Something is Out There:

Rumors of the Invisible World of the Sacred God

3/15 The Other Side of the Coin


Video -- Letter from Hell

This video illustrates something that most Christians know, but few articulate: that of all the doctrines of the Christian faith, the one we feel most uncomfortable discussing is hell. And it is not difficult to understand why this is so.

The doctrine of hell is offensive to unbelievers, and contradicts the emphasis on tolerance and on human potential that dominates our times.

For many of us, the doctrine of hell is also difficult to reconcile with the love and grace of God.

Furthermore the doctrine of hell has been misused as a means to control and dominate others.

As a result many have sought to distance themselves from the doctrine of hell. Not wanting to be accused as one of those who have abused this doctrine, or seeking to avoid appearing intolerant and uncaring, many removed the word "hell" entirely from our vocabulary. For most it has become one of those beliefs of a personal matter.

ƒÀ Most Americans now reject the idea of Hell

Ill: A survey conducted by George Gallup in 1990 revealed that just under 60% of Americans believe there is a hell (down over 10% from 1978), though only 4% believe that hell was their own personal destination.

ƒÀ Followers of Jesus struggle with how to assimilate this truth.

Ill: A survey in the mid-1980s of American evangelical college and seminary students revealed that only one in ten believed that the first step in influencing unbelievers for Christ should be to warn about hell. 46% of seminary students believed that to emphasize to non-believers that eternal judgment would be a consequence of rejecting Christ was "in poor taste."

In spite of the prevailing attitudes toward hell the doctrine is firmly grounded in the teaching of Scripture.

All but one of the letters of the Apostle Paul mention the wrath or judgment of God on sin.

And of the twelve uses of the word gehenna (the strongest word for hell) in the New Testament, eleven come from the lips of Jesus himself!

Of the 40 or so parables uttered by Jesus, more than half relate to God’s eternal judgment on sin. Surprisingly, the much beloved "Sermon on the Mount" contains some of Jesus’ most straightforward words about hell!

T.S. So this morning, we’re going to take a look at the other side of the coin. If we are going to let our imaginations run wild with the concept of heaven, then we also need to give some thought to the idea of Hell.

P.S. Followers of Jesus must embrace Hell as just as vital a truth as Heaven.

What do the Words Reveal?


Hades is also sometimes translated Hell but it often has a different meaning.

The Greek term (Hades) is used to translate the Hebrew term (Sheol, meant death) for example, Isaiah 38:18).

Isaiah 38:18 - For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.

This use refers the term hades to the abode of the dead in general, rather than the abode of the wicked.

Thus too, in New Testament Greek, the Hebrew phrase (you will not abandon my soul to Sheol) in Psalm 16:10 is quoted in Acts 2:27 as (you will not abandon my soul to Hades).

There are only 10 instances of the word hades in the New Testament, generally simply transliterate the word, as "Hades".

In all appearances but one, "Hades" has little if any relation to afterlife rewards or punishments.

The one exception is Luke’s parable of Lazarus and the rich man, in which the rich man finds himself, after death, in Hades, and "in anguish in this flame", while on the contrary the angels take Lazarus to "the bosom of Abraham", described as a state of comfort.

Death and Hades are repeatedly associated in the Book of Revelation.

The word "Hades" appears in Jesus’ promise to Peter:

Matt 16:18 "And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it",

and in the warning to Capernaum:

Matt 11:23

"And thou, Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? thou shalt go down unto Hades." KJV

23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.


T.S. The Most Common word for what we call Hell was Gehenna.


Gehenna occurs in Matt 5:22,29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6.

In all of these it designates the place of eternal punishment of the wicked, generally in connection with the final judgment. It is associated with fire as the source of torment. Both body and soul are cast into it.

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