God will save us

I was discussing with my wise spiritual father about who would go to heaven. He said, ‘God can save whoever He wishes.’ And this is true. The people who you think would be least likely to go to heaven will be in heaven, while the people you’d think would most likely get into heaven will be bound and cast out by the angels.

So we should never judge anybody, because secretly that person could be crying out in secret to the Lord, begging Him for the strength to repent.

Makes you think a little, doesn’t it?

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Some more words on hell

I was talking to my spiritual father one day, and asked him to listen to my understanding of hell, to correct it if it is heretical or doctrinally unsound. I said to him ‘There are no bars around hell, sinners and demons can leave anytime they want, but why would they want to leave?’ And my spiritual father agreed with this theology, saying, ‘There is no repentance left after death.’

I have heard from Archbishop Lazar Puhalo that some of the Fathers of the church say that people can be saved from hell after death, but the church won’t form a doctrine about it, because none of the theologians know for sure. He stated as well, ‘But we assume the love of God is greater than all things.’

Even the devil is eligible for salvation. However, there was a monk in the desert who one day asked an angel, ‘Can the devil be saved?’ So the angel returned to heaven and asked the Lord this question and came back to the monk with the answer. The angel said ‘The Lord will utterly forgive the devil, if he should repent.’ Later on, when the devil appeared before the monk, the monk told the devil, ‘You can still be saved if you repent.’ The devil laughed in his face and disappeared.

Satan would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven. God does not punish the demons and sinners with some kind of material fire. They punish themselves with the fire of their own unwillingness to accept the light of God as love and warmth. When Jesus says of the last judgement, ‘I never knew you! Depart from me, you practitioners of lawlessness!’ I think he really meant what sinners say to God throughout their entire lifetimes, ‘I never knew You! Depart from me, you God of wickedness!’

I hate this place

In my mind, this reality is a prison. My house is a prison. My life is a prison. My eternity is going to be a prison. I rue the day I was created.

God created every one of us to exist eternally, but I am a rebellious angel, and I have no desire to exist in God’s presence. I truly am in a miserable place. I once discoursed with my minister that if I were the first man created in the garden of eden, I wouldn’t even require the serpent’s provocation to rebel against God. I would be shaping an ax from the bark of the tree of life and hacking and slashing the vegetation and the animals in the garden with me.

I hate this place. This zoo, this prison, this reality or whatever you want to call it. It’s the smell.

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God indeed is life, and He deigns all of us to exist eternally, but not everybody wants to exist eternally. Not every angel or human wants to encounter the reality of God, which will become apparent after we die.

I’ve seen so much suffering in this life, both of myself and of other people around me. God already forgives everybody, but will we be able to forgive ourselves?

Death is inevitable. Encountering the spiritual realities of the afterlife is inevitable. Are we ready?

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Purpose in life

In this world, we all have a God-given purpose. We may like it, we may not, but ultimately God determines our destiny. I am not a believer in predestination, but I believe that we must cooperate with God’s grace in order to achieve our purpose in life.

But are we doing what God wants in our life, or are we doing our own will, or even worse; saying we are doing God’s will but really doing our own will?

Take me for example. When I read into the bible, I misinterpreted many concepts, as I never had a director in the spiritual things. I interpreted the great commission for the apostles upon Jesus’s resurrection as applicable to me, meaning I had to go and preach the gospel to strangers. This was an error on my part, as living my life for God could prove as obedience to God’s will.

Street preaching is not for everybody, and certainly not for me. I thought my purpose was evangelism. But since I’ve been on better medication and hence joined the Orthodox Church, I have found new direction in my life.

Many of the protestant denominations are evangelical, as in they will go into the community to seek out new members. The Orthodox church is monastic and ascetic, meaning it leads by example, and those most shining spiritual examples are the monks, priests, bishops, nuns and hermits of our holy faith.

So, instead of talking about the bible, serving my parents is my evangelism. Going to confession is my evangelism. Working at my volunteer work is my evangelism. So I have found new direction in life.

