Sunday, September 23, 2012

Should Christians keep the Entire Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, or Are We Stricly Under Grace?

I have been in a debate lately about whether or not the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law of Moses have any relevance for Christians. Some were of the opinion that they are not relevant to Christians as we have been “freed” from the Law. They took the stand that the Law was essentially eliminated when Christ died, and therefore it is not beholden upon us to keep not only the entire Law of the Torah, but we do not need to keep the Ten Commandments, as they are no longer applicable.

First it must be determined whether or not the Ten Commandments are on a par or the same as the rest of the judgments and laws that God gave the people. God gave the Ten Commandments directly to the people at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20). He wrote the Ten Commandments upon two tablets and had Moses put them in the ark when it was built. Deuteronomy 5:22 “These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.” Moses broke the first tablets in anger when the people built the golden calf, but God wrote another set. Deuteronomy 10:2 “And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.” Only the Ten Commandments or the testimony as God calls it were put in the ark.

God gave four titles to the laws He gave. He called some commandments, which by definition are “divine laws”, some were statutes, which by definition are either “written laws by a legislative body (or in this case God)” or “the rules of an organization or institution (or in this case, a nation)”. Judgments, are defined as “a divine sentence (punishment) or decision by a court.” and ordinances are "authoritative orders, customs established by long practice, rites, or regulations".  Exodus 15:26 "And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."  Leviticus 18:4-5 "Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD."  It can be seen that indeed when one looks at all the laws that they more or less do fall into these four categories. The ones which are divine laws or commandments are the ones we know as the Ten Commandments. They are divine laws. Eternal laws of a perfect spiritual state, not rules or regulations of an organization (or nation), court judgments, or customs or rites. Christ in fact was able to divide and reduce these ten commandments into two categories - love of God, and love of neighbor. Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Notice that first Christ is not referencing all the laws as being commandments - for example the hygiene laws do not really fall into the love your neighbor category. He is clearly referencing the Ten Commandments. And according to Him, all of the laws and prophets can be summed up and hang upon these Ten Commandments, which can really be reduced down to two, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. So when Christ tells us “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15, He is not speaking of all 613 laws, He is speaking of the Ten Commandments.

The first four commandments have to do with loving God. We are not to have any other Gods before Him, we are not to make any graven images, we are not to take His name in vain, and we are to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. The last six have to do with loving our neighbor. We are to honor our fathers and mothers, we are not to kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or covet. These six things cover most any sin that we can commit against other people. When Christ reduced these down to just love God and love your neighbor, He was not eliminating the Ten Commandments. Matthew 5:17-18 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Christ was fulfilling the commandments. In other words, He was keeping them perfectly, something we cannot do. He fulfilled the obligation to keep the Law (meaning the Ten Commandments) perfectly for us. Now, some might say, it wasn't just the Ten Commandments He kept, He kept the entire law perfectly. No. He did not. He did not stone the adulteress woman, thereby breaking that law, and not only that He incited others to break it too. The only Laws He kept perfectly were the Ten Commandments, thereby verifying that these are the only Laws that are still in effect as something we are to try to keep. Now, because Christ kept them perfectly, and He lives in us, we are free to be able to keep the Law, not under obligation, but by love. Do we keep it perfectly? I don't know anyone who can claim to have, 1 John 1:10 “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us,” but we find it much easier to try to keep it while we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And we have God's forgiveness awaiting us when we ask for it, after committing a sin. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In Matthew 5:19 Yeshua said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” He is speaking of the commandments, the Ten Commandments, not the entire body of law of the nation of Israel. We are to continue to teach the Ten Commandments. Should we not want to teach these commandments? What do they teach? They teach us to love God and neighbor. So why would people want to abolish them by saying we are now free in Christ and do not need to worry about them. We are free to what – hate God and neighbor? That is the alternative to these commandments. They are about love. We are not under the threat of God's retribution to keep them, what we are free to do is keep them out of love. That is what our freedom is all about. Not being released from keeping the laws, but free from the burden of sin that comes from not being able to keep them. We are now free to keep them through Yeshua. Christ gives us a new heart so we can keep them and not have the burden of sin and God's wrath hanging over our head.

