Do you believe hell is read? A recent purported statement by the head of the Catholic Church sent shock waves around the world. In a recent Italian newspaper article, the pope is reported to have reinterpreted Catholic doctrine by stating that there is no hell. His alleged stance on this subject is raising the hackles of theologians and leaving churchgoers scratching their heads. Could it be right? Is there no hell?

According to an article written in the Boston Herald (April 1, 2018), “There is no hell,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying in an interview published this week with La Republica founder Eugenio Scalfari — an atheist friend of the pontiff. Apparently in lieu of hell, he has determined, “There is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

To many the concept of no hell should be of no surprise, really. Satan has been on a campaign to eliminate the reality of hell since the  beginning. The purpose of this newsletter is not to discuss what the pope has or has not said, but the place we read about in the Bible called hell. Is hell real? According to the Bible and Jesus specifically, hell is a real place.

There is a place inside the earth where the spirit of the unredeemed go after they die. Sheol (the place of the dead), is the Hebrew Old Testament word for Hades; used sixty-four times throughout the Old Testament. Gehenna is the Greek New Testament word  used to describe the place where both the righteous and the wicked go after they die. Sheol or Hades was divided into two sections, one for the godly, called Abraham’s bosom or Paradise (Luke 24:22-23), and the other section for the wicked, which was a place of torment. These two places were separated by a great gulf so that one could not pass from one side to the other (Luke 16). The New Testament confirms the Old Testament teaching, and Jesus gives more revelation on this subject.

This place of Sheol or Hades was created for the eternal parts of mankind (their spirit and soul) to reside after death. Once Jesus defeated death and rose to Heaven, from that time on, those who die and are righteous, their spirit and soul go to Heaven immediately upon death. The wicked will remain in Hades until the Great White Throne Judgement when they will be sentenced and thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternity. Hell is like a holding cell in jail before sentencing. Then once sentenced at the final judgement, those in hell will be sent to prison (the Lake of Fire) to serve out their sentence for eternity.

Many political leaders and popular preachers want very much to tell people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. So, alluding to the fact that there is no hell, is a popular lie in today’s world. But according to the teachings of Jesus, hell is real–as real as Heaven. Jesus constantly warned of going to hell. And if it were not a real place of punishment… there would be nothing to warn the people about. Both heaven and hell are eternal habitations once our life on this earth is done.

You can’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible are true. You either believe it all or throw it all out. And beware… just saying something isn’t true doesn’t make it not true.

Let’s look a little deeper at what Jesus said about hell: Mark 9:43-44 explains, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched–“where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Take note that this scripture says, “Their worm.” It’s not talking about “a” worm. So matter how one interprets those words, it can’t be good.

Look at this verse: “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world…” (2 Peter 2:4-5). There is a real place that is reserved for the fallen angels and for those who do not accept the lifeline God has given through Jesus.

The above verse is seldom talked about. Angels, as God created them, are spirit beings. Even though man has no body after death, he continues to exist. Take note that both the angels who sinned (those that joined Lucifer) and those in the ancient world, are delivered to the same punishment.

Psalms 9:17 states, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” This is not talking about just the grave, but a state of being after death. Psalms. 55:15 says, “Let death seize them; let them go down alive into hell.” According to these scriptures it seems clear to me that the only way to get to hell is through the doorway of death as a non-believer.

Jesus said: “…and shall cast them into a FURNACE OF FIRE: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:42). And in Matthew 25:41, Jesus again said, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting FIRE. . .” “eternal fire.” And then there is the rich man in Luke 16:23-25, who said it was a “place of torment.” He cried out, “. . .I am tormented in this FLAME.” These are the words Jesus used when describing the rich man’s situation. This man was conscious. He was able to feel pain. He was able to speak.We read about, “fire and brimstone” in Revelations 14:10; 20:10; 21:8). If you’ll notice, hell is described in terms of fire and torment which can be felt. One can feel this torment even though one does not have a physical body. Interesting, huh?

I often think about the Book of Life. We read in Revelation 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the LAKE OF FIRE.” This isn’t fiction we’re talking about. Jesus said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

The great news is that Jesus was sent, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him would be saved. The consequence of not accepting God’s solution for one’s sinful condition is more serious than refusing a cure for a terminal disease on earth.

The majority of references to Hades or Gehenna (15 out of 23) come from the lips of Jesus Himself (with the exception of James speaking in 3:6). From my studies, Jesus was the only One to use the word Gehenna. That makes me want to determine its meaning. So here’s what I’ve learned.

South of Jerusalem there is the Valley of Hinnom, called “Gehenna.” This was a filthy place. The refuse and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned there. Hell is a place of punishment for the dead, called “Gehenna.” Jesus often used various illustrations the people of His day were familiar with. This was used as a visual symbol of the wicked and their future destination if they do not repent. Keep in mind, however, how easy it is to escape hell. As easy as opening your heart and saying, “God, I’m sorry. Forgive me. I believe Jesus is Your Son and He was raised from the dead. I give my life to You.”

Jesus said, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” Luke 12:4-5. This is talking about after one dies. There would be nothing to fear if we don’t exist after death, right? There would be nothing to fear if there is no hell, as the Pope declares.

In Matthew 13:30 Jesus, using a parable said, “Let both [tares and wheat] grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into My barn.” Here unbelievers are spoken of as tares, believers as wheat. Two classes of people are separated in the judgment. One goes into his barn as a harvest of good, the other into the furnace to be burned.

At the end of this age, everyone will acknowledge Jesus is truly the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He is the Lamb of God sent to bring salvation for those who believe on Him. Even nonbelievers from all over the world will acknowledge His Lordship in the end. Unfortunately, it will be too late. Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

If you have doubt about what the pope and others are saying that there is no hell…do your own research. Pull out a good Bible (not a paraphrase) and look up all the references, all the scriptures and teachings about hell. Before you read, ask God to open your spiritual eyes so that you can see truth. God will be faithful to any who search truth with diligence and openness.

Please let us know about your prayer requests as well as answers to prayer. We do pray for you. Be mindful of the fact that “God is able to do exceedingly above all we can ask or think according to the power that works in us.” God’s word is the seed. And don’t forget, with God nothing is impossible!

Sent with love and prayers

Dale & Paula

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