If Heaven is Real, Then So Is Hell
Vol: 23 Issue: 11 Wednesday, April 11, 2018
In a recent OL, I wrote that the Rapture does NOT necessarily signal the beginning of the Tribulation.
Scripturally speaking, the Rapture could have happened in the first century and the Tribulation still not have begun. The reason is the doctrine of imminency.
There are no signs that precede the Rapture. The Rapture is a secret, signless event that every generation since the Lord returned to Heaven has anticipated could take place within their lifetime.
On the other hand, the Bible is FILLED with signs of the coming Tribulation.
Daniel says the Tribulation will begin when the antichrist confirms a seven year peace covenant between Israel and her enemies. So Israel MUST exist for the Tribulation to take place. There is no corresponding requirement for the Rapture.
The Apostle Paul does say that before the Rapture can take place, there must first be a great falling away, or apostasy.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” (2nd Thessalonians 2:3)
But that ‘falling away’ had already begun in Paul’s day. The very letter Paul wrote was written to combat a heresy that had already begun to creep into the Church at Thessolonika.
As Paul noted a couple verses on;
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. ” (2nd Thessalonians 2:7)
So the Rapture COULD have taken place in Paul’s day, but the Tribulation could NOT take place until Israel was in a position to negotiate a peace treaty, which implies sovereignty, placing the Tribulation Period definitely at some point post May 14, 1948.
The Rapture is NOT the Great Escape that its critics call it — if it were, then they would be justified in their criticism. Why SHOULD one generation of Christians receive such preferential treatment from a God Who is ‘no respecter of persons’?
The answer is, they shouldn’t and He doesn’t.
The Rapture is a necessary part of God’s plan, since the man of sin cannot be revealed until the Holy Spirit’s ministry as the restrainer of evil is ‘taken out of the way’ and the Church is the physical part of that ministry. The Christians who benefit from the Rapture are those who just happen to be here when it takes place.
Just like the witnesses to the Crucifixion. They weren’t particularly cursed — then as now, SOMEBODY had to be there. So that is why I wrote that the Rapture and the Tribulation are independent events. The only place where they intersect is that the Rapture happens first.
The Tribulation Period is a subsequent event which could be separated by weeks, months, years or decades.
We operate from a very limited time line on the grand scale of eternity. The Apostle James writes, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (Jas 4:14)
In terms of eternity, James tells us, the periods of our individual lives are, in the grand scheme of things, like a puff of smoke.
Eternity is a long time. A good analogy of eternity goes like this. If a sea gull on the West Coast picked up a grain of sand and dropped it on the East Coast, and then came back and repeated the process every ten thousand years, when all the beaches of the West Coast were on the East Coast, well, that’s the first ten MINUTES of eternity.
Jesus told a parable in Luke 12:16-18;
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”
The lesson is the same for the rich man as it is for you and me. You and I, everybody you meet, from the mailman to the guy next to you at work, has an eternal destiny.
That destiny is either a joyful existence in the presence of God, or a Christ-less eternity in the place prepared for the devil and his angels.
Make no mistake — eternity is a long time and hell is a real place. In Luke 16, Jesus tells of Lazarus and the rich man.
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores:”
Stop there. Note Jesus did NOT say, ‘Learn the parable of the rich man’. He said ‘there WAS a certain rich man.’ Jesus was speaking of a literal event of which He, as God, had knowledge.
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
Stop there. Note the following from Jesus’ account. Before their Pardon was paid for, the righteous dead, like Abraham, Moses, etc, did NOT go directly to heaven, as do Blood-bought Christians of the Church Age.
Instead, they went to Paradise. Hell was at that time divided in two, one a place of comfort, (Abraham’s bosom) the other a place of torment, but both located physically in hell.
Note also that the rich man can see Lazarus, that he speaks of literal torment and literal flame. Abraham explains the division of hell, and that Lazarus cannot come to him.
The rich man cries out, “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
Stop here again. Note that the rich man remembers his life on earth. As he will for eternity. He remembers his loved ones, and is conscious of their destiny. He begs Abraham to do something, but Abraham simply tells him that “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
Now note something EXTREMELY revealing about the exchange. Abraham is Abraham. Lazarus the beggar, is Lazarus. But the rich man has no name.
He has his memories, he has his awareness of his surroundings, he knows the hopelessness of the situation and the only thing he wants more than a drink of water is to save his five brothers. But HE HAS NO NAME!
Why is that so important? Because he doesn’t need one.
Dwell on this thought for a moment. Nobody will ever speak it again.
There is no reprieve, no visitors, no hope and no need for a name. To all intents and purposes, he is eternally dead, and eternally aware of it.
Remember the sea gulls and the first ten minutes of eternity? Assuming Jesus was speaking of a rich man of His time, then his condition remains the same, except hell is given completely over as a place of torment, now that the righteous dead have been redeemed and taken to Heaven.
From the time of Jesus until now, the rich man has experienced the first five SECONDS of hell. A place Jesus described as; “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
Eternal, conscious, perpetual, lonely torment, dead forever, yet alive, remembering that one time when you could have escaped the torment.
That is what awaits the mailman, or the guy next to you, or your friends or relatives of whom we say, “I’ll talk to him when the time is right” or when he says, “I’ll think about it. Maybe tomorrow.”
Then God says, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”
These are the last days. The Rapture is coming, the Tribulation is almost upon us, the King is coming! But He isn’t here yet.
The mission of the Omega Letter is not so much to preach Christ to the lost (although that is a major element) but mostly, to equip a world-wide army of personal evangelists prepared to “give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)
The end IS coming. But for many, it will come sooner than they think. Especially if we fail to give the warning.
“And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Revelation 22:12)
Featured Commentary: Noah, Finally Vindicated ~Wendy Wippel