Eternal Hell or an Unconscious Death?


I came cross a Christian website that seemed to be very good. I looked around, and it seemed to hold to Biblical truth. So, I downloaded a couple of their free bible studies and began to read. That’s when my stomach sank. They made two claims that threw me for a loop:

1) When we die, there is nothing. We are simply in an unconscious state until the day of judgement when we are raised from the dead and are sent to either Heaven or Hell.

2) Hell is not eternal. In Hell, the body and soul are destroyed and cease to exist.

After reading this study, I had that nagging doubt – that little voice saying, “You were wrong in what you believed.” Especially since this study used scripture to back itself up, and it seemed to make sense. Then I remembered, even the Devil knows the scripture and can quote it for his own purposes. He did it with Jesus in the wilderness, trying to tempt Him. So, today I did my own study. What I found was that while many of the statements made in the study were simply misguided, some where flat out wrong. You’ll notice that I have not (and will not) mention the website or the sect this study came from. My purpose is not to call out anyone or to judge them. My purpose is simply to find out what the Bible says is true. So let’s start by getting the first claim out of the way:

1) When we die, there is nothing. We are simply in an unconscious state until the day of judgement when we are raised from the dead and are sent to either Heaven or Hell.

The claim was that there was no evidence in scripture to show that an “imaginary” soul (yes, they said “imaginary”) was whisked away to Heaven or Hell immediately after death, but there is only one scripture needed to show the error of this statement, and it comes from Jesus himself. Luke 23:43. Two other men were hanged on crosses next to Jesus. One mocked Jesus, but the other stated that he knew he was getting his just reward for his deeds, and asked Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Now look at verse 43, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Verily I say to you, today shall you be with me in paradise.'” This man on the cross was the first to admit his sinful nature, proclaim Jesus as Lord, and enter Heaven through the salvation of Jesus Christ. And he entered that very day when he died, as Jesus said. He is not somewhere in an unconscious state waiting to be resurrected and judged.

2) Hell is not eternal. In Hell, the body and soul are destroyed and cease to exist.

This one is a bit harder, but what I found convinced me that this statement is also false. Two places in particular.

Revelation 20:10 – “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone… and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Sounds like eternity, doesn’t it? Let’s do a quick word study just to be sure. The word “ever” in the original Greek text is “aion.” This word is used several times along with other words in the Greek to portray “forever.” Webster’s dictionary defines “forever” as “eternally” and “continually.” That word grouping is used here in Revelation 20:10 – “for ever and ever.” And others end up in the lake of fire too: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). They too will receive judgement for ever and ever.

Revelation 14:11 – That same word grouping from Revelation 20:10 is used here. “And the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night…”

So why do the author of this study and the members of this sect believe these things they claim. Their reason is that our loving God could never torture people for eternity just for not believing in Jesus. They also say that it is not justice because a man who died 5000 years ago with only one sin would be tormented almost 5000 years longer than someone like Adolf Hitler who tormented and sent millions to their death. But is this really the situation? Let’s go back to the garden of Eden:

Man knew no sin. He was God’s perfect creation. Man was created to be an eternal creature, made for fellowship with God. God’s only command was that man not eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But man had free will (God wants us to love Him willingly), and was tempted into eating the forbidden fruit. Man was no longer perfect, and sin (disobedience to God’s law) and death entered the human world. Now a fallen creation, like Lucifer, man could not stay in God’s presence.

So we now have sin and death. Death is inevitable. We will all die. There are only two places to go when we die, Heaven or Hell. What is it that keeps us from Heaven and sends us to Hell? Sin! Disobediance to God’s law! And we are all sinners. The claim I mentioned before about the man who had commited only one sin is beyond unlikely. God’s law is not just the Ten Commandments, but all the law laid out by Moses in the Old Testament. Jesus took the law even further saying that if you hate a brother you have already commited murder in your heart. And that is just one example. By God’s standard we should all be in Hell. Would we all suffer the same torment? No. While Hell would be eternal for everyone, the punishments would not be the same. We are told in Acts 17:31 that God’s judgement will be according to righteousness. We will be judged by our deeds, based on how they measure up to the righteousness of God. Do you see why we all belong there? No fallen creation can live up to God’s standards. God knows this! That is why he came to us as the man Jesus Christ, and died on a cross. He was the only man to live a sinless life, which he traded to take on all of our sins. He  took our sins upon Himself and became the sacrifice needed for atonement (which was part of the Jewish law). By repenting of our sins and proclaiming Jesus as Lord, we are saved from Hell! But that salvation is in our hands. We still have our free will. We can either accept or deny Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If we choose to deny Christ, then our sins are still our own, and those sins send us to Hell, which is eternal.

2 thoughts on “Eternal Hell or an Unconscious Death?

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