Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Afterlife

Jesus was preaching about someone breaking the law where they would be "liable to the court" (Mt 5:21). This pertains to judgment and Jesus has "'the keys of death and of Hades'" (Rev 1:10). There will be "retribution to . . . those who do not obey the gospel" (2Th 1:8). "Those who do not know God" (:8) often don't consider the consequences. "He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation" (Heb 5:9). But if you don't obey "'you will not enter the kingdom of heaven'" (Mt 5:20). Some offenses are more serious and Jesus said the least is processed by the "court" ("22), the next by the "supreme court" (:22) and the last,"'guilty enough to go into fiery hell'"(:22). Fiery hell is "geenna" which is a symbolic name for the final place of punishment of the ungodly. Jesus said, "'Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (10:28) resulting in your "whole body to go into hell" (5:30). Avoid being "cast into the fiery hell" (18:9). Jesus asked, "'Will you escape the sentence of hell?'" (23:33). You can become as a "'son of hell'" (:15).

Fiery Hell

What is the meaning of fiery hell? Characteristically the tongue "defiles the entire body" (Ja 3:6). It "sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell" (:6) which would be figurative. But is there a literal sense? The rich man in hell exclaimed, "'I am in agony in this flame'" (Lk 16:24). Jesus said, "'It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God'" (Mk 9:47) and "'to enter life than . . . to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire'" (:43). Hell, therefore, is a place and created to contain offenders. "God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell" (2Pe 2:4). Hell is cited by the concordance as the abode of the damned who are incarcerated in eternal torment.

Sheol

There is a natural precedence of to experience life first as Job acknowledged "my days are extinguished" (Job 17:1) and then "the grave is ready for me" (:1). A grave is a human burial place. Beyond that according to Israeli people it could lead to Sheol (the underworld) to provide existence for the afterlife where there was a "'great chasm fixed'" (Lk 16:26) to separate the righteous from the unrighteous. There are "those who go down to the pit" (Isa 38:18) where the word for it is "bor" meaning a pit or cistern. It is also called "the pit of nothingness" (:17). "Shoel from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come. It arouses you the spirits . . . it raises all the kings" (Isa 14:9). "They will all respond, 'Even you have been made weak . . . you have become like us'" (:10).

"The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence" (Ps 115:17). "Sheol cannot thank you, death cannot praise you" (Isa 38:18). "There is no mention of You in death; in Sheol who will give you thanks?" (Ps 6:5). "They "cannot hope for Your faithfulness" (:18). Therefore "rescue my soul; save me because of Your lovingkindness" (Ps 6:4). "It is you who has kept my soul from the pit" (:17). "For us, we will bless from now to forever" (Ps 115:18). "'Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds'" (Mt 7:7).

Grave

It is jokingly said that there are only two things which occur for sure which are death and taxes. One question from that is self-apparent which Job asked, "If a man dies, will he live again?" (Job 14:14). This implies a continuity between the two. David asked God to "remember what my span of life is" (Ps 48:47). He cites "my soul has had enough troubles, and my life has drawn near to Sheol" (Ps 88:7). He requests to "rescue my soul" (Ps 6:4). "What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?" (Ps 89:48). He confesses "I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit" (Ps 88:4). He concludes he is "forsaken among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave?" (:5). "Will your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?" (:11). A grave is a tomb where a person is buried when he dies.

Are these considerations outmoded? Hardly. It is "with a view to the redemption of God's own possession" (Eph 1:14). God had told the serpent that the woman's seed "'shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heal'" (Ge 3:15). Scripture "preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham" (Gal 3:8).

Geenna

If you speak critically to someone such as "'You fool,' [you] shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell" (Mt 5:22). This would be punishment. It is God who judges "for a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns in the lowest part of Sheol" (Dt 32:27). "Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:14). "Geenna" is the Hebrew word for hell. It is at the Valley of Tophet near Jerusalem where they burned refuse twenty-four hours a day. You don't just get overtaken by the flames of a burning forest but can have "'your whole body to be thrown into hell'" (Mt 5:30). It is a literal place and not just a metaphor.

It is not good to overemphasize the "fire and brimstone" aspect at the expense of heaven and eternal life. "No one who is born of God practices sin" (1Jn 3:9). "The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous" (:7). However, "the one who practices sin is of the devil" (:8). Therefore, one overriding motivation of it all is that "the Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil" (:8). It is a practical matter and not just a philosophy or allegory.

