There are many Christians and even pastors who believe that no one is in hell right now. They believe that the people who die rejecting Jesus Christ will be in a soul sleep until the Great White Throne Judgment Day and then they will be cast into the lake of fire. Only the second part of that statement is true. People will be cast into the lake of fire at the Judgment. However, the Bible is clear that people who die without repenting, and receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, will go immediately to the current hell (Hades). The Bible is abundantly clear on this issue.
To be clear, there are two hells. The current one is Hades. It is always referred to as being located down in the earth. The future one is called Gehenna. This one is also called the lake of fire, and it will be cast into outer darkness. This tells us that there exists another location bedsides the current hell. The point is this: many verses tell us that a person goes down into the earth, proving there is a current place of torment, separate from the future hell.
Luke 16 tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. Verse 22 says, “and the rich man also died and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments”… immediately after he died. The next thing Jesus said was, “and in hell.” He went immediately to hell and didn’t go to sleep. The word for hell in this verse is the word “Hades” which again, references the current hell and not the future lake of fire. He also didn’t appear before the Great White Throne Judgment because that will not take place until the end.
Isaiah 14:9-10, “Hell from beneath is excited about you, to meet you at your coming; It stirs up the dead for you, All the chief ones of the earth; It has raised up from their thrones, all the kings of the nations. They all shall speak and say to you: Have you also become as weak as we? Have you become like us?” A person must be awake to speak!
Ezekiel 32:21, “The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell…They have gone down, the Assyria is there, and all her company, With their graves all around her, Her graves are set in the recesses of the Pit, There is Elam…gone down to the lower parts of the earth, Now they bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit. Who have gone down to hell.“ Hell is described as being down. Also, these men have to be awake to bear shame.
Proverbs 9:18, “But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.” How would they know they are guests in hell if all were asleep?
Ezekiel 31:16, “I cast it down to hell together with those who descend into the Pit; and all in the depths of the earth.”
Psalms 49:19, “He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They shall never see light. To never see light presupposes their existence.
Job 15:30, “He will not depart from darkness.” How would they know they were in darkness if they were simply sleeping?
Psalms 63:9, “But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.”
At the Great White Throne Judgment the people in the current hell are then cast into the lake of fire, and into outer darkness. This does not indicate they go back down into the earth, but implies a different location. The many verses that state they shall go down to the lower parts of the earth obviously refer to a different place than the lake of fire at Judgment Day.
Psalms 55:15, “Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell.” Down is not the place of the future hell.
Psalms 88:4, “I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength.” You would have to be awake to know that you have no strength.
Revelation 20:13, “Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.” Hades, the current hell, delivers up the dead who were there. They are judged. They were in a place of torment as Luke 16 states, and not sleeping.
Matthew 18:34, “Deliver him to the tormentors.” To be tormented a person would be awake to be aware.
Luke 12:47, “Beaten with many stripes, or will be beaten with few stripes.” A person must be awake and aware.
Revelation 20:10, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” This is prior to the Great White Throne Judgment. These two men were cast into the future hell before anyone else. They are thrown in at the end of the Tribulation, which is also at the beginning of the thousand-year period coming on the earth. At the end of the thousand years, they are still there in this burning lake of fire.
Numbers 16:32, “And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them.” This does not indicate they fell asleep after the earth closed upon them. This would not be conducive to a sleep atmosphere.
Ezekiel 26:20, “then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit.” They are with others down deep in the earth, and not in the future lake of fire.
Job 33:22, “Yes, his soul draws near the Pit, And his life to the executioners.” This does not sound like they are in a restful sleep.
People are dying every day who don’t know Jesus, and they are headed for hell.
Jesus told us in Matthew 7:13-14 that many are going to hell and few are going to heaven.
This should give us more of an urgency to share the Gospel, the way of salvation with others.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”
The eternal aspect of hell should motivate us to warn others.
Copyright 2007-2023 Soul Choice Ministries – All Rights Reserved
By Bill Wiese, author of 23 Minutes in Hell