Is Hell a Place?, A Call to Faith, Lesson 10, Eternal Life, 15-17

In addition to Purgatory, the Catholics believe that there are two other intermediate states, and these are called Limbus Patrum and Limbus Infantum.

Since they believe that absolutely no one could go to Heaven until Christ had atoned for their since, the Catholics believe that the saints of the Old Testament could not enter heaven until the Crucifixion, and that Christ during the three days in the grave, went to Hades to release them from their confinement and carry them to heaven. The Limbus Patrum is the fringe area where the Patriarchs waited the coming of Jesus. The Limbus Infantum is the fringe area where unbaptized children of both heathen and Christian families go to spend eternity. They remain in this fringe area of Hell where the tortures of Hell do not reach them, but they are without any hope of deliverance. The Protestants do not believe in any of these three states, as they can be supported only by forcing additional teachings into the Bible. There is ample evidence in the New Testament that the believer passes immediately into heaven, and in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the teaching seems to be plain that both the righteous and wicked pass immediately to their rewards.

Time does not allow us to take up all the ideas of hell or eternal punishment or of heaven and eternal bliss that men have held or hold today. We can speak only of the Scriptural ideas of hell. The Scriptures use such words and phrases as Gehenna, the furnace of Dire, prison, abyss, and lake of fire, so that we can infer that hell is a place. Moreover, Scripture speaks of those excluded from heaven as being “outside” and “cast into hell.” It is not possible to tell what the eternal punishment of the wicked is and we should not be too adamant in speaking of it. However, there are some qualities of this punishment which we can know total absence for the favor of God, an endless disturbance of life, positive pains and sufferings, and such subjective pains as conscience, despair, anguish, etc. The question of the length of punishment of those consigned to hell should also be mentioned. There are those who think that bliss is eternal, but punishment is of shorter duration. Yet, in Matthew 25:46, the same word is used to describe the duration of both.

Now let us look at the final state of the believers.

The final state will be preceded by a new creation. The present world will pass, and a new creation will appear. Peter says, “But according to His promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” If hell is a place, heaven is also a place. We are told that Christ ascends into heaven, and Jesus described it as a house, and as a mansion, and this description would hardly fit a condition. The reward of heaven is not only eternal life, but life in its fullness. This fullness is enjoyed in communion with God. There will be degrees of bliss, according to works, but nevertheless, life will be perfect and full.

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