Departed Spirits

Man's orientation is from his natural position as an inhabitant of the earth. That perspective is often referred to as a worldview. Many religions enlarge it to an all-encompassing, immaterial, universal panaorama. Consequently a man like Job might explain his destiny saying "for I know that You will bring me to death and to the house of meeting for all living" (Job 30:23). If it was as simple as that then there would be nothing to be concerned about. However, do God's higher purposes intervene to determine people's fates? "'He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left'" (Mt 25:33). "Will You perform wonders for the dead? Will the departed spirits rise and praise you" (Ps 88:10). "Will your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Your faithfulness in Abaddon?" (:11). David said God "will not abandon my soul to Hades" (Ac 2:27). "Turn Your gaze from me, that I may smile again before I depart and am no more" (Ps 39:13).

"Stolen water is sweet" (Pr 9:17). "But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol" (:18). "Do not let your heart turn aside to [the harlot's] ways" (Pr 7:25). "Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death" (:27). "Let death come deceitfully upon them; let them go down to Sheol" (Ps 55:15). "The wicked will return to Sheol, even all the nations who forget God" (Ps 9:17). "The dead will not live, the departed spirits will not rise, therefore You have punished and destroyed them" (Isa 26:14). "You will be brought down to Hades" (Lk 10:19) which is the abode of departed spirits.

Up to Paradise

It can be discouraging continually coping with wrath and threats from various sources. However, from the positive, heavenly view "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Ge 5:24) "so that he would not see death" (Heb 11:5). It was because "he was pleasing to God" (:5). Also "Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven" (1Ki 2:11). In addition, Paul said "such a man was caught up to the third heaven" (1Co 12:2) who "was caught up to Paradise" (:4). Also, Jesus told a criminal "'today you shall be with me in paradise'" (Lk 23:43). Furthermore, "'to him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God'" (Rev 3:7). Access to paradise was recognized as "'when You come into Your kingdom'" (Lk 23:42). It is a literal location in the same sense as having an earthly existence. "With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory" (Ps 73:24). God told Moses, "'you too will be gathered to your people'" (Num 27:13). David wrote "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Ps 23:6).

However, make sure you consider the caveat as "Balam said, 'Let me die the death of the upright'" (Num 23;10). Observe what was cited that "those who are far from You will perish" (Ps 73:27). "This is the way for those who are foolish. As sheep they are appointed for Sheol" (Ps 49:13-14). "Death shall be their shepherd . . . and their form shall be for Sheol to consume so that they have no habitation" (:14). "But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me" (:15).

New Dwelling

Jesus refers to "'My Father's house'" (Jn 14:2). A house is where a household or family lives. He says further that in it are "'many dwellling places'" (:2). A dwelling is an abode where you abide, stay or remain. He also says "'I go to prepare a place for you'" (:2). You could conclude that a place to stay is like a condominium in a building. But the "place" (:2) prepared, according to the concordance, is the Hebrew word meaning to rest, reside, remain, and to quietly settle down in comfort. In the same sense Paul illustrates that he must "remain on in the flesh" (Php 1:24) just as Peter states "as long as I am in this tent" (2Pe 1:13 KJV). It is also called an "earthly dwelling" (:13 NASB). Even Paul refers to "the earthly tent, which is our house" (1Co 5:1). Furthermore "while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord" (2Co 5:5). Now our home is in the body where we live. However, Paul advises to "prefer rather to be absent from the body and be at home with the Lord" (1Co 5:6). So if "our house is torn down, we have a building from God . . . eternal in the heavens: (:1). It does not literally mean that you will have a new house in a culdesac on a street in heaven. It is referred to as a "dwelling from heaven" (:2), but "having put it on, [you] will not be found naked" (:3). You will be "clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life" (:4). Is that your resurrection body that is provided at the Second Coming (1Th 4:16-17)? Consider though that at the Transfiguration "two men were talking with Him, and they were Moses and Elijah" (Lk 9:30). Also at the Ascension "two men in white clothing stood beside them" (Ac 1:10). They said Jesus "'will come just the same way'" (:11). The first two had been previously taken up by God, and the other two were apparently angels.

This is possible because Jesus "gave us the Spirit as a pledge" (2Co 5:5). "Be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling so practice these things" (2Pe 1:10). "In this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our lord . . . will be abundantly supplied to you" (:11). "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison' (2Co 4:17).