The Death of Hell?

Is the Concept of Hell Old-Fashioned?

Timothy S. Morton

The Simplicity of Hell

Hell is one of those wonderful English words that essentially needs no introduction. It has a classic and simple definition that is readily known by basically all who have ever spoken the language. Noah Webster placed its long standing definition in his dictionary in 1828, and this description is just as valid today:

 The place or state of punishment for the wicked after death 

The definition is clear, Hell is for the wicked! Oh, I'm sorry (not really), I forgot there is no such thing as a person being wicked. Our modern, progressive society has determined that wickedness and evil are antiquated concepts that have no place in contemporary thought. All mankind are brothers, oh, pardon me, brothers and sisters, they share a spark of divinity from their Creator (if you believe in creation, that is), and are basically moral and good. Any behavior that is not deemed "good" or acceptable is not the result of any resident evil or wickedness but only because of misguided behavior of certain individuals.

Baloney, tripe, and hogwash. No bigger lie was ever spoken, yet this is the doctrine of the "elite" and "enlightened" of the world and many so-called theologians. However, the "common man" has not been so beguiled. Ask any average "Joe" what Hell means and he will tell you. It is a burning place for the sinner or wicked after death. They know it is a place and not merely a "state of mind" because many of them tell their enemies or adversaries to go there quite often. As usual, the common man has more sense than the "knowledgeable." A remnant of nearly 400 years of preaching the truth of Hell from the King James Bible.

It is quite obvious that the preaching of Hell has gone out of fashion. One rarely hears a message on Hell even in Fundamentalist churches, let alone New Evangelical, Charismatic, and "mainline" churches. Trying to find a message on Hell by one of the "television ministries" on "Christian Television" would be like seeking a gold nugget in your bathtub. It simply is not there. How could these modern ministries preach about such a negative subject anyway? It would hurt their donations and support. You are more likely to find a buried treasure chest in your backyard than you are to hear Joel Olstein, Robert Shuller, et al., even mention Hell except in mockery. The more conservative ministers like Jerry Falwell and Charles Stanley only mention it in passing. It is not a topic they want to dwell on, even if they believe it. But not so with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hell and the New "Bibles"

While doing some update work on our Bible Analyzer software your author was reminded of the failure of the new translations to fully warn the reader of Hell. The word Hell is found in the King James Bible 54 times. All the new translations have it much fewer times, if at all:

It is no surprise that the Hell denying Jehovah's Witnesses would remove Hell from their custom made perversion, the New World Translation, but one would expect better from the so-called conservative translations. Though they leave the word in a few times, their tendency is to delete it making them more like the NWT than the precious and truthful AV.

The Sheol/Hades Complex  

The new translations avoid the word Hell by refusing to translate it. Instead they "transliterate" the Hebrew word Sheol and the Greek word Hades  and place them in the English text. As we mentioned the definition of Hell is common knowledge, but how many can define Sheol and Hades? This is a subtle tactic of Satan; take a well established and accurate word like Hell and replace it with an obscure, indefinite, non-English word such as Sheol or Hades. This weakens the text and casts doubt upon the meaning of the terms, apparently the goal of modern Bible publishers.

When pressed for a definition of these two transliterated words the scholars usually reply, "the world of the dead," or "the region of departed spirits." Granted they can mean this but they can also mean, "the abode of the wicked after death" as the Lord Jesus Christ testifies (see below). The King James translators determined the proper translation by examining the context. Sheol is translated Hell 31 times, grave(s) 31 times and pit 3 times. In their desperate attempt to rid the Bible of the truth of Hell, most of the new Bibles refuse to translate the words at all.

According to the NASV, NIV, ESV, etc., the wicked do not need fear of being "turned into hell" (Psa 9:17), all they need to worry about is being "returned to Sheol" (NASV) or "returned to the grave" (NIV). What does that mean, anyway, being "returned to Sheol" or "the grave"? Did they come from Sheol to start with? Nonsense, the passage means the wicked will be "turned into hell."

Think for a minute, dear reader. What is the threat in telling the wicked they are eventually going to go to Sheol, Hades, the grave, or in other words, die? Do not all die, whether righteousness or wicked? Do the wicked not have any more to fear than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? According to the new Bibles they all go to the same place. Instead of being specific and saying the wicked go to Hell and the righteous don't, they speak in generalities a say all dead are just in a "state of death." My, what geniuses. Who would have guessed that all who die are in a state of death?

