... Lord Jesus Christ,Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner-Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ,Υιέ Θεού, ελέησόν με τον αμαρτωλό...

Τρίτη, 3 Ιουλίου 2012

God as “fire” and “light”

Some people in the West believe in a sadistic god who perpetually tortures people in hell. But the Orthodox Christians in the East always knew what the Bible’s references to Heaven and Hell meant. They never believed in a sadistic god. The Holy Fathers teach that God is both Heaven and Hell, according to each person’s righteousness. He loves everyone and He will embrace everyone. But not everyone will see Him as light. Some people will be unable to tolerate His Love and they will suffer, because they had learned only to hate…
   When we say that God is both light and fire, Protestants often ask us: “Where did you find that in the Bible?” Even though they know that it’s irrational to believe that God tortures people, they need quotes from the Bible to be convinced.
   Of course we Christians don’t need to see something written in the Bible in order to believe it. But we are going to present a few biblical passages that support our opinion. Thus, the Protestants will be able to abandon the western, blasphemous notion of a sadistic God, and they will see that the teachings of the Lord’s Orthodox Church are always true.
Let’s start with Isaiah:
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with the everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil. He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” (Isaiah 33:14-16)
Notice who will dwell with the everlasting burnings!!! Not only the unjust, but the righteous as well! Do you see that they are the same? What is feared by sinners is considered “high” by the righteous.
And what is the “devouring fire”?
For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)
This “fiery” God is “light” for other people. According to Isaiah:
For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”(Isaiah 60:17-20)
The word “glory” (Greek: doxa) also means “brightness”. Paul writes:
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.” (1 Corinthians 15:41)
But the passage from Isaiah mentions materials. It is obvious that God will replace the lesser materials with materials that are more valuable and more able to endure fire. What does this mean? The apostle Paul explains:
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
It is important that in this passage various materials symbolise each person’s actions. Good actions are like valuable materials that can’t be harmed by fire. On the other hand, evil actions are mentioned as materials that can be burned. Then, the fire of God’s grace will burn the unworthy deeds and he who committed them shall be damaged because he won’t have anything valuable to show. Both good and evil actions, both righteous and unjust men will go through this fire…
The prophet Zechariah says that the fire purifies valuable metals. The fire doesn’t burn them, but it cleans them and it illuminates them. When a metal stays in the fire, it too becomes bright as fire. But the fire also makes wood black and burns it:
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”(Zechariah 13:9)
The next passage also shows us that the righteous and the unjust will go through the same flame. Although the sinners will feel burned by the fire, the just shall rest in the fire of the presence and the glory (brightness) of the Lord:
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”(2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
In the Revelation to John, we read about the river of the Grace of God that springs from His throne. This river is the river of life for the righteous:
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”(Revelation 22:1-2)
But this river is also described as “fire”:
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him…”(Daniel 7:10)
We see the difference between how the righteous and how the unjust perceive the Grace of God.
This is because, according to the author of the Psalms, the fire of the Lord is divided by Him into illuminating and burning energy:
The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.”(Psalm 29:7, Massoretic Text)
When that day comes, are we going to feel God’s grace as “fire” or as “light”? The decision is ours…