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Question 89: Why did Jesus descend into Hell after His crucifixion? I have heard it said that Jesus went to offer mercy to the souls who had rejected God, is this true?

Answer: The Apostles Creed states that Jesus descended into hell, but Jesus did not descend to the Hell of eternal damnation.  

 

Jesus gave the very words with which He will condemn those who deliberately rejected Him in this life: “Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 24:31). This is but one of His numerous and unmistakable declarations on the subject of hell. Jesus did not descend to the Hell of the damned but rather to the abode of the dead, or “Paradise” where the souls of the just were waiting to be redeemed and taken to Heaven.

 

Paradise was where the righteous were awaiting Heaven’s gate to open. Heaven was closed to those who had gone to rest in godliness from the time of the sin of our first parents until Jesus paid the ultimate price for man’s sins. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, he took and all those in Paradise with Him: “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives…” (Ephesians 4:8).  

 

Many sincere and kindly people feel repugnance to the idea of eternal punishment. The loss of God, for whom every heart and soul insatiably longs, is too horrible to be clothed in less than the strongest possible language. Christ wished to convey the idea of intense and unceasing suffering. It was the God of love who created Hell and informed us of its existence.

 

As long as we are alive we can repent of our sins, call on God’s mercy and receive His grace. When we die, we receive His justice. There is no second chance.

 

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