Reading: Matthew 18:8-9
In my previous post I have laid out my first argument on why I believe hell is real—I did not mean to be preachy (apologies, I thought I sounded a bit one!), but rather making stable the ground I am standing on—and if this also helps your faith to be less shaky, then I am blest!
My first argument was if hell, as we’ve always thought it to be, is not real (or just eternal unconsciousness), why would the Apostle Paul endanger himself every hour (1 Cor.15) to give us the gospel of resurrection, and why would Jesus rather have it that we enter life maimed than be “thrown into the fire of hell”? And most of all—why would Jesus give up His life for us, in exchange for us to avoid a mere eternal slumber? Surely hell must be more serious than that!
My second argument will be found in Revelation 20—you can have a quick read if you click on the link (it is only 15 verses), and if you wish you can carry on up to Revelation 21:1-8. In Revelation 20 we read how the Apostle John saw the souls of the beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus. Then they came to life—the first resurrection, after which they reigned with Christ a thousand years. After the thousand years, the “sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done” (v.13). (Remember Hades? That’s where the soul of the rich man went while Lazarus’ was carried to Abraham’s bosom. I’ve heard some say that the rich man and Lazarus story is just a parable so Hades as a place of punishment could not be true. I think it’s a true story, but regardless, why would Jesus use a parable that would mislead our understanding of our eternal choices and consequent destination?)
So that is how I understand v.13—there is another resurrection. And those whose names were not found in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire (v.15). So, my second argument is: if hell is just an everlasting unconsciousness—why bother to resurrect the wicked and give them the judgment of an eternal slumber—isn’t that a relief from their temporary residence in Hades? Where is judgment (see also 2 Peter 2:4)?
You might also ask why bother to resurrect the rich man from Hades to put him back to Hades, but to Hades he will not go back, but, together with death and Hades, they will be thrown into the lake of fire. Now I’m moving to my third argument—to counter the statement that because death itself will be thrown into hell, there is no more death, God has gotten rid of it, and it’s a reward of life for the righteous and just inexistence for the wicked (because with death gotten rid of, the latter could also no longer die). But isn’t it more obvious now—there has just been a resurrection of the wicked, and those whose names were not found in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire—yes, there is no more physical death—they will be thrown into hell alive!!!!! In Hades their souls were in torment while their bodies were dead. But In hell, their resurrected bodies will find their eternal destination.
How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:29-31 (NIV)