Putting Heaven and Hell in a more biblical perspective

Most religious people think that after death those that did enough good works will go up to Heaven for eternity and people who did too many bad works will go down to Hell for eternity. They might be surprised that the Bible does not agree with their premise. First, salvation depends upon faith in the Lord, not in our own good or bad performance. Second, the Bible teaches that Hell will be done away with. It is thrown in the Lake of Fire. Third, the Bible teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven will actually at least partly exist on the Earth.

Since Heaven surrounds the Earth, Heaven is always somewhere above the landmass of the Earth. The real meaning of Heaven in the Bible is determined by the narrative. For example, the Third Heaven that Paul speaks about being caught up to, is the Holy City where God has His Throne. The Second Heaven is Space where the stars are. The First Heaven is the Earth’s atmosphere. They are all different places but all are in Heaven.

Hell is really of the Earth. Hell came into existence because sin brought about death of the human body. The sin laden disembodied spirits of humans could not ascend to Heaven so they descended to become prisoners of the planet. That place is called Hell (Hades). Hell really is a place of incarceration for human souls.

Hell will only exist until the great judgment of those souls takes place. Revelation says, “death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. Then death and Hell were cast into the Lake of Fire” (Rev 20: 13-14).

Since the souls within Hell are delivered up for judgment, and death and Hell will be cast into the Lake of Fire, it is not possible that anyone will ever again descend to Hell after the judgment. The temporal place of imprisoned souls will no longer exist under the Earth.

After the great judgment all people will either eternally exist somewhere in God’s restorated creation or in the special creation called the Lake of Fire. The Bible tells us that the Lake of Fire was created for the Devil and His angels; all that are not found in the Book of Life also go there (Rev 20: 15). The scriptures do not say that the Lake of Fire becomes Hell.

The Bible teaches that there will be no more physical death after the final judgment. There will be a second death, but that is not death of the physical body, it is death of the soul. Death in the Bible never means non-existence, it means separation. The first death brought separation of the soul from the mortal body but the second death brings eternal separation of both body and the soul from God and the redeemed people in His creation.

Nobody is going to Hell for eternity, but some will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity. The Lake of Fire might be Hell in one sense of the word to the beings that exist there, but it is not literally the place that most religious people call Hell.

Some of the confusion comes from Jesus statements in the Gospels. The English translations have Jesus saying Hell in various passages. In most of these cases Jesus actually said “Gehenna” not Hades. Gehenna was the garbage pit of Jerusalem, it burned continually. In other words, Jesus was saying they were in danger of going to a foul place that most fittingly could be described to mankind as existing within a burning garbage dump.

When Jesus references “Gehenna fire” He is always actually referring to the same Lake of Fire that Revelation speaks of. It is never the temporary underworld of Hades. The Lake of Fire is a special creation made for beings that are in rebellion against God. There is no getting out for them.

The Lake of Fire is a very undesirable place. Beings will be sent there because they are not found in the Book of Life. What will not be redeemed by Jesus goes into God’s garbage dump because they are like eternal viruses. They would continue to infect God’s creation with evil eternally if they were allowed to exist in it.

Most believe Hell will continue to exist somewhere below the Earth and the eternal Kingdom of Heaven is somewhere up their in outer space or beyond. In reality the Lake of Fire is a separate special creation not of this creation at all. God created the Lake of Fire for the Devil and his angels after creation of Heaven and Earth. It was created for beings that rebelled. The Kingdom of Heaven on the other hand, comes to Earth. The Kingdom of Heaven is wherever God reigns, it is not physically reigning on the Earth yet, but the Kingdom of Heaven will come to the Earth one day. Jesus taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven”. The Kingdom of God is not yet on earth but that prayer will be answered.

Satan deceived Eve, and Adam sinned in rebellion against God. A Holy God could not reign over the sons of Adam on Earth that had a fleshly sin nature that is in rebellion against Him. God could not reign over sin and death, so that was a fitting job to give to the highest created being that sinned from the beginning (Satan – 1 John 3:8). In a sense, Satan became the God of sinners. The reign of Satan on Earth will only last until mankind’s sinless Kinsman Redeemer (Jesus) claims His inheritance. Satan actively has tried to prevent that since the fall of Adam.

