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You Are Here: Bridge / Galley / Ask The Pastor / Question 154
I have enclosed an article where Bro. _____ teaches that Jesus went to the fires of Hell for three days to pay for our sins because the Bible says that Christ's soul was not left in Hell. He says that all the Old Testament saints went to Heaven as soon as they died because Hell can only refer to a place of torment. He says that in Luke 16 "Abraham's bosom" is Heaven, and that when Christ said the thief on the cross would be with Him in Paradise that meant that the thief was going directly to Heaven, and that since Jesus is omnipresent He was going to be in suffering in Hell and in Heaven with the thief at the same time. What do you think about this?
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I think that Bro. _____ has some good observations here in his description of what the torments of Hell are like, but he completely misses the boat on where Jesus went to after His death. In fact, by missing it, I think he denigrates Christ's death on the cross and borders on heresy with regards to the doctrine of salvation.
He is correct in his assessment of Hell up to a point. He does fail to differentiate between the words that are translated "Hell" in the New Testament: "hades" and "gehenna". For example, Luke 16 uses "hades", while Mark 9 uses "gehenna". That is worth noting. By the way, in the Old Testament passages that he quotes, the word for "pit" and "Hell" is "Sheol", a word which is translated "pit" 3 times, "Hell" 31 times, and "grave" 31 times. So, according to Bro. _____'s hermeneutics, the Bible would indicate that Hell and the grave are the same place. Isn't that what the JW's believe?
Obviously, Hell and the grave are not the same place, so the words must be used for things that are similar, but not identical. This certainly agrees with the concept that there are two sections of Hell, or Hades as the Greek language says (remember that in the Greek mindset Hades was the abode of the dead, not just the wicked). Luke 16 talks about a place that has two sections divided by a great gulf. I don't know how it took place, but a conversation occurred between Abraham and the rich man. Bro. _____ builds a straw man when he says that they couldn't have been in two different compartments of the same place because they couldn't talk over the screams and couldn't see because of the darkness. First, he is making an assumption. Second, if he says that a miracle could have occurred so that Abraham could have been in Heaven and the rich man in Hell, why couldn't a "miracle" have occurred where they were both in Hell, just on different sides of the great gulf? They were in two different locations in the same general place. I believe it is clear that both of these locations were in "Hell", the place that the dead went to to await their final and eternal destiny. One was a place of torment, the other a place of bliss.
By the way, since Bro. _____ is so quick to say that "paradise" can't be in "Hell", how can he be so quick to announce that "Abraham's bosom" is Heaven? Any proof? Also, Bro. _____ makes this statement,
"The reader of Luke 16 should have already read the previous 988 chapters of the Bible and learned that those who are saved go to heaven upon physical death."
What verse does he base that on? I just read every verse in the Old Testament and all the verses in Matthew, Mark, and the first 15 chapters of Luke that contains the word "Heaven". NOT ONE says that people who are saved go to Heaven upon physical death. Now, we know that is what happens, but we know that from verses that are written AFTER the death and resurrection of Christ (II Cor 5:6-8). The closest you get is Elijah going up to Heaven in the chariot of fire. Let's examine his situation. First, he wasn't dead yet. Second, the word translated "heaven" there is the same word used for Genesis 1:14 for the place where the sun and moon are, and in Genesis 1:20 for the place where the birds fly. Third, Bro. _____ makes a big deal of the fact that he went "up", but what other way would a chariot go? Down into the ground? And, while we are on the subject of up vs. down, when Saul went to the witch at Endor and carried on his discussion with Samuel, from which direction did Saul ask him to be brought, and from which direction does Samuel say he came? I Sam 28:11 says,
"Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel."
I Sam 28:15 says,
"And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?"
Saul expected Samuel to be in the earth, and Samuel says that he came up from within the earth. Do you think Saul thought that Samuel was frying in a burning Hell? Do you think Samuel lied when he spoke? If not, then Samuel did not descend from Heaven, and Saul did not expect him to.
Let's get back to "paradise". Jesus said,
"Today though shalt be with me in Paradise."
I think Bro. _____'s position that since Jesus was omnipresent He was in both Heaven and Hell at the same time after His death is a real stretch in order to attempt to justify his doctrine. If Jesus went to the flames of Hell after His death, then so did the thief on the cross. Why didn't Christ say to both thieves: "Today both of you will continue to be with me, one in paradise and one in Hell."
It is simply illogical and unnecessary to come to the conclusion on this that Bro. _____ does. John 6:22 says that
"Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat."
Therefore, it is apparent that Jesus was not always physically present with His followers, so to try to justify the position that Jesus burned in Hell when He said he would be in Paradise because He can be in both places at the same time just doesn't work.
FYI: while Bro. _____ accuses those that believe that Jesus went to Paradise as holding to a Catholic position, his position that Jesus went to a burning Hell is held mostly by the Word of Faith Pentecostal movement (Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick Price, all believe this, and we know what heretics they are). These are, of course, people who find more authority in their personal experiences that in the Scriptures.
Bro. _____ asks this question:
"If “paradise” was the Old Testament location for the departed saints, why is the word never mentioned in the Old Testament?"
