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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From A Voice In The Wilderness
WHY IS THERE A HELL, AND FOR WHOM WAS IT PREPARED?
Hell was created long before the creation of man. When the angels under Lucifer were given a time to choose whether to continue in their then-present estate or to choose to leave it for another way, Lucifer chose to ascend into heaven, dethrone God, and take over. He drew a large company of angels (not a third as we have been often taught) into his plan. "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most high" (Isaiah 14:13, 14).
That plan was aborted, and we read: "For 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 Judgement" (2 Peter 2:4). The angels who rebelled with Lucifer fell along with him. He became the devil, and it seems that a part of his fallen angels were cast into hell to await the final judgment of the wicked while the rest of them became his demon spirits and are working for him to damn souls and disrupt the program of God.
Sin and rebellion, unless forgiven by God, must be punished; so hell was created for the eternal punishment of Satan and his angels. "Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). Mankind is divided into categories- the saved and the lost. The saved are known as sons and daughters of God, while the wicked have the devil as their father. Jesus told a crowd of sinners one day, "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:44).
Children become heirs of their parents’ possessions. Christians become heirs of God. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17). As that is the case with the Christian, the same rule applies to the children of the devil; they become heirs of all the devil possesses-the hell that was prepared for their father, the devil.
WHERE IS HELL LOCATED?
Paradise (the home of the redeemed dead before the cross) and hell are located somewhere in the heart of the earth. The Scriptures speak of Lazarus dying and being carried to Abraham's bosom. That was before the cross, remember; and Abraham, the chief patriarch of old, was evidently in charge of Paradise. The rich man also died, and "in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom" (Luke 16:22, 23).
How do we know this was all down below somewhere? When Jesus died on the cross, he took the repentant thief with him to Paradise. "What is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things" (Ephesians 4:9, 10). In verse 8 it says, "He led captivity captive" when he ascended.
After descending to Paradise, he took the souls that were there back with him to Heaven; so Paradise is now empty, and souls after the cross go directly to Heaven. However, hell is still where it always was; but that will not always be the case, as we will see later. There are several Scriptures that speak of being "cast down" to hell, so there is no doubt that it is in the heart of the earth somewhere.
HELL, THE JAIL HOUSE OF ETERNITY
On earth, when a prisoner goes before the bar, if his case requires a trial, he will remain in the jail until all evidence has been gathered. The evidence will either free him eventually or send him from the temporary arrangement, the jail, to the penitentiary, where his sentence will have to be lived out.
Hell is presently like the jail. Those who go there must await the judgment day when all evidence against them will be summated. They must wait until the "books are opened" and they go from the jail (hell) to the penitentiary of eternity, the lake of fire and brimstone.
That old sun that has streaked its way across the heavens right on schedule (except for one short interruption) ever since that fourth day when God created it in the beginning, will rise one morning for its last time, streak itself across the heavens for its last time, dip itself in the blood of an expiring world, and sink to rise no more.
Then God will call the wicked of earth and from hell to the Great White Throne Judgment. The Judge of all judges will take His seat on the bench; and the evidence books will be searched, for another book will be opened containing the names of those who were born again and will reign with Christ forever.
Those who refused to be saved, of course, will not be listed in that "another book" and here is what the Bible has to say: "And death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works" (Revelation 20:13).
Yes, on that great and terrible day, with a mighty roar, no doubt, the doors of hell will swing open; and all in that jail will come forth for trial and receive their sentence of eternal damnation in the penitentiary of forever, the lake of fire and brimstone.
WHY THE TRANSFER?
There will be a transfer from hell to the lake of fire because nobody, saint or sinner, can receive their just rewards until the angel flying across the heavens declares "time shall be no more" (Revelation 10:6).
The Bible speaks of those described as the blessed dead "which die in the Lord [Christians] from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 15:13). Of others the Bible says, "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment: and some men, they follow after" (1 Timothy 5:24).
Those Scriptures indicate that the after results of what men set in motion while alive, the influences they start in action whether good or bad, live after they are dead: and only at the judgment can all that be tabulated and added to what they did or did not do while alive. For the Christian, they must appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ one day to be judged according to their works (see Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10), but the sinner at the Great White Throne Judgment. Note that saint and sinner will be judged "according to their works."
WILL THERE BE DEGREES OF REWARD OR PUNISHMENT?
Will rewards or punishment be degreed? Yes, as noted, all--saint and sinner--are judged "according to their works." It stands to reason and would be only fair that the ordinary sinner who finally failed to repent would not be punished to the extent the Hitler's and others of his kind will be. Or, on the other hand, that the mediocre Christian will not get the rich rewards of the martyrs and others of spiritual renown.
"And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did not commit things worthy of stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:47,48).
IS HELL ETERNAL?
Before me is page 74 of the Nov. 15,1993, issue of Time magazine. In an interview with Time's Richard N. Ostling, Billy Graham was asked if he still believed there is eternal fire in hell. Here are Graham's words: "The only thing I could say for sure is that hell means separation from God. We are separated from His light, His fellowship. That is going to be hell. When it comes to a literal fire, I don't preach it because I'm not sure about it. When the Scriptures use fire concerning hell, that is possibly an illustration of how terrible it's going to be--not fire, but something worse, a thirst for God cannot be quenched." Graham's picture is there on the page and the wording under it reads, "At home, with the book he staked a life on: A heaven of powerful spirits, a hell that may be fire-free."
What has happened to Billy Graham has happened to other big names in the religious world as they evidently have become liberalized and do not want to ruffle the feathers of their congregations. However, they are dead wrong in their assumptions.
Out of 542 times the word "fire" is used in the Bible, it is used in a figurative sense only a few times; and such references are always clear in their meaning. But in plain, literal, descriptive passages on hell, there is no doubt that the meaning is literal. For instance: "Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Jude 7 speaks of "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." In Matthew 18:8 and 25:41 we have also the words "eternal fire." Go to Revelation 14:10, 11: "And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever." There are others proclaiming the same thing, "fire and brimstone," "eternal fire."
In the final analysis of things, the Antichrist (symbol beast) and the False Prophet (leader of the One World Church) will be cast into the lake of fire; and finally the devil himself will be cast in. Listen: "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Revelation 19:20).
One thousand years later, the devil himself gets the same sentence. Listen: "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). Does that sound like mere "separation from God"? The devil, the Antichrist, the False Prophet getting off so lightly as to be merely separated from God for eternity?
Unbelief in a literal hell damns many souls daily, but faith in a Bible hell saves thousands. Faith in a fiery, eternal literal hell itself does not save us, but it does cause men to turn to God and to true, saving faith in Christ that will save the soul.
My sinner friend, you don't have to go to hell. He who came to save sinners and give eternal life has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. No matter how low you have gone, look unto that man who hung on that middle cross; and just as He spoke full pardon to that thief who hung beside him that day, He waits to do the same for you. Confess your sins to Him, call upon His name, put your life in His hands. Through the ages His call has rang out as it still does today: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).