We continue our series on Don Perkins and his message on "Hell"
"The word 'hell' carries the connotation of 'doom,' 'hopelessness,' and "futility.' Its meaning is clear. It represents the place of future retribution, the abode of the wicked, a place of punishment. Hell is a real place. Hell is a place you don't want to go."
Trying to list all the uses of "hell" (Sheol) in the Old Testament would take too much space. But let's look at a couple of uses and see if Perkins' description fits (note: some translations play with "hell" and "Sheol" when Sheol is used). "Sheol" is used in these verses.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
I said, “In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death
and be robbed of the rest of my years?”
Both these verses are used in the New Testament. The Isaiah 38:10 use is quoted by the Lord and translated "gates of hell" in the KJV. But in the Greek it is truly "Gate of Hades," that is "the gates of the abode of the dead."
The verse in Psalm 16 is quoted by both Peter and Paul in the Acts, referring to the resurrection of the Lord. But David used it in reference to himself.
Before we apply Perkins' description, let's look at "hell" as applied to believers (which we referenced in our last study). As noted, Paul uses "hell" but once in his epistles. Let's look at Paul's use (quoting the Prophets and applying it to believers) and The Lord's use in Luke 16.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death [Hades], where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? -1 Cor 15:54-55
I will ransom them from the power of the grave [Sheol]; I will redeem them from death [mâveth]: O death [mâveth], I will be thy plagues; O grave [Sheol], I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. -Hosea 13:14
Paul applies this future promise to believers. This is a picture of resurrection. I note both verses because one is from before the cross and the other after. Both speak of a future resurrection and both speak of believers and blessed of God in "Sheol." We must note that, in the Greek, there are some manuscripts which read "thanatos" and some "Hades." "Thanatos" is used some 119 times. We see it referring to "the Lord's death" and "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" in 1 Corinthians.
If some want to grasp onto thanatos, then they have Sheol meaning simply "death" and Paul never referring to "Hades" in his epistles (we noted he quotes Ps 16:10 in the Acts, which refers to the Lord).
In any case, let's look again at Perkins' connotations:
"The word 'hell' carries the connotation of 'doom,' 'hopelessness,' and "futility.' Its meaning is clear. It represents the place of future retribution, the abode of the wicked, a place of punishment. Hell is a real place. Hell is a place you don't want to go."Well, no one wants to die, but do we see anything like this in our examples? Whether we like it or not, if we die, we're going there. But it is not a "place of punishment" for believers. In regard to unbelievers, since "the payment for sin is death [thanatos]" that is the sum of their punishment. Is it "eternal punishment?" Sure. It is a sentence which is never undone.
In the case of believers, we will see "death," but we will be rescued (saved) from death in the resurrection. It is at that time that "death is swallowed up in victory." The lost and the redeemed both still go to Hades. It is merely the state of the dead. Believers are said the be "asleep" in death, for we will one day awaken into new, resurrection life!
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. -1 Thess 4:13-14Believers die, yet they do not die, for our lives are hid in God (Col 3:3).
A living Christian is "dead in Christ" having died to self, yet we live. The deceased Christian is dead, yet he has not died.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. -Col 3:2-3
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” -John 11:25-26
Though the believer DIE, he shall LIVE; yet he shall NEVER DIE. Dead while we live, alive though we're dead. The great uniter will be the resurrection of 1 Cor 15!
Today, "the dead know nothing" (Eccl 9:5) and "the dead do not praise" (Ps 115:17). We await the day when those asleep in Christ shall rise!
The defense using Luke 16 (Lazarus and the Rich Man) merely complicates things. It tries to create a "good, restful. blissful" side of "hell." This is a convenient way of ignoring one definition of hell and temporarily using another. Applying Perkins' descriptions, we must reconsider the common traditions.