Let's take a further look at the law to see why we cannot, not just do not, keep it. Many of the 613 laws have to do with the temple, (including those about the priesthood) and without a temple it is impossible to keep these laws. When God destroyed the temple, He knew these laws could no longer be kept. So right off the bat, we can eliminate the hundred and some laws right there. Other of the laws are geared toward government and civil law keeping and the judicial system. When Israel was a nation, these were the laws of the nation, but we are told by God that we are to obey the laws of our own nation, so these laws are not incumbent upon us. Romans 13:1-7 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” A perfect example of this truth is the fact that we legally cannot go out and kill adulterers (there would be a great decrease in the population) or false prophets (although we might be better of if the latter were disposed of) or our rebellious children (yes, that was what you did with a wayward son who was rebellious, a drunkard, and glutton – do you want to do that, all ye lawkeepers? We would be killing a lot of children in this day and age.) Were we to do that, we would most rightfully find ourselves in jail at best (and executed at worst) for premeditated murder. We could not use the excuse that this is God's Law, so therefore we must obey it. We would be in disobedience of the clear teaching in Romans. These two things are in direct opposition to each other unless you realize that the civil laws of Moses were for a nation only as their governmental law, and not a spiritual mandate for the sake of obedience to God. Jesus Himself broke the law mentioned above when He did not stone the adulteress with the crowd, and in fact got them to not stone her also. So He not only broke the law, He incited others to do the same, which is an added sin if these laws are non-negotiable. Instead He offered a better way. He offered her love and forgiveness.  Further He showed that these laws were not always God's desire, and that He would sometimes prefer we not keep them.  For instance the law on divorce.  God gave a law allowing divorce and how it should be handled, but what did Christ say? Matthew 19:3-8 "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so."  God prefers that this law never be used.  He gave it to them not because He wanted them to keep it, but because they were so hardhearted that He had no choice, as He had to protect the women.  Many of the laws were given for that reason.  Do you really think God likes people enslaving other people?  Or do you think He wanted to exercise some control over a bad situation that was going to exist whether or not He approved it? 

So the laws concerning the temple are impossible to keep,  some of the laws imposing court sentences are not viable or legal for us to keep, and some laws God does not really want us to keep. He prefers that we act in love. What about the other laws? The laws of kosher were lifted by the Council of Jerusalem, although the mandate to not eat blood or animals that are strangled is still in effect for all of God's people. Acts 15:19-20 “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” As Gentiles did not have kosher laws, since kosher was not specified along with the other restraints, there is no reason for them to only eat kosher animals. They were used to eating any animal. The argument is often made by lawkeepers that they already understood that kosher was required, because they were taught the law. If that was true, then why the need to specify not eating blood or things strangled? Those things automatically are included in the laws of kosher. This is picking out just a few requirements out of the kosher laws for them to observe. This clearly indicates that they are not keeping kosher, and that they need not keep kosher.

Further we are told in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” This passage speaks of the “latter times” which is now. It is telling us that people will depart from the faith and embrace doctrines of devils. We can certainly attest to that having come to pass today. Forbidding marriage is a big deal in one denomination. This also mentions people who say you should abstain from meats. There are only two ways to interpret this part. Either this refers to vegetarianism, as that is popular today, or it may be referring to people who say you must abstain from non-kosher meats, as it makes no sense for anyone to say that you should abstain from kosher meats. Who would have a problem with that? So this either refers to all meats or non-kosher meats. How does Paul respond to their doctrines? He first calls these mandates doctrines of devils, which means he is against them. Then in regard to meats, he says that every creatures is good and nothing to be refused, as long as we receive it thankfully and sanctify it by prayer. Torah law advocates would tell us that this is referring to every kosher animal, not actually every creature. But that is not what it says and it would not make sense. If people are saying you are not supposed to eat or abstain from non-kosher, and Paul is calling that a doctrine of devils, then when he says all creatures are good, he means all non-kosher animals. If taken the other way, that this refers to vegetarianism, then one can twist it to read into it that this is speaking of kosher animals, but then one is adding to the Scriptures, which would be breaking one of the Laws that lawkeepers are so adamant about keeping. 

Noah was given permission to eat any animal he wanted to eat. And this is in spite of the fact that Noah did know about clean and unclean animals, as God had him take seven, not two of every clean animal on the ark. Genesis 9:3 “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” Clearly Noah was not given the restriction of kosher, as he could eat anything that moved. Unclean animals move. But just as the mandate was given that we are not to eat blood, so Noah was given this mandate. Genesis 9:4 “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” From Noah until Moses, people could eat any creature, just as again we are allowed to eat any creature. As Jesus said in Matthew 15:11-18 “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” God is far less concerned with what goes into our stomachs, as it comes out the other end, than He is about what is in our hearts.

