To Hell with My Friends

In studying Revelation chapter 14 recently I have taken some time to think about the contrast between heaven and hell. John’s vision presents a heaven filled with a multitude of redeemed people—together. They are portrayed as resting from their labors, singing a new song and, all together as one, following the Lamb wherever He goes. They are living in community; they are living in intimacy with God.

The contrast is John’s vision of hell – filled with those who are neither forgiven nor redeemed in Christ. One Christian pastor/author writes:

“It would be wonderful to believe that everyone will experience the state of eternal blessedness John describes in the book of Revelation. However, John’s vision gives a very different picture. John says that for some people the first five minutes of eternity will usher them into another reality altogether. The next portion of this vision shows the state of eternal condemnation…

“John paints a picture of torment and aloneness that no one would ever want to experience. It is a very different vision than the false notion some people have when they think of hell. I have heard people say things like, ‘I don’t think I would mind hell. All my buddies will be there. At least we will be together.’ …That’s not the picture that John gives [in Revelation 14:6-12]. Everything that makes community possible: humility, servanthood, kindness, love, and honesty will not exist in this place. These are gifts of God, and to reject God is to reject everything that makes community possible.” (John Ortberg, Experience God’s Power, 42)

Those who joke about enjoying hell with their friends do not understand the seriousness of spending eternity separated from Christ. God’s revelation of hell is no laughing matter. Think about how He describes it:

“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come…If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:6-7; 9-12)

This is a sobering picture of eternity. Focusing on the concept of no rest in the above passage, Dr. Ortberg wrote,

“Those who cut themselves off from God cut themselves off from all hope of renewal. Another way of putting it is that these people get no relief, no rest from a guilty conscience, no break from isolation. Those who will enter a state of eternal condemnation will have no rest from self-centeredness, boredom, self-loathing, regret, resentment, sadness, or the misery of sin. No rest day or night.” (Experience God’s Power, 73)

This is a graphic description of torment, exile, and restless bone-weariness forever. God intends us to be deeply troubled by the prospect of hell; it is serious business. He doesn’t have in mind that we should treat the reality of His judgment – His righteous wrath – with flippancy.

Which brings me to Joseph Smith. On a Sunday afternoon in 1843 he told a congregation of Latter-day Saints,

“I see no faults in the Church, and therefore let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it. Where this people are, there is good society. What do we care where we are, if the society is good?” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:517)

Apparently, this was a joke Joseph Smith very much enjoyed. According to Joseph’s former First Counselor William Law, when Law and others sought to bring reformation to the Church in 1844 by bringing their concerns to Joseph,

“…our petitions were treated with contempt; and in many cases the petitioner spurned from their presence and particularly by Joseph, who would state that if he had sinned, and was guilty of the charges we would charge him with, he would not make acknowledgment, but would rather be damned; for it would detract from his dignity, and would consequently ruin and prove the overthrow of the Church. We would ask him on the other hand, if the overthrow of the Church was not inevitable, to which he often replied, that we would all go to Hell together, and convert it into a heaven, by casting the Devil out; and says he, Hell is by no means the place this world of fools suppose it to be, but on the contrary, it is quite an agreeable place…” (Nauvoo Expositor, 1-2)

Joseph Smith’s flippancy toward God’s judgment of sin makes me think of the prophet Jeremiah’s revelation:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts:…To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it…from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace…I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’ Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words…” (Jeremiah 6)

Followers of Joseph Smith — Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet! It is not too late to turn to the one true God and find rest for your souls.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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10 Responses to To Hell with My Friends

  1. falcon says:

    Yup, Joseph Smith was going to reform hell. No ego there, huh? What a guy! What a prideful, arrogant narcissist.
    The problem with your article Sharon is that you’re quoting the Bible and we know that the Bible can’t be trusted. What is it the Mormons say about the Bible, “……as far as it is translated correctly”. Isn’t that the line? I’d like to know what a correct translation of the Bible is. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. Was all of this scary stuff about hell put in the Bible by the same medieval monks that Mormons claim left all of the Mormonism out of it?
    It’s a tough item to ignore (hell) if you actually read the Bible and believe it.
    But why shouldn’t Mormons eliminate hell since they’ve changed who God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the plan of salvation are.
    Hell is a very unpleasant thing to think about so I guess one solution is to simply deny its existence. All sorts of possibilities open up by denying hell. I’m thinking that’s one of the greatest lies that the devil has perpetrated on Mormonism through the messenger Joseph Smith.

