In the past 20+ years I have encountered an incredible number of positions on the matter of Hell. The Jehova´s Witness deny it´s existence even though it is found in the text of their misinterpretation, known as the New World Translation, makes a great deal of mention about it. The Universalists deny it´s eternal nature because it is their position, as explained to me, that everyone goes to Heaven… we just use different routes to get there. Then there are a group of New Testament Christians (oxymoron) that teach that God is love (this is true) and a loving God will never send anyone to eternal suffering in Hell. There are a whole catalog of other positions, none of them based on the Bible, so let´s look at scripture for a moment.
Luk 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Luk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Luk 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Luk 16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Luk 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luk 16:22 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;
Luk 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luk 16:24 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.
Luk 16:25 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.
Luk 16:26 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.
Luk 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
Luk 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Luk 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Luk 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Luk 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
In verse fifteen we find Jesus making a remarkable and very note worthy statement that, when meditated on, has some very serious and note worthy points to consider. The Pharisees are the people being addressed in these remarks, so Jesus is speaking to and of the very religious Church Leaders of that day. Just like the most noticeable Christians of today these men are content with their position and seem to have grown some rather long pointed noses to look down as they examine folks of less stature. In verse fifteen Jesus delivers a blow, right to the mid-section.
These rulers had taken on the air of self righteousness as do a, far to, large portion of the Church Families today. Much to often, in today´s church, the average member has never read his or her Bible through the first time but instead have latched on to this or to that verse and use that, single, verse for their Justification. The Christian Adulterer (oxymoron) often will devote a good deal of effort to condemning the Homosexual, the Rapist, the Thief or some other class of sinner to make him or herself feel good about their ¨lessor¨ sin!
Now, there is a great deal more to be learned from this passage of scripture but for the moment, at least, let´s move into what some call a Parable and others, like myself, view as a literal story told to us by Jesus. It matters not, one´s position on this story being literal or parable, there is a lesson to be learned and in this story, several lessons.
Hell is a touchy subject and one that receives far to little attention in today´s, much more, liberal assemblies. The first thing I seek to do when I hear Hell mentioned is to figure out the speaking individual´s definition of Hell. Most of the Christian Church will admit that it exists but will not teach on it because it is divisive and does not seem to build numbers in the attendance column.
My understanding of Hell is from the scriptures and more often than not I am told that I´m all wet. My view on the passage above has a very large bearing on my definition of Hell. We find here that Lazarus has gone to Abraham´s Bosom, also known as Paradise from the account of the Thief on the cross, and the Rich Man we see in Hell. We know that Paradise has been emptied out (Matt. 27:52, 53) and we know that the people in Hell are there until the Second Resurrection, coming after the Millennial Reign of the Christ. (Rev. 20:1-14)
What I hope all can see here is that Hell will end up in the Lake of Fire, a.k.a. The Abyss, but Hell is not there now. For this reason, when I speak of Hell, I am not speaking of the final destination of the unforgiven. Actually, this, for the sake of P.R. and unity in the Church, where it is important, is for every Christian to agree on. The childish, sporadic debates that take place in public discussions and public forums does great damage to the Witness of today´s Christian. When we attack one another, because we do not understand the other´s position we look very foolish and under educated.
One more of the parallels I´m famous for. When I landed in the 229th ASH Bn. Before I could get my feet on the ground there was a nineteen year old WO I trying to get me to commit to flying with him and noone else. Before I landed he had already checked me out, records and reputation. (The men in the U.S. Army´s Aviation wing are very tight knit.) This one of the kids that knew better than to trust anybody over thirty, I´m already twenty-four but he saw that I was to be the Senior Huey Crewchief and he wanted only the best.
He questioned me for over twenty minutes about the aircraft to find out if I was for real and all of my answers were spot on. If we, the Christians, do not appear to know what it is we speak of, would you want to follow us?