What about the holy days – the new moons, feast days, etc. As the new moon had to be declared by two witnesses to the temple, before that holiday could be announced, again we have a problem. We may know through science when that new moon begins (and even that we have changed. To them the new moon was the first sighting of the moon, not the lack of it), we cannot do it according to the law, for there is no temple. But further, we are given a better way, just as Christ gave us a better way with forgiveness instead of getting retribution or execution. Paul tells us in Romans 14:5 “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Colossians 2:16 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” Here we have another verse that tells us that we should not let others judge us in what we eat or drink, but we are also told this about holy days also. We are told that as long as we do it through conscience, whether we observe these holy days or treat every day alike, it is unimportant with respect to obeying God. It is what you determine to do, as long as you are persuaded that what you are doing is Biblically correct.

Now comes the tricky part. Some people believe this mention of sabbaths is speaking of observing the weekly Sabbath, and some people believe that this is speaking of the feast sabbaths, as it is used in the plural sense. Equally some believe the idea that it is acceptable to esteem every day alike means that you can ignore the weekly Sabbath (not just the feast sabbaths) and treat every day the same if you wish. Is that what these verses are really saying? Have even the Ten Commandments been lifted by these verses? No. Christ made it quite clear that we are to keep His commandments, and the weekly Sabbath is one of them. The weekly Sabbath preceded the giving of the Law by over 2000 years. Some like to debate this as it is not given as a law to Adam, but it can be shown otherwise. This is because the weekly Sabbath was established at creation. Genesis 2:2-3 “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” These verses tell us that God established the weekly Sabbath in the first week of creation. He sanctified it or set it apart as holy. Was it just for Himself that He did this, or did He also include man in this sanctification process. Yeshua tells us in Mark 2:27 “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” The Sabbath, the weekly Sabbath, was made for man. If it was made for man, would not God have informed Adam of this and expected him to enjoy taking the day off? The argument is given that this law was not given until Moses, so nobody was expected to keep it. None of the laws were given before Moses. Is this exactly true? What about sacrifices? Were not those laws about clean and unclean animals and sacrifices given at the time of Moses? Well, let us look and see.

Genesis 4:3-7a “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?

Genesis 7:2 “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.”

Genesis 8:20 “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Genesis 22:2,8, 13 “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of....And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together....And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”

But we know from the Cain and Abel story that people only offered animal sacrifices, which explains God's rejecting Cain's sacrifice, right?

Genesis 35:14 “And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.”

It seems that the problem was not Cain's offering, but his attitude of a rebellious heart. God told him in Genesis 4:6-7 “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” It wasn't the sacrifice, it was his sinful rebellious heart.

So people knew not only to give God burnt animal sacrifices, but to offer drink and oil oblations. But this only came with the giving of the Law didn't it? Obviously not.

Well, how about Moses? He didn't know about sacrifices until God told Him when He gave Him the commandments, right?

Exodus 10:25 “And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God.”

Wait a minute. This was before the last plague was poured out on Egypt. That was before the giving of the Law. They had been sacrificing to God?

Well, what about tithing. That law surely only came with the giving of the Law. Not necessarily.

Genesis 14:18-20 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”

So far we have discussed other laws that were not part of the Ten Commandments, sacrifices and tithes. What about another one of the commandments? Thou shalt not kill. Cain broke that commandment, and he knew he had done wrong, because he tried to pretend he knew nothing about it. And on top of that God punished him for it and made it clear that if someone were to kill Cain they would be punished. In other words, thou shalt not kill. Genesis 7:8-15 “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”

Clearly there were rules that God gave mankind that preceded the Laws of Moses, but were reiterated when God gave Moses the laws. It is not just their actions above that show it, God tells us this.  Genesis 26:5 "Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Abraham was given a charge, commandments, statutes, and laws long before Moses, which is why he knew to tithe. God had been telling His people what He expected of them, even though it was not written down in the Bible for us to see. He tells us this. So what about the Sabbath? Was it not a new thing to the Hebrews? They only first heard about it from Moses, didn't they? Well, let's see what God says.

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Wait a minute. Remember? How do you remember something that has not existed before this and of which you have had no knowledge? You do not. The argument comes, but remember can mean memorialize. Okay, let's say it does, for indeed that is also what is meant here. They are both to remember that God had declared the seventh day sanctified at creation and to memorialize the Sabbath by doing what? Keeping it holy, just as had been explained right from the beginning. They knew about the Sabbath, just as they knew about sacrifices and tithes. It is just that it was not written down as a law that they must observe until Moses. Just as the other things had not been written down. How can we know that they knew about it? First God tells us that Abraham knew His commandments, laws, and statutes, so it is safe to assume that He told others as well.  Then it so happens that we know ancient Babylon and Sumeria observed a seven day week. Why? There is no reason under the sun, except to memorialize the creation week, that there should be a seven day week. It was brought over from before the Flood by Noah, who knew about it. God gave Noah one week, seven days, in which to load up the ark and get things ready to go once it was completed. Genesis 7:4 “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” What happened on that seventh day? Noah got to rest. He got a Sabbath. Genesis 7:10, 16 “And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth..... And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.

