The Afterlife: Reality Sets In

Many views are circulating today regarding what happens to people after they die. Allow me to present to you 7 major views (in alphabetical order):

Why almost everyone believes in an afterlife – even atheists | New Scientist

ANNIHILATION – – the total absence or removal of one’s existence (Advocates: Bruce, Hughes, Pinnock, Stott, Wenham).

Some responses:

  • This is wishful thinking.
  • It avoids consequences, such as the future judgment.
  • It does not explain the meaning of our present existence.

The LITERAL (biblical) view – – real, eternal Heaven or Hell(Advocates: this is the classical Christian position)

The METAPHORICAL view – – Hell is only a figure of speech (Advocates: Crocket).

The PURGATORIAL view – – Hell is a temporary abode for purification (Advocates: this is the classic Catholic position).

Some responses:

  1. This teaching is not found in the canonical Scriptures.
  2. It comes from the apocryphal Second Book of the Maccabees.
  3. Due to its many problematic issues, it is often toned down by the Catholic Church.

REINCARNATION – – recycling of being, often in another form (Advocates: a staple in Eastern philosophy).

The REVERENT AGNOSTICISM view – – we bow in holy silence since we can’t know for sure (Advocates: Clement of Alexandria, Barth).

The UNIVERSAL SALVATION view – – ultimately, all will be saved (Advocates: Bell, Origen, J.A.T. Robinson, Unitarian Universalists).

There are many unbelievers who joke about Hell or use it as a curse-word. Even among genuine Christians the question is often raised, “how can a loving God consign good people to an eternal Hell?”

Let’s look at the biblical teaching and turn in our Bibles to one of the major passages regarding this real place called “Hell:” it is found in Luke 16:19-31.

Before we delve further into this passage, allow me to make a couple of introductory remarks:

161 Heaven And Hell Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
  1. Although we have before us a picture from the OT economy (before Christ transferred the righteous believers to Paradise at His death), we still glean important insights about this infernal and real place (as we’ll see shortly).
  2. Furthermore, some Bibles have a heading over this section, calling it a “parable.” Here is my response:

If this is a parable (and I don’t believe it is), then the reality it pictures is much more severe If this were a parable, it would have been called that. Finally, note the word “certain” (vv. 1, 19) – – which speaks of a real event, person, or place.

In any case, here we have Jesus’ own teaching about the place He has prepared for the devil, his angels (demons) and unbelievers of all times (Revelation 20:11-15)…

What Is the Lake of Fire? Is It the Same as Hell or Gehenna? | Bible  Questions

Here is how this passage reads in Luke 16:19-31 (Just a side-comment to avoid a possible misunderstanding – – the rich man did not end up in Hell because of his wealth, but because he displayed his true nature by the way he mistreated Lazarus. He certainly did not act like a true believer!)

The Rich Man and Lazarus | Inside Report Magazine | Amazing Facts

(Luke 16:19–31)

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, 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.’ ”

I believe there are at least 10 lessons we can glean from this passage:

  1. This is a place of torment/torture (vv. 24, 28)…
  2. There is an insurmountable gap/distance (vv. 23, 26)…
  3. The cry for unavailable mercy (v. 24)…
  4. Total awareness (vv. 24, 25, 28)…
  5. Unbearable heat/literal fire (v. 24)…
  6. Eternally haunting memories (v. 25)…
  7. Reversal of earthy conditions (v. 25 – – compare with vv. 19, 20)…
  8. Irreversible destiny (v. 26)…
  9. Continuing moral concerns (vv. 27, 28)…
  10. Reminder of (a past) biblical remedy (vv. 29, 31)…

So, by way of summary – – Jesus speaks of 3 ultimate realities:

  1. The reality of DEATH (vv. 19-21)…
  2. The reality of DESTINY (vv. 22-26)…
  3. The reality of DECISION (vv. 27, 31)…
Without Excuse | If I Walked With Jesus

According to Romans 1:18, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Romans 1:18) it is not that people haven’t had God’s revelation, but that they have deliberately suppressed His revelation in their consciences, nature and Holy Scripture! Therefore, they have NO excuse!


  1. Do you care about YOUR OWN destiny? Do you care about the destiny of YOUR LOVED ONES?? Really? So what are YOU doing about it?? For He says:“In an acceptable time I have heard you,And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
  2. An old adage has it that “none is so blind but he who refuses to see!
  3. One servant of God put it this way – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –       

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