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The Scriptural location of Paradise, Hades, and Gehenna or Hell
The true context of Scripture makes it clear that Jesus went to heaven at His moment of death, not to hell, as these false teachers allege! Jesus said, “Today [at the moment of death] you will be with me in paradise [heaven.]” (Lu 23:43.) Jesus committed His human spirit into the hands of the Father at the moment of death (Lu. 23:46) and His human spirit (1 Ths. 5:23) went directly to heaven. This is the context of Jesus’ explanation of what happens at the moment of death to saved and unsaved people in the parable of Luke 16:19-31. Most importantly, the sinless Jesus Christ could never be on trial and then condemned for His own transgressions; He went to the cross in the place of sinful, cursed humanity. As such, at physical death, Jesus’ own human spirit left His human body, (which went to the grave or Hades not ‘hell!’) and went to paradise or heaven as the Victor of humanity’s salvation! The ransom-price for all of humankind was paid in full from that very moment when Jesus sighed, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30.)
Until the moment of Jesus’ death, Satan had dominion over humanity through sin, cursedness and spiritual death, but Jesus’ complete atonement in the place of humanity ransomed all those who would truly accept Jesus’ atonement in their place, (Jn. 1:11-13.) And so, Jesus successfully rescued all His sincere believers from the serpent’s stranglehold, (Heb. 2:14-15; 2 Tim. 1:10.)
We can be certain that when Jesus entered paradise, death and all of hell had to bow the knee before our Almighty God! (Rev. 1:8; Phil. 2:9-11.) From the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross, Satan no longer had the keys to Hades [the grave, symbolically also the abode of the spiritually dead,] and [spiritual] Death. Jesus declared in Rev. 1:1-18, “I Am the First and the Last. I… was [physically] dead, and behold, I Am alive forevermore. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death!”
Jesus said that the beggar of Luke 16, at his death, was carried to Abraham’s bosom, [a Hebrew understanding of heaven] or ‘paradise,’ while the rich man’s human spirit was carried to hell not Hades. Hades is the abode of the physically dead and symbolically also of the spiritual dead without Christ. Hell is a dreadful place of eternal torment, and the rich man’s human spirit was there incarcerated in ‘flames.” (Lu. 16:24.)
The Pagan-Christianized View of Paradise and Hell “underneath the earth”
Scholars that view the Bible according to the Old Testament/Covenant dispensation and not according to Jesus’ New Testament/Covenant, believe that before Jesus’ atonement on the cross, paradise or heaven was the world of the righteous dead, [Abraham’s bosom] which was located underneath the earth in a place called ‘Hades.’ Paradise was supposedly not God’s heaven way beyond the blue somewhere, (Lu. 16:26.) However, Jesus knew exactly where heaven or paradise is seated; He made the heavens, earth, and the spirit “worlds,” (Heb. 1:1-11.) His Throne is located in heaven. Thus, at the moment of death on the cross and after He rose from the dead in a glorified physical body, (Lu. 24:39) He ascended into heaven, (Acts 1:9-11.)
This confusion came about because Abraham said to the rich man in Lu. 16:26, “Between us [in paradise] and you [in hell] there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” I see a pagan influence in the interpretation of the so-called ‘prior location of paradise,’ because pagans believed Hades, the realm of the dead, consisted of paradise and hell that were (and still are) both located there, but divided by a ‘great gulf.’ That’s why some Bible scholars say the rich man of Luke 16 actually went to Tartarus or Ghen-en-nah - a so-called even lower level of Hades, called ‘the abyss.’ The ‘abyss’ is supposedly also the “lake of fire” or eternal hell, (Rev. 20:14-15.)
However, in the context of what Jesus said in Luke 16 and also according to “the entirety” of Bible truth, this does not mean that both paradise and hell “were” or are underneath the earth. Everyone knows that the physical bodies of the deceased are buried “in the earth,” which means they are buried in their graves.
What Jesus illustrated in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, was not just that humans spirits go either to heaven or to hell at the moment of death, but that heaven and hell are two completely different locations in the spirit world. Jesus’ illustration of what happens to saved an unsaved people was to illustrate that there is no chance to repent after death, and human spirits cannot and do not return to speak to the living.