  2. TJayT says:

    Great article as always Sharon. This actually reminded me of a Chick Tract that I read once.

    I find it interesting that Judaism also doesn’t believe in never ending punishment. Of course that doesn’t prove the Lds faith right or wrong by any stretch, but I still find it interesting.

  3. spartacus says:

    In LDS, “Hell” is redefined, and it follows Joseph Smith’s jocularities quite closely. Think about it: what is REALLY “Heaven” to LDS? What are they really going for? It’s not the Terrestrial Kingdom, let alone the Telestial Kingdom. It’s not even really just the Celestial Kingdom. (Granted, IF they know about the levels of the Celestial) It’s the uppermost level of the Celestial Kingdom with the full benefits of salvation and works – presence of the Father and receiving the glory of god (godhood and infinite progeny).

    In LDS, EVERYTHING BELOW THE HIGHEST PART OF THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM IS for all practical purposes HELL. What I mean is, for LDS members, anything but the highest level is regret for eternity. What is regret like? “Weeping and gnashing of teeth.” So instead of the small hell with a big multi-layered heaven that is so often claimed by LDS, we actually have a tiny (and empty according to Christian understanding of worthiness and sinlessness) heaven and a huge multi-layered Hell. What did Joseph say about Hell? “…it’s quite an agreeable place.” That’s what he taught about the lower parts of “heaven” too. It doesn’t matter if you are in Hawai’i times 1,000,000, there is no escaping the regret, and the eternal (damnation, or in LDS talk-) limited/ended progression.

    What does it matter if the lowest part of Hell, “outer darkness” is supposedly redeemed in the end? Even in Telestial they are all left Fatherless, Sonless, and only visited by the Holy Spirit – like you would be if you were in jail, limited from freedom and development/progression.

  4. spartacus says:

    I appreciate your qualification TJayT.

    But, of course Jews do not believe in everlasting hell. Though if you read there appears to be one (among the many views) that says that some will be eternally punished.

    Anyway, my point is that it is what Jesus spoke about so many times and what His direct witnesses said about Hell that: 1) makes Hell seem a lot less “ok”, 2) can be reasonably interpreted as “everlasting”. In the end, it was worth Christ’s condescension, humiliation, abuse, torture, and murder to save us from it and bring us back to Him. That should be enough to know.

  5. Kate says:

    “In the end, it was worth Christ’s condescension, humiliation, abuse, torture, and murder to save us from it and bring us back to Him. That should be enough to know.”

    This is what I feel the LDS are missing. It doesn’t surprise me that TJayT brought up the Jews because as a Mormon I always thought that I was an adopted Jew. Mormons live so much by the Old Testament that sometimes they forget the New Testament. To me it doesn’t matter so much what the Jews believe or what anyone believes really, what matters is what Jesus taught. What matters is what is in the New Testament. What matters here is that Jesus taught one thing and Joseph Smith taught another. Who do we follow? Mormonism really is Jesus or Joseph.

  6. falcon says:

    Excellent job on the Celestial Kingdom slant in Mormonism!
    It’s a great contrast to Sharon’s excellent article above. As we know Joseph Smith was a great borrower of ideas which he then would claim were revelations. Does this sound familiar?
    “Swedenborg claimed to have received a new revelation from Jesus Christ through continuous heavenly visions which he experienced over a period of at least twenty-five years. In his writings he predicted that God would replace the traditional Christian Church, establishing a ‘New Church’, which would worship God in one person, Jesus Christ.”
    Swedenborg talked about three levels of heaven the highest being the Celestial.
    Isn’t it true that Joseph Smith taught that in order to get to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom, a man had to practice plural marriage? That kind of leaves all Mormons from 1890 onward as sort of out of luck. It would seem that only the FLDS polygamists are going to reside there.
    So you wonder why there are Mormons knocking themselves out with all of their works if the highest reward isn’t really attainable.

