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Scripture: 2 Peter 1:13-14; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 2 Pete...
Track 5 of 8 in the Understanding the Spiritual Realm series
Running time: 1 hour, 02 minutes, 37 seconds.
The technical term is the intermediate place of the dead. It is the place or state where a person is between his death and the second coming of Christ. It is of course a disembodied state since at death the person leaves his physical body and the physical body is buried in the grave.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The Intermediate Place of the Dead

When dealing with the topic of the spiritual realm, the question usually pops up concerning if heaven and hell are real. Many want to believe that heaven s real while at the same time hoping that hell is not. As we studied the characteristics and personalities of angels, Satan and his demons, references to earth, heaven and hell are made as the places where these spiritual beings live and interact with each other. It is hard to imagine what goes on around us every day concerning the activities of these created beings as they contest for the souls of man.

Next week we will start a three part series on what happens when we die. All that we looked at concerning angels, Satan and demons will come to play in this series. But more important is the understanding what the Bible says takes place at the moment we die. For those of us in Christ, do we go straight to heaven? For those outside of Christ do they go straight to hell? What does the Bible say about this and what are the misunderstandings Christians have concerning this topic?

I find it quite amazing how many Christians don’t know what scriptures say about this topic. When I teach the principles about heaven and hell many become disturbed about other references to places they never heard of such as the Grave, Paradise, Hades, Tartarus and Gehenna. What are these places and what do they have to do with me going to heaven? To many these terms cause confusion and doubt about the whole subject so they prefer not to know anymore about this topic.

I feel it is necessary to discuss in detail what these places are and what they are not. Once we get into our series concerning death and what happens when death comes knocking, we will have a pretty good understanding what is going on. I want you to start thinking and getting ready to ask questions once we start.

Death, when that word is mentioned, what are the images that flood your mind? How many of you look forward to that day? How many of you fear it? What do you think it will be like? What do you expect to experience? From where did you get those ideas and do they match up with what is taught in scripture? What about Hades? What images come to mind when that term is mentioned?

The technical term is “the intermediate place of the dead”. It is the place or state where a person is between his death and the second coming of Christ. It is of course a disembodied state since at death the person leaves his physical body and the physical body is buried in the grave.

2 Peter 1:13-14 (NIV)
I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

We are promised that each person will receive a resurrection body when Jesus returns. 1 Cor. 15:51-53.

If we go to heaven when we die, then why does Jesus need to come back?

Here are some terms to know:

• Heaven: The place where God dwells and also the place where the redeemed will spend eternity.
• Hell: The final state of the wicked, their place of punishment after the judgment.

Now there is a problem in the Scriptures that has caused people to be confused. When the King James version of the Bible was written in 1611, the scholars refused to distinguish between the Greek words Gehenna, Tartarus and Hades. The term Tartarus is designated as Hell in many Bible versions but each has a footnote indicating that Tartarus is not Gehenna. This term tartarus is found in Scripture, 2 Peter 2:4.

2 Peter 2:4 (NIV)
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;

To explain what Hades is, it is easier to explain what Hades is not:

• Hades is not the grave. In the Old Testament we see many references to the grave (kever). But the first time we see the concept of Hades (Sheol) in Genesis 37:35, it is much different than the grave. Several instances in the Old Testament distinguish between the grave and Sheol. The same is true in the New Testament. Sheol (Hebrew translation) is the same as Hades (Greek translation).

• Hades is not Hell. Hades can not be Hell because before the ascension of Jesus after his resurrection, Hades represented the dwelling place of ALL the dead, including the righteous dead. Jacob, David and many other greats from the Old Testament expected to go there when they died.

Genesis 37:33-35 (NIV)
He recognized it and said, "It is my son's robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces." Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. "No," he said, "in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son." So his father wept for him.

Later in Revelations Rev. 20:14, in the end, Hades and Death are thrown into Hell. This reference also shows that Hades and Hell are different from one another.