This was not a debate about the location of heaven and hell, (Lu. 16:31.)
Sadly, there are always people who do not interpret Scripture in context, but take “hard to understand” verses and passages from the Bible to support their false doctrines. The following is such a ‘difficult’ passage which makes fertile breeding ground for error.
Paul wrote in Eph. 4:8-10, “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive… What does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?” Allegedly this means that when Jesus died He descended into “hell” not upwards into heaven — or, as they say, He went first to paradise underneath the earth and then to the ’lower parts of Hades’ or hell. They believe Jesus descended into Shehole or ‘Upper’ Hades, the paradise that, prior to the dispensation of His blood-atonement, was the world of the righteous dead underneath the earth! On that paradise-level of Hades, Jesus supposedly released the spirits of the righteous dead, who, until that time, have been waiting on the completed atonement of their Savior to ascend spiritually with Him into heaven. These people also allege that Jesus then moved this underground paradise to the ‘third heaven;’ the abode of the Tree of Life, (an allegory of Jesus Himself,) which is now in the midst of Paradise, ‘the Garden of God’ or heaven, (2 Cor. 12:2-4; Rev. 2:7.)
This is a very strange view of the Bible and especially the New Testament Covenant in Christ, as Paul actually said that the Hebrews who lived and died under the Old Covenant Law will be judged by the Law. Even the Old Covenant believers “lived by faith” like Old Abraham did, “and that was accounted to him for righteousness,” (Gal. 3:6; Rom. 1:16.) This is why “the just who lived by faith” obeyed God ‘naturally’ according to Moral Law, [Heb. 10:16.]
Rom. 2:11-29, “There is no partiality with God. As many as have sinned without [the written] law will also perish without law [because they did not obey the Moral Law, which God has written on every human heart since the beginning of time.] Not hearers and haters of the law will be justified, but doers of the law will be justified. When [even the Gentiles who never heard about Christ] and [also did not have the written] law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although having no [written] law, are a law unto themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness… in the Day when God will judge the secrets of men by... Jesus’ Gospel.”
Thus, the pagan/Christianized view of paradise in Hades cannot be true. But to make certain that this cannot be from God, lets test this doctrine in the context of what happened when Jesus died. Jesus proclaimed with His dying breath, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30.) He actually proclaimed, ‘My complete atonement in the place of humanity is completed!’ Why then, would Jesus allegedly “atone further in hell,” if everything was already perfectly done at the moment of His death on the cross? Additionally, in the dispensation before Jesus’ atonement on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, if human spirits from opposite sides in Hades could converse with one another, (Lu. 16:26,) there was no need for Jesus to descend into the lower levels of Hades (or hell) to “preach to the [lost human] spirits in prison, who were disobedient while Noah prepared the ark,” (1 Pet. 3:19.) We know they were in hell because they remained disobedient to God while Noah prepared the ark. Also, this passage does not refer to demon spirits, because Noah prepared the ark to save a remnant of obedient humans, and Jesus’ blood atonement does not apply to demons, but to humankind! (1 Pet. 3:18-20; Jn. 3:16.) If Jesus really preached and saved human spirits from hell, who were set in unrepentant sin, everyone else in hell will also get ‘a second chance,” won’t they? We know that its impossible, because God said, “Today, if you hear My voice, to not harden your hearts as [Old Israel] did in the rebellion… [and died,] (Heb. 3:15.) “It is appointed for men to die once, and after that the judgment,” (Heb. 9:27.)
It is for this reason that God did not muffle our minds when He saved our souls. And maybe Paul knew that ‘ravenous wolves’ like the pagan Christianized Roman Catholic papacy will mess with the Scriptures by inserting some of their doctrines. Thus, he commanded in 1 Ths. 5:21, “Test all things [all teaching, spiritual manifestations and also what is written in the Bible according to the full context of Scriptural truth, viewed in New Covenant Light.] Hold fast what is good and abstain from every form of evil.” [1 Jn. 4:1-4.)
We can never bring any kind of sacrifice for righteousness before the judgment throne of God, except the complete atonement of Jesus Christ in our place. Similarly, we can never bring any good work to ‘earn’ our blessed state before the Highest Judge - except the complete atonement of Jesus Christ in our place!