With such obvious sophistry, the Bible Believer should immediately realize there are forces at work trying to hide a precious truth. A truth that essential to sound doctrine.

Christ's Attitude of Hell

Few realize (or want to admit) that the doctrine of a burning Hell was one of the Lord's favorite topics. He often spoke of the dangers of that sorrowful place:

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Mat^5:22

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Mat^5:29-30

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Mat^10:28

And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. Mat^11:23

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Mat^16:18

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Mat^18:9

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Mat^23:15

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Mat^23:33

And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. Luk^10:15

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Luk^12:5

In fact, one can claim that Jesus Christ's favorite OT verse was one that spoke of the torments of Hell. Look at this passage in Mark 9:

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 43

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 44

And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 45

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 46

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 47

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 48

See verses 44, 46, and 48? They are three quotes of Isa. 66:24. Christ never quoted any other OT passage three times, thus it can be said this is His favorite verse.  How about that? Christ did not quote verses about heaven, glory, redemption, and other positive topics three times, He quoted a passage about the pains and sufferings of Hell! Why? Because HE DOESN'T WANT ANYONE TO GO THERE!

The Lord is very gracious and kind to warn us of such a place as Hell. What if He never mentioned it at all, much to the delight of many preachers today? Many more would end up in that dreadful place. Regardless what some claim, many get saved, not because they necessarily feel the love of God when they are convicted of sin, but because they don't want to pay for their sins themselves by suffering all eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire. Their love for God comes later.

What does Satan and the scholars, ancient and modern, do to try and get around Christ's emphasis on Hell? Two things.

First, believe it or not they actually take two of Christ's quotes of Isa. 66:24 completely out of Mark 9. Look at nearly any new version and you will find Mark^9:44 and 46 are GONE! Absolutely gone. What unmitigated arrogance and gall. They couldn't stand the thought that Christ quoted this verse three times so they took two of the quotes out.

Second, by claiming Christ is using another word, Gehenna, which can speak of fire and burning, they insist this is the only Greek word used by Christ that should be translated as Hell. In fact, this is the only Greek word (along with Tartarus) many versions will translate as Hell. As we mentioned they refuse to translate Sheol and Hades. But the Lord threw a big monkey-wrench in their scheme. Undoubtedly He foresaw their tactics and placed a "neon sign" in the Scriptures to reveal the Bible corrupter's bias. Look at the last mention of Hell Christ makes in the gospels (in order of books):

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Luk^16:23

What is the signal in this verse for those who are obsessed with the Greek? The Greek word for hell is not Gehenna, but Hades! Christ is clearly revealing that Hades is a place of torment and flame! Although it can refer to a neutral state of death (1Cor 15:55 grave), it primarily refers to a burning Hell with the context revealing the difference! The rich man did not open his eyes in the grave, neither did he seek water in a generic "unseen world." He was in HELL! In contrast Lazuras was not in Hell, even though he was in the "unseen world," he was in Abraham's bosom. A saved person is never said to be in Hades.

The King James Bible will define its own terms. The Greek only confuses matters. If a believer wants all the truth God has for him, all he needs is a King James Bible.

The Sounds of Hell?

Several years ago a news report surfaced that some well drillers in Russia punched a hole in Hell. They were supposedly drilling a very deep well and when they stopped drilling some of the workers heard wailing sounds coming out of the hole. The story goes they rigged up a tape recorder and dropped it into the well to record some of the sounds, and the recording they got was chilling.

This was before the days of the Internet and the sounds were played on some radio and television stations, and they caused quite a stir. Your author remembers in his hometown some believers were so disturbed by the report and recording that they placed large ads in the local paper pleading for people to accept Christ and avoid such a dreadful fate. Others dismissed the sounds as a staged stunt. Was it a stunt? Probably, but consider these Bible facts.

These facts indicate there is weeping and wailing from the pains of Hell going on under our feet at this moment. True, these poor souls are not in their natural bodies, but they are in some form of a body since the Rich Man in Luke 16 had eyes, a tongue, and could feel tormenting flames. Even though this recording is likely a fake, it represents fact, and it is quite chilling to listen to.

As you listen to this short mp3, dear reader, think about those who are still alive that are destined to that awful place unless they believe the gospel and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, think about and reflect on what the precious blood of Christ has done for you in delivering you from this terrible, eternal fate. These are sobering thoughts, but essential for us to be effective in our service for our wonderful Savior.

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