Thursday, October 27, 2011



No Hell Below Us, Above Us Only Sky

SCARLETT: “Oh, Rhett. I am so afraid.”

RHETT: “I don't believe it. You've never been afraid in your life.”

SCARLETT: “I'm afraid now. I'm afraid of dying, of going to Hell.”

RHETT: “You look pretty healthy. And maybe there isn't any Hell.”

SCARLETT: “Oh, there is. I know there is. I was raised on it.”


As far as I recall, in the 40 years that I have been in the ministry, no one has ever one time asked me if I preach the Cross of Jesus Christ.

No one has asked if I pray for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

No one has ever asked if I feed the poor...

...or visit people in prison.

No one has inquired about my role in racial reconciliation,

or showed any curiosity, whatsoever, about whether or not I do anything to help the homeless…

...or drug addicts…

...or alcoholics.

It has never even once come up in conversation, and no one has even thought to ask if I preach on love and least not that I can remember at the moment.

In fact, as I write this, I don’t even remember if anyone has ever asked if I believe in a literal heaven with streets of gold and gates of pearl.

But people have always asked me lots and lots and lots of questions about hell, especially in the last few years…

"Do you believe in hell?"

"Do you believe in the fire and the brimstone?"

"Who do you think is going to hell?"

"When are they going to go?"

"Will they start burning as soon as they die?"

"How long will they burn?"

"Are there degrees of punishment in hell?"

"Who is in hell now?"

"Do people feel the fire scorching and burning their flesh for ever and ever and ever there?"

"Do the demons torture you in hell?"

"Are all the Jews and Muslims and atheists and homosexuals going to hell?"

...and so it goes.

I can even say something about heaven possibly being just another dimension, and no one will bat an eye...but when you mess with the conventional religious ideas about hell that exist in peoples' heads, you stir up a lot of stuff, and you find out how obsessed with it and even defensive for it many of them can be (and are).

In the last several years I’ve taught extensively on this subject, and have examined, in-depth, the four words that were translated into "hell" in the King James Version and in some other translations.

I’ve explained that the word "Sheol" was simply the Hebrew word for "the grave" or "the unseen", even though it was translated as "hell" in the Old Testament...look it up;

...that "Gehenna" (or the Valley of Hinnom) that Jesus referred to was in reality a literal, burning garbage dump right outside the city of Jerusalem, a very nasty place, indeed (I've been there, and it's actually quite nice now, especially since they stopped sacrificing babies to the god Molech there...a well-kept grassy area at the foot of the Mount of Olives)...but when Jesus discussed Gehenna in His teachings (the word that Bible interpreters centuries later decided to call "hell"), his audience had no concept of a fiery place of eternal punishment at the center of the earth...maybe because they would have assumed then that the earth was flat...or maybe because He was pointing to the geographical location of Gehenna when He referred to it (it's literally right outside the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem). But whatever the case, the Jews didn't preach eternal punishment, so it would have never entered their minds that that was what He was talking about in the Sermon on the Mount...maybe because that was NOT what He was talking about!

...that "Tartarus" was a place of confinement for rebellious angels until the reconciliation of all things;

...and that "Hades", a word that Jesus only used twice, is the name of the pagan god of the underworld in Greek mythology, and was used as the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol.

I’ve also made mention of the fact that "hell" was never once mentioned in the original (Hebrew) language of the Old Testament. A place of eternal punishment is nowhere to be found in the OT. Adam and Eve were told they would die for transgressing the commandment of God...not go to a place called hell. Moses said that those who violated the Ten Commandments would be executed...not go to a place called hell. The inhabitants of the cities that were destroyed by fire only experienced a physical death...they were never threatened with a place of eternal punishment.

David actually said "If I make my bed in the grave (not in "hell" as it reads in some translations), behold you are there"...he also said, "You will not leave my soul in the grave..." (not in "hell" as many people teach today)...

David never heard of hell.

