Concerning the Life That is to Come
I believe in the existence of eternal life. I believe in the Second Coming, that is, the glorious return of the Lord, when He sahll come to judge the living and the dead, and render to each man according to the works that he did while living in the body. I believe in the extablishment of the Kingdom of His righteousness. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and I believe that we will be resurrected in the body. I believe that both the Kingdom of God and Hell shall be eternal. I do not transgress the Fourth Commandment when I observe Sunday, the eighth day, the day which prefigures the "new creation," since formerly, before the Incarnation, the primordial perfection of the creation of the world was commemorated by the Sabbath day of rest. By observing Sunday, I confess the new creation in Jesus Christ, which is of greater import and more real than the existing creation which yet bears the wounds of sin.
I believe also that both the righteous and the sinners who are departed now enjoy a foretaste of their final destiny, but that each man shall receive the entirety of what he deserves only at the Last Judgement. God loves not only those who dwell in Paradise, but also those who are in Hell; in Hell, however, the Divine love constitutes a cause of suffering for the wicked. This is not due to God's love but to their own wickedness, which resents this love and experiences it as a torment. I believe that, as yet, neither Paradise nor Hell has commenced in a complete and perfect sense. What the reposed undergo now is the partial judgment, and partial reward and punishment. Hence, for the present, there is also no resurrection of the bodies of the dead. The saints, too, await this eternal and perfect state (even as a "perfect" and everlasting Hell awaits the sinners), for, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul states, "and these all (i.e., all the saints), having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, since God has provided some better thing for us, so that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. 14:40).
Therefore, all the saints await this resurrection of their bodies and the commencement of Paradise in its perfect and complete sense, as St. Paul declares in the Acts of the Apostles, "I believe all things which are written in the law and in the prophets, and have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust" (Acts 24:14-15). But even though they do not yet partake of their glory fully, the intercessions of the saints are nonetheless efficacious even now, for St. James in his Catholic Epistle, did not say "the effectual prayer of a righteous man shall avail much," but rather, "availeth much" (James 5:16) even now. I believe that Paradise and Hell will be twofold in nature, spiritual and physical. At present, because the body is still in the grave, both the reward and the punishment are spiritual. Therefore, we speak of Hades (i.e., the place of the souls of the dead) because, as such, Hell (i.e., the place of everlasting spiritual and physical torment) has not yet commenced. Hades was despoiled by our Saviour by His descent thither and by His Resurrection, but Hell, on the contrary, shall be eternal. In that day, Christ shall say unto those on the left, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41).
This is attested to in the Gospels by the demons also, in the miracle of the healing of the demoniac who lived in the district of the Gadarenes. For, at the approach of our Saviour, the demons cried out, "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?" Thus, they are not yet in Hell, but they do know that a Day has been appointed when Hell shall commence. I do not believe in "purgatory," but I believe, as the Scriptures attest, that the prayers and fasts made by the living for the sake of the dead have a beneficial effect on the souls of the dead and upon us, and that even the souls that are in darkness are benefited by our prayers and fasts. The public prayers of the Church, however, are reserved exclusively for those who have reposed in the Church. Insofar as it depends upon my own wish, I shall not permit my body to be cremated, but shall specify in my Will that my body be clothed, if possible, in my Baptismal tunic and be buried in the earth from which my Creator took me and to which I must return until the Saviour's glorious Coming and the Resurrection from the dead.
Missionary Leaflet # E 002e
Copyright © 2002 Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
466 Foothill Blvd, Box 397, La Canada, Ca 91011
Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
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