God is now taking out a people who by faith (in what Jesus did to conquer sin and death) already allow God to reign in their lives. They will be the Bride of Christ and will reign with Him in the Kingdom of Christ.

The Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the Devil. After the Bride of Christ is complete, Satan will be cast out of Heaven unto the Earth and will no longer have access to the Second or Third Heaven. Satan will then go out to deceive the nations to war against the God of Heaven. Satan will lose the war and will be bound. Jesus then reigns on earth until the works of the Devil on earth are destroyed and paradise lost is restored.

After Jesus restores all things on Earth, Satan is loosed to deceive the nations once more to test human kind. He deceives them to rebel, proving that mankind’s flesh nature has a fatal flaw and cannot be allowed to inherit the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. Fire comes down from Heaven and destroys all on earth. At that time, Satan is judged and cast into the Lake of Fire. Then the final judgment of all living souls takes place and all not found in the Book of Life are cast into the Lake of Fire made for the Devil and His angels. The Earth is purified with fire and goes into its eternal state as do the redeemed in God’s Book of Life. God will choose to dwell with men and He will rule from the eternal city called New Jerusalem for eternity with His saints and angels.

I said all that, to say this. Saying that people are going to either Heaven or Hell for eternity does not really explain it very well. Those saved will live on the New Earth or else they will be in the Holy City on Earth (or perhaps in orbit above Earth). Those not redeemed will not be in Hell, they will be in the Lake of Fire created for the Devil and his angels.

Telling unrepentant sinners that they will be going to Hell does not get the real message across to them anymore. The message has been distorted by the media that mock everything that the Bible says. Thanks to the mockers, most now think that Hell is some place where they can just continue living their life their way instead of God’s way. You might convey to them, that those that do not come to Jesus for salvation will eternally exist in a place Jesus compared to a burning garbage dump. They will have no hope of ever getting out of this burning garbage pit, and they never will be visited by the redeemed that eternally dwell with God. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God. Those that reject God are certainly living their best life now.

Editor note: This article was originally posted on my old blog. The title is changed and much of the text is rewritten.

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About Don Koenig

Don Koenig is the founder of ThePropheticYears website. He has been publishing articles on the Internet on Bible prophecy, biblical discernment and Christian worldviews since 1999. You can find well over a thousand articles and thousands of comments written by Don from the homepage of this website.


Putting Heaven and Hell in a more biblical perspective — 29 Comments

  1. That pretty much puts it out there in black and white. Perhaps some who read this most recent of your articles and are of those that think their works will get them to heaven will realize that it is not their works but the work that Jesus did on the cross that can get them to heaven if they will only believe and accept the payment Jesus made. The only thing we can do to get to heaven is to “believe on the one who was sent” as Jesus said.
    Come Lord Jesus, (pant, pant, pant!)

  2. Yes, very good write-up.

    I have pretty much given up on attempting to debate based on world arguments, even when truth is on my side, because the world is insolent and insane/mad.

    It is only prophecy and the truths such as written here that I will focus on, taking the higher plain of the Lord’s eternal destiny for all.

    These are the kinds of writings that I really appreciate to read, even though most times I don’t bother to comment / respond.

    I need to add a reference to Psalm 9. I am not going to copy/paste verses here, but I also cling to Psalm 9, verse 5 – the heathen will also be forgotten (their names will be “put out for ever and ever).

    Don – thanks for hanging in there with your “Prophetic Years.”

  3. No human mind can comprehend the suffering of the dammed and what awaits the unrepentant non believers.

    Most forget faith has an obedience component, it’s not mere belief.

  4. klaus

    The obedience component is belief AKA trust in Jesus for your salvation. The commandment of the Father is to believe on Jesus and love the brethren (1John 3:23). However, there are people who deceptively claim to believe in Jesus but their actions say differently.

