there, they are intruders.

As a matter of fact, God, adapting Himself to language which we use in order that our finite minds might catch a hint of the infinite, indicates to us that though Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels, men who refuse to receive the Lord Jesus Christ insist on going there, and Hell has had to enlarge itself. There is an enlargement of Hell spoken of in the Scriptures (Isaiah 5:4), which is God's way of indicating to us once again that Hell was not prepared for mankind; it was prepared for the Devil and his angels, and mankind is an intruder there. This is important to remember because it is not God's will that any should perish, but that all should come to eternal life (II Peter 3:9). Men who perish, perish because they want to perish. You cannot blame God for sending anyone to Hell.

Turn, please, to Isaiah, chapter 5, as I reemphasize that men who are in Hell today are in Hell as intruders. Hell was not prepared for them. It was prepared for the Devil and his angels. When it became necessary for men to go there, God had to arrange, at least figuratively speaking, an enlargement of Hell. Look at the paragraph which begins with verse 13:

Isaiah 5:

13Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
14 Notice Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

We will stop our reading there for a moment, suggesting that when you have time, you read what is recorded in chapter 14 of Isaiah. You will discover that Hell is such a place of intruders that men are described as standing up and looking at new arrivals as if to say, “What are you doing here? Surely, of all the people on the earth, you should have had more sense than to be here,” but there they are.

God Cannot Look Upon Sin Lightly

That leads me to suggest that though the primary reason for Hell is that it was prepared for the Devil and his angels, the secondary reason for Hell is found in several passages of Scripture which describe the attributes of God. Turn, please, to the book of Habakkuk as I remind you that the secondary reason for Hell lies in the fact that God cannot look upon sin with any favor of any kind, and that God cannot look upon sin for any length of time. This is very plainly declared in chapter 1, verses 12 and 13:

Habakkuk 1:

12Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.
13Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

It appeared to Habakkuk that God was doing something contrary to His nature—looking upon sin and upon evil. The rest of the passage is quick to point out that such was not the case. You are aware of the fact that when all the sin of the world was poured upon the Lord Jesus Christ, He Himself cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). The Scriptural reason God forsook the Lord Jesus Christ upon the Cross was that He could not look upon sin. If this is true, then sinners must be incarcerated because the holy eyes of a righteous God cannot look upon them with any approval.

Unsuitable for Heaven

Turn, please, to the book of Revelation, chapter 21, as I remind you of another passage of Scripture which gives the secondary reason for Hell. It is the unsuitability of the individuals who are residents in Hell to be residents in Heaven. Heaven is described here in all its purity and in all its glory:

Revelation 21:

27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

No one can enter Heaven who would defile it in any way whatsoever. Any individual who is not washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is still dirty in God's sight, and most certainly would defile Heaven. So the secondary reason for Hell is not only the fact that God is righteous and cannot look upon sin, but it includes the unsuitability of individuals without Christ to live in Heaven.

God's Word Cannot Change

One last thought I would leave with you, and I am going to refer to it as the immutability of God's Word. The secondary reason Hell is in existence is related to the immutability of God's Word. The word immutability simply means that the Word of God cannot be transcended; it cannot be denied; it cannot be revoked; it is irreversible. There are many passages of Scripture where you would find illustrations of the immutability of the Word of God. We ask you to turn to a very simple one, one that will fix itself in your memory. In the book of Romans, in the very last verse of chapter 6, you will find a simple statement:

Romans 6:

23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Notice the simple words of that verse. This is God's Word: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Let me emphasize to you that the word death does not refer exclusively to the cessation of life. We have developed a habit of thinking that because an individual's spirit leaves his body and the evidences of life are no more, he is dead; we speak of death as life having ceased. But I would remind you that the Scriptural definition of death is separation. When an individual dies, his spirit is separated from his body, and we call it death . When we speak of spiritual death, when we speak of the second death, we are speaking of eternal separation. When the Spirit of God said that the wages of sin is death, He did not mean only that men would die physically; He meant that men would be eternally separated from God. God gave His Word, and He does not change it. No one can dissuade Him. If men are to be separated eternally from God, there must be a place of separation. That place of separation is Hell.

Conclusion

So I say to you that the primary reason for Hell is that Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels. The secondary reason for Hell is related to the kind of God we love and worship. Let no man accuse God of being inconsistent in his love because of the preparation of a place called Hell . Let no man accuse God of being inconsistent in His mercy by sending men to Hell. God prepared Hell for the Devil and his angels; He never intended that men should go there. If they go, they go as intruders, and God is not to be blamed.

May I suggest to you that if you do not receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, you will wind up in Hell. There is no alternative. But if you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, you can be assured that not Hell but Heaven will be your home.


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