What is Hell? For centuries, the idea of hell has fascinated people. Everyone who has lived has clearly wondered what happens when they die. Throughout the Western World during the Renaissance, there were three varied views about this: the view of the Greeks, the ideas expressed by Dante, and the Christian view of the Bible. Predictably, some of the ideas in these views are similar, although very different in matters of who is there and what their punishment is. They have progression in matters of why people are there, and what the levels of punishments are, but none of them show the Christian view.
In the Greek view, all are punished. Equally, everyone goes to hell. Even the mightiest of heroes go there, as readily shown by Hector’s death in the Iliad, “The shrouds of death enfolded him, whereon his soul went out of him and flew down to the house of Hades” (Illiad 22.371-72). Every soul goes to hell, even those who are the greatest by Greek standards. Having traversed there, their sentence is then pronounced by judges. Everybody is judged to be punished, from the good to the evil. If you had lived an extraordinary life, you went to the best part. However, most of the dead souls end up as shades, floating around eternally like leaves because of their mediocre lives. Obviously, Greeks believed that everyone went to Hell and were judged according to their deeds.
In Dante’s hell, a slightly different view of Hell is expressed: all who were not baptized went to Hell with progressive punishments. In Dante’s Inferno, it says, “That they sinned not; and if they merit had, ‘tis not enough, because they had not baptism” (IV. 34-35). If one who was not baptized died, that person went to Hell, no matter how they had performed during life because they had not entered into the realm of God via baptism. Having been decided their eternal place of residence, they were subsequently judged by Minos, the former King of Crete. “Seeth what place in Hell is meet for it; girds himself with his tail as many times as grades he wishes it should be thrust down” (Inferno V. 10-12). Everyone is judged by Minos to see where in Hell they belonged. If their sin was small, their punishment would be small. Likewise, if their sin was excessive, so would would their punishment. In Dante’s view, all unbaptized went to Hell, with sin being punished according to severity.
In the final view, Christianity, all the unrighteous are punished in Hell, and punished equally. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20.15). Every person who has not accepted God’s free gift of eternal life with Him will consequently be sentenced to an eternal separation from Him which is called Hell. All sinners are judged equally based on this status. They are then thrown into the burning pit called Hell and eternally separated from God because of their unbelief. If one is not a Christian, they are unsaved and must dwell in Hell for eternity.
In the Greek view, everyone went to Hell and were judged according to works. Dante’s view was slightly different in the fact that only the unbaptized went to Hell. Clearly, their precise level of punishment is still determined by their deeds, however. The Christian view holds that those who are unsaved go to Hell, and are punished because of their rejection of life with God and their unrepentance of sins. Although these views are somewhat similar, it is obvious that the Greek view and Dante’s view differ from the Biblical one. Their punishment is the greatest deciding factor because of their greatest difference. How is this? While the Christian and Dante’s view both restrict the occupants of Hell, Dante’s limits it even more by requiring baptism. In the Bible, it says nothing about needing to be baptized to be saved, but only that it is a symbol of the faith. Only God can save a soul from Hell.
Unfortunately in most churches selfishness is quite overrated. This may seem like a bold statement but it will make sense as I explain. In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus said, “‘30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” We are to love others as much as we love ourselves. Obviously we must love ourselves. There is nothing wrong with loving yourself. Nothing is wrong with wanting good things for yourselves. In fact Jesus even motivates us to work hard because we know that we will receive a reward [Colossians 3:23-24]! This is often what churches label selfishness: wanting good things for yourself. But if you think about it, this view doesn’t really make sense.
Sinful selfishness is when you are selfish to the point of being unloving. This is evident in the commandment Jesus quoted, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Sinful selfishness is when you love yourself more than your neighbor to the point of doing something or taking something in an unloving way. Sinful selfishness is when I take the last cookie and consciously know that others have not had a cookie. ‘Righteous’ selfishness is when I take the last cookie after making sure every one who wanted one got one.
