Moment in the Word
Wed, 03/17/2021 - 11:55am admin
by Edwin Woolsey
Romans 8:35 Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? Douay-Rheims Bible
What a vital question to ask, "Who can separate us from God's love?"
St. Paul proceeded to answer that paramount question this way, "But in all these things we overcome, because of him that hath loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39 Douay-Rheims Bible
Hallelujah! No part of our present reality can separate us from God's love... "which is in Christ Jesus" except for our own rejection of that same love! Rejecting Christ automatically disqualifies us from God's love since "God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him." John 3:16-17 Douay-Rheims Bible
Thus, to escape judgment through God's love we must believe in Jesus, "But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil." John 3:18-19 Douay-Rheims Bible
And here rests the horror of Final Damnation! Please allow me to explain.
Every single culture on earth has believed in a place of rest following death in the afterlife. The Jews called the region Sheol, and the Greeks called it Elysium/Hades. In the Old Frisian - Helle, in Old Norse - Hel, Germanic - Hölle, Gothic – Halja, Egyptian – Duat, Aztec – Mictlan, Mesopotamia – Irkalla, Old Welsh – Annwn, Old Irish – Mag Mell, American Hopi – Maski, Japanese – Yomi, Indonesian – Alam Ghaib, Philippine – Kasanaan, American Pueblo – Shipap, Slavic – Nav, Mongolian – Tamag, and on and on and on. However, the Modern English "Hell" must not be confused with the Biblical doctrine of Final Damnation since both "death and hell (Greek – Hades)" will be cast later into the Lake of Fire when our current universe is destroyed prior to God's New Heaven and New Earth, "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them (the heaven and earth simply ceased to be – Isaiah 51:6)... Then death and Hades (Hell) were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death." Revelation 20:11 & 14 Douay-Rheims Bible Consequently, the Greek Hades (the English Hell) is distinct from the place of Final Damnation known as the Lake of Fire (which comes later in order to receive the former).
Why should this matter? Well, the distinction between Sheol/Hades/Hell and the Lake of Fire underscores the horror of finally being separated from God's love... in Christ Jesus. Again, let me explain.
On the Cross, Jesus promised the repentant thief, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:43 Paradise was another term associated with the Jewish Sheol and the Greek Hades, figuratively referenced as Abraham's Bosom in the parable of Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the place of rest for the Prophet Samuel who was disturbed by King Saul (1 Samuel 28:15), and (according to many Early Church fathers) Adam and Eve's original home that contained the Tree of Life - from which they were expelled following their sin which led to their death.
Now, very carefully let us read one of Jesus' parables about a feast that God is preparing after death, "And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests." Matthew 22:10 Douay-Rheims Bible
In the parable, do you see that everyone "good and bad" is initially gathered into the "feast" prepared by God? So often, in "near-death experiences," we hear individuals describe an unimaginably beautiful place filled with peace, love, and light. Undoubtedly, they are in Paradise (Sheol/Hades) where everyone temporarily experiences the magnitude of God's love that was prepared for us "in Christ Jesus" whether we were good or bad, but sadly, the story does not end with Paradise.
Let us continue with Jesus' parable of the feast, "And the king went in (to the feast) to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment (Believers who are baptized in Christ have literally "put on Christ!" Galatians 3:27). And he (the King) saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 22:11-13 Douay-Rheims Bible
Thus, according to Jesus' parable, everyone "good and bad" at first entered the glorious feast (Paradise), but after basking in the infinite magnitude of God's love, the guests who did not accept Christ during life were later cast out of the joyous celebration into utter and absolute Darkness filled with screaming and the grinding of teeth. Let us now consider the infinite horror of Final Damnation after coming so close to God (in death) to actually feel the love He prepared for us "through Christ Jesus," and then be later banished to the Lake of Fire for rejecting the love that we had the chance to accept during our lifetime. That, my friend, will be worse than Hell!
Don't wait! Accept Christ now! "For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee; and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2