If it is not enough that it has been shown that the Sabbath preceded the law and it has always been God's intention that it be observed by people, and that Yeshua told us that if we love Him we should keep His commandments, of which the fourth is to remember the Sabbath (the original one of creation) and keep it holy, we have Yeshua telling us that He expects that those of us that will go into the tribulation to be observing it. What? Yes, there is no pre-trib rapture (see my articles on that if you espouse a pre-trib belief, it may open your eyes), and those of us that are still alive when the tribulation begins are told that we should pray that it not start on the Sabbath. Matthew 24:20 “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” But Yeshua was talking to Jews in Judea, not to us. It is true that it will be those in Judea that will have to flee to the mountains, but who is He speaking to? He is speaking to believers in Him. His disciples or followers, not unbelieving Jews. Of course, you say, the Messianic Jews are observing the Sabbath, they are Jews. Okay, and what did God say about us? Galatians 3:7, 29 “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham......And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So we are Abraham's seed and are spiritually grafted into spiritual Israel. If Messianic Jews are observing the Sabbath, why are we not? We should be. I have an entire article telling the history of how the Church came to worship on Sunday instead of the Sabbath. It is something that requires serious consideration if you are not keeping the Sabbath and say you love the Lord. I would recommend reading it.


When it comes to the Feasts of God, I believe everyone is aware of the fact that the resurrection is celebrated on the pagan goddess Eastre's holy day, not on God's holy Feast day of Firstfruits, which was the Feast that Christ fulfilled when He arose on that day. Christianity does not celebrate Passover, which was His crucifixion, nor does it celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits as God created these feasts to be celebrated. The church has pre-empted God's holy day and substituted a pagan one instead, putting the event of God's fulfillment of His holy day on a pagan goddess's day. As for Christmas, it has been found through studies that Christ was born at the time of the Fall Feasts, not on the birthday of the pagan bull-headed god Mithras, which is the day everyone celebrates Yeshua's birth. Nor do we celebrate the Fall feasts, of Rosh haShanah (Feast of Trumpets – Yehsua crowned King) Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, Second Coming, Day of the Lord, Resurrection/rapture) and the Feast of Tabernacles (The Wedding Feast – OUR wedding feast). Since we still await the fulfillment of these feasts in Christ's Second Coming, would it not be appropriate for us to at least consider that they are more relevant for us to celebrate as a Christian holy day than the day of a pagan god's birthday?

As for it being mandatory to celebrate these feasts and sabbaths, we were already told by Paul that if you do it and are persuaded that you should, great. And if you don't and are persuaded it isn't necessary, great. Just be convinced in your own mind and don't judge others. As these feasts are, by law, supposed to be celebrated in Jerusalem and require temple sacrifices, unless you live in Israel, you cannot even keep half of the requirement in keeping it correctly. Nobody can keep it correctly, for there is no temple and no sacrifices. God destroyed the temple, because the sacrifice of a Lamb at Passover had been finally and ultimately made for all mankind. Any more sacrifice at this time would be redundant. The gospel had to go out into the world, Israel had to be punished for her rejection of her Messiah, and sacrifices, which had never taken away the sins of people, were no longer necessary. Neither were the many civil laws of the nation. Until Israel lives under a theocracy again, these laws will not be effective. When they do, then God's government will enact His laws again. Every nation needs laws and justice and that is what these many laws are about. The temple will again be rebuilt and the religious laws can be met. The world will be a wasteland, and the population small, so probably the kosher and hygienic laws will be necessary to keep the people healthy. There is no saying if God will change some of the existing laws of the Torah, but that is not necessary for us to know now.

Having shown that we are expected to live by the Ten Commandments, (including the Sabbath) not under the obligation of legalism, but as Christians freely living out our lives by loving God and loving our neighbors through Yeshua ha Mashiach, I now want to say that if someone freely wants to observe as many of the laws and Feasts of God as possible, because they want to express their love for God this way, go for it. There is no prohibition against doing this, as long as you do not make it an obligatory thing for either yourself or others. It is not the means of salvation, and it does not guarantee more blessings (as some insist) than merely living a life of love for God. As you cannot keep them according to the law in many cases, keep them in spirit as much as possible, but do not insist that others keep them or they aren't “good” Christians. The only laws that do matter are the Ten Commandments, so that is something we need to try to teach others. Other than that, we do, as those who are against law keeping say, have freedom in Christ. Not as a license to sin, but as having freedom to keep the Commandments.

