What the Heaven is Hell?

hellThe modern concept of hell – an eschatological location where those who reject God experience the consequence of their choice for eternity – does not exist in the OT, nor did it exist in the Jews’ theological paradigms. Rather, it originated in pagan culture; it was brought back from Babylon by rabbis.

There are many words and phrases in the NT that many people think refer to our modern notion of hell, but each were references to well-known geographical locations or literary ideas. The following are brief explanations of each word or phrase.

Sheol
The Hebrew word translated as “hell” is sheol. It’s meaning is simply the place where all dead people go, regardless of whether they are good or bad or what they believe.

Gehenna
A valley where child sacrifices were performed. It is an actual physical location on earth, not a spiritual destination in the afterlife.

“Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched
This is an expression in Isaiah 66:24 about the dead corpses of men who were believed to have been judged in this life at Gehenna.

Hades
This originally referred to the Greek god of the underworld but eventually came to designate the abode of the dead. This Greek term parallels the Hebrew term sheol.

The lake of fire
This is an idiomatic reference to the Dead Sea.

Tartarus
The deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked in ancient Greek mythology.

(If you’ve never studied these words before, I encourage you to look them up more deeply than I’ve presented them here.)

The Jews did not have our modern concept of hell. Hence, it makes no sense for us to assume that these words refer to our modern notions of hell when these words are used in bibles; since hell is never explicitly defined in the modern way, it would be impossible for the original hearers/readers to conceive of them in such a way.

“Hell” is therefore an inaccurate translation – it is a concept that did not even exist during the time of the writing of the scriptures. Any word translated as such only refers to the present and never to the immortal world (unless you want to believe in Greek mythology).

These words were translated in bibles into the English word “hell” (or, in the case of phrases, interpreted to refer to the modern conception of hell). Yet as we’ve seen, each word has a unique meaning and cannot be properly understood by grouping them into a single English word (that happens to not have the same definition as any of the words, and often has a very different meaning). This act of poor translation would be like uniformly translating the English words sky, space, and heaven into one other word in another language.

Hell is self-made. Hell is our own rejection of God, not God’s rejection of us. The consequences are experienced now in this life, and perhaps in the next life as well. However, there is no evidence in the scriptures whatsoever for the modern notion of hell.

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Also see:

What the Hell is Heaven?
https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/what-the-hell-is-heaven/

The Truth About Hell
https://www.facebook.com/notes/ken-dahl/the-truth-about-hell/515061601874849

What the Hell is Heaven?

heavenThe message Jesus went around preaching was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). When Jesus was questioned by Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst [or ‘is within you’]” (Luke 17:20-21).

Unfortunately, most christians have not taken his words to heart; they have not “repented” (i.e. change the way they think) but keep on believing that heaven is not “at hand” but rather is far off, reserved for some future time. “Heaven” has become an idea about a place we go after we die.

Nevertheless, Jesus consistently proclaimed that heaven is here! His message was that heaven is available now, and to all.

But what is heaven, anyways?

Most people, christian or not, picture it as a place in the clouds, or further out there, possibly in another dimension that is currently inaccessible, where there are people, angels, God, and everything is perfect. Furthermore, a variety of words in the scriptures are often thought to refer to the concept of heaven (or being accepted there). For example, the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3), the kingdom of the Father (Matthew 13:43), life (Matthew 7:14), life everlasting (Matthew 19:16), the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:21), great reward (Matthew 5:12), the kingdom of God (Mark 9:45), the kingdom of Christ (Luke 22:30), the house of the Father (John 14:2), city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22), the holy place (Hebrews 9:12), paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4), incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25), crown of life (James 1:12), crown of justice (2 Timothy 4:8), and crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4).

Nowhere in the scriptures, however, is it explained what heaven is. Thus, our understanding of what it is should be that which the people who heard it at the time would have thought it to be when they heard it (since, besides Jesus proclaiming that heaven is here and now, no one tried to give an alternate explanation).

The Old Testament is silent on the topic of the afterlife, and the Jews were quite agnostic about what happened after death and did not have a firm belief in either (our modern conceptions of) heaven or hell.

In the Jewish Republic, both the rewards and punishments promised by heaven were temporal only: such as health, long life, peace, plenty, and dominion, etc.; diseases, premature death, war, famine, want, subjections, and captivity, etc. And in no one place of the Mosaic Institutes is there the least mention, or intelligible hint, of the rewards and punishments of another life. – Warburton

Since our modern concept of an eschatological heaven was nonexistent in the minds of the Jews to whom Jesus spoke, these terms cannot be taken to refer to our modern concept unless they are explicitly stated to. Our default interpretation should be the default interpretation of the Jews (since Jesus would have spoken to them with concepts they were familiar with so that they could understand), and their default interpretation would have been that these were references to their current lives on earth.

heaven now
You don’t need to die to experience heaven.

Live it now.

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Also see:

What the Heaven is Hell?
https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/what-the-heaven-is-hell/

What is “Eternal Life”?
https://www.facebook.com/notes/letting-god-escape/what-is-eternal-life-/290829527660461

NO ONE IS GOING TO HEAVEN! – The Fire House Chronicles
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdA6p3ZY_c4

NO ONE NEEDS TO DIE & GO TO HEAVEN! (part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyjEhFz2quo

NO ONE NEEDS TO DIE & GO TO HEAVEN! (part 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vy5kJbatvzo

Unconditional Salvation (Part 1)

What does it mean to be “saved”?

“Salvation” and “saved” are commonly used words within christianity, but they are usually not used in the way the scriptures use them. This results in people reading their confused understanding of the words back into the scriptures, consequently producing confused interpretations.

Biblical salvation is deliverance from things in this life. The scriptures speak of being saved from sickness, disease, demonic oppression, drowning, perverse generations, enemies, crucifixion, imprisonment, being lost, sin, death, ignorance of the Gospel, escaping the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D, etc. Notice how everything refers to things in this life, not the afterlife.

Modern christianity has wrongly tied “salvation” and “being saved” in the scriptures to escaping an eschatological hell. Salvation can only be made to refer to the afterlife if such ideas are read into the text; it must be assumed that the afterlife was being spoken of (because the context never implies it). Yet such a theory cannot be substantiated because a detailed paradigm of the afterlife (like what currently exists) did not even exist in the Jewish mind during Jesus’ time on earth. Most people simply said that all who died, both righteous and wicked, went to “Sheol.” This term meant “the grave” or “the place of the dead” and it had neither a positive nor a negative connotation.

Even thinking of salvation in terms of individuals is largely derived from Platonic dualism and the development of the concept of the autonomous human individual beginning in the Renaissance in the 14th century and peaking in the 18th century Enlightenment. In contrast, salvation in the scriptures is consistently spoken of in cosmic terms.

“I will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32).

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17).

“…I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).

“All flesh will see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6).

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11).

“As in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

“Just as the trespass of one man resulted in condemnation for all, so one righteous act resulted in justification and life to all” (Romans 5:18).

When the New Testament says all, it means all (shocking, I know!).

Are you saying everyone is saved?

Yes and no!

I’ll expound upon what I mean by that in the next post.

In the meantime, I encourage you to read over the verses above one more time and consider what they are really trying to say (reading them in context should help). They are pretty crazy! I think you’ll find that pat answers for explaining away the “all” as applied to the salvation of humanity will not suffice. Have you even ever considered that they could be saying that all are saved? Have doctrines you have always been taught prevented such a reading from even entering your mind?

Part 2

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Also see:

Saved: The Most Misunderstood Word in the Bible
http://www.tillhecomes.org/saved-most-misunderstood-word-bible/