“IF YOUR CHRISTIAN GODHEAD IS ONE GOD AND EVER-PRESENT, HOW COULD GOD FORSAKE CHRIST JESUS ON THE CROSS?”
Born into this world as a mere man, the sinless God Jesus came to atone for fallen humankind’s sin “in the flesh.”
In the ninth hour, (3 p.m. our time,) physical darkness engulfed all the land as death stalked the Man Jesus Christ on the cross. Shortly afterwards, Jesus fulfilled the most important part of David’s Old Testament prophecy in Psalm 22 when He cried aloud, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? [which means,] My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Jesus was petitioning His Father in the Syrian language on the cross. Jesus was not, as most Charismatic Christians believe, “speaking in tongues” on the cross. “For he who speaks in [an unknown or angelic] tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him, as he speaks mysteries in the spirit,” (1 Cor. 14:2; 15:1; 13:1a.)
Tragically, even Christian scholars try to diminish either Jesus’ complete humanity or Jesus’ complete Divinity – while others such as the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses try to make Him into a half-man-half-angelical being of some kind. The entire context of Biblical Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments makes it plain that the man Jesus Christ was completely God in the fullness of human ‘flesh,’ (Col. 2:9.)
When Jesus Christ was “begotten” (not created) as a human being, God Himself took on humanity in totality, and so, Jesus’ cry on the cross describes the frailness of His human body and its human needs in every aspect - yet it remains unthinkable that His Divinity could forsake Him at that moment. Jesus is, was, and always will be One God. He is the Son of God in The Scriptural inseparable Godhead. The God of the Bible is One God; the undividable Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus, the God of both the Old and New Testaments always Was, Is, and Will be One God: the Inseparable, Omnipresent and Unfathomable Father, Son and Holy Spirit of the Bible.
Through Jesus’ human life on earth, He could call on the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit and His holy angels, (Mt. 26:52-53.) However, since His arrest in Gethsemane, He had to restrain their ministrations.
In the place of all humanity, to atone in full for their separation from God, Jesus had to go to the cross all alone.
The ever-present Holy Spirit and the angels were there all the time, but this time, Jesus had to finish the terrible work of humanity’s salvation and redemption without their support, (Rom. 8:11.)
On the cross, God in the flesh or the Man Jesus Christ was truly and utterly forsaken in His humanity (not in His Divinity, which is ever-present) so that all true and personal believers can be fully accepted by God through His complete atonement in their place. The fall in Eden, by ‘default,’ separated all of humanity from God; “all, like sheep, have gone astray;” “there is not one righteous…” (Isa. 59:2; Rom. 3:10-18.)
The complete abandonment of Jesus in His own humanity imputed, conferred or transferred the Father’s complete acceptance to all true believers, (Eph. 1:6; Col. 2:10; Heb. 13:5-6.)
The man Jesus Christ was really and utterly forsaken in our place, yet God Jesus never lost His position in The Godhead while His human body and soul were forsaken, for even in this hour of incredible torment, He clang unwaveringly to The Godhead, until He finally cried with a loud voice, “It is finished! Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”
Jesus’ Sin-Offering ended when He died on the cross.
It was finished.
The battle was over.
The price He had to pay for humanity’s salvation, redemption, blessing and everything else encapsulated by it, was paid in full.
Jesus had made it through in His flesh; He could finally surrender His spirit into the eternal hands of His Father in heaven.
It is beyond the capability of humanity to comprehend the depth of Jesus’ abandonment on the cross, just as it will always remain humanly impossible to truly understand the depth of God’s complete acceptance of humankind through the blood-atonement of His Son Jesus Christ. But then, as someone once said, ‘If we could understand God in all His infinite greatness, He would not be God at all.’
ON THIS PAGE:
Þ The Scriptural location of Paradise, Hades, and Gehenna or Hell
Þ Jesus did not ‘become Satan’ on the cross or ‘suffered in hell!’
· Jesus became a curse so that we could inherit all the blessings of Abraham
· “If your Godhead is One God and Ever-present and you do not worship three separate gods, how could God forsake Himself on the cross?”