Kathy Bernard -Publisher
afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul.
Fear only God,
who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
article is not written to instill fear but to inspire all of us to experience and
understand the amazing and eternal love of Almighty God. It is about our ability, as
believing Christian Catholics, to recognize that love. It is an article about
choices, a gift of free will, that was given to us to use with prudence and obedience to
God. With this in hand, along with our belief and trust in the salvation of Jesus
Christ, no man nor evil temptation can take us away from our Heavenly Father and all His
promises. Therefore, hell is not an option.
But today, sometimes hell is
soft-pedaled, a back of the mind thing we do not want to think or talk about. It is the boogey man that hides in the closet of
our minds, coming to the forefront whenever we are forced to take a good look at it. Many times we Christians hesitate to look at hell
squarely because the thought of eternal fire and damnation is chilling and unthinkable,
and if we dwell upon it, it gives thought to not only ourselves but to those we love who
do not believe.
Along with the beautiful hope of
heaven that is promised for all who lived good and faithful lives, Jesus Christ tells us
that there is also the sad reality of hell. He
is adamant about this and very explicit. He
wanted us to know that Hell lasts forever as Heaven lasts forever. He did not dress up the enormity of
what hell is. Jesus makes it clear that hell
IS a place; a place where the fires can never be put out and those who go there will burn
forever. But, His promise of eternity is also
clear. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that
He has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of a
purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can
The idea of hell is a terrifying
reality that makes us turn away in horror. And
yet sometimes, even we as Christians, choose to "take a chance" and go our own
way into sin, with a hope that we will not die in that sin before it is repaired through
forgiveness. If we take a longer look at the teachings of Christ, we will know that no one
can know the hour or the day when our souls will be called up. Matthew 24:36 states, But of that (exact)
day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the
Father. Again, Watch
therefore (give strict attention and be cautious and active), for you know neither the day
nor the hour when the Son of Man will come. Matthew
You may ask,
"If God loves us so much, why does He send people to hell?" God gives us a
choice. He stands at the gates of eternity, waiting to welcome us into His perfect
heaven. But because God abhors sin and mankind is impure, we cannot enter there
unless we have been cleansed and made free from sin. God is a merciful God, so He
sent His only Son to pay for all sin by shedding His blood on a cross. He paid a
price we could not pay to satisfy and redeem us in God's eyes. All who believe and accept
this gift of salvation will be made clean from sin by the death and resurrection of our
Lord, Jesus Christ and will be free to enter the kingdom of heaven. If we live by
His teachings, we will be made welcome in God's pure and sinless paradise. It
is up to us to decide where we will spend eternity. God does not send anyone to the
damnation of hell; we send ourselves there using our free will to turn our backs on
His precious and priceless gift.
Matthew 13:36-43 tells of a
separation of those who are destined for heaven and those who will be sent to an eternal
hell. Then, leaving the crowds
outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, Please explain to us the
story of the weeds in the field Jesus replied, The Son of Man is the farmer
who plants the good seed. The field is the
world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people
who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels. Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in
the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send His angels and
they will remove from His Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the
angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of
teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Fathers Kingdom. Anyone
with ears to hear should listen and understand!
The eternal suffering that is
promised to those who do not live as God wants them is two-fold. First, there is the intense sorrow, pain and agony
of separation forever from God and Jesus Christ, with the sins that we committed
playing continuously, over and over. Many people will accept that if they are judged
and found lacking, the pain, guilt, sadness and remorse of eternal separation from God IS
hell because it is a sorrow that is beyond human understanding. Indeed it is an
absolute truth, but there is also a physical punishment that is everlasting, non-ending,
all consuming, and endless suffering in the fiery depths of hell. And so, there is a spiritual as well as a physical
suffering that those who are lost will experience.
Our catechism defines hell as the "state
of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed." And "to
die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining
separated from him forever by our own free choice." For God did not spare even the
angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are
being held until the day of judgment. 2Peter 2:4
Do we need fear hell? I would say NO, if we live the life Jesus Christ
taught us to live, and to always be conscious of the temptations of sin that surrounds us.
To remain strong even as evil chips away at us constantly, we must pray that God will
strengthen and make us aware, through the Holy Spirit, when we are crossing the boundaries
into sin. St. Paul is very specific on types
of sins that can lead us to hell. It is also
imperative that we listen to the Holy Spirit when it speaks to the heart and soul of us,
for if we take a step backwards into sin, we must repair that sin as soon as possible by
getting forgiveness, with the idea that we will never repeat that sin again.
Please remember, only God can judge
whether someone is entitled to heaven or hell. We
do not speculate and spread rumors of others fate lest we ourselves are found
lacking for then we will be cut off from Gods tree of eternal life.
7:3 tells us ..why worry about a speck in your friends eye when you have a
log in your own?
know another's heart and we cannot know if another person has made peace with God, even
during the minutes before death. The verdict of salvation rests solely on the mercy
of Him Who sits in honor forever at the right hand of Almighty God.
Again read 1Corinthians Chapter 6 in
which St. Paul talks about those who will not enter the gates of heaven. And please make note of how we can change our
lives so that we can be worthy of heaven in 1Corinthians 6:11 which states, "Such
were some of you (who sinned). But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus." It
is made clear that the loving hands of our Savior, Who knows the reality of human sin as
well as earthly human suffering, made us worthy to be with the Heavenly Father.
Through faith we no longer have to fear hell, for Romans 8:38 tells us ...I am
convinced that nothing can ever separate us from Gods love. Neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about
tomorrownot even the powers of hell can separate us from Gods love.
The joy of heaven is specific. Because God is total, a fullness of being, what we see
here on earth is a distortion of what heaven is going to be like and what we will be like. The absolute joy that is promised to us will be a
blinding happiness exceeding all expectations. In
1John 3:2 it states, Dear friends, we are already Gods children, but
He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we
will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. What we experience during this lifetime is a
cloudy mental mirror of What we will experience when we see Him in the fullness of glory, Revelation 22:4:
They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
Catholic Encyclopedia defines the Beatific Vision as The immediate knowledge of God which the
angelic spirits and the souls of the just enjoy in Heaven. It is called "vision"
to distinguish it from the mediate knowledge of God which the human mind may attain in the
present life. And since in beholding God face to face the created intelligence finds
perfect happiness, the vision is termed Beatific Vision; an eternal, direct perception of God enjoyed by those
who are in Heaven, imparting supreme happiness or blessedness. While humans' understanding
of God while alive is indirect (mediated), the beatific vision is direct (immediate). And since in beholding God face to face the
created intelligence finds perfect happiness, the vision is termed "beatific".
Cyprian, Cyprian of Carthage, a Bishop often called the African Pope, was an
important Patristic writer of the early Church. He wrote of the saved seeing God in the
Kingdom of Heaven: "How great will your glory and happiness be, to be
allowed to see God, to be honored with sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with
Christ your Lord and God... to delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of Heaven
with the righteous and God's friends"
And so, we as Christians, can keep
moving forward with confidence, working toward the time promised to us, ploughing through
the trials and sufferings of this life because we know earth is not our home; no, rather
we are heading for glory to be with the Father and the Son.
Like the father of the prodigal son in the bible, God will bring out the fatted
calf, and there will be much joy and rejoicing as we move among our loved ones, those who
died as martyrs, friends and saints of God that we read about in the bible; people
like Moses, Elijah, David, Abraham, Paul, Peter, all the disciples and all the prophets
who stood tall through horrendous odds to bring forth God's message and made it through to
Heaven. What a day of rejoicing!
Be not afraid of hell. When evil stands before you offering the temporary
joys of this life, relinquish the keys of your life into God's loving and merciful hands
and in return, He will exchange them for the golden keys to His Kingdom of Heaven.
But Ill tell you whom to
fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and and then throw you into hell. Yes,
Hes the one to fear. Luke 12:5
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