When unsaved people die, do they go into hell as soon as they die?
The question here is about when does the unsaved go to hell, not about the duration of hell. I will try to refrain myself in just answering the question asked.
There are two schools' of thoughts on that.
1. Some believe that the unsaved lay unconsciously in the dirt, waiting for their final punishment.
2. The other school of thought is that they go directly to hell, awaiting their final consequences of their sins.
Both schools of thought agree with the final judgment of the wicked.
I will let you decide which one is the correct one.
a. Luke 16:19-31 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" NIV
School 1 of thought believes this was a parable and that Jesus was trying to give the message that if the people of His day were not listening to Moses and the Prophets, even someone raised from the dead would be unable to convince them. The parable itself is just a made up story to make a point. It may have been a popular belief, but we should concentrate only on the message, not on the content of the parable.
School 2 of thought believes that this story is quite different from Jesus' other parables. In none of His other parables, is Jesus using a specific name. What is even more interesting is that a man named Lazarus was actually resurrected by Jesus Himself (see John 11:43-44) and although his testimony was true, the chief priests who had rejected Jesus, were planning to kill him as well (see John 12:10), thus rejecting the testimony from someone coming from the other side.
Also this school of thought notice that although this story was directed to the Pharisees (see Luke 16: 14, 15), no reaction is mentioned from them after Jesus finished his story. Generally when they disagreed with Him, they opposed Him fiercely (read all 4 gospels). Why wouldn't they oppose Him now? Wouldn't it be a perfect opportunity to contradict Jesus in front of everyone concerning heaven and hell? They did not. Why? Because they believed in heaven and hell after death as well.
b. Job 27:19-20 "He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone. Terrors overtake him like a flood." NIV
School 1 says that this happens at the resurrection of the wicked.
School 2 says: Can it be any more clear? The sinner lies down and his body appears to sleep, but he instantly opens his eyes and realizes he is no longer in the body and physically existing in this world. Immediately terrors take hold of him.
To save on space, I am only going to mention two more verses without any comments. Those texts are self-explanatory.
c. 2 Peter 2:4-10 "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)- if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment." NIV
Now the Bible also talks about the Day of Judgment, when the unsaved will be judged for what they have done. This will happen after the millennium, mentioned in the book of Revelation. Here again there are two schools' of thought, one proclaiming that this destruction is complete annihilation (body and spirit) of the unsaved. This is why it is called the second death. The other school of thought is that the unsaved will suffer in the lake of fire for eternity. I will use but a few Bible texts on that topic and will let you decide which school of thought is the correct one.
a. Matt 25:41-46 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."" NIV
b. 2 Thess 1:7-9 "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." NIV
c. 2 Peter 3:7 "By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." NIV
d. Rev 20:9-10 "But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." NIV
e. Rev 20:14-15 "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." NIV
f. Rev 21:8 "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." NIV
g. Ezek 18:20 "The soul who sins is the one who will die." NIV
No matter what school of thought you do believe in, the future of the unsaved does not look too appealing. The Bible records truth. The many fulfilled prophecies are proof of that, as well as our many personal experiences with our Heavenly Father. The unsaved will eventually all end up in the lake of fire!
Are you saved my friend? The Bible is true and one day you will face judgment (Heb 9:27 "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." NIV) Don't act like the foolish speeder who tells himself that he will never be caught speeding by the police. Sooner or later he is caught and is facing the consequences of his infractions.(source)
When an ‘Unsaved Sinner’ Dies, They Go to ‘Hell’
Pastor Billy Graham, who is 96 now and arguably the most influential evangelical Christian preacher of the last 60 years, said the difference between the death of a Christian and a non-Christian was like the difference “between Heaven and Hell,” and added that when an “unsaved sinner” dies they are separated from God for eternity and go to “a place that Jesus has called Hell.”
“When Christians die, they go straight into the presence of Christ – to Heaven – to spend eternity with God,” said Billy Graham in the January 2015 issue of Decision magazine.
But “[a]n unsaved sinner’s destiny is separation from God, a place that Jesus has called Hell,” said the reverend. “I wonder where you are going. Have you given your life to Jesus Christ? Have you been transformed by the power of the Spirit of God?”
Graham, who is doing fairly well considering his age and that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, said it is an “immortal truth that the death of the righteous is unlike the death of the unrighteous.”
“I have talked to doctors and nurses who have held the hands of dying people, and they say there is as much difference between the death of a Christian and of a non-Christian as there is between Heaven and Hell,” said Rev. Graham.
A 19th century German illustration of the death of an unrepentant sinner. (Public Domain)
“The death of the righteous is not to be feared – it is not to be shunned,” he said. “It is the shadowed threshold to the palace of God.”
He then talked about statements in the Bible that distinguish between the death of a Christian and the “death of a sinner who refuses or neglects to believe in Jesus Christ.”
For the Christian, death is a “coronation,” said Rev. Graham. “This world is not our home; our citizenship is in Heaven. To those who are faithful, Christ will give a crown of life.”
Pastor Graham then quoted evangelist D.L. Moody (1837-1899) who, when he was dying, said, “Earth is receding; Heaven is opening. This is my coronation day.”
“Yes, death is the Christian’s coronation,” said Rev. Graham, “the end of conflict and the beginning of glory and triumph in Heaven.”
Jesus on Calvary and the repentant thief to His right. (Public Domain)
Death also gives the Christian a “rest from labor” in this world and “marks the beginning” of our “journey to God,” said the reverend, adding that death also gives the Christian the opportunity to leave the fallen, “disintegrating” reality of this world, filled with “disease, pain and peril,” for “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
“The wandering wayfarers come into their own at death and are given the title to a mansion that will never deteriorate or crumble,” said Pastor Graham.
“There is no judgment, no Hell, for those who are in Christ,” he said. “You can confess your sins, turn your back on your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior now. At this moment, you can bow your head and say, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ (Luke 18:13). He will hear that simple prayer.”
In concluding his commentary, Rev. Graham said, “You can have the hope of Heaven today, so that if you died tonight, you would be ready to meet your God. You would go straight into His presence!”
Even if you are an elderly man or woman lying on a sickbed and you have never made your peace with God, it is still not too late,” said Graham. “The dying thief on the cross turned to Christ and said, ‘Lord, remember me.’ And Jesus replied, ‘Today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43).”
Rev. Franklin Graham, left, and his father, Rev. Billy Graham, in 2006. (AP)
Over the last 60 years, Rev. Billy Graham has preached the truth of Jesus Christ to an estimated 2.2 billion people worldwide, at outdoor rallies and arenas, on radio and television, and through numerous publications, including more than 30 books, and web sites.
Graham is the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which publishes Decision magazine. For the 58th time, Rev. Graham was ranked as one of the top 10 most admired men in the world by Gallup in its annual survey released a few weeks ago.
Billy Graham’s wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, died in 2007. The couple reared 5 children, including son Franklin Graham III, who also is an evangelical preacher.