NOTE: In 2 Peter 2:4, Peter makes reference to a place that is named “Hell “in many translations of the Bible but are footnoted with the Greek word, “tararosas”. What is important to note is that Peter writes that the angels were “sent” to Hell, not condemned like with Gehenna. Another word synonymous with Tartarus is the term the Abyss. In Revelation the abyss is opened and out come Satan’s helpers. Also in Revelation the beast ascends out from the Abyss. Basically Tartarus is the place of detention of wicked angels until Judgment which includes the unrighteous people on earth who die outside of Christ.

• Hades is not Heaven. In scripture, Hades is distinguished from Heaven in many ways. The approach to Hades is always a decent where as the approach to Heaven is an ascent. Hades is also described as a place to be delivered from. We will go more into the parable spoken by Jesus concerning Lazarus and the rich man. In this parable Lazarus, in Hades is not enjoying the fullness of God but is found to be in comfort while the rich man was in torment. But the biggest piece of evidence that Heaven is not Hades is the fact that the righteous are delivered from Hades at the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

• Hades is not merely the ‘state” of death. There are some factions of Christianity that believe and teach that once we die, we are in the grave until Jesus returns, there is no. Hades is simply a “state” not a “place”. But when one looks into scripture, it is always designated as a place, a place inhabited by the dead.

• Hades is not Purgatory. The reason why this is true because the concept of purgatory is not found in scripture. This dogma was first debated in 1274 at the Council of Lyons. It was determined to be both penal and purificatory at the Council of Florence in 1439. In 1563 the Council of Trent recognized the validity of suffrages performed for the benefit of those in purgatory.

According to Roman Catholicism, souls of Christians who die burdened by venial or remitted mortal sins are translated to purgatory, where they undergo a process of cleansing for those sins. It is unclear whether purgatory is a place or a state. The sufferings of those in purgatory vary tremendously in intensity and duration, depending upon the degree to which the baptized but not fully cleansed Christian has sinned. Most agree that those in purgatory are purged by fire, but there is no consensus as to whether the fire is literal or figurative.

The Catholics also teach that purgatory is temporary and that souls can be delivered from purgatory early by the actions of living Christians who perform good works on behalf of the dead. Such works include the Mass, prayers (for the dead), and the giving of alms. Those who are in a state of perfect grace will not need to go to purgatory—they will go immediately to heaven. Others will go immediately to hell. But the majority of the just will spend some time in purgatory, being purified.

On its face, what doctrinal problems are there in scripture dealing with the concept of purgatory? How can this doctrine be abused? Do you think it is?

• Hades is not Limbus Infatium. A place or state reserved for infants who die before baptism. While they do not suffer in purgatory, they are forever denied the relationship with Jesus.

Are there any doctrinal problems with this belief or understanding?

Hades is a place in the unseen world distinct from Heaven and Hell

• Before Christ’s Ascension. Hades had two distinct parts, one of comfort and one of misery. Before Christ it was the place all who died were carried. Jesus referred to it as the bosom of Abraham in Luke 19 and Paradise while on the cross with the thief. There also was a place or torment for the wicked.

• Christ descends into Hades. We read in the New Testament that Jesus descended into Hell (Hades) and delivered the souls of righteousness. Ephesians 4:8-9 tells us that in the period between his death and his resurrection Jesus delivered from Hades the captivity detained there.

Ephesians 4:7-10 (NIV)
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

We are also told that Jesus while in the state between his death and resurrection, Jesus went into the lower regions to preach to the spirits in prison.

1 Peter 3:18-20 (NIV)
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

• Since Christ’s Ascension. Since Jesus ascended back into Heaven, Hades is set aside for the wicked only. When ever the New Testament the word Hades is used it speaks only of the wicked. Where before Christ, Hades consisted of two places (Paradise and Tartarus), today is consists only of one, a place of torment for the wicked awaiting their final destination, Gehenna. Paradise is now moved to Heaven

For those in Christ, we have ample amounts of Scripture that speaks about those who go to be with the Lord. Paradise is not the final abode of the Christian for eternity. The full and final place is Heaven after the 2nd coming of Christ.