What’s it Like in Hell?

We are continuing from yesterday Jesus’ teaching on Hell in Luke 16, the Rich Man and Lazarus. Here is the passage in Luke’s Gospel:

19There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.  22“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us’ (Luke 16:19-26).

One of the first things the rich man experiences is utter torment (Verse 23). The Greek word used is basanos, which literally means “going to the bottom, the lowest torture or torment.”[1] This Greek word is possibly used to describe what we talked about earlier, i.e. that in Hell there are different levels of suffering, and the deepest level of torment was what this man is experiencing (present tense, in that he is still there today). We are also told that his tongue was burning; he needed water to cool his tongue. Even though he does not have a body, he is experiencing the sense of touch and is in terrible pain. He also has the sense of sight and recognition, for he sees Lazarus across a great chasm and Abraham by his side. How painful to see Paradise and yet know that it is too late and that he will never experience one moment there.

Later, at the Great White Throne Judgment, found in Revelation 20:11-15, we read that death and Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire, where there will be eternal darkness. From that point onward, the ex-rich man will no longer be able to see anything. He has the sense of speech; he calls to Abraham and communicates his pain. It seems that there is no change in his character or attitude toward Lazarus, for he still thinks that he can command Lazarus to get water for him and also to visit his brothers. His appeal to Abraham is somewhat manipulative. He calls him Father Abraham, intimating that he is in relationship to Abraham due to his being born into a nation of faith in God. How deceived he was! How similar to many born into a Christian country today. Many people call themselves Christian, yet not all of them are in relationship with God through Christ. The sense of hearing is also still with him; he can hear Abraham talking with him.

Abraham then answers the rich man and says something that will remain with him for the rest of eternity. It was a powerful statement, full of truth, but with no hope: he will remember his life (v. 25) on earth, and all the opportunities he missed to repent and give his life to God. How painful that would be! The mind will be very clear; the faculties will still be with those who are consigned there, perhaps more so in eternity. There will be a great amount of regret over deeds committed alongside an inability to set them right, for it is too late. The ex-rich man does not have anyone to pray him out of this situation; it is a lie from Satan to believe your position can be changed after death. On top of that, he is told that his location is fixed, that the chasm that separates them will forever be there, and that there will not be anyone who can cross either way (v. 26). Where death finds you, eternity binds you. According to what we see in Scripture, there is no purgatory, no reincarnation, and no chance of relief. The time to change your eternal destiny is before you die, before it is too late.

May I plead with you, that if you are not yet a true born-again believer in Christ Jesus, that you do not put these thoughts out of your mind—your eternal destiny is at stake. Get down on your knees and repent, turn your life over to Christ. Give Him control—live for Him alone! More on this topic tomorrow.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Truth About Hell. Keith Thomas

[1] Finis Jennings Dake, Dakes Annotated Reference Bible, Copyright 1961 by Finis J. Dake. Page 80 in the New Testament.

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