Question about people who are sent to hell


#1

Hi guys I have 2 questions.

  1. In the Gospel, the part about Lazarus and the rich man, I have trouble interpreting it as I see that the rich man still cares for his brothers in some way. I always thought that since he is in hell he has chosen evil and there is no good left in him? But doesnt he care about his brothers at least? Also… the bible says its Hades but im assuming Hades=Hell.

  2. Next, Is there any church teaching that people can be saved from hell? If when they are in hell they choose to repent… I understand that they have freewill? Or does freewill only go to those that are saved at death and those that go to hell are slaves of sin? I dont know… I really hope that even those in hell could be saved. As my impression of God is that he is love and that in him ALL things are possible…

Thanks for the replies… This 2 questions has shaken my faith in Jesus alot!


#2

If one dies with care for his family on earth, his soul maintains that care even after death. I am not sure if the spiritual state can change after death, but if it can, Hell will certainly only make it worse, not better.

It would seem that the rich man cared quite a bit for his family and his friends, but not at all for God. It is only natural for him to wish good things for his family. But that simply isn’t enough to get to Heaven.

As for being saved from Hell: well, this passage speaks for itself. There is no crossing from Heaven to Hell or from Hell to Heaven. When you die, you get what you loved most on earth. And if that’s anything but God, it is, by definition, Hell.


#3

A quote that always comes to mind when discussing Hell is

“There is not a single soul in hell that hasn’t ripped itself from the arms of Christ”

We sentence ourselves to death, which I know may sound strange. But when we come to the full realization of our sins when we die and choose to wrap ourselves up selfishly, not accepting the saving power of Jesus then where else can we go.

The rich man in the scripture was obviously quite a selfish man as he did not aid Lazarus in his time of need, but only the Lord can show us the full extent of our sins, so who am I to judge.


#4

#5

Let me say a few things that hopefully can ease your mind just a bit.

First, the Church does not definitely say that anybody is in Hell. We pray that everyone may be saved. We hope that somehow God’s Grace may reach even the worst, perhaps even at death.

Second, we need to understand what Hell is. Hell is not so much something imposed upon by God as punishment, but rather something which we freely choose that is simply ratified by God. Hell is the state of our souls when we permanently choose to reject the good and go down the path of love of self. In that case, the very love of God becomes a torment for us, and over time we become less and less like a true human being.

Third, when we finally die, our life Choices become definite. All the small choices we make in our lives are building up to one final “ultimate” choice which we will make in our death. So when we pass from this world, we will have made either a definite choice for or against the good, a choice that will continue to work itself out over the centuries. For this reason, Hell is definite and final, because those that go there have definitely chosen to totally and finally reject God, just as Satan and the Fallen Angels did.


#6

A couple of things here…

  1. this is a parable designed to get across a specific point using imagery. It isn’t really a theological revelation on the true nature of hell or those who are there.
  2. At the time that Jesus used this story, he had not yet suffered and died…therefore (it is my understanding that) “hades”, the realm of the dead contained some who would/could be saved…Jesus himself went there between the cross and the resurrection.

So it can be tricky to read too much into the parable just in itself.

  1. Next, Is there any church teaching that people can be saved from hell? If when they are in hell they choose to repent… I understand that they have freewill? Or does freewill only go to those that are saved at death and those that go to hell are slaves of sin? I dont know… I really hope that even those in hell could be saved. As my impression of God is that he is love and that in him ALL things are possible…

There is no Church teaching that anyone can be saved out of hell.
They made their choice through their lives and at the point of death.

Thanks for the replies… This 2 questions has shaken my faith in Jesus a lot!

Understood. This can happen when we try to over think these things. Remember that St Thomas Aquinas spent years pondering and writing on these matters and in the end called all of his work “just so much straw” when compared to the true nature and glory of God.
To avoid this over thinking and frustration I use the simplest of methods…

  1. Hell = bad
  2. Heaven = good
    It’s better to concentrate on “good” than on “bad”. There is a line from an old cross country race movie (gumball rally) in which a racer tears out the review mirror of his car saying, “What’s behind me is not important”.
    That is a good motto for the spiritual journey. Turn to God - to Good - to Love and put evil behind you.
    Learn and implement what is good and then - whatever heaven is specifically will be just great - and the specifics of hell just won’t matter.

Attaining heaven is not about “avoiding hell”. Its’ about becoming perfected in Love. So in order to solidify your faith in Christ, I suggest concentrating on Love.

Hope this helps a little.

