Question: What is the difference between the lake of fire and hell?
First, those who have died without repenting and trusting Christ’s payment for their sin (thereby receiving the imputation of His righteousness to them see – 2 Cor 5:21) are awaiting “final judgment” of their lives (Rev 20:11-15). In contrast, the believer’s sin was judged at the cross through Christ’s atoning death (1 Cor 15:1-4). So there is no judgment of our sin at death because Christ’s perfect payment cancels our unpayable debt of sin to God! (Jn 19:28)
The Bible states that when the unsaved die, they await final judgment of their sins in a place called Hades (the Greek word for the Hebrew word sheol) – c.f., Matt 11:23, 16:18; Lk 10:15, 16:23; Rev 6:8.
Hades is not the ultimate destination of the unrepentant (i.e., Hell). The ultimate sentencing of the unsaved occurs as a result of the final judgment called the “Great White Throne Judgment” (Rev 20:11-15). All the unsaved receive God’s final judgment and condemnation at the Great White Throne Judgment. The Bible calls the final place where the unsaved carry out their eternal punishment, the “lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14-15 describes this most serious, sobering and tragic truth in all of Scripture:
“Then death and Hades were thrown in to the lake of fire.This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyones’ s name was not written in the book of life,he was thrown into the lake of fire”
So the Bible calls what we think of as “eternal hell” the “lake of fire.”
There is debate among theologians about when this final hell described as the “lake of fire” comes into existence. Some argue it may already exist (Matt 10:28), but if it does, it is currently unoccupied!! Why? Because its first eternal inmates, the beast (Anti-Christ) and the false prophet (an end-time world religious leader) will not begin serving their never-ending sentence until the end of the Tribulation (Rev 19:20).
So, to recap:
- “Hades” is the place where the unsaved go after death to await the “Great White Throne” Judgment. The Bible intimates this is a “temporary” place of punishment (Luke 16:19-31). Hades is not eternal Hell.
- The “lake of fire” is the final destination for all the unrepentant for all eternity; this is what is commonly referred to as “hell.” The Greek word for Hell is “gehenna,” not “hades” ( lit., “the place of the unseen”).
While everyone will die one day (except those “snatched away” in the rapture – 1 Thess 4:16-18!), anyone can avoid Hades and the just punishment of Hell by confessing their sin and trusting in Jesus Christ’s work of salvation . . . ” for the wages of sin is death (complete separation from God and serving out the tragic consequence of the Lord’s just sentence/punishment for your sin forever). Thank God for the second half of Romans 6:23 . . . but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Because of God’s grace, we do not have to experience eternal death but can inherent eternal life through personally receiving the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ!
If you have not confessed to God that you are sinner by nature and a sinner by choice, repent and trust Christ for the complete payment of your sins. The Bible repeatedly declares that you are headed toward God’s perfectly just judgment and condemnation for your sins. If you have not personally cried out to God for His mercy, please do so now! (Read Luke 18:9-14!) I beg you to repent and agree with God that you need to embrace and trust Christ alone as your only Savior and Lord (Rom 10:10). Only He qualifies to be your perfect substitute and is able to make complete atonement for your sin! (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Please recognize your inability to pay for your sin and earn God’s favor by your efforts! Do not accept the false notion that living a “moral life” or doing “good things” makes you right with God. Rather, embrace and receive God’s free offer of forgiveness and eternal life through trusting in the finished work of Christ alone (1 Peter 3:18) . . . then begin to live for Him now with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, knowing that He will one day bring you to the never-ending joy of heaven — to an eternity that is inexhaustibily blessed! He will bring you to the ulitmate meaning of life: to experience an everlasting life of glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever! (Jude 24-25)