Matthew 7:13-14 Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it:
Eternal Death - Hades
I Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, who at one time were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared, wherein few, (that is, eight souls) were saved by water.
What does this verse tell us? Simply that when Jesus died He went and preached to the spirits in prison. He did this by the Spirit and this was a one time occurrence. The prison is a place where those people who died without believing go to wait until the judgment. It is a holding place, a place of captivity. They are being held captive there under guard just like someone might be in prison on earth.
Luke 16:19-31 There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously everyday. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried. And in hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. And 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 thou in thy lifetime received thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that they who would pass from here to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from there.’ Then he said, ‘I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them lest they also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham said unto him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.’ And Abraham said unto him, ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.’
Here we see that Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom, but the rich man went to Hades. Hades is the name of the place where people who died without Jesus go to await their final judgment. In the Old Testament it is called Sheol and in the New Testament it is called Hades. We see this more clearly in...
Revelation 20:13-15 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and Hades delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Hades and hell are two different places. It says death and Hades delivered up the dead which were in them. Hades being the holding tank of lost souls has to give them up at the judgment. Then it says that death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. So right now Hades is not in the lake of fire (which is hell). Hades also will be cast into the lake of fire at the judgment. In Hades a person is in torment while awaiting judgment. There a person is not paying for their sins so they may go to heaven, God accepts no payment for sins from men, rather you are receiving the wages of your sin which is death. There is nothing a person can do to pay for their sin so that it might be erased neither is there anything that a person can do to earn a place in heaven. The question is not how good you are, the question is - have you sinned against God? The fact of your sin stays with you forever unless God Himself gets rid of it (which he does when you surrender to Jesus) otherwise you will bear it forever. Consider what God says...
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death...
Everyone has sinned, that includes you. You have earned something for sinning - death - you have earned it, you deserve it. Death belongs to you, and at the judgment you will receive what you have earned.
Jesus is so certain of judgment and death that at one point he referred to people who were living as being dead.
Matthew 8:22 Jesus said, “Follow Me and let the dead bury their own dead.”
The dead will appear before God at the final judgment. This takes place after the 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth. We find this in...
Revelation 20:4-15 And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hades delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:36 He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.
Jesus says that people who do not believe are already living under the judgment of God; that is, their judgment and doom is sure as long as they do not believe. The judgment is not a trial where your good and bad deeds are weighed in the balance of a scale. God knows everything about you already. The judgment is the second phase of your trial - the sentencing phase. Your first trial was here on earth. God has already seen that you are guilty of sin before him. He saw that while you lived your life on earth. Your guilt before Him is extremely obvious. Now as you stand before Him you will receive your sentence which is death. Since God is life, death is life without God at all. It is an existence that is so horrible it is hard to imagine. This is hell. All people who enter into Hades are destined to enter hell at the final judgment.
What about people who never heard about Jesus? In Romans 1 God says that everyone has His law written in their hearts and their conscience either convicts them or excuses them. Also the message of truth has been taught and spoken of since the beginning; Noah believed God, Enoch walked with God, Abraham obeyed God. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that God is not fair or that He is unjust. He is completely and absolutely just. Remember He knows everyone completely, He knows their heart and their conscience. We do not know everyone or everything, but God does! Is God required to explain himself to you or are you required to explain yourself to Him? Will God sit in judgment before you or will you sit in judgment before Him? Jesus is our judge.
II Thessalonians 1:8-9 The Lord Jesus will be dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed unto men once to die after this comes judgment.
Once you die there is no second chance. Remember the rich man? Jesus did not say when he died that he came back to live again in another form; No, he was in torment in Hades.
Hell - The Lake of Fire
Matthew 25:41 Then He will say to those on his left, depart from Me accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.
Here we see that hell was not made for man, but for the devil and his angels, but men will be sent there because that is what they have chosen. Hell was created. Hell is an actual place not a state of mind, awareness or feeling. Other verses refer to hell as “blackness of darkness” referring to the fact that there is no more hope at all. Hell is final.
Mark 9:47-48 ...be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
Matthew 5:29-30 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and cast from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Jesus is making the point here that hell is so terrible that it would actually be better to be lame or handicapped to avoid hell if that were possible which it is not. Would you want to live your life handicapped? Of course not! Then why would you choose to reject Jesus and go to hell! You can trust what Jesus says. Please realize that Jesus is NOT telling you to pluck out your eye to avoid hell, he is simply telling you how bad hell is and should be avoided at all cost!