  5. Great summary! Clarifies what we have read in a simple to understand way. I’m still confused about the rest of the people who’s names are written in the book of life after the rapture. Those after Jesus returns to earth and those who are still waiting to be judged after the millennium. Maybe you can try to explain that, Jack Kelly said that was not clear. And I can live with that, but it’s something that’s always bothered me. Thanks Don.

  6. Hi Jerialice,

    Those that are killed in the tribulation are the great multitude that nobody can number around the throne. These obviously got to the Holy City and take part in the first resurrection. After Jesus returns to earth there is the sheep goat judgment. Some will enter the kingdom on earth but enemies of the Kingdom will be cut off. People that die in the millennium will be judged at the great white throne judgment. Jack Kelly did teach that the age of grace will be over in the millennium so obviously then people in the millennium are judged according to their works. That would occur after the thousand years and the final rebellion.

  7. Don great topic,

    Do you believe people who go to Hell/separation can still be redeemed? I only ask because didn’t Christ go down into Hell and release some who were captive? Was that a one time deal?

    I think of the rich man Lazarus and how he could see Moses or one of the prophets, and wonder where he is today. I can’t help but think that in separation, one could somehow repent and call upon Christ, but maybe it’s too late. I know there are some testimonials of people being in what I would believe is the separation and then calling upon Christ and they are saved. Maybe I’m too off topic. Thanks Don.

  8. Hi Steve,

    Believers no longer go down to Hell. Jesus took believers in Hell with Him when he rose from the dead. Now, for believers to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I do not think those in Hell can be saved by grace through faith. Those in Hell will take part in the second resurrection and be judged according to their works at the White Throne Judgment.

  9. Thanks Don,

    So I guess there were two parts to Hell then? Was the chasm referenced in the Lazarus encounter separating the paradise side from the torment side? Also, did Jesus just redeem those from paradise like Abraham, Moses and the righteous etc?

  10. I only disagree with one phrase in the article. “Satan deceived Adam.”
    1 Timothy 2:14. “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.

    I have a question I hope someone can explain to me. If God created humans to live forever and physical (and spiritual) death was the result of the fall then what was the purpose of having a Tree of Life in the garden? After Adam and Eve got the boot Cherubim and a flaming sword were put in place to guard the Tree and the way back in so Adam and Eve couldn’t eat from the Tree and live forever in their fallen condition.
    I understand that, so my question again is: If they were created to live physically forever what was the purpose of the Tree of Life?

  11. Hi Steve

    The Bible narrative about Lazarus and the Rich man says there were two parts and that the chasm was separating them. The Paradise side was also called Abraham’s bosom. Obviously the righteous went there. Jesus also went there and emptied it out.

  12. Hi Caitlin,

    You are correct, Adam was not deceived he disobeyed God with his eyes wide open. Then he blamed his actions on Eve.

    Who said man was created to live forever without eating of the tree of life? It seems to me that there was a tree of life so that mankind could eat it and then live forever. Man never ate of it and after the fall was prevented from eating of it. Thus, man died so that He could be redeemed in the future. Had he eaten of the tree of life in his sinful state he probably would have the same fate as the fallen angels.

  13. Caitlin:

    I think it may be related to the fact that God created us with free will, and that the tree of life is symbolic of the fact that God is the source of eternal life. On a similar note, you might also share my interest in these facts: Not only is the tree of life in the center of the garden, but the phrase “tree of life” only occurs in the books of Genesis, Proverbs, and Revelation. Genesis and Revelation both reference “THE” tree of life, while Proverbs gives four examples of things that are “A” tree of life”, with wisdom being one of them…

    Very interesting question Caitlin, and I’m sure Don (or maybe a few others) will provide better and more detailed answers to your question.

  14. Also, as I read Genesis, I get the impression that man never chose to eat of the tree of life… Remember that Eve replied to Satan saying that they weren’t supposed to eat of the fruit in the midst of the garden, and the tree of life was one of the trees in the midst of the garden…
    Edit: Upon another reading of that passage, I noticed that Eve said “the fruit of THE tree in the midst…”, but my understanding is that there were two trees in the midst.. Both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil…??

  15. Don and Gage,

    Thank you both for your answers.

