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Welcome To Hell

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An Orientation Before Your Tour

Welcome. Yes, we know that you have seen the cartoons of hell, a cavern with flames leaping from behind rocks, filled with people guarded by a devil (complete with horns, a tail, and a pitchfork). Sorry, you have been misled. Before we get started on your tour, we would like to clear up a few misconceptions you may have. That will make your tour more . . . informative.

Actually, we are in hades. Hell is not accepting people . . . yet. (When told to “go to hell,” you should have replied “thanks, but I can’t go there yet.”)

Satan (the devil) is not in charge of hell. On the day he is cast into hell, he will be just like everyone else there.

Hell is not an “anti-heaven” set up for the pleasure of those who reject God’s rules. It is a place of constant punishment where every inhabitant will suffer.

Have you ever heard the phrase “I would rather reign in hell than serve in heaven?” Nobody in hell will reign over anything or anyone.

Yes, it is gloomy here, in spite of the agonizing heat and flames. You know, a clean burning fire does not put out much light.

Have you noticed the “decor” of this page? It has no music or decoration. Although you may think it is not all that bad, remember that you have only been here a minute. Things will change as the years roll by without any variation. You will have no friends, no food, no furniture, nothing to do, and no place to go. You are starting to get a picture of hades. Hell is worse—and it is coming soon to a location near you :-)

The Reason for Hell

Oh, you don’t know the reason for the existence of hell? Well, you can learn that from the Bible . . . and yes, we do believe in the Bible. After all, it has been proven correct throughout history hasn’t it? If you wanted to find out more, you should have checked out the Clarifying Christianity page entitled “How Do You Know The Bible Is True?” when you were still on Earth. Oh well, if you have not read it, let me fill you in. A few passages will tell you what you need to know. Here is the first one.

    Passage 1: Matthew, chapter 25
    41 “Then He[1] will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:”

    [1] That is, Jesus

Notice that these people are being made to go into an everlasting fire actually prepared for others—the devil and “his angels.” We understand from other Bible text that all the people who go to hell actually chose to go there and share the devil’s punishment. (We will talk a little more about that later.)

Some people are surprised to learn that some of the angels will be going to hell. It makes more sense if you know that the devil was originally an angel known as Lucifer. In fact, he believed himself to be the strongest of the angels. Because of his pride, he rebelled against God and a third of the angels joined him in that rebellion. After the rebellion, Lucifer had a name change and is now known as Satan. This is true for the devil’s angels also, who are now called demons.

Speaking of angels going to hell, check out this passage.

    Passage 2: 2 Peter, chapter 2
    4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [2] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
    5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;
    6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;

    [2] The original Greek word translated “hell” here is tartarow (tartaroo)—the only time this word is used in the Bible. This word is spelled “Tartarus” in English, and stands for the deepest abyss of hell.

So, you now know that angels do sin, and that some of them are being held right now in Tartaroo (awaiting judgment for their actions). I hope you also noticed that Sodom and Gomorrah (which were destroyed by fire) are an example of the punishment of the ungodly. Now check out the next passage.

    Passage 3: 1 Peter, chapter 3
    18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
    19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,
    20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

Notice in verse 19 how “He”(Jesus Christ) preached to the “spirits in prison?” Those spirits are the sinning angels (in Tartaroo) that we just learned about. This text also adds one more piece to the puzzle—these angels sinned during the days of Noah. You may have noticed that it said the same thing in passage 2 (2 Peter 2:5), but it was not as obvious there.

Since we know that Satan is free now, along with many of his demons, we know that the “spirits in prison” did not end up in Tartaroo because of the rebellion Satan led in heaven. They are being held in Tartaroo because of a different rebellion that took place in the days of Noah. That is, they were imprisoned earlier than the rest of the demons for taking part in a second rebellion. (If you read the Clarifying Christianity FAQ page before you came to hades, you would have seen a brief explanation of this rebellion called "The Genesis 6:6 Issue.") Let’s look at another passage.

    Passage 4: Jude
    6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
    7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Now we find out that these angels originally had positions of responsibility (a domain). Then they left their own abode (heaven) and gave themselves over to sexual immorality like the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. We also learn that they will be judged and receive punishment (vengeance) by fire in a manner similar to that received by Sodom and Gomorrah. We will get to the “great Day” mentioned in verse 6 a little later.

