By Oscar M. Baker
"For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell: neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption."
This is a difficult verse for the orthodox. Seeing that they have the wrong notion of hell, they are at a loss as to how to explain this. But they usually manage to explain it away, as they do so many passages which do not agree with their creeds. Hell here is simply the grave, or you might say, the dust of the earth. And the first part of the statement would well apply to David, the speaker. But it is the last part that causes the difficulty. For David has seen corruption and was still in the grave or hell as late as A.D. 29, for Peter in Ac 2:27,31 quotes this very passage to prove that it is the Lord, not David, who has been raised.
There is no return from the orthodox hell. Yet, here it is. The Lord Himself has escaped from it via resurrection, and is the firstfruits of them that slept, the firstborn from the dead. He is the only one who has ascended to heaven (John 3:13). The rest of the dead are still in hell awaiting their time of resurrection.
Now when the Lord calls those that are His, will hell be able to hold them? Do we have any assurance along this line of thought? What do the Scriptures say?
In Matthew 16:18 the Lord said that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church, those who believe, Job was sure that he would answer when the Lord called
(Job 14:15). Those in the dispensation of promise will arise at the coming of the Lord, each in his own order or group (1 Cor. 15:23). The reader can find many more Scriptures that refer to this hope.
Another question that bothers a lot of folks is this. What are the dead doing? If you will read John 11:11,13,14 you will discover that dead believers are said to sleep. It does not say that souls sleep, but that the dead sleep. Just for an instance, look at
1 Cor. 15:6,18,20,51. In these references, dead believers are said to be asleep. Use your concordance and find other such examples in both Old Testament and New Testament.
So our conclusion must be that believing dead sleep. In the original languages, this word sleep is not used of unbelievers. They die and stay dead (Ps. 49:12,20).
Now here is a shocker! The Bible says that dead folks know not any thing, they are not conscious. Yet in spite of the plain facts of the Word of God, religious men will tell you that there is an eternal conscious torment in hell for the unbelievers. If there was ever a lie, this is it. Read Ecc. 9:5. Is that inspired?
There is not a whisper in the Bible to indicate that folks raised from the dead ever could tell of any experiences they had in the dead state, in hell. Ecc. 9:10 tells us plainly that there is no knowledge or wisdom in the grave (hell) whither we all go at death.
(Reprinted from Truth For Today, Vol. 25, No. 10)