“And as it is appointed for men to die once, BUT AFTER THIS the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27)
Seven major views are advanced for what happens after an unbeliever’s death:
- ***The LITERAL (biblical) view
- The METAPHORICAL view
- The PURGATORIAL view
- The (Reverent) AGNOSTICISM view
- The UNIVERSAL SALVATION view (UNIVERSALISM) – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Often, people joke about Hell or use it as a curse-word. Sometimes even Christians question how a loving God can consign “good” people to an eternal Hell.
One of the major passages regarding Hell is found in Luke 16:19ff. But before we delve further into these passages, allow me to make some introductory remarks:
Although we have before us a picture from the OT economy (before Christ transferred the righteous believers to Paradise [Heaven] at His death), we still glean important insights about this infernal and real place, as we’ll see shortly.
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 far more severe than the parable itself!If this were a parable, it would have been called that in the text.
- Finally, note the word “certain” (vv. 1, 19). It 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, “demons,” and unbelievers of all times: (Revelation 20:11–15)
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.
Here is how this passage reads in Luke: (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.’ ”
[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]!
I believe there are at least 10 lessons we can glean from this passage:
- Hell is a place of torment/torture (vv. 24, 28)
- There is an insurmountable gap/distance (vv. 23, 26)
- The cry for unavailable mercy (v. 24)
- Total awareness (vv. 24, 25, 28)
- Unbearable heat – – a literal fire (v. 24)
- Eternally haunting memories (v. 25)
- Reversal of earthly conditions (v. 25; cf. 19, 20)
- An irreversible destiny (v. 26)
- Continuing moral concerns (vv. 27, 28)
- Reminder of (a past) biblical remedy (vv. 29, 31)
6. So, by way of summary, Jesus speaks of 3 ultimate realities:
- The reality of DEATH (vv. 19-21)
- The reality of DESTINY (vv. 22-26)
- The reality of DECISION (vv. 27, 31)
According to 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 Scriptures. Therefore, they have NO excuse! 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)
- 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? (II Corinthians 6:2) …!
- A missionary once wrote, “My love for people is deepened as I see that they are on their way to Hell. My testimony is sharpest when I am conscious of an eternal Hell” (Steve Lauhoff, GFA)