On Hell the Prison
All the souls of the wicked, which allowed themselves to be governed by the evil impulses of the evil spirit will still be under the influence of that evil spirit. It is prison because misery reigns.
Pitch forks and burning "physical" lakes are the imagination of men, not the word of God.
God has declared that no man knows the horror of hell save those who are assigned to it because God has not revealed the end thereof. Hell is worse than anything people can imagine apparently.
Jesus Christ declared through Joseph Smith and speaking of the Father,
Wherefore, He saves all except them (the sons of perdition)—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof; Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again; Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation, Doctrine and Covenants 76:44-48.
Now, the hell of which the Savior speaks of to Joseph is called outer darkness. Very few will be "ordained to" that "condemnation." The hell that parallels the traditional understanding is known and revealed and the end thereof exists. Let's explore this hell or Spirit Prison.
Hell or Prison
[T]he souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection. Alma 40:13
Far from flattering, hell is a temporary place where the souls of the wicked go to await the resurrection. All the souls of the wicked, which allowed themselves to be governed by the evil impulses of the evil spirit will still be under the influence of that evil spirit. It is prison because misery reigns. It is prison because the wicked do not know peace.
The suffering is as fire and brimstone because as brimstone burns inside-out, the souls of man will burn with the knowledge of abusing themselves by disobeying the laws of God. The lake of fire is the mutual suffering all the unrepentant will endure in agony.
The fire is not physical in nature because the spirits are not physical. It is a spiritual power that burns on the minds of men, not their bodies. Not because spiritual things lack substance, but because spiritual things cannot perish.
It will end, though. The wicked will be resurrected along with the righteous in the due time of the Lord. They will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ again for most of them. They will be redeemed from hell or prison and given their eternal reward. Hell is also a place here among us.
Hell is Eternal For the Filthy
In the article The Truth About Heaven, I described how heaven is paradise and hell is prison.
Hell is not an eternal place in the sense that it lasts forever for each individual.
Hell is an eternal state in that God continues to progress with His children accepting His Son's atonement and becoming heirs of eternal life, or rejecting His Son and become heirs of lower kingdoms of glory. In other words, as long as God has children who come to earth and sin, there will always be a state of hell.
Since God is eternal and never ends, neither will His children cease to come to earths and live.
Often I hear people say that this life on earth is hell. Well, hell is here on earth--really!
Though each individual's hell is temporary, the psychological status of hell or prison will always remain a place prepared for the children of men who ever rejected God.
And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel, 2 Nephi 9:12.
Nephi assures us that hell ends for each soul after he or she has suffered for their own sins having rejected Jesus Christ. There will be a resurrection and judgement so that each will receive a just reward.
Nephi further describes the filthy ones--those who could not even make it to earth,
And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end, 2 Nephi 9:16.
The devil and his angels will be the ones burning forever. These will have no physical body, no kingdom or glory because never at any time did they accept Christ or His Atonement. (In Before Adam and Eve: True Character of God, I explain the origin of the devil and demons.) They are the ones who will be filthy still, and a small segment of humanity. The rest of us whether good or bad will be cleansed of our sins and receive a mansion or hut in the Kingdom of God. Nephi clearly establishes that there are two hells--the spirits in prison version and the outer darkness version.
© 2012 Rodric Anthony