  7. falcon says:

    Actually this article gets at the nature of Mormonism and the inventive propensities of its founder Joseph Smith. Smith was living at a time of great religious experimentation and evangelical revival. Smith and his cronies were great at endless speculation and creative bursts. They’d get a hold of some piece of information that struck their fancy and away they’d go. The justification for their mental meanderings was that they were receiving “revelation” from God which provided some heavenly cover.
    Now fuel all of this with claims of supernatural visions and appearances by all sorts of heavenly beings and Biblical characters and the boys were off and running. The problem, though dedicated Mormons can’t quite get themselves to see it, is that there’s no basis or foundation in the Bible (truly revealed scripture) nor in the historical Christian church for any of the claims of Mormonism.
    In order to make Smith’s invention to work he came up with the concept of a “restoration”. That is, the gospel had been lost and now it needed to be restored. Well of course the problem with this is that Mormonism kept “evolving” as new thoughts and concepts gained acceptance and the old had to be disregarded. So we have the invention of “progressive” revelation. This means that a lot of things of the restored gospel get lost as the new information revealed from God wins the day.
    There are several different sects of Mormonism. Some hold to the original “revelation”, others to the Nauvoo version of the restored restoration, and others like the SLC denomination have a hybrid form of Mormonism.
    The internet has been a real problem for the Mormon church, SLC branch, because information regarding the inconsistent nature and false claims of Mormonism expose the “restoration” for what it is.

  8. falcon says:

    With this, or any related topic for that matter, what I always want to know is, “Where are the Mormons getting this stuff?” The major problem Mormons have, as MikeR consistently points out, is that they are outsourcing their judgement to men who they trust are apostles and prophets and are thus getting the straight scoop from God.
    Now it’s part of Mormon tradition that the rank-and-file are to also enjoy the feature of personal revelation. I guess this is in order to get a personal confirmation regarding the utterances of the Mormon grand poh bahs. It’s apparent however, that the rank-and-file Jane and Joe Doaks Mormons, aren’t given any latitude to accept or reject the proclamations of the higher ups. So in essence when they hear from the Mormon god it better well be a confirmation of what the leadership has all ready told them.
    That’s the problem with religious systems like Mormonism. There isn’t a lot of checking into things by the membership. If members of Christian denominations find that they don’t agree with something that is proclaimed by the leadership they are perfectly free to vote with their feet and leave. I doubt that anyone would suggest that a Lutheran, for example, would lose their salvation if they decided to become a Presbyterian.
    Mormonism has solved part of the problem by remaining ambiguous about a variety of topics and not being real up front about others. The flow of Mormons out the door at present would indicate to me that the scare tactics and social pressures aren’t keeping the faithful locked into the system any more.

  9. grindael says:

    Smith was a “prophet” of convenience. His statement that there was nothing wrong with the Church flies in the face of his qualifications about the “redemption of Zion”. Here is Smith in 1835:

    “Verily I say unto you who have assembled yourselves together that you may learn my will concerning the redemption of mine afflicted people—Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now. But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” (D&C 105:1-5)

    I guess that the Church is only bad, when Smith needed a scapegoat for his failed prophecies, like the “redemption of Zion” which he prophesied would happen by September 11, 1836:

    “use every effort to prevail on the churches to gather to those regions and situate themselves to be in readiness to move into Jackson Co. in two years from the Eleventh of September next which is the appointed time for the redemption of Zion…give heed to my council saith the Lord!” (Smith to Lyman Wight, 16Aug1834)_johnny

  10. Mike R says:

    Falcon, you do have a distinct way with words . Mormons “outsourcing their judgement” to
    their leaders because of their trust in these men to hear correctly from God. That’s one way to
    put it . As you know, the claim is made by these men that since 1830 they have been the one
    source for “unpolluted ” guidance in spiritual truths, the one Channel of communication that God
    uses to dispense His spiritual truths to mankind is the authority they possess . They claim that
    because of a complete /universal apostasy that not only did Jesus’ Church “sickened and die ” but
    that important doctrines affecting man’s relationship with God were altered or changed . This
    made salvation unavailable for 1700 yrs , until about 1830. Incredibly , when we examine the
    track record of these men as guides in teaching of spiritual truths we see the following :

    Mormon prophets/apostles have not only altered the gospel that Jesus ‘ apostles taught as
    revealed in the N.T. , but they’ve also resorted to altering significant doctrines of their own
    “restored” gospel .

    Jesus said to Beware — Matt 7:15

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