Peace
James


#7
  1. The rich man’s first concern was for himself (he was tormented in the flame and wanted some water). He appealed to Abraham for help, but not a word directed to God. Why he interceded for his brothers is not explained, but I would suggest, in light of everything else, his reasons were more out of selfishness than love. BTW - I believe this is a true story and not a parable because Jesus used a proper name in the story (Lazarus) rather than the usual “there was a certain man”. I would assert that some of the people who heard this story knew who was being talked about. Of course, that’s my opinion.

  2. Consider this - if one could repent and get out of Hell, then wouldn’t one also be able to sin and be cast out of Heaven? Couldn’t Satan repent? If so, why not pray for Satan’s repentance? On the other hand, Adam sinned in the flesh, passing onto us Original Sin. Jesus paid the penalty of sin in His flesh. Once we leave this life our destination (Heaven or Hell) is fixed and cannot be changed. While it is true that Love is an attribute of God, it is not the only one. God can (and does) execute judgement against sinners (and is perfectly just in doing so).


#8

The passage about Lazarus is considered a parable. Thus, not a real historical event. It is one in a series of parables in that section of Luke’s gospel - Chapters 14 -16. Jesus used parables to teach us spiritual lessons. Some lessons I get are:
the importance of how we choose to live while we are still alive on earth;
we will be judged after death according to how we have lived;
the 2 final, permanent states in eternity - heaven and hell.

Now, having said that, in His parables Jesus does use real types of situations that the people recognize. With that in mind, a few perhaps not so obvious things strike me.
**1) ** Lazarus doesn’t call out to God for relief - either before or after making his requests to Abraham.
**2) ** His main/first request is for himself - relief for his pain.
3) No indication of any confession & repentance on his part for his sinful actions on earth. Not one word.

(All 3 points are so different from the repentent thief on the cross. Lk 23:39-43)

Just some additional thoughts that crossed my mind as you seem to be troubled about Lazarus:
Lazarus’ request for his brothers seems to indicate concern for them. But did you notice he makes that request only after his first request has been denied. (Lk 16:27 …"Then I beg you…) One can almost get the sense that if he had been given water to cool his tongue, he wouldn’t have bothered to intercede for his brothers.
Considering the little bits revealed about Lazarus’ character in the parable, it might be well to consider whether there could have been a selfish motivation in such a one. For example, could such a one think if his brother/s got to the other side of the “great chasm” they would find a way to relieve his pain???


#9

A parable is to make a point, or maybe points. But everything in the parable may not be applicable by today’s standards, or to those days standards. But it isn’t about every tinsy weensy bit in the parable being used, but just a point.

So at times it is possible to read into all the little pieces things that are not intended to be read, but rather ignored. Because it is the point that is being made that is important.

How do we know the point or points? By looking at church teaching and comparing it to that, and to the writings of the saints and doctors of the church. So our understanding will be better as to content the more we know our faith. And the issues in the parable that don’t make sense don’t apply. They might be stretched a bit to make them apply in some fashion but then that would be anyone’s opinion.

Just a thought.


#10

Saint Catherine of Siena says that the rich man didn’t want his brothers to end up in Hell with him because it would affect his own sufferings. Part of the suffering of the damned in Hell is to have the company of other damned souls.

God speaking to Saint Catherine: “because he was the eldest, and had nourished them up in the same miseries in which he had lived, so that he was the cause of their damnation, and he saw pain increased to himself, on account of their damnation when they should arrive in torment together with him…” (Saint Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue)

Everyone who dies in a state of unrepentant actual mortal sin will be condemned to Hell forever.

The Church does not teach that any particular persons are in Hell, in other words, the Church does not name individuals who certainly went to Hell. However, this does not imply that we may hold that no one goes to Hell. The teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, and in the rest of Scripture, and the teachings of Ecumenical Councils (e.g. Florence, session 11, profession of faith) and the words of the Virgin Mary at Fatima and other well-approved private revelations, all indicate that many souls go to Hell.

Mary: “more souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason”

In Matthew 25, Jesus presents the parable of the returning King, in which Jesus divides the nations into two groups, one goes to Heaven and the other to Hell.

Jesus also specifically taught that the ate to Hell is wide and many there are who enter through it. (Mt 7:13).


#11

We seem to think alike Cachonga. :slight_smile:

BTW - I believe this is a true story and not a parable because **Jesus used a proper name in the story (Lazarus) **rather than the usual “there was a certain man”. I would assert that some of the people who heard this story knew who was being talked about. Of course, that’s my opinion.