The following points are taken from the book Gems From Tozer.
Discerning the truth is one of the most important things for a Christian today. Jesus warned us to “Beware of false prophets…Ye shall know them by their fruits,” (Matt 7:15-16).
Tozer suggests a sevenfold test that we may prove the validity of the truth.
1. One vital test of all religious experience is how it affects our relation to God, our concept of God and our attitude toward Him. Any doctrine, any experience that serves to magnify Him is likely to be inspired by Him.
2. The next test is, What has this done to my relationship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Christ must stand at the center of all true doctrine, all acceptable practice and all genuine Christian experience.
3. How does it affect my attitude toward the Holy Scriptures? Did this new experience, this new view of truth, spring out of the Word of God itself? Whatever originates outside of scripture should be suspect until it can be shown to be in accord with the Bible. However high the emotional content, no experience can be proved to be genuine unless we can find chapter and authority for it in the Scriptures.
4. Again, we can prove the quality of religious experience by is effect on self-life. The Holy Spirit and the fallen human self are diametrically opposed to each other. (Gal 5:17). Before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ. If the experience has served to humble me and make me little in my own eyes, it is of God, but if it has given me a feeling of self-satisfaction it is false.
5. Our relation to and our attitude toward our fellow Christians is another accurate test. Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious. (1 John 3:18-19, 4:7-8, 5:1; John 13:35)
6. Note how the experience affects our relation to and our attitude toward “the world”. The world of carnal enjoyments, of godless pleasures, of the pursuit of earthly riches and reputation and sinful happiness. Any spirit that permits compromise with the world is a false spirit. Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil.
7. How it affects our attitude toward sin. Whatever makes holiness more attractive and sin more intolerable may be accepted as genuine.
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” – 1 Thess. 5:21
Good works, apart from Christ, are worthless. As Isaiah says in chapter 64, ” all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”. This is why I think that without Christ Jesus, none of our “good” works are really all that good. When religions say that you can “work” your way to heaven by making sure that your “good” acts outweigh your bad ones, I say that their good acts are really bad ones? Why do I say that? Well, because when they do the good acts they are not doing them out of love. They are doing them out of self-preservation. They are doing them so that “I can go to heaven”. I also think that when a good act occurs it has nothing to do with the individual. Philippians 2:13 says that “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Therefore it is really God who is doing the good act and it it only the individual displaying it. God willed the individual to desire to do the good work. Therefore, when and individual displays a good work it is really God who is doing it. This means that an individual does nothing and God does everything and therefore the individual’s salvation by works is controlled by the One and Only.
You may wonder how then we have free will. Well, and again I cannot say “this is what it is”, but I can take a shot (and this is not necessarily what I believe, but is the only way I can explain it when going through with this thought train). We have free will; and when Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden they had free will to choose God’s ways or Their ways. And when they chose the bad option, they lost their privilege of free will. They became enslaved to the sinful nature and no longer had the power to choose good. But God can and does! And He chose every elected individual and enabled them to have the privilege of free will again (no longer enslaved by the sinful nature). Now that we are in Christ we can choose good once again! Only by his grace, however, are we able to do this.
Another thought, we have free will (even when we are enslaved) in the sense that we can and do make decisions everyday (neutral decisions).
With this thought train it seems that free will and election are both possible when coexistent.
This is a rather sad and unfortunate event in the Catholic Church’s history (unfortunately probably for political reasons). No longer is Jesus the source of salvation. You are the center of salvation now according to this new revelation. But that leads to a question: “Why did Jesus have to come and die?”
It looks like the Catholic Church is on a very slippery slide down to some very sorry and fiery place. I do hope that leaders in the Catholic Church will rise up and take a stand for truth*.
*- see Ephesians 2:8-9; 1John 5:11-13
Take time to read this. I was blown away by the truth in it. Are you being sucked into Facebook’s trap?