Romans 3:31 “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Romans 6:1-2, 12-22 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?.....Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

We are free from sin to follow righteousness or in other words, the Ten Commandments in which righteousness is encapsulated. If we want to be servants of righteousness, the Commandments are our guide and we need to follow them. God has told us how He feels about sacrifices and all of this law keeping. Hosea 6:6 "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."  God wants us to show mercy and love, and study to know Him rather than just blindly obey a list of rules, many of which are not even possible to keep.  These laws were given to keep a hardhearted people in line, because without them they would not show each other love or compassion,  but we now have been given a better way. We have Yeshua living in our hearts and His love can change us. It writes the spirit of the law on our hearts, so that we don't need a list of rules if we abide in Him.
 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Is There a Hell? Who Goes There? Where Is It?

I never would have thought that an article on this subject was necessary, as Christianity since the beginning has believed in the existence of hell. It seems of late though, that the “new doctrine” is the teaching that there is no hell. This has been the belief of some cult offshoot religions of Christianity, but now it is infiltrating the mainstream denominations, including denominations that are considered fundamental. This teaching is not coming from the Bible, but from wolves in sheep's clothing who are creating these “doctrines of demons,” as they are referred to in Scripture. As I have discovered that pastors are not really studying the Bible in seminary, but man's commentaries on the Bible, it is not surprising that they are not familiar enough with the Scriptures to see why these teachings, and in particular this teaching, are so completely in error. If they knew their Bible, they would be able to refute these doctrines without any problem, but they do not – either know their Bible or refute the error. So it falls to those of us who do study the Bible, instead of man's traditions, to repudiate these lies.

To begin with the word “hell” is found in both the Old and New Testaments, but it is not the same root word in each instance, in the original Hebrew and Greek. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word “Sheol”, which is known historically and ecclesiastically by definition as “the world of the dead,” is the only word used in the original Hebrew, but it is not translated as such. It is translated in two different ways. In some cases it is translated as “hell,” (when referring to the place of the wicked dead) and “grave” in other cases (when referring to the righteous dead who are in paradise), unless it is specifically speaking of a crypt of tomb. So either word, “hell” or “grave” refers to the world of the dead or Sheol. The context and English translation of “hell” or “grave” determines which part of Hades is the subject under discussion.

In the New Testament, there are several words in the original Greek which are used in reference to the abode of the wicked dead. Even though the Greek word “Hades,” which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Sheol,” is in the original manuscripts (just as in the Old Testament), the translation of “hell” is used rather than “world of the dead” in most places, as the context is referencing the place of the wicked dead, not the righteous dead. The word “grave” is also a translation for the word “Hades,” but as in the Old Testament, it usually refers to the place of the righteous dead or a crypt or tomb. In the New Testament we find that the place of the righteous dead is actually named. It is called paradise and is referenced that way. The next word which is translated “hell” is the Greek word “Tartarus” which by definition refers to the deepest abyss in the hell part of Hades, and also means to incarcerate in eternal torment. The third word translated as “hell” is “Gehenna.” Gehenna was originally a valley in Jerusalem that was used for the sacrifice of children to Molech during the 700's-600's B.C. The recollection of these events and the continuous burning that went on there caused the valley to become a figurative name for the real place of everlasting torment of the damned (a place of eternal burning).

So the Bible in both Testaments refers to the place where the wicked go after death as hell. The following verses supply us with a description of hell. Note that Old Testament references whether to hell or the grave are the word “Sheol”, the abode of the dead.

Hell is a place of fire.

Deuteronomy 32:22 “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.”

Song of Solomon 8:6 “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”

Matt.5:22 (Gehenna) “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Matt. 13:42 (furnace of fire) “ And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth”

Matt. 13:50 (furnace of fire) “And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Matt. 18:9 (Gehenna) “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”

Hell is an eternal place.

Mark 9:43-44 (Gehenna) “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Mark 9:45-46 (Gehenna) “And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

Mark 9:47-48 (Gehenna) “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Revelation 14:9-11 “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

Hell is a place of sorrows.

2 Sam. 22:6 “The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me.”

Psalm 18:5 “The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.”

Psalm 116:3 “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.”

Hell is a place of destruction.

Job 26:6 “Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.”

Proverbs 15:11 “Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?

Proverbs 27:20 “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

Hell is a place of wickedness filled with wicked people.

Psalm 9:17 “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

Psalm 55:15 “Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.”

