Life after Death | Orthodox | 22

What is in store for us at the last judgment?

The very expression “The Last Judgment” is absent in the Holy Scripture.

However the Church uses it as appropriate to the notion of the event.

What does this Judgment mean?

Let’s not think that during the whole human history God was only love, and now, sorry, - only justice. Nothing of the kind!

St. John Chrysostom said very strongly about Divine justice towards man:

If you demand justice, according to a law of the truth, we should have perished at once as early as at the very beginning”.

It is unreasonable to imagine God at the Last Judgment as a certain Greek goddess of justice – Themis, blindfolded.

This last act in the history of mankind, opening the beginning of its eternal life is called the Last Judgment, because here “at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15, 52)

each person will make his final decision – whether to be with God or to depart from Him forever and to remain “outside” the Kingdom.

Christ will remain the unfailing Divine love at the Last Judgment and will not violate freedom of a man’s will.

Here we are to remember about the principally important change, which will occur with a man at the end of the world existence.

According to the Church teaching, after the universal Resurrection a man will get a body again, the plenitude of his spiritual-corporal nature will be restored.

This returns a will to self-determination to a man, and, consequently and the last possibility of conversion to God, a spiritual renovation and the complete healing –

as different from the after death condition of the soul, which was completely determined by the way of life on earth.

From here is the frightfulness of the Last Judgment – a man does not always determine his eternal fate.

It is difficult, of course to imagine, that a personality, having experienced the fiery hell torments, where it was powerless to get rid of sufferings without any assistance, now after resurrection, having obtained a long cherished freedom, would choose the former slavery.

But this is the mystery of the future age.

Though, reasoning in the earthy-like manner, we may understand somehow an awful choice of hell made by the demon-like people.

It’s like an alcoholic will not agree voluntary to live among non-drinking people, a libertine – together with a chaste, a drug addict with healthy people… A creature with the opposite to God features cannot stay in an atmosphere of Divine love, purity, sanctity.

The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit will be a hell in the hell’s degree for a creature with a hellish spirit.

Due to this reason St. John Chrysostom says:
He (God) has prepared fiery hell because He is good”.

The idea here is that it is impossible for an evil creature to be with God, the Lord as He is graceful , gives him the opportunity to be outside Himself in “the outside darkness (Matthew, 8, 12).

That means that God, keeping the freedom of reasonable creature untouched, displays His mercy relative to it even by granting it the choice of being in the place where it may and wants to be even in the very eternity.

In this way it is possible to understand what will happen at the Last Judgment.

Not a violence over a man, not a revenge for his earthy disgusting things.
No! I repeat, God will remain love at the Last Judgment as well.

And at the Last Judgment eternal fate of each personality will be determined by this Love in complete accordance with spiritual features and freedom of self-determination of the personality proper.

It is not by chance that St. Isaac of Syria said:

It is inappropriate for a man to have such an idea,
that sinners will be deprived of God’s love in fiery hell…
But love acts in two ways by its force:
it tortures sinners…and gives joy to those who stuck to their duty”.

Possibly there will be people whose bitterness will make them unable to withstand humility of God’s love. And God will not violate their freedom.

That is why the doors of the hell may be locked only from inside by its inhabitants themselves, but not sealed by Archangel Michael by seven seals in order to bar the way from there outside, not to let anyone to go out if he wished to.

For the hell, according to the idea of venerable Macarius of Egypt, “lies in the depth of the human heart”.

The idea that the reason behind sinners’ residence in the hell and a devil himself, above all, is their free assertion “I don’t want God”, - was outspoken by a number of saint Fathers:

Clement of Alexandria (+217), St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great (+379),venerable Maximos the Confessor, venerable John of Damascus, St. Isaac of Syria, St. Nicholas Cabasilas (XIV c.) and others.

God always grants benefits to the demon as well, but the latter does not want to accept them”, - venerable John of Damascus writes.

– “In the future age God will give benefits to all – because He is the source of good, pouring grace on all, each communes for the good, as far as he has prepared himself to accept it”.

In the same way St. Nicholas Cabasilas deliberates:

And here where the difference lies between righteous and evil ones, who were staying in the same bonds and were subjected to the same slavery,

the first were surviving their enthrallment and slavery with displeasure and kept praying that the place of their enslavement and their bonds be demolished and wished that the head of the tyrant be crashed by captives;

the others thought of the present as of nothing strange, but they found comfort being in enslavement.

And in blessed days they were people like them, who did not accept the Sun shining in them and they tried as far as possible to extinguish It, doing everything, what , according to them, could destroy Its beams.

That is why the former got rid of the slavery in hell, when King appeared, the latter remained in bonds”.

One more thing should be mentioned with complete confidence:

The Last Judgment will reveal before each man, irrespective of his earthy persuasions, in its full might and plausibleness the entire moral grandeur of the Jesus Christ’s Cross exploit, His great kenosis for the sake of our salvation – His inexpressible love.

As Archimandrite Ephraim (Moraitis), starets from Athos, wrote: “Christ will show us sufferings of His flesh during His Second Advent as a proof of His love for us”.

And it is difficult to suppose that such great Love would not touch us, or to say better, would not amaze the hearts of resurrected people.

Look, what a great impression the film “The passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson made on us, despite some separately taken drawbacks.

And here the entire reality of the Cross, all the might of love of the Resurrected will open in front of everyone.

No doubt this, in great measure, will determine the positive choice of the great number of people.

This choice will surely be the result of the experience of the earthy life, filled with dreamy illusions of its eternity and a sad experience of torments, having shown the real “sweetness” of passions – fruits of a life without God.

That is why St. Isaac of Syria wrote:

Kingdom and Fiery hell are the consequences of the mercy, which in their essence were designed by God thanks to His eternal grace, not His reward”.

So, at the Last Judgment the process of the formation and self-determination of a person will be wound up completely.

A certain summing up will take place of not only an earthy , but after death spiritual way of a man, that is of his entire being in the state of the Fall.

Here before the Divine love each resurrected person will pronounce his final “yes” or “no’ to God.

That is why this Judgment is fearful, and not because God, having forgotten His love will judge the human acts “according to utmost justice”.

St. Theophan wrote:

God is unlikely to exact from anybody for anything with the aim of condemning at the Last Judgment, but He is likely to justify.

And He will justify everyone even if there had been a slightest opportunity”.

And God grant, that such a judgment would wind up salvation for everyone.