Thanks for pointing that out; had never really thought about it before. Just off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other parable where Jesus assigns a proper name to the person in the parable.


#12

Here are some other passages in the gospel that I believe will help you understand the rich man:

Matthew 7: 7-11
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Luke 6: 32-35:
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

I believe there is a lesson to be learned here by the rich man’s reaction. Without spiritual maturity, we are vulnerable to think of the damned as being cartoon-like villains. People that snatch candy from children with their right hand while holding their left fist in the air and laughing. This is, perhaps, in order to help us feel better about ourselves, but it is not a tenable perception to hold. After all, why would a wicked person act like that anyway? It would only be harmful to themselves, because their reputation and their social life would be ruined, and they wouldn’t get far in life. The rich man seemed to have some kind of care - or appearance of care - for his descendents, but it was surely not agape love. Any animal knows how to care for their offspring. While it may be noble for a parent to care for their child, it is certainly the least noble of noble things, because it is a care that is largely forced upon them by power of instinct. Because God is a perfect Judge, we can be assured the rich man would not be in Hades had he not deserved it. He had violated the Greatest Commandment again and again by his lack of love, and he did not repent.

That being said, we might safely speculate that there are surely people worse off than him. Sin committed by malevolence/sadism is considered the gravest.

edit: And btw no: people that go to Hell or Heaven are in that state for eternity. The finality of their decision is revealed. A saved person will not fall and a fallen person will not rise.


#13

The Church does not identify any individual human as being in Hell (who knows who may have repented at the last instant before death). The only specific individuals we know of are Satan and the other fallen angels.

But, the Church does teach definitively that there are souls in Hell. Hell is not empty.

Jesus taught on this early and often. e.g. Matthew 7:13

Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.

All the evidence of the Gospels, and the Saints who have been granted mystic visions, is that more souls go to Hell than to Heaven.

God Bless


#14

It is a parable teaching how hardness of heart can prevent someone from receiving salvation; in this case the “brothers”, who have already ignored the warnings of the prophets, are liable to ignore the warning of one who rises from the dead.

It warns that some obstinate sinners will ignore even the resurrection of Jesus Christ rather than repent of sin. The parable is not a literal description of what happens in hell.


#15

I’ve always understood the parable of Lazarus and the rich man as one of Purgatory not hell. Yet I could be wrong since it very well could be Christ explaining the issues that present souls were dealing with in limbo until the sacrifice of Christ. I personally do not believe souls in hell care about the well being of others; however, a soul in Limbo could care for the well being of others. In Limbo I believe there was still a great divide between the just and the unjust and that the demons were permitted to harass those who were to be their new tenants.

Why are there so many Christians who view hell as unjust? It boggles my mind but maybe we can try a different way of looking at it in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, we will be able to see things in a different light.

First there is no absence of free will in hell just like there is no absence of free will in heaven. In heaven there are beings with free will that will to never be separated from God. You would have to void their free will to even make this separation possible. They are resolute in their position and will not budge. Does this mean they no longer have the ability to oppose God? No! It means they WILL to never oppose God.

Now let’s take a trip to the other side of the tracks. These beings have chosen to never be joined to God. You would have to void their free will to even make their joining to God a reality. They are resolute in their position and will not join as long as they have a free choice in the matter. Does this mean they no longer have the ability to repent? No! It means they WILL to never repent and be joined to God. They want nothing to do with God. They’re so self-absorbed they have no time for God even in ETERNITY! You’re feeling sorry for beings that don’t want your pity! Your feeling sorry for beings that don’t want your heaven because it doesn’t involve others worshiping them! The even sadder part is you’re about to lose your faith in God because He won’t give them something they could have had but didn’t want and still do not want, which is an eternity with Him.


#16

John Paul II said that the Church does not teach that there are souls in Hell, in his General Audiences on the last things and in Crossing the Threshold of Hope. Some saints have thought that more souls will be in Hell, but plenty have thought that more would be in heaven, as well as Pope Benedict XVI in Spe Salvi.


#17

That’s a huge overbid on what John Paul II said, as per Cardinal Avery Dulles:

firstthings.com/article/2008/08/the-population-of-hell-23

Pope John Paul II in his Crossing the Threshold of Hope mentions the theory of Balthasar. After putting the question whether a loving God can allow any human being to be condemned to eternal torment, he replies: “And yet the words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew’s Gospel he speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Matthew 25:46).” As justification for this assessment the Pope puts the rhetorical question: Can God, who is ultimate justice, tolerate terrible crimes and let them go unpunished? Final punishment would seem to be necessary to reestablish the moral equilibrium in the complex history of humanity.