Job 24:19 “Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned.

Hell is a place of corruption.

Psalm 16:10 “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”
Acts 2:27 (Hades) “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

Hell is a place of pain and trouble.

Psalm 116:3 “ The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.”

Hell is very large and still expanding.

Proverbs 27:20 “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

Isaiah 5:14 “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.

Hell is a place where people are conscious, see each other, speak to and hear each other and feel physical and emotional pain. It is a place of torment.

Isaiah 14:9-17 “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

Ezekiel 32:21 “The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.”

Luke 16:19-31 (Hades) “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And 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. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Even though this passage in Luke is a parable, the Old Testament teaches Hades or Sheol is a place where people are conscious, so Christ is confirming that idea in this parable. As Christ would not lie about anything, the depiction He gives of hell must be accurate. Besides confirming that people are very much aware of their situation, He teaches that Hades or Sheol had two compartments. Dead souls must have some sort of form that makes them recognizable. In Isaiah 14 the wicked dead recognize the king of Babylon or Lucifer and in Revelation 6:9, the righteous dead are interacting with God before the resurrection and they have a form that is identifiable.

Earthly social status and wealth mean nothing in hell.

Job 21:13 “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.”

Isaiah 14:9-17 “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

The following is a parable Christ told pointing out that all the riches you have here mean nothing in the next world as you leave them behind. Therefore you should not pile up riches here but lay up treasures in heaven.

Luke 12:16-20 “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

Hell is a place of hopelessness and separation from God where there is no second chance and you can't call upon God.

Job 7:9 “As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.”

Psalm 6:5 “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

Psalm 31:17 “Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.

Isaiah 38:18 “For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.”

All who do not repent are destined for hell. Only God can save us, for we cannot save ourselves.

Psalm 30:3 “O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.”

Psalm 49:15 “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.”

Psalm 89:48 “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.”

Proverbs 15:24 “The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.”

Matthew 23:33 (gehenna) “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Christ is the only way to God. In John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” There is a reason for this. When Adam and Eve sinned, they passed on not only the sin nature, but the consequences of that sin to us. Death. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10-18 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God demands that there be punishment for sin. This is because God is just. Sin demands punishment. Someone has to pay for it. Some people are willing to say that they will trust to their own good works, but works by themselves will not get you into heaven. Our good works by themselves (without Christ's justification) are as filthy rags in God's sight. Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Our best works are not enough, for the Law of God demands that it be kept in perfection and there is nobody who can do that. Except for Christ that is. Only Christ was able to keep the Law perfectly, making Him the perfect man. And when He died and accepted the punishment for our sins by substituting Himself in our place and taking the punishment meant for us, God's justice was satisfied. This enabled God to offer us mercy. If we accept that substitution, by accepting Christ's death on our behalf and taking Him as our Savior, God can then apply Christ's righteousness to our account, allowing us access to God again. This is why nobody but Christ can save us. He truly is the only way, the truth, and the life and nobody can come to God except through Him for this very reason. Because He satisfied God's demand for justice. Nobody else can or did do this.

Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:9 “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” We are saved from hell (God's wrath) when we accept Christ. And we do this by confessing our belief. Romans 10:9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So once we are justified, how do we maintain that justification so that we might be saved? Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” We are to walk after the spirit, not the flesh, or in other words abide in Christ and do the works He gives us to do. This is called working out our faith. Displaying our faith by our works. Philippians 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” James 2:14-26 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

It is very important to endure and run the race, because only those who run will obtain the prize and only those who endure to the end will see salvation. 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Matthew 10:22 “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Mark 13:13 “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” James 1:12 “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

What happens to those who walk away from the faith, do not abide with Christ, bring forth the fruits of their faith, or endure to the end? They do not obtain salvation. They end up in the fire with the wicked. John 15:1-6 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Hebrews 10:26-31 “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (This sinning willfully is more than just committing a sin, which if we confess God will forgive [1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”], this is turning away from Christ to deliberately embrace a sinful life again.) 

Keeping the 10 Commandments will not get you to heaven. It is more than your behavior, it is what is in your heart.

Matthew 5:21-22 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Hell is not only inhabited by humans, there are other occupants.

2 Peter. 2:4 (the only time in N.T. use of the word Tartarus) “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 judgment.”

Hell is the holding place for the wicked until the time of the Great White Throne Judgment where people will be judged by their works.

2 Peter 2:4 (Tartarus) “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 judgment.”

Revelation 20:12,13 (Hades) “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

The Bible gives us a physical description of hell.
The parable in Luke 16:19-31 (given above) gives a description of hell. Christ would not have made this up, as then He would have been misleading us, therefore lying. So we can accept His description as the actual physical description of hell.

