My 19 year old son asked if their were levels of heaven
Death takes place when the spirit is no longer in the body (James 2:26). The body returns to the dust and the spirit enters into a realm known as Hades, literally the unseen (Ecc. 12:7). Hades is made up of two distinct areas divided by (Luke 16:26) “…a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” On one side is Paradise or “Abraham’s bosom” where the righteous spirits go. Jesus told the penitent thief on the cross (Luke 23:43) “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” But the unpenitent thief went where the unrighteous spirits go which is called tartarus.
The rich man and Lazarus shows these two distinct areas (Luke 16:19-31): Both died and were buried. The rich man ended up in “torments) and Lazarus in “Abraham’s bosom”. The rich man wanted Lazarus to “dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Lazarus’ spirit still lived, was conscious (“remembered”), and was being tormented.
2 Peter 2:4 “For IF GOD SPARED NOT THE ANGELS THAT SINNED, BUT CAST THEM DOWN TO HELL, and delivered them into chains of darkness, TO BE RESERVED UNTO JUDGMENT;” 2 Peter 2:5 “AND SPARED NOT THE OLD WORLD, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, BRINGING IN THE FLOOD UPON THE WORLD OF THE UNGODLY;” 2 Peter 2:6 “AND TURNING THE CITIES OF SODOM AND GOMORRHA INTO ASHES CONDEMNED THEM with an overthrow, MAKING THEM AN ENSAMPLE UNTO THOSE THAT AFTER SHOULD LIVE UNGODLY;” 2 Peter 2:7 “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:” 2 Peter 2:8 “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” 2 Peter 2:9 “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and TO RESERVE THE UNJUST UNTO THE DAY OF JUDGMENT TO BE PUNISHED:” God delivered the angels that sinned and cast them into hell. And the old ungodly world and Sodom and Gomorrha are examples “unto those that should live ungodly” and God is able to reserve all of these “unto the day of judgment to be punished.” You don’t punish something that does not exist. In verse 13 Peter calls this “the reward of the unrighteous”. But that same God can “reward the righteous” as He did in delivering “just Lot”. Heaven is the “reward” for the righteous and hell is the “reward” for the unrightous.
Note these verses in Revelation: Revelation 14:9 “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, IF ANY MAN WORSHIP THE BEAST AND HIS IMAGE, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,” Revelation 14:10 “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and HE SHALL BE TORMENTED WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:” Revelation 14:11 “AND THE SMOKE OF THEIR TORMENT ASCENDETH UP FOR EVER AND EVER: AND THEY HAVE NO REST DAY NOR NIGHT, WHO WORSHIP THE BEAST AND HIS IMAGE, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
Revelation 19:19 “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.” Revelation 19:20 “AND THE BEAST was taken, AND WITH HIM THE FALSE PROPHET that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, AND THEM THAT WORSHIPPED HIS IMAGE. THESE BOTH WERE CAST ALIVE INTO A LAKE OF FIRE BURNING WITH BRIMSTONE.”
Revelation 20:10 “AND THE DEVIL THAT DECEIVED THEM WAS CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE AND BRIMSTONE, where the beast and the false prophet are, AND SHALL BE TORMENTED DAY AND NIGHT FOR EVER AND EVER.” (How do you torment someone that does not exist?) Revelation 20:14 “AND DEATH AND HELL WERE CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE. This is the second death.” Revelation 20:15 “AND WHOSOEVER WAS NOT FOUND WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE WAS CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE.”
Revelation 21:8 “BUT THE FEARFUL, AND UNBELIEVING, AND THE ABOMINABLE, AND MURDERERS, AND WHOREMONGERS, AND SORCERERS, AND IDOLATERS, AND ALL LIARS, SHALL HAVE THEIR PART IN THE LAKE WHICH BURNETH WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE: WHICH IS THE SECOND DEATH.”
Matthew 25:41 “Then shall he say also unto THEM ON THE LEFT HAND, DEPART FROM ME, YE CURSED, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS:” Matthew 25:46 “AND THESE SHALL GO AWAY INTO EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT: BUT THE RIGHTEOUS INTO LIFE ETERNAL.” (THE PUNISHMENT WILL LAST AS LONG AS THE REWARD—ETERNALLY)
Personally, I am not really concerned if there are “levels” in heaven or in hell, nor am I sure the Bible addressed this question. If we make it to heaven even if we are on the “lower level” it will be far, far greater than what we have on this earth. But if we end up in hell it won’t matter if the fire is a little hotter in some places than in other places, we will be punished forever and there will not be any relief. I belief if there are any “levels” in heaven, it will be the degree to which I am able to enjoy it. Its hard to imagine I will experience the same joy in heaven as a Paul, or a Peter, etc. who suffered to a far greater degree for the cause of Christ. But the more I am able to understand the gospel and practice its principles, I will be able to understand and appreciate what Christ has done for me and thereby heaven will be a greater joy. Conversely perhaps those in hell, that were “more wicked”, and those that had greater opportunities to know and obey the gospel, they will perhaps regret far more than those the world would call “good people” but just would not obey the gospel. Peter seems to indicate this in 2 Peter 2:21 “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”
Yes, there is a hell. And there is a heaven, but it won’t matter if there are “levels” or not.
By Danny Stanford