Nor did Abraham or Moses or Elijah or Isaiah, or any of the other prophets...the concept of a place of eternal punishment was borrowed from other religions and inserted into Christianity some centuries after Jesus walked the earth.

There is no hell mentioned anywhere in any of Paul’s Epistles.


John’s prophetic vision of a "Lake of Fire" in The Revelation was from the Greek word pur, and was symbolic of God’s purifying fire (same root as "baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire" or "our God is a consuming fire"). I’ve even written about and spoken on the topic of "The Second Death", or when Hades ("hell" in the KJV) is thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14), and how it literally refers simply to "the death of death", proving that "hell" and the "Lake of Fire" are two completely different things.

That being said, and in spite of all that I’ve expressed, the point of our theology should never be about disproving the existence of a literal "hell" or a place of eternal punishment and damnation for the wicked or unsaved.

As I said in the last chapter, I never want to be known for not believing in something.

The main theme and constant of everything that we study and believe should always be the complete triumph of the Lamb of God!

You, know...the GOOD NEWS!

In other words, if there were a thousand literal, eternally burning hells, the redeeming power of the Lamb’s ultimate and bloody sacrifice on the cross, His miraculous resurrection, and His subsequent intercession for all of humanity (Hebrews 7:25) would still be a stronger force than all the combined hells that anyone could imagine!

That’s why we behold the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world; it’s not about what we don’t believe in, it’s about in what—or rather in Whom—we believe!

And because we believe in Him, we behold Him (not the absence of hell, or the presumed liberty or imagined sins of others)...and because we behold Him, we worship Him in Spirit and in truth!

So here's the big question...

QUESTION #5: Do You believe in a literal hell?

Answer #5:
Here's what I BELIEVE IN...I BELIEVE in the living God Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10), and that His salvation will ultimately reconcile all of humanity to Himself...

I BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), and I believe in beholding the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)...

I BELIEVE that every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will eventually bow, and that every tongue in heaven and on earth and under the earth will eventually confess to the glory of God that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9, 10)…

I BELIEVE that all were condemned in Adam, but all are justified in Christ (Romans 5:17-21), for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22), so I BELIEVE we were lost in Adam, but found in Christ…condemned in Adam, but justified in Christ…dead in Adam, but alive in Christ…

I BELIEVE that Jesus Christ was and is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:22)...

I BELIEVE that He has removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)...

I BELIEVE we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4)...

I BELIEVE that, because Jesus was lifted up from the earth on the cross, He will ultimately draw (the Greek uses the word "drag") all peoples unto Himself (John 12:32), but that we can all still come to Him of our own free will…

I BELIEVE that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all humanity shall see it together (Isaiah 40:5)…

I BELIEVE that He will pour out of His Spirit on all humanity (Joel 2:28)…

I BELIEVE that every eye shall see Him (Revelation 1:7)...

I BELIEVE that it is not His will that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9)...

I BELIEVE that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people (Titus 2:11)...

I BELIEVE that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them (2 Corinthians 5:19)...

I BELIEVE that God has not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9)...

I BELIEVE that we will not all sleep in death, but we shall all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51)...

I BELIEVE that all things shall be made subject to Him so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28)...

I BELIEVE that Christ is all and is in all (Colossians 3:11).

I know that's a long answer...I actually could have made it a lot longer...but I think you get the point.

Bottom line, I'm not trying to disprove the existence of hell to anyone...I just want everyone to know the GOOD NEWS.

God wins.

Love wins.

God is love.

God loves you as you are because He made you as you are.

Last Adam trumps first Adam.

Jesus wasn't delusional when He said on the cross, "It is finished!"

It really was.

And is., that's GOOD NEWS!


oneworld said...

Nice blog.

Don C. said...

And because we believe in Him, we behold Him (not the absence of hell, or the presumed liberty or imagined sins of others)...and because we behold Him, we worship Him in Spirit and in truth!
What a concept!

Donald said...

I am here to openly declare to you that there is a hell and it is a place of torment!!!!!!!!
It is called the Goodwill store and I just got roped into going to it.