IS THERE EVIDENCE OF A LITERAL HELL, AND IS IT FOREVER?
by John Clark
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The Christian Bible makes many references to a place described as hell. Verses scattered throughout tell of an afterlife that is so horrible it is beyond human endurance-a place described as eternal conscious torment, agony, and burning. It is the abode of Satan and his demons.
One of the most common and graphic passages is found in Luke 16:22-31. Some people like to try and make a case that this is not a literal place, but there is no conclusive literary or contextual evidence that points to that. In this story Jesus makes reference to two "certain" men, one of whom went to a place of judgment and torment and the other to heaven. This would seem to indicate that Jesus was referring to two literal people.
Suppose a person does not take the Bible seriously and desires to totally discount the references to hell. Is there non-biblical evidence to consider? The answer is yes. There have been personal experiences of people who have gone there and have come back to tell about it.
One such experience was related by Bill Wiese in his book, 23 MINUTES IN HELL. The author is a successful realtor in Southern California (USA). In this book he states that on "November 22, 1998...I was catapulted out of my bed into the very pit of hell." (page 2) He goes on to vividly describe what he saw and it fits the biblical description perfectly. Later he says that God took him to hell so that he could go back and tell people that it is a literal place.
The other account is of a person who had a near death experience. While many of these types of episodes bring people to see heaven, this one was just the opposite. It is chronicled in the book, 16 AMAZING STORIES OF DIVINE INTERVENTION, by James Lambert, on pages 89-90. The author of this particular story told how he experienced total darkness, detachment, and could feel the "souls of millions, screaming out to awaken from the endless nightmare" and he himself "was a spirit trapped forever in an endless darkness."
Now for some bizarre and "hellish" accounts from the internet. You never quite know what to believe on the internet but I will call your attention to a couple of stories and you can decide for yourself whether or not to believe them.
One such experience was told by Russian scientists drilling a deep hole in Siberia. They heard what they described as horrible screaming which sounded like human suffering and torture. This story has been highly questioned and some say it is fabricated. However, here is a question to ponder. Why would a group of secular scientists make up a story to support the literal existence of hell?
A more recent event occurred 400 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska, where it is reported that 60 eyewitnesses observed monstrous, demon shaped white-hot flames billowing out of a well hole. The stench was so bad that no one could stand to remain there.
Now, on to another question. Is hell and judgment eternal? I recently heard a person on a radio program say that it is not, but that is not what the Bible teaches. I call your attention to Matthew 18:8 which mentions "eternal fire." The short Epistle of Jude also has much to say about this in verses 6-7, and 13. These verses clearly state that there are "eternal bonds under darkness," and "punishment of eternal fire."
Verse 13 adds to this by saying that "black darkness has been reserved forever." I wonder what this person on the radio does with these verses? The word "hell" in the New Testament is used in reference to Gehenna, which was an actual physical garbage dump outside the city of Jerusalem. It burned continuously.
According to Revelation 19:20 hell is a conscious existence. This verse talks about people being thrown alive into a lake of fire. .
Throughout the Bible, the words "eternal" and "everlasting" are used in reference to both heaven and hell, so no one can say that one is eternal and other is not. Would a person say that heaven is not forever? Of course not! The Bible clearly teaches that both heaven and hell are real, literal places of conscious existence.
Another big question that we hear all of the time is, "Why would a loving God send people to hell and eternal judgment?" Scripture teaches that He doesn't. God's great plan down through history and now in the present, has been and always will be, to provide a way of escape through his love and grace.
How about you? The Bible also clearly states the conditions for going to one or the other. God does not send anyone to hell. By His grace you can spend eternity in heaven. You must make a choice, however, to accept the gospel message. Click on the link below to hear the gospel story.
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