by Tad Lindley
A while back in a home Bible study someone asked, “Hell and the lake of fire, they’re the same thing right?” Let us look at what the Bible teaches. Stay with me, because I will do a little groundwork first before I answer the question.
Where do we go when we die?
There are a couple of men in human history that did not die. Their names are Enoch and Elijah. Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:24). …Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (I Kings2:11). Everyone else who lived before us died.
Obviously the body stays in the ground. In permafrost it stays intact, in warmer climates it decays. In the case of cremation, the ashes stay in an urn, or blow around wherever they are spread.
The soul departs the body. From that point there are only two destinations: heaven and hell. Jesus gave a very vivid picture of this in Luke 16. It is the record of an unnamed rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. 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 hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth 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 (22-24).
Notice three things about hell. 1) It is a place of extreme thirst. 2) There is extreme heat and fire there. 3) In hell people can see heaven and the joy that they could have had. A fourth fact concerning hell is the presence of maggots that do not die (Mark 9:44). Hell is like a garbage dump where the wicked dead are the garbage that is being consumed by fire and maggots and yet somehow the torment of it is unending.
In heaven there is righteousness, peace, and joy. After a life of sorrow, Lazarus was rested and refreshed. He had come into his reward.
When the apostle John saw heaven, he saw heaven in the future when it had a great multitude of Christian dead. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and all kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands (Revelation 7:9). Read your Bible, and you will see that they are worshipping the Lord night and day.
The first ones into the lake of fire will be…
In a time that may be soon upon us, Jesus will return in the flesh. He will come with ten thousands of his saints (Jude 14). At that point those who are “saved” and remain alive will rise up in the air to meet him. (I’m simplifying this somewhat). Then at the Battle of Armageddon the Lord will defeat the armies of the ungodly. The antichrist and the false prophet will at this time be thrown into the lake of fire (not hell). They will be the first ones to dip their feet into the lake of fire. The devil will be chained in the bottomless pit. For one thousand years Jesus Christ will reign peacefully on earth (Revelation 19:4).
When hell goes to hell
At the end of the thousand years the devil will get out on probation. He will break probation, and rise up against God one more time. At his final defeat, Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. After that, there will the second resurrection. At this time all who have ever lived will be judged by the Lord. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell 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 (Revelation 20:13-15).
The lake of fire is the eternal existence for the fallen angels, death, hell, and those that are unsaved. It is worse than hell. God does not want you to end up there. In fact he has delayed his return to give you and me a chance to get things right with him (II Peter 3:9). The day will soon be upon us when it is too late to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name. Do it today.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church.