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   Home / Orthodoxy / The Orthodox Faith / Volume IV - Spirituality / The
   Kingdom of Heaven /

Volume IV - Spirituality

The Kingdom of Heaven

Heaven and Hell

   luke The Ladder of Divine Ascent

   The Kingdom of heaven is already in the midst of those who live the
   spiritual life. What the spiritual person knows in the Holy Spirit, in
   Christ and the Church, will come with power and glory for all men to
   behold at the end of the ages.

   The final coming of Christ will be the judgment of all men. His very
   presence will be the judgment. Now men can live without the love of
   Christ in their lives. They can exist as if there were no God, no
   Christ, no Spirit, no Church, no spiritual life. At the end of the ages
   this will no longer be possible. All men will have to behold the Face
   of Him who "for us men and our salvation came down from heaven and was
   incarnate ... who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and
   was buried..." (Nicene Creed). All will have to look at Him whom they
   have crucified by their sins: Him "who was dead and is alive again"
   (Rev 1.17-18).

   For those who love the Lord, His Presence will be infinite joy,
   paradise and eternal life. For those who hate the Lord, the same
   Presence will be infinite torture, hell and eternal death. The reality
   for both the saved and the damned will be exactly the same when Christ
   "comes in glory, and all angels with Him," so that "God may be all in
   all" (1 Cor 15-28). Those who have God as their "all" within this life
   will finally have divine fulfillment and life. For those whose "all" is
   themselves and this world, the "all" of God will be their torture,
   their punishment and their death. And theirs will be "weeping and
   gnashing of teeth" (Mt 8.21, et al.).

     The Son of Man will send His angels and they will gather out of His
     kingdom all causes of sin and all evil doers, and throw them into
     the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then
     the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father
     (Mt 13.41-43).

   According to the saints, the "fire" that will consume sinners at the
   coming of the Kingdom of God is the same "fire" that will shine with
   splendor in the saints. It is the "fire" of God's love; the "fire" of
   God Himself who is Love. "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12.29)
   who "dwells in unapproachable light" (1 Tim 6.16). For those who love
   God and who love all creation in Him, the "consuming fire" of God will
   be radiant bliss and unspeakable delight. For those who do not love
   God, and who do not love at all, this same "consuming fire" will be the
   cause of their "weeping" and their "gnashing of teeth."

   Thus it is the Church's spiritual teaching that God does not punish man
   by some material fire or physical torment. God simply reveals Himself
   in the risen Lord Jesus in such a glorious way that no man can fail to
   behold His glory. It is the presence of God's splendid glory and love
   that is the scourge of those who reject its radiant power and light.

     ... those who find themselves in hell will be chastised by the
     scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be!
     For those who understand that they have sinned against love, undergo
     no greater suffering than those produced by the most fearful
     tortures. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart, which has sinned
     against love, is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right
     to say that the sinners in hell are deprived of the love of God ...
     But love acts in two ways, as suffering of the reproved, and as joy
     in the blessed! (Saint Isaac of Syria, Mystic Treatises).

   This teaching is found in many spiritual writers and saints: Saint
   Maximus the Confessor, the novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. At the end of
   the ages God's glorious love is revealed for all to behold in the face
   of Christ. Man's eternal destiny--heaven or hell, salvation or
   damnation--depends solely on his response to this love.


The Final Judgment

   Volume IV - Spirituality:
   The Kingdom of Heaven


The Kingdom of Heaven

   Volume IV - Spirituality:
   The Kingdom of Heaven

The Orthodox Faith

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The Orthodox Church in America

   The Mission of The Orthodox Church in America, the local autocephalous
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   commandment of Christ to "Go into all the world and make disciples of
   all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son
   and of the Holy Spirit..."
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