Eternal Life and Heaven
EXAMPLE: The state of Texas has already determined that my son may drive a motor vehicle. He is only ten years old. The state of Texas has set up everything that will permit him to drive; they have places where he can go to obtain a drivers license, they have designed and administer driving tests, and they have passed all manner of laws regarding the obtaining and maintaining of his driving license. The state of Texas has done all it can do, so why doesn’t my son have a drivers license? Very simply, he has not done his part to obtain one. First he must live to be 16 years of age, then he must pass a written drivers exam, then he must pass a test involving the actual operation of a motor vehicle, then he must demonstrate that he can see properly, and then he must pay a fee and get his picture taken. The state of Texas has already determined that my 10 year old son may drive. As soon as he fulfills the requirements, the state will issue him a drivers license!
In the same way God has already determined who goes to hell and who goes to heaven. Very simply those who believe in Jesus and surrender to Him as their Lord, God and King are destined for heaven and those who reject Jesus are destined for hell. Our final destination depends on us not God. God is good and He simply gives us what we have chosen. We choose where we will go by either rejecting or surrendering to Jesus here on earth. God has done and is doing everything He can to help you to avoid hell and come to heaven. As soon as you do your part, God will grant you eternal life. Heaven is an actual place that God created. Heaven is the place where God and his angels live. Entrance into heaven will not be granted to anyone at the judgment. Entrance into heaven is granted to you while you are on earth. It is given to you and you receive it as a gift from God through faith in Jesus. When you do that you are given eternal life. Heaven is the final destination for those who already have eternal life. Just as earth is the dwelling place for those who have physical life, heaven is the dwelling place for those who have eternal life. First comes physical life, then you get to live that life on earth. It is the same with heaven. First you must possess eternal life, then you get to live that life in heaven with God, the angels, and all those who have received the gift of God namely Jesus. God says:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have everlasting life.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God...except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The way to God is not through being good! You will never go to heaven by being good- no one does! It is not through your efforts that you obtain eternal life, but rather it is through believing and receiving the efforts of Jesus. He lived a life without sin. He lived a life of oneness and unity with His Father, always saying what His Father said and always doing what His Father does. Then He paid the price or penalty for your sin which is death. He has done it all for you! He has done His part. Now you must do your part - you must believe and surrender yourself completely to Him. When you do He will send His Holy Spirit to live inside you - you will be changed and have the eternal life of God living inside you!
I Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
This says that those who believe in Jesus go immediately to heaven when they die. They do not go to purgatory to pay for their sins or do penance for their sins. We have already read “the wages of sin is death” - Jesus already paid for our sins on the cross - the payment was complete. When something is paid for you don’t pay for it again! We can trust what Jesus says, He is telling us the truth. God gives you life as a unique individual made in his image. The choice you make while on earth is a serious one and therefore God commands all men to “seek the Lord while He may be found”.
Revelation 2:7 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.
Luke 23:42-43 And he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Verily I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.”
The word ‘paradise’ in the Bible means park or garden. Paradise refers to the garden of God which is in heaven. We see from this scripture that Paradise is in heaven for that is where Jesus went to be with his father. So we also know that Paradise is not a holding area for believers but is a place in heaven. An example might be that in your city there is probably a garden or park and it is in the midst of your city. Revelation 22:2&14 says that the tree of life is in heaven and above we see that the tree of life is in the midst of Paradise. And again this verse shows that when a person dies they do not come back to live on earth in a different form or go to purgatory. A true believer goes immediately to heaven and an unbeliever goes to Hades to await judgment. Jesus did NOT say to the thief on the cross, “I am sorry you cannot come to paradise with me until you pay for your sins.” He did NOT say that - He said, “TODAY, YOU SHALL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE!”
If you were to die suddenly today where would you go - heaven or hell? Again I warn you not to answer that question based on your feelings or your desires or even worse your own opinion, but rather base the answer on what God says for that is the truth. Jesus said if you know and obey the truth you would be set free. Do you possess eternal life right now? You receive eternal life when you believe with your whole heart in the truth and reality of Jesus and surrender to Him as your Lord to love, follow and obey. You must openly follow Him with your whole heart and life and say so before others. Jesus says, “If you confess Me before men, I will also confess you before My Father. If you deny me before men I will deny you before My Father.” (Matthew 10:32, 33).
God says, “I am waiting for you with open arms and compassion to receive you. Receive my Son Jesus whom I gave for you so you may escape the judgment that lies ahead. Do not put Him off. Come to Jesus, come to Jesus today.”