    I asked the question about the Tree of Life because I had always heard from Bible teachers that God created humans to live forever and I questioned that because the Genesis account cast doubt on it.

  16. Hi Caitlin,

    I think God created mankind to be eternal beings. We were to eat of the Tree of Life and not die but Adam ate of the other tree and sin and death entered in. Nevertheless, our souls are still eternal.

  17. Don, thank you. I’m not sure why I think this, but is it possible the sheep / goat is the nations and that’s after the millennium? Also the saints under the throne, where will they go, and are these different than the ones who populate the earth once a Jesus returns? So it seems like quite a few will come to Jesus during those 7 years……
    Great topic!

  18. Hi Jerialice,

    The sheep goat judgment is an individual personal judgment based on how each tribulation surviving individual treated the Lord’s brethren during the great tribulation. Those that aided the 144,000 Jews are allowed into the Lord’s Kingdom and those that hindered them are cut off. No enemies of the Kingdom will be allowed to live. The mentions of nations being judged just means all surviving Gentiles from all of the ethnic tribes on earth will go through this judgement.

    All that take part in the first Resurrection will get new eternal bodies. The natural people that will repopulate the earth are those that survive the tribulation and are allowed into the Kingdom of Christ.

  19. Don,

    I have 3 questions for you.

    Is there a difference between Hell and Lake of Fire? (heard that hell was all same temperature and all suffer the same but Lake of Fire actually has different layers of judgement with some areas for the more worst people) (Hell like the county jail all the same cell, Lake of Fire like a real prison with some levels normal cell, but also has solarity confinedment, high security, etc. so different prison cells based on individual)

    Where is Hell located? (center of earth at the core where it is hot, different parrallel dimension or phase, located in under some where in the earth like a place under a mountain in Isreal, Egyptian, etc.)

    Who is death? (Is death a physical or spiritual being because to through something in the lake of fire you have to have something not just an idea right, typically we think of death as an idea and not a physical or spiritual being that can be locked away) Is death an angel if yes what is it name beside death like one of the Satan angel and does it report to Satan?

  20. Jeremy,
    Your last question has always intrigued me too since “Death” is accompanied by a personal pronoun, which makes one think it is an individual, not a process.

  21. Doug,

    Thanks me too the way I read the passage is that Death is not an idea like seperation or just a word but a gate keeper of hell.

    Some have suggested that the fallen angel named Azrael is the angel of Death but could be Apollyon/Abaddon, or maybe some one else or maybe we don’t know but it does sound as if Death is an entity that can be thrown into the lake of fire and locked up for good.

    Also did Jesus steal or take from this being the keys of death and hell? I does say that Rev 1:18

    I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

    Yeh for Jesus this puts Jesus in charge of death!!! Go Jesus

    Sounds like Jesus took from the angel Death the keys to hell from off his persons. Ha Ha Ha Death wearing or holding keys to death or the gate of Hades and Jesus took them

    This just shows how powerful Jesus and how awesome he is!

  22. Hi Jeremy,

    I thought I answered your first question in the article. Hell is the temporary abode of souls that are not with the Lord. The Lake of Fire is a special creation made for the Devil and His angels. All not in the Book of Life will also go there.

    Nothing more is really said in the Bible so anything more is someone’s conjecture or based on extra biblical books. I think the conjecture that there will be different levels in the Lake of Fire is based on the different degrees of judgment taught in the Bible. I am not sure that is talking about anyone sent to the Lake of Fire.

    Hell is somewhere in the earth. Who knows where?

    “Who is death?”
    Death is not a who. Death is separation of the soul from the body and from God. Who has authority over that, God does and the one that was given the authority to kill sinful people. Keys represent authority. I would think the foremost angel of death is Satan. That is why he always accusing people of sin. He wants them dead. Jesus took the keys (authority) from Satan when He rose from the dead but He is awaiting His marriage and coronation as King to start to carry the plan of redemption out in the physical realm in the universe. That also applies to those existing in Hell.

  23. Don,

    I think the crux of your article is actually about the environments and logistics of Heaven and Hell themselves, not so much on why people go to Heaven or hell…though, in your first paragraph is what I’ve had an issue with for some time in talking to people.