This is another straw man. If there is a Trinity, why doesn't the Bible use the word Trinity (another JW argument)? Since according to Acts 2 there is no other name whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus, why doesn't His name occur once in the Old Testament? The argument from silence is always the weakest argument.
New topic: David wrote
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:9-10).
I understand that David is prophesying here, but did He understand all that? Did he expect to go to a burning Hell? Think about Peter's discussion of this verse .
“For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Acts 2:25-27) .
Peter explains that this isn't David, but refers to Christ. So does that mean that the Jews who were listening thought that it meant that David was burning in Hell? If they thought that it only referred to David then they had to believe (if Bro. _____ is correct) that David was frying like a sausage at that moment. You know as well as I do that they didn't believe that.
Psalm 139:8 says,
"If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there".
Did David think that it was a possibility that he himself would go to a burning Hell? He must have considered it to at least be a possibility, if Bro. _____ is correct.
There are additional problems that arise if the only Hell that exists in the Bible is a burning place of torment and punishment, which is what Bro. _____ teaches. First, how did Old Testament believers get to Heaven, which is where Bro. _____ says that they went immediately upon death? If they got to Heaven before the sacrifice for sin was made on the cross, then they got to Heaven either based upon works, keeping the Law, or animal sacrifices. They may have had faith, but the sin debt still had to be paid. No one could receive the consummation of salvation until the sin debt was satisfied, and that only happened at the cross. So, if the debt hadn't been paid, where did the Old Testament believers go while they were waiting for it to be paid? The Bible answer is: to a section of Hell known as Abraham's bosom or Paradise where they were in great comfort.
Second, if Jesus Christ is the firstfruits of them that slept, how did all these other people get to Heaven before He did? How did He "lead captivity captive" if they were already in Heaven?
Third, if Christ had to go to a burning Hell to suffer for our sins, then the cross really doesn't save anyone. When Jesus said,
"It is finished".
He didn't really mean that. When He cried out,
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me",
He really didn't understand how bad it was really going to get for the next three days The Bible says that Jesus made "one sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:12). Was that on the cross or in Hell? Look at these verses:
1Co 1:17 "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." - It is the cross that has an effect.
Eph 2:16 "And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:' - it is the cross that reconciles.
Col 1:20 "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." - It is the cross that reconciles.
Col 1:21-22 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death" - It is His death that reconciles.
Heb 12:2 "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." - Jesus endured the cross, not Hell.
Rom 5:10 "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." - His physical death reconciled us, not some "second death".
Heb 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." - Christ tasted death for every man, not a burning Hell.
Heb 2:14 "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;" - Jesus destroyed Satan through His death, not burning in Hell.
Heb 9:15 "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." - His death provided for redemption, not His burning.
Lastly, let's look at the argument that the burnt offerings of the Old Testament show that Jesus burned in Hell. First, the sacrifices that were burned in the Old Testament were completely consumed, but Christ was not, even under Bro. _____'s theory. He gives this list of things that happened to the sacrifice:
- chosen (Matthew 12:18)
- examined (Luke 23:14)
- killed (Acts 3:15)
- blood applied (Hebrews 12:24)
- roast with fire (Jonah 2:2)
- eaten (John 6:54)
All of these were fulfilled in Jesus, except the 5th, even in Bro. _____'s position. He was literally chosen, literally examined, literally killed, and his blood literally applied, and Christ Himself said that His flesh had to be eaten (of course this is spiritual and not physical). However, Jesus was not burned to the point of non-existence, which is what happened to the Passover lamb. Anything that was left over until morning was to be burned. Did Jesus cease to exist as the Passover lamb, and all the other "thousands upon thousands of burnt offerings offered throughout the Old Testament", did? Obviously not.
Second, let's look at the entire Passover passage. The Bible says that the lamb was to be "a male of the first year". Was Jesus only one year old? The lamb could be taken "from the sheep, or from the goats". Since in Matthew 25 sheep refer to followers of God and goats refer to those who go into everlasting punishment, does this mean that Christ could have been someone Who did not follow God? I mean, if the lamb could have been a goat, and goats go to Hell forever, then this causes real problems. Obviously then, the concept that every aspect of the Passover lamb has direct correlation to Jesus falls apart. Should we wait four days after choosing Him to actually apply His blood to our hearts? Are there three places that we need to apply the blood in our lives in order to be saved? If we don't have our shoes on when we take Christ are we in sin? Sometimes we get in trouble when we force EVERY aspect of a type to mean something spiritual. For example: Noah's ark is a picture of salvation. However, Noah worked for many years to build it. Does that mean that salvation only comes through our works? Again, obviously not.
- "Hell" in the Bible does not always mean a place of torment. "Gehenna" does, but "sheol" and "hades" do not
- If you take the story of the rich man and Lazarus literally, you come to the conclusion that they were in two different areas of the same place
- Neither Samuel nor David were burning in Hell, and no one expected them to be, yet David speaks of being in Hell himself, and Samuel came "up"
- Old Testament saints could not have gone to Heaven before the sin debt was paid on the cross.
- Jesus went to Paradise. He was not trying to fool the thief on the cross - they were both going to the same place as a literal interpretation of that passage would indicate
- Christ's sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to pay the debt for sin. To say that something more was required is to ignore the clear teachings of Scripture.
Hope this gives you some things to think about.