It should all be pretty clear by now that the devil and his angels have had punishment coming for a long time—and some, but not all of them, have already been imprisoned in the portion of hell called Tartaroo, waiting for that punishment. Satan will also be imprisoned before he ends up in hell, as we read in another passage.

    Passage 5: Revelation 20
    1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit [3] and a great chain in his hand.
    2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
    3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit,[3] and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

    [3] The original Greek word here is abussoV (abussos), which some Bibles call the Abyss.

But you and I are not in Tartaroo or hell, we are in hades—the only place people can be for now. How does hades fit in? I am glad you asked.

So, How Does Hades Fit Into the Picture?

We learn a lot about hades from Jesus, who tells us about the fates of two men.

    Passage 6: Luke, chapter 16
    19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
    20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,
    21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
    22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
    23 And being in torments in Hades,[4] he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
    24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’
    25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
    26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
    27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,
    28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’
    29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
    30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
    31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

    [4] Several popular Bible versions translate this as “hell.” The original Greek word is adhV (hades)—which does not need translation. If the original author (or Jesus) intended this to be “hell,” he would have used the Greek word geenna (geenna) instead. In the time of Jesus, Geenna (spelled Gehenna in English) was a garbage dump to the southwest of Jerusalem. Archaeologists believe that the bodies of criminals were also thrown there to be burned. Jesus used the filthy, stinking geenna—with its continually burning fires—as an “Earthly image” of hell.

First, please understand that the rich man did not go to hades because he was rich, and Lazarus did not end up at Abraham’s side because he was poor. They ended up where they did because of their behavior. If you read this story and think that God wants you poor, you should read the Clarifying Christianity page “Does God Want Us To Be Poor?” . . . if you ever get out of here :-)

That said, there are many things to learn about hades in this story. For example:

  • The man in hades is in constant torment.
  • The man in hades can talk, hear, see, feel, and remember.
  • The man in hades is continuing to exist. That is, he is not being consumed by the flames.
  • The man in hades has only two desires:
    • He wants to stop hurting.
    • He wants to keep others from joining him.
  • There is a great gulf (canyon) that can not be crossed separating hades and paradise.
Notice the truth in this story. Abraham told the rich man, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” You see, Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared physically before many witnesses. Yet, there are many people who will not accept Jesus as their savior—and end up here in hades. There are others who only read the Bible (what Abraham called “Moses and the Prophets”—literally the “Old Testament”) who do accept Jesus as their savior. You see, someone rising from the dead really is not enough to convince people to change their ways and keep them from entering hades. This is sad, of course, since everyone in hades will end up in hell.

So, How Does Anyone End up in Hell?

As we learned earlier, Satan and his demons have punishment coming and we learned that God will prepare a punishment of fire for them—something like Sodom and Gomorrah had. That “something” is the eternal fire we call “hell.” The next passage reveals what will happen on what the Bible terms as the “great Day.”

    Passage 7: Revelation 20
    7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison
    8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.
    9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
    10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
    11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
    12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
    13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
    14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
    15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Did you notice how “Death and Hades” are personified starting in verse 13? They both “delivered up the dead who were in them.” It is as though Death and Hades swallow people. Notice how Death, Hades, and everyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life get thrown into the same hell that Satan and his demons deserve.

There you have it—how people end up in hell. Although hell is an awful place not meant or designed for people, most people choose to go there.

What Do You Mean I Choose To Go To Hell?

Actually, you choose to go to hell by not choosing to go to heaven. That is,

  • You can choose to get right with God through Jesus and spend eternity in heaven
  • you can choose anything else and spend eternity in hell.

Here is how it works. When someone accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, their name gets written in the Book of Life. Those people whose name is written in the Book of Life will go to heaven. The people who have not accepted Christ as their savior will not have their name written in the Book of Life. Since their name is not in the Book of Life, they will go to hades when they die, and later end up in hell.

The Bible makes it clear that there is only one way to heaven—through Jesus. All other ways lead to destruction, as Jesus tells everyone in these final passages.

    Passage 8: Matthew 7
    13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
    14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

And just where is this “way?” Actually, it is a who:

    Passage 9: John 14
    6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

What, You Are Not Dead Yet?

Oh, you are only visiting hades. Hmmm. Well, since you are not dead yet, you can not stay any longer. Still, you can return to hades about one minute after you die. That is, of course, unless you get right with God. If that happens, you can go to heaven instead. The choice is completely up to you.

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