Did Jesus Spend Time In Hell?

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Part Five - Jesus Time In Hell

In John 19:30, the Bible declares, “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit”. The question may be asked what does it mean to give up one’s spirit. In simplest terms it means Jesus died but more is being described here than just the idea of death. 

To understand this statement fully we must begin by defining death. The doctor at the hospital would say that death is the cessation of all bodily functions. This definition is based on the fact that the doctors have no other way to measure the difference between life and death. However, this method is hardly fool proof. Daily people loose bodily function and yet with immediate treatment their bodies are resuscitated. Likewise, if the cessation of bodily functions is the evidence of death, than a resurrection would be required to resuscitate a person. However, the Bible is very clear that the power to resurrect is reserved only to God. No physician or EMT has the power to bring someone who has died back to the living. From this we would conclude that the method the doctors use is hardly fool proof and that there is more at work in death than can be measure with medical instruments. What else is going on when a person has truly died? 

The Bible gives us the answer to this puzzling question. Death takes place when the body has come to a point where is no longer a fit habitation for the soul or spirit of man. It can be compared to someone living in a home all his life but eventually the house is struck by an earthquake, or fire, tornado, flood or just age and the house is no longer fit to live in. The local inspector will condemn the house and the resident must take up residence elsewhere. Likewise the same is true of man. The body may be struck by cancer or extreme age which renders the body uninhabitable, and so his soul must move on and take up residence elsewhere. Some of you may seek proof for this so let me share a couple of verses with you.

Jas 2:26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Ps 146:4, “His spirit departs, he returns to his earth.”

1 Ki 17:20-22, “Then he cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?" And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him."

With this in mind then, when a person experiences the cessation of bodily functions, whether he is dead or not is determined by whether his soul is still present or has left the body. If it is still present it will be able to be resuscitated but if it has departed, all the life saving equipment in the world will not be able to bring that person back to life.

Now lets get back to the verse we started with. On the cross Christ gave up His Spirit. It was the departure of His Spirit or Soul that marked the fact that He had died. Thus Luke writes, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'" Having said this, He breathed His last.” (Lk 23:46). 

Now there is one thing makes the death of Christ different from any other human death. The cause of death for all individuals is the condemnation of their body by God. However, in Jesus case, the body was still habitable however he chose to vacate it, Leaving it hanging on the cross His Spirit relocated to another place for three days and three nights. This fact is born out by the reaction of the soldiers when they came to break the legs of those on the cross to hasten their death through suffocation, When they came to Him they were surprised that He was already dead. To make sure, they pierced his side and determined indeed he had died. Therefore we can draw a very important conclusion. The Jews did not kill Jesus nor did the Romans (Gentiles). Jesus gave up His life because as God, He only had power to do so.

Now we come to the original question. We know where Jesus body spent those three days but where did His Spirit relocate. The answer to this is found in Luke 23:43 as Jesus responded to the one thief who asked Jesus to save him. Jesus told him with that day he would join Jesus in Paradise. 

Where was paradise you might ask. The answer may surprise you. Paradise was in Hades of Hell which is located in the center of the earth. 

Mt 12:40-41, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. “

Eph 4:9-10, “(Now this, "He ascended" — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)”

You say, Christ spent three days in Hell? How could that be? However we must remember that Hell, Hades, or OT Sheol prior to Christ’s resurrection was different than what Hell is today. 

Let us remember, that God’s Word states that when a person dies, his spirit or soul must relocate to new quarters. In OT times which ended with the Resurrection of Christ, all disembodied spirits descended into Hades which is located in the lower parts of the earth. This was true for both the Saint and the unbeliever. However, keep in mind, that during this period, Hades or Hell was divided into two compartments separated by an impassable gulf as Jesus speaks of in Luke 16:19-30. The one compartment housed the unbelieving spirits who suffer in torment until the day of the Great White Throne judgment at the close of human history. The other compartment was Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom and was the place where the Saints went to spend their time waiting the resurrection of Christ. It was a place peace, rest, and great joy. Though separated by a gulf, communication was possible between these two compartments but only communication and nothing more.

You maybe wondering why God sent His OT Saints to Paradise rather than to heaven as He does today. The answer is simple and yet profound. The OT Saints could not enter into heaven because though their sins were covered under the sacrifices of the OT, yet they were not removed. Since their sins had not been removed, they could not enter into the holy realm of God in Heaven. However, that all changed when Christ paid for all the sins of man on the cross. Suddenly, upon the completion of His work on the cross, the sins of all the OT Saints in Paradise were totally removed. They were now able to enter the holy home of God. Therefore as Christ arose on the third day, He first ascended into heaven to place his blood on the mercy seat of God and also took Paradise and all its inhabitants to heaven where they await the day in which Christ establishes His kingdom on the earth (Eph. 4:8-10). With Paradise removed, Hades now became the place we usually associate with Hell. It is a terrible place of torment for all who die without faith in Christ alone to save them.

Hell is a terrible place to end up! The Bible says that all who have not trusted in Christ as their personal Savior are destined to end up in hell where they are tormented until the Day of Judgment (Rev. 20:9-15). At this point they will be resurrected to their bodies and then cast with the fallen angels into the Everlasting Lake of Fire. Not a pretty picture regardless of who you are. The sad thing about all of this is there is no need for anyone to go to Hell. God would prefer all to end in heaven and none perish. However the decision is one that everyone must make. To make no decision is to decide for hell. What is also sad is the gift of salvation, is just that, a gift. God has made salvation one of the easiest things any one can do. We must only receive His precious gift for our own.

Where will you go when you finally die? I hope you have made reservations in advance to go to heaven.