In a General Audience talk of July 28, 1999, the Pope seems to have shifted his position, adopting in effect that of Balthasar. According to the English version of the text he said:

  • Christian faith teaches that in taking the risk of saying “yes” or “no,” which marks the (human) creature’s freedom, some have already said no. They are the spiritual creatures that rebelled against God’s love and are called demons (cf. Fourth Lateran Council). What happened to them is a warning to us: it is a continuous call to avoid the tragedy which leads to sin and to conform our life to that of Jesus who lived his life with a “yes” to God.
Eternal damnation remains a possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of whether or which human beings are effectively involved in it. The thought of hell-and even less the improper use of biblical images-must not create anxiety or despair, but is a necessary and healthy reminder of freedom within the proclamation that the risen Jesus has conquered Satan, giving us the Spirit of God who makes us cry “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6)*

The last sentence refers to the hope of Christians for their own salvation and cannot be used to support any theory of universal salvation. But the preceding sentence indicates at least an openness to the opinion that we may hope for the salvation of all.

At most the Pope was personally open to a theory. He never said the Church taught that Hell might be empty.

God Bless


#18

St. Paul speaks of the “works of the flesh”:

*"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity,
Mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences.If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Gal 5:19-25)*

Idolatry is the sin of making false gods out of things or persons, which goes against the very First Commandment—which is to love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength and all our soul. A practical example would sports. When watching a football game becomes more important than going to Sunday Mass, that is making a false god out of something…


#19

Yes, but when people living in the world CHOOSE the world over Jesus, they are exercising their free will, I strongly believe that if people do this and are still sent to hell, then there was no free will to begin with, as if hell is the ONLY outcome to someone NOT choosing God, then there is really only 1 choice.

Really there should be an afterlife place for people who live for the world, without God in their lives, yet are still good people, and do not go about killing, raping, and taking advantage of others, the one single act of choosing God or not choosing God, should not automatically send someone to a place of eternal torture and punishment, or heaven for those who live with God in their lives.Just because someone does not want God in their life, does not mean they worship Satan and demons and are out for the destruction of the world.

Hell was made specifically for Satan and the other fallen angels he swayed to follow him, not humans, so if people end up there, that tells me, in Gods eyes, humans who do not want him in their life are no better than Satan and the demons, who HATE everything about God and mankind, and actively try to destroy it all the time! What kind of logic is this?

I know this has been discussed to death on here, some believe what they believe and others believe what they believe and are not easily swayed, but I for one, cannot believe a God who made a big deal of giving us free will, would punish us for choosing to exercise it, even if meant we chose a life without him in it.

To love someone unconditionally is to accept them and accept whatever they choose to do in life, even if it means the person will live a worldly life, not to punish them for making the wrong choice, and its only wrong in ones viewpoint, Gods. That is what I believe anyway.


#20

If a person chooses to throw themselves from a bride…have they exercised free will?
I know that we can discuss the many factors that might motivate such an act, but the point is that a person CAN exercise free will even when the single outcome is known.

Really there should be an afterlife place for people who live for the world, without God in their lives, yet are still good people, and do not go about killing, raping, and taking advantage of others, the one single act of choosing God or not choosing God, should not automatically send someone to a place of eternal torture and punishment, or heaven for those who live with God in their lives.Just because someone does not want God in their life, does not mean they worship Satan and demons and are out for the destruction of the world.

The problem is that Salvation is not about what people avoid it is about what they DO. Look at the Gospels in Particular Mt 25 and see how Jesus describes the last judgement. I.e. you gave me water, you gave me food, you visited me etc…
Simply avoiding raping and killing does not equal good people. Among the items you list above, not “taking advantage of others” comes closest to what Jesus speaks of in the two great commandments - Mt 22:36-40 - Love God and Love neighbor as yourself.

Scripture also tells us, in 1 John 4:7-8 that God is Love…So it is entirely possible for one to choose God by choosing Agape (Selfless Love) even if they don’t realize it.
Jesus also tells us that not all who cry “Lord Lord” will enter the kingdom…but only those who do the will of the Father (which is to Love). So it is entirely possible for a person to attend church all their life and STILL not have God in their heart.

So - who will go to heaven and who won’t is liable to be rather surprising…

Peace
James


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