What does “heaven” mean? 

  • For most persons, the word heaven, refers to some sort of transcendent place where beings such as gods, angels, saints and venerated ancestors live.
  • Interestingly, the Bible uses the word heaven in three (3) different ways.

What are the three ways in which the word heaven is used in the Bible?

  • First, there is the “heaven” where birds fly and where clouds are.  This is the “heaven” that Elijah would have ascended to. (2Kings 2:1,11)
  • Secondly, there are the “heavens” where heavenly bodies (like stars, planets, moons, etc.) are … what we could refer to as “outer space”. (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 19:1)
  • Thirdly, there is the “third heaven” that Paul spoke of. (2 Corinthians 12:2)

Where is Heaven?

  • Heaven is where God is.
  • If one tries to describe Heaven as a “place”, then one is effectively trying to locate Heaven in space, which means it would no longer be spiritual.
  • To say that Heaven is a place is to essentially limit, not just Heaven, but also to limit God, who cannot be contained, restricted by boundaries or limited by space.

What is Heaven like? 

  • No one really knows.
  • Interestingly, Paul was not sure if he went there “in body” or “out of body” (actually or mentally).  According to 2 Corinthians 12:1-2, Paul could have been seeing a vision.
  • If Paul’s experience of Heaven was based on a vision, then his description of Heaven would have been based on his own personal experience.
  • Similarly, the various descriptions of Heaven by the prophets of old, as well as by the apostle John, would have been based on the personal experience of each … and would only tell us what Heaven was like for each of them.
  • As some have said, if you really want to know what Heaven is like, be there.


What is Hell?

  • Hell, for most persons, is a place of eternal, conscious torment, which means it is a place where the sinners suffer (are tortured, even) for billions of trillions of years and then some more.
  • For some people, Hell is a place of punishment (not eternal punishing), so Hell, for them, is a place where sinners go, not to suffer eternally, but to suffer and then die.
  • For others, Hell is a place of punishment, the purpose of which is cleanse and purify, not to destroy.

Where is Hell? 

  • No one really knows.

What is Hell like?

  • No one really knows.
  • For some, it’s a place of darkness, even though it is a place where persons are being burnt by fire (which implies light, not darkness)

Is anyone in Hell now?

  • IF, by “Hell” you mean “grave” or “place of the dead”, then YES.  The Hebrew word sheol and the Greek word hades both refer to a place for the dead, as in a grave.
  • However, IF you are referring to “a place of eternal conscious torment”, then NO.  As Ecclesiastes 9:5 says, the dead know nothing (are not conscious), which is essentially what Psalm 146:4 means by saying their “thoughts perish” (KJV), “plans perish” (ESV) or “plans die” (NET).

What does Hell really tell us about God?

  • For one, it tells us that (1) God wanted to save all people, but could not … OR (2) God could save all people, but chose not to save all.
  • Secondly, it tells us that the all-knowing God (who is able to tell the end from the beginning) must have known (BEFORE He created any humans) that the vast majority of humans would end up being tormented for trillions of years … and yet He still created them.
  • Thirdly, it tells us that Jesus did not succeed … if He really did come NOT to condemn (John 3:17), but to save the lost (Luke 19:10), given that all people were lost.

What are some of the questions and paradoxes that the concept of an eternal Hell raises about God’s love and ability?

  • If God is omnipotent (able to do anything He wants), why could He not save people that He really wanted to? 
  • If God is omnipotent, and able to save all people, why would He choose to save only a relatively few … especially since He “so loved the world” (John 3:16)? 
  • If God is love, and not just loving, how could He create billions of people, knowing full well that the vast majority of them would end up suffering (being tortured) for all eternity … when He could have avoided all that suffering, by not creating them at all? 
  • If Jesus Christ came to save the lost (which is everyone), but the majority of those He came to save end up still not (and not saved), was He really successful? 




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