Luke 16:23-26 “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And 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. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

As mentioned before, hell is a place where one is physically tormented. Not only by the flames, but most likely by the demonic spiritual entities there. Hades, which is the word used in this passage and the general term for the place of the dead, both of the righteous and the wicked, is said to have two compartments. One, known as paradise, which is where Christ went when He died. Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

How do we know that paradise is not heaven? First of all, this parable indicates that paradise and hell are in the same relative area (Hades), but they are separated by a great gulf, and that they can actually see across to the occupants in the other place. When Christ died, he went to paradise. It was not heaven for we are told in the Old and New Testament that He went to Sheol or Hades, which is not heaven. Psalm 16:10 “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol – the place of the dead) ; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Acts 2:27 “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, (Hades – the place of the dead) neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Why did Christ go to paradise instead of heaven? Because that is where all the Old Testament saints were waiting for Him. Until Christ died on the cross, people's sins had not been truly covered or forgiven, for as we are told in Hebrews 10:4 “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Therefore their sins were still on the books and they could not enter into the presence of God until their sins had been wiped off the slate. Only Christ's death could do that. God created paradise to hold these people until Christ should come and their sins be remitted, so they could enter into God's presence in heaven. Once Christ died, he descended into paradise in Sheol (or Hades) to present the gospel to those awaiting Him. He would have told them of His sacrifice, so that they might accept Him as their Savior, as they had been looking forward to His coming and had faith in it, which is why they were there in paradise rather than hell. We know then that Christ led those in paradise into heaven when He ascended. These verses in Ephesians tell us that He descended into paradise, and then took those in paradise with Him when He ascended. Ephesians 4:8-10 “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, 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.)” Psalm 68:18 “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” We further have Christ's testimony that He did not go to heaven when He died, for He told Mary not to touch him, as He not yet ascended to heaven. John 20:17 “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Paradise is now empty. Now when believers die, they go directly to heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Hell's location.
Hades is referred to as the following: a pit, below, the deep, down, beneath, and the lower regions of the earth.

Ezekiel 31:15-17 “Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when he went down to the grave I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him. I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen. To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 32:27 “And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.

Isaiah 14:12-17 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

Job 7:9 “As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.”

Job 11:8 “It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?

Psalm 30:3 “O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.”

Psalm 55:15 “Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.”

Psalm 86:13 “
For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

Proverbs 5:5 “Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”

Proverbs 7:27 “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”

Proverbs 9:18 “But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”

Proverbs 15:24 “The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.”

Isaiah 5:14 “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.”

1 Samuel 2:6 “The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.”

The bottomless pit (abyss in Greek) is another reference to hell or Hades (which only has hell in it now as paradise is empty.)

Revelation 9:1 “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.” This verse tells us how in the end times the key to the abyss will be given to Satan so that he can loose the demons to torment mankind. What is really important here is what happens when he opens the door to that pit. First we must think about the term “bottomless” pit. How can a pit be bottomless, yet have things come up out of it? Would they not continue to fall down the pit if it is indeed bottomless. We think that because we think of a hole or shaft that goes on forever, but instead think of it as a place in the center of the earth. In the center of the earth, a ball shaped area would have no bottom, for every direction would be up to the face of the earth from any point inside it. Hence, it would be bottomless. What is important about this passage is what happens when Satan opens the pit. Revelation 9: 2 “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” We are told that when the pit is opened, smoke comes out of it, as if out of a great fiery furnace (which we know hell is). What is significant is that the smoke from this opening actually darkens the atmosphere on earth, so that the sun is blocked by reason of the ashes in the sky, just as if a volcano has erupted. This is a literal description of what will happen. So the opening of this pit will do the same thing that an eruption of a volcano does - spew ashes out into the air and darken the sky. Therefore the pit or abyss of hell must by virtue of what happens and what the verses tell us about it - being in the nether regions of the earth, down, below, beneath, etc.- be in the center of the earth. There is no other possibility. There will be a shaft opened from that place to the surface of the earth. It is not just a spiritual place in the fourth dimension; it is an actual literal place inside our earth. This begs the question, which I do not intend to answer, but leave it for the reader to ponder, if hell is in the center of the earth, and it is a physical literal place, then what of paradise? Is it or was it just as literal? A beautiful Shangri-la in the center of the earth? It leaves one wondering, does it not?

