Heaven, Hell, and Hades (part 1)
Greetings precious people. Beginning in todayís article I would like to start a three part series on subjects that are controversial to say the least and by their very nature stir up all kinds of thoughts and emotions. The subject is Heaven, Hell, and Hades. There is no shortage of "opinion" on these subjects. Living in a very opinionated society as we do, we have the tendency to think that our opinion is of the utmost importance and that because it is our opinion it makes what we think about any given subject right.
Concerning Heaven, Hell, and Hades, you too may have heard some of the popular opinions of our day. Opinions such as, "Heaven and Hell are here on earth", "Heaven and Hell are what you make it to be", "There is no such place as Heaven and Hell", and "How could a loving God create such a place, let alone send anyone there?" Some of you reading this article may have the same or similar thoughts. Over the next few weeks we will be examining what the Word of God, the Bible, has to say about Heaven, Hell, and Hades.
Let me take a moment and explain the reason why week after week, we examine the various topics in light of what the Bible says. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God to man. The Bible, is the Inspired (God breathed) Word of God. In 2 Peter 1:16-21, "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." And in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
The Bible stands alone, above and beyond all other "religious" books. It is truth; it interprets itself and has no need of any outside resources to prove its claim to being the Word of God. Many times when an important archeological or scientific discovery is made, some Christians make the mistake of believing that these discoveries "prove" the Bible. This is not the case at all; rather the Bible proves their authenticity.
Prophecy (the foretelling of the future) is what makes the Bible stand apart from all other books. Another important aspect of the Bible that differentiates it from all others, is its power to change and transform peopleís lives. 1 Thessalonians 1:5, "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance." And in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."
Heaven and Hell are very real places; Jesus spoke much about both. He did not speak of them in hopes of inciting a false fear or hope. He spoke of them as very real places in which every living soul will spend eternity in one place or the other. Heaven and Hell is not what you make it. God has already made it and nothing that you or I do or think can change that. Some things that you are going through in life may be extremely difficult or they may be very blissful, but this is not Heaven or Hell. Life to a certain degree may be what you make of it, but not Heaven and Hell.
Hades and Hell are often spoken of as though they were the same place, they are not. They are two separate and different places. Hell, of which we will look at more later, is that eternal abode of the Devil and all of his demons, and those that have rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Hades is the place of the dead.
Jesus spoke of Hades in Luke 16:19-31, "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "
Hades was comprised of two compartments. There was the place known as Abrahamís Bosom. Those that believed in the Savior, the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord prior to Jesusí death and resurrection went there after they died. It is also known as Paradise in the Bible. Once Jesus arose from the dead, He led those that were held here to Heaven. The other compartment is where the "rich man" from the above text went. This is the place where all mankind from the beginning of time go. Those that have rejected Jesus Christ their entire life and are awaiting the Great Judgement spoken of in Revelation 20.
Once a person is here there is no hope. There is no such place as Purgatory which is money making invention of the Roman Catholic Church. Only in this present life is there the opportunity to repent of sin, turn to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and have the assurance of Heaven. Once death comes, there are no more opportunities regardless of the amount of money that surviving families and relatives pay or prayers that are prayed or candles that are lit. The Bible clearly states in Hebrews 9:27-28, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."
There is only one way to escape this horrible place known as Hades. It is through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in what He did for you on the cross of Calvary. Do you know Him as Lord and Savior? Is He the Lord of your life? Are you living for Him?
Next time we will look at what the Bible has to say concerning Heaven and Hell. Until then may the Lord richly bless you.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine