Is Hell a real place?
[Note: This series of questions about Heaven and the Eternal State were sent in to Lamb & Lion Ministries and answered by Dr. David Reagan, Nathan Jones, and Tim Moore on our television program Christ in Prophecy.]
Dr. Reagan: A person wrote into our ministry saying their pastor is claiming that Hell is merely a metaphor for the suffering that people experience in this life. In fact, I would say that’s the position taken by many of the mainline denominations today.
Tim Moore: Then I’m going to shock many people with this answer — Hell is absolutely for real!
Famed author C.S. Lewis once said this about Hell: “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.” And yet, Lewis knew that the concept of Hell has the full support of Scripture, specifically from our Lord’s own words. Hell as a literal place has always historically been held by Christendom, and it also has the support of reason.
Jesus Christ spoke more about Hell than He did about Heaven. He warned people to flee from the wrath to come and so avoid Hell. Jesus gave many very clear descriptions about Hell and spoke about it often enough.
Dr. Reagan: Logically, if we are going to help responsible for the decisions that we make in this life, then there has to be a Hell.
We’d also have to differentiate between Hades and Hell. A lot of people are confused that Hades, also called Sheol or Torments in the Bible, where the Unredeemed go when they die and await to be resurrected at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. Nobody resides in Hell right now. The Unredeemed wait in Hades for final judgment and then Hell.
Nathan Jones: Jesus explained that Hell was originally created for Satan and the demons. But, when mankind fell into sin, we also fell under the same punishment that is awaiting Satan. And so, when people die in their unbelief today, their souls will travel to Hades and await with the other Unredeemed until their resurrection and trial at the Great White Throne Judgment. Since they rejected Jesus’ lifeline of salvation, God’s wrath remains on them, and so they will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which is another name for Hell. The afterlife for the Unredeemed, therefore, falls into two parts or phases.
The biblical descriptions for Hades and Hell are very similar. There’s heat and yet darkness, the sound of the gnashing of teeth, terrible loneliness, and crying and despair. These and other horrible characteristics describe both Hades and Hell.
Dr. Reagan: When we talk about the fact that people who are lost are first going to a place called Hades, we are not talking about Purgatory. There is no Purgatory. No, rather Hades is a holding place for the spirits of those who have rejected the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Torments, as Jesus calls it, is a compartment in Hades. The name Torments pretty much indicates what is going to be going on there. Those of us who are believers in Christ, we don’t go to the Paradise compartment of Hades anymore, like the Old Testament saints did, rather since Christ’s resurrection the faithful go directly to Heaven upon death. Again, Christians don’t need to be purged in some imaginary Purgatory because Christ’s blood has cleansed us of our sins and made us pure before our Heavenly Father.
Tim Moore: When Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16, He revealed that the Rich Man was residing in a place of torment, pain, and suffering. His soul had been banished to that Torments section of Hades where he awaits his inevitable judgment and sentence to Hell.
Is Jesus the only way to get to Heaven?
Dr. Reagan: Christianity is often called intolerant by pluralists because we claim based on the Bible that one must accept Jesus Christ as their Savior in order to get into Heaven. What about Jews and Muslims and Hindus and the Buddhists? Why shouldn’t they be granted entry into Heaven?
Tim Moore: I wouldn’t call Christianity intolerant, but I would call Christianity crystal clear about the means of salvation. That’s because Jesus Himself was crystal clear. He said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” That’s a crystal clear statement.
The Apostle Paul reiterated over and over again that Jesus Christ is the only way into Heaven. Luke wrote in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Again in 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.”
I would reply referring to Jews and Buddhists and Hindus and all of the other people who have been raised in their religions: “You are welcome to come to Jesus Christ. He will accept anyone who comes to Him in faith and repentance.”
A number of Jews consider themselves cultural Jews by heritage, so there are actually Jewish believers in Jesus Christ, who are called Messianic Jews. There are many former Muslim believers in Jesus Christ. They have abandoned their faith in Allah and in Muhammad and now they confess Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. So, whatever a person’s heritage, Christianity is not intolerant. Rather, Christianity welcomes all people to come to the one means of salvation — the Way, Truth, and Life — Jesus Christ.
Nathan Jones: Christianity is all-inclusive to all people. It doesn’t matter what race, creed, color, or gender a person hails from. God the Father will accept you if you accept His Son.Nathan Jones: #Christianity is all-inclusive to all people. It doesn't matter what race, creed, color, or gender a person hails from. God the Father will accept you if you accept His Son. #salvation Click To Tweet
This Q&A series is also available in a video album which contains two DVD discs that feature seven television programs in which David Reagan, Tim Moore, and Nathan Jones respond to questions about the Bible and Bible prophecy. These programs are great for both individual and group study and provide an excellent starting point for discussion.