These horrific demons in Revelation 9, which come out of this abyss, are not the only occupants. The beast, otherwise known as the antichrist, also comes out of the abyss. Revelation 11:7 “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” A future occupant of the abyss will be Satan. He will be bound and cast into it for one thousand years during the time of the millennium. Revelation 20:1-3 “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”

The end of Hades.

Hades or Sheol as a location or physical place will come to an end at the close of the millennium. First Hades sends up the dead for judgment. Revelation 20:13 “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” After hell delivers up the wicked dead for judgment, it is thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14 “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” So thus ends Hades. Now, the question becomes, if Hades is in the center of the earth, and it is thrown into the lake of fire, would that not mean that the earth is thrown into the lake of fire and there would no longer be an earth? Exactly. That is exactly what the Scriptures tell us. Revelation 21:1 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” The first earth is passed away. It gets destroyed along with Hades.

The next question becomes, what happens to the occupants of hell? Revelation 20:11-13,15 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works..... And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” The occupants of hell are thrown into the lake of fire after judgment. There are also three other occupants there before them. Revelation 19:20 “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” The beast and false prophet get an early seat in the lake of fire, for they are thrown in there after Armageddon, before the millennium begins. The next inhabitant to join them is Satan. Revelation 20:10 “And 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.” He joins them after the second Armageddon at the end of the millennium. This is followed by the Great White Throne Judgment when the three of them are joined by the inhabitants of hell (human and demonic) who are cast there also after Judgment Day.

Is the punishment that the wicked endured in Hades continued after it is thrown into the lake of fire? Is the punishment actually eternal? We are told in Mark 9:43-48 that “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” While this is referring to hell, the point is that if they cannot die or cease to exist in their dead spiritual state, and the fire will burn them forever, then the punishment will continue on forever. This is confirmed by the verses which refer to the future situation of the beast, false prophet and Satan. We are told in Revelation 20:10 that these three will be tormented forever. “And 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.” This clearly indicates that the lake of fire is a more eternal version of hell (since God wants to get rid of the present earth, He needs a new place that is the equivalent of hell for the wicked's punishment). Then we are told that everyone in hell will be joining them.

When God created man, He created them to be immortal beings. Had Adam and Eve not sinned, there would have been no death and we would have continued to live forever in our present bodies, but that was not to be. They did sin, and they did die, so God made a way of escape so that those who did not want to be separated from God could live with Him forever, as we will live forever in one place or another. We are immortal beings. Our bodies are now corrupt because of their original sin, and our spirits are born spiritually dead or separated from God because of their sin. However, our spirits can come alive (or connected to God) through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior, and when we are resurrected we will receive a new physical body. We will ultimately live in the new earth and heavens. Many people feel that an eternal punishment is unjust or unfair, but it must be realized that this is the choice these people made. It is not that hell is so horrible because God has gone out of His way to make it like that, hell is what exists when God is not there. Think about it.

God is light, so the absence of God is darkness. God is life, the absence of life is death, decay, corruption. God is good. The absence of God is evil. Hell will be filled with selfish evil people as well as fallen angels and nephilim (angelic/human hybrids) who loved to hurt and torment people here on earth. Why would that change in a place where they no longer had to fear God's retribution? God is hope. The absence of God is despair. God is kindness, love, justice. The absence of God is meanness, hate, and a lack of justice. Hell and the lake of fire are the absence of everything God is, because everyone there decided that they did not want God to be a part of their lives. They closed Him out of their lives as much as possible while here on earth, although they could not shut Him out entirely, because God does intervene in the affairs of man, and has children of His here on earth too. God finally gives all these people what they always wanted, a life in which He has no part. He will never interfere, never help, never intervene, never answer a prayer. Nothing. Forever. It is the ultimate place where God cannot go and there will be no restraints placed upon the evil there. Hell will be what the people there make it to be.

The other thing which people do not consider is that God does not live in time. We see all of time as a linear thing which is constantly in flux from past to present to future. God does not see things that way. He is outside of time and sees all of time at the same moment. This is why He knows the future and can predestine things. Eternity may not be linear in the way we experience time now. It may be the same type of existence that God presently enjoys. If so, then eternity is just a state of being or existence, not something that is measured in minutes, days, years, or millennia. That being said, it is more understandable that an immortal spiritual being would be in torment “eternally”. It is simply that they will exist in a place where God does not. It may not be something that is counted in increments of time.

So in conclusion, we can see that the Bible has much to say about hell. It is real, it is an awful place of torment, it is forever (first through hell, then the lake of fire), and if one does not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, one can expect he will be spending all of his eternal life there. That is regardless of what some preachers may be preaching. Do not trust what they say. They need to read their Bibles. Trust what God has told us.