There are several lessons that we can learn about the after life because Jesus preached to the captive spirits in prison:

1. Hell is real

Jesus descended into hell in order to show us that it is real. He is the best source on hell. According to the, the word hell occurs 54 times in 54verses in the KJV. Jesus spoke the word hell 16 times, describing its powerlessness against His church, its dangers and the prerequisites for entering it. If you are crazy enough to disbelieve the expert source, then who will you believe?

Jesus sends us a message from the pits – this will be your eternal future if you serve satan. We therefore see clearly the outcomes of walking in the path of death.  Is there a path of death?   The writer in Proverbs 15: 24 spoke about the path of death when he said, “The way of life [is] above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.”  

2. The human spirit lives eternally and never dies

This is the most important lesson that we learn.   Jesus descended into hell and preached to the spirits  imprisoned there because He knew that they were alive.  There is no soul sleep after death, as some would like to believe neither do we go into a state of oblivion when we die. We live forever. 

Jesus’ actions clearly confims his Luke 12 account regarding the condition of the rich Jew who went to hell. Spirits in hell’s torment can hear, understand,  make choices and  obey. Those spirits who had died in the days of the flood must have rejoiced to see Jesus and would certainly have escaped the prison without delay.

There is a clear contrast between the scenario described by Apostle Peter in which  Jesus preached to the dead and Jesus’ own a ccount about hell in Luke 16. When I read Luke 16 a while ago, Jesus appeared to have abruptly introduced the fate of the rich man. However, He had been speaking about people giving account for their stewardship of other people’s possessions. The poor man Lazarus who lived at the rich man’s gate was not treated right. According to Moses’ law, the rich man should have taken him in and fed him, liek the Good Samariatan. There are many applications in the law. For example, any Jew owning fields was required to leave portions for the poor when reaping.  This rich man went to hell for  greed, failing to obey the law and the prophet Moses.  In the eyes of the Lord, this rich Jew  was a poor steward of God’s wealth and therefore deserved punishment rather than reward.

Pay attention to the fact that  the rich man did not beg Abraham to take him out of hell. He knew by then that it was his eternal fate. Secondly, Abraham did not offer to help him to escape, although it was obvious to the patriarch that the former rich man was in torments. Thirdly, Abarahm spoke to the rich man about the impossibility of receiving comfort in the flames and for Lazarus to  be resurrected from the dead to preach to his relatives.

What is the lesson? If  Prophet Abraham, who lived in heaven, could not help the former rich man to escape, can a priest  or another human change your eternal destiny once it is settled in hell? Only God  Himself can do so. To do so, Jesus had to enter that flaming abyss and select a group in mercy, preach to them, then take them out.

3. The spirit can hear even when the person is in a coma or in a distant place

This is an important application. When people are in a comatose state, we can  speak the word of God so that the inner man, the spirit,  can receive strength, healing, salvation etc. Granted, the bodies of those who died in the flood had long become  dust and ashes, but  Jesus’ concern was their eternal spirits which were now living in hell. Many years ago, a friend and I visisted a hospitalized man  who had been comatose following an automobile accident. I prayed and was led by the Holy spirit to speak Psalm 27 over him.  He became restless and began to mutter as I spoke the word of God. He subsequently recovered from the coma although his prognosis had been poor up to that  time.

In fact, the spirit can hear the word of God even when the person is not present. This is why we must speak words of life to people and even inanimate objects (like Jesus did to the fig tree). There is a fantastic example in Prophet Ezekiel who  was asked to speak prophetic words of life to people who were spiritually dead.  I believe that they were spiritually dead because in the vision he saw a valley of dry bones, dry because  these people were not drinking the word of God. Prophet Ezekiel was told, to speak and to say, ‘dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!” (Ezekiel 1: 4). He is in reality speaking to the spirits of those who were dry without  the word of God.

We need to  believe Jesus when He said that His spoken word is spirit and life (John 6: 63). We can speak life to others. Let us harness the power of the Word of God to change situations around us.

4. The spirit can receive life and escape hell

Many people do not know that the spirit is born in sin and shaped in iniquity, according to Psalm 51: 5. Prophet Isaiah showed that we are like sheep  gone astray, heading for hell until Jesus came and bore our sins.  Jesus came to earth and gave us the escape route from hell:

 He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5: 24).

 Jesus’ statement shows that we live in a state of everlasting death until we believe on Him as the way of salvation.  Krisis is the Greek word that Jesus used for condemnation. It means  separation, punishment and this was the fate of the rich man in Luke 16.  Thanatos, the Greek word that Jesus used for death, relates to the eternal state of punishment in hell.  Conversely, those who hear and believe Jesus are translated from death to life.

I love that word life, Greek zōē, because this life is everlasting and begins the moment we believe Jesus is the way of salvation.  I live in ZOE, a higher state of existence of the spirit, because I have received salvation by faith in Jesus. Physical death is just absence from the body and being translated into the presence of the Lord.

 ZOE begins with a rebirth of the spirit from death to life. Jesus  told Nicodemus that he had to be born again in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven  (John 3: 3). Nicodemus was so ignorant about heavenly things that he naively asked the Lord if he must reenter his mother’s womb a second time in order to be born again   (John 3: 4), but more in the upcoming post.

Have a great evening!