Monday, 26 March 2012

Going through hell?

The last few posts have been on this serious subject of hell, and I want to put something else up on it.

Sometimes when people have gone through a particularly harrowing experience they will speak about having gone through hell, and while we can understand their sentiments, they are dead wrong - no one goes through hell.  The awful reality is people go to it, and they aren't just passing through.

The warning of the Lord was to fear God who has power to cast into hell (Luke 12 v 5).  The name of this place in Revelation 20 v 15 is the Lake of Fire.  The definition of "lake" is a body of water surrounded by land.  Perhaps even the very use of the word "lake" is intended to convey the fact that you go in, but don't come out.  In Revelation 20 v 10 we find the prophecy about the devil being cast into the Lake of Fire where two men had been cast a thousand years earlier (Revelation 19 v 20) - the two men after a thousand years were still there, and the Scripture says that they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever - they aren't coming out, and that is where all are going who have not their names in the Book of Life, heaven's role book - those who have been born again.  Little wonder the Lord said to His disciples "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10 v 20)

However, that being said, there is one unique man, who in a very real way did go through hell.  It was the Lord Jesus Christ, because on the cross He suffered what the lost deserve to suffer.  The Bible says "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53 v 5).

The Lord Jesus entered into the judgment of God, and experienced what the Bible calls "the pains of hell", but He did what no sinner will ever do - He exhausted God's judgment, satisfied God's justice and said "It is finished!"  He had in a sense passed through hell, and emerged on the other side of judgment.  For those who trust Him, we are linked with Him on the other side of judgment too, so there is no judgment for us (see Romans 8:1; 1John 4 v 17; John 5 v 24).

It is important to notice that the Lord actually, consciously suffered for our sins - it is another proof that annihilation is a wrong doctrine.  The Lord went to the cross to take the place of the guilty, and He suffered.  He was not annihilated on the cross - He experienced the agony of being abandoned by God, and being put to grief as He was made a guilt offering (see Psalm 22 v 1 & Isaiah 53 v 10).

Furthermore, the Lord wasn't annihilated after His death.  Scripture is perfectly clear that the thief was with Him in Paradise that day (Luke 23 v 39-43).  Some have tried to get around that by changing the punctuation to read, "I say to you today, you shall be with Me..." but such a change has nothing going for it and a lot against it.  Firstly, the flow of conversation makes it clear what is being said - the thief asks to be remembered on that future day when the Lord comes in His Kingdom, but the Lord tells him that he's going to get more than he asked for - "Today you will be with Me in Paradise" - the thief didn't have to wait until some far off future day.  Now that to me is so obviously what is being said, and hopefully it's clear to you too.  Secondly, "Truly I say to you today" is a clumsy, jarring, redundant expression that the Lord never makes on any other occasion, yet to save a paradigm people will put it into His mouth here.  Thirdly, not one Bible translation I know of renders it that way - are we to suppose that they've all got it wrong?  Wait, actually, there is one version renders it that way - the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation!  Enough said!

The Lord told us on other occasions He would be conscious between His death and resurrection, because He was actually personally and actively involved in His own resurrection! (See John 2 v 19-22; 10 v 17-18).

The Lord passed through God's judgment, make sure you trust Him to save you, or you'll pass into it, and never come out.