    What is the #1 thing people say and think for their reasoning on why they are going to Heaven ?

    “I am a good person” they always say…this comes from ill informed Christian-Lite thinking and the secular world alike…and if I tell them, Jesus said, “None is good, no not one for all have fallen short of the glory of God”…it starts a debate or its like I’m speaking a foreign language.

    Or, if I tell them, “by whose standard are you good”…they can get very upset or insulted.

    I’m sure Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all thought they were good…their mothers probably loved them…and now in today’s post-modern age, everyone thinks they are good.

    It seems as though humans are so caught up in their own making or own religious nonsense and what they deem as their own personal Jesus, they don’t see that it isn’t what we rationalize as humanities idea of “good”, it’s the rules that Jesus established in Grace for our Salvation.

    The truth is also, some people really don’t believe Hell will be that bad as you also eluded to, like they’re going to party with Lucifer and satisfy their lustful desires as opposed to boringly playing a harp on a cloud in Heaven.

    A burning garbage dump, Gehenna…where the worm dieth not…now if people had that image instead of whatever warped image they have, that might serve them better.

  24. It is my understanding that when Jesus died He went to paradise in the center of the earth. He told the thief on the cross he would be with Him in paradise that day. And it is my understanding that all old testament saints went to paradise when they died. But after Christ died he led captivity captive and took them from paradise to heaven. All new testament believers soul/spirit under grace go to heaven when we die. Paul said, absent from the body present with the Lord. Just based on Ephesians 4:7-10.

    One other thing that really does not pertain to this, but I think many get confused on is the book of James. They make a doctrine out of something that is not true. Faith without works is dead. We know that is not true for us under grace. In fact those that believe it are not saved according to Matthew 7:21-23

    Here is the problem that no one seem to read. The first verse of James says who he is writing to. The twelve tribes of Israel during the tribulation. Not the church. We are saved by faith alone without works, and if we add works we have perverted the Gospel which is all grace. Romans 11:6.

    It is all grace, what Jesus did for us, not works, what we do or do not do. It can not be both. It is AMAZING GRACE.

    People just will not read the bible in context and the dispensation it is written to. The tribulation saints do have to persevere unto the end and not take the mark of the beast to be saved. So the perseverance of the saints is for those in the tribulation. We are saved the Minute we trust Jesus as our savior plus nothing. Jesus paid it all and we paid 0. It is a free gift, and that is the only way we can accept it.

    Those that pervert the gospel and add works, are accursed according to Paul. Galatians 1:7-9

    Our churches are so full of apostasy that now most believe they will be saved if they keep the law and do good works because no one is preaching the gospel. First Corinthians 15:1-4 That Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that He was buried and rose again after three days, according to the scriptures. If you believe He did it for you, you are saved and have eternal life. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 6:37 John 6:39 John 6:40 John 3:36 First John 5:13

  25. Hi James,

    I don’t want this to get off topic but I don’t want people to be misled either. James was not just writing to the saints in the tribulation. Read the whole book. He was writing to contemporary believers. There are much better explanations for what James said about dead faith then to dismiss what he said to just the tribes in the tribulation.

  26. Don,

    I am sorry, but this entire article of yours is in in error as the supreme authority above all including God’s Word, Pope Francis, has recently declared that there is No Heaven, No Purgatory, and No Hell.

    Eh’hem, didn’t Francis about a year ago say that even atheists go to heaven if they do good deeds ?…and even said there was no Adam and Eve, perhaps to appease the same sex marriage crowd I wonder.

    Yeah right, this guy, Francis, is so into appeasement, lies, and deception that he can’t keep his facts straight.

    Francis either has never read Scripture, has read Scripture but denies it, or is being led by the prince of lies, which is my guess.

  27. Hi ~David,

    It is not surprising since Pope Francis is really a Marxist. The Catholic Cardinals will get him out soon. There is a large faction in the Catholic Church who claim that Francis is a false Pope. They believe the prior Pope is the only real Pope. The question now is how will they get rid of this babbling fool?

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