The people of this world usually will not want to hear a street preacher approach them and introduce them to the gospel. But there is a remnant of people like myself who are trying to find the truth, and yearn to find truth. I hope a member of the Orthodox church can lead even me to the truth.

Theosis

Following on from my earlier post, I’d like to not only talk about the nature of hell, but also the concept of theosis.

Theosis means deification, which as St athanasius states is ‘a state of perfection greater than those experienced by Adam and Eve before their fall.’ There are 3 levels of walk in the Orthodox faith: purification, illumination, and deification. Adam and Eve were created at the 2nd stage called illumination. They had no sin, but they were not yet united to God. They would of been united to God had they taken of the fruit of the tree of life before their fall.

Purification is the first stage Orthodox Christians go through on our ascent of the ladder of divine ascent. It means the healing phase. Illumination is like the vision of God. Deification is the final stage, that of union with God, where they are like angels in heaven on Earth.

For those who reject the Lord’s commands through the Orthodox Church, God does not punish them as such. In the bible, Jesus describes hell as ‘the weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Why would he say ‘gnashing’? Don’t people gnash their teeth when they are extremely angry? In this case, it would be apparent that people in hell despise God so much that they grind their teeth in anger, never wanting to experience God’s presence as light and warmth.

It reminds me of what I’d think a protestant would feel in the afterlife. He might believe and loyally serve God in this world, as a pious protestant, but when he gets to heaven and sees the virgin mary sitting at the right hand of Jesus, he’d think ‘That’s not doctinally correct to venerate mary! That’s not part of my religion! I don’t like heaven very much! I hate heaven because of mary!’ So then heaven would become hell for that protestant, due to the theology he believed in during his lifetime.

There are no bars surrounding hell. Sinners and demons can leave hell anytime they want. All they just have to say is ‘Lord! Have mercy on me, a sinner!’ But as sinners are egotists, why would they want to leave hell, or bless the Lord? Egotists never stop blaming God.

Scourged by the whip of God’s love

The Protestant and Catholic traditions have a long history of believing that hell is a material fire and is a state of separation from God. This is not what the Eastern Rite Orthodox Church believes.

Psalm 139:8: ‘Even if you make your bed in Sheol (hell), I (the Lord) am there.’ I could only come up with this verse to prove the reality that hell is not a place, but a condition of the soul.

To quote Archbishop Lazar Puhalo of the ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia), ‘God doesn’t send anybody to hell. God doesn’t punish us either in this world or the world to come. And as St Anthony the great says, “It would be great error to think that God could love people in hell any less than He loves people in heaven.” Because hell is your condition, it’s not a place. The malice we feel is the fire that burns. The malice within our own conscience.’

St Isaac the Syrian describes the state of the sinners in hell as a state in which they are ‘scourged by the whip of God’s love.’

I shall give you an example from my own life. Each time I attend the divine liturgy at my Greek Orthodox church, I feel as though I am in hell, I feel the fire that burns. I feel the malice and rancor of my tendency to judge others, even my fellow parishioners in the temple of the Lord.

I am not looking forward to my day of judgement, where I will have to face the Lord. The Lord will not accuse me of anything. My own conscience, the basic input-output system of our morality, will accuse me, where I will feel the ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Luke 13:28).

One of the Saints, in his deep humility, said, ‘I will go to the place where the devil will be condemned.’ If I were to say that about myself, it would not be humility, it would be a fact.

My life so far

I spent the entirety of the Australian winter in mental institutes. The only benefit to that was that my pension kept rolling in, making me somewhat richer.

Being in the mental institutes was not tormenting so much as it was mind-numbingly boring.

There were some mad dudes that I met in there that I really liked. Too bad I didn’t ask their contact details. I will surely miss them. One of them gave me a hug. Another gave me a bro-shake.

The good thing about being in a ward full of guys is that usually there is very little vomiting going on, as guys have stronger stomachs than girls. The only person who was vomiting was me after each Electroconvulsive Therapy. Ah yes, happy times that was.

Now, since I’ve come out of the mental institute, I’ve had the opportunity to see two of my friends. With one of them I practiced sparring with, with another I just went window shopping with.