The Resurrection of Humankind

At the outset, I want to remind you that we are still looking through the lens of Thomas Aquinas’ interpretations of certain fundamental scriptures – this time, taking a glimpse of his views of our final destination.

Let’s begin with his premise:

Reunion with the body is requisite for the soul’s perfect happiness…the will cannot be perfectly at rest until the soul is again joined to the body. When this takes place, man rises from the dead.

Thus, all souls will be reunited with their bodies. Souls themselves are immortal and incorruptible, as they are incorporeal in their nature. And seeing how their bodies all degenerate to dust in death, the bodies cannot ‘rise’ in and of themselves for that body-soul reunion. It requires the resurrection power of God.

When this is accomplished, all the original people are resurrected for their date in eternity. In order to live out the eternal life, the body must be changed to become imperishable:

The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption…the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Cor. 15:42 & 52, 53. NKJV

This is true for everyone who has ever lived. Aquinas’ suggests that an incorruptible body no longer has the need for what sustained the corruptive, e.g. food, clothing or reproductive functions. Yet I will take solace at the prophet Isaiah’s Holy Spirit-inspired picture of one facet of heaven:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. Is. 25:6 ESV

(What can I say? It’s my human side.)

Given how God is making all this happen, the risen bodies will have no defects – no missing limbs, no blindness, disease, etc. (Is. 35:5, 6.)

At this point however, comes a great ‘sifting’:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:’” Mt. 25:31 – 34. NKJV

Those on the right hand of Christ are the children of God – those who accepted Christ as their Savior and did their best to live like He did. They will be rewarded with the ability to see God revealed in His essence, in the best understanding their finite minds can grasp the Infinite.

God’s children will be in the presence of ultimate goodness and love. All sorrow will be driven away, and they will live in perfect harmony, happiness and in complete satisfaction.

Their bodies will also take on spiritual qualities:

…it is sown a natural body [mortal, suited to the earth], it is raised a spiritual body [immortal, suited to heaven]. 1 Cor. 15:44 AMP

The children of God are thus prepared for their new environment, which is also incorruptible:

“Behold, I am creating new heavens and a new earth…be glad and rejoice forever over what I create…” Is. 65:17, 18. AMP

However, things don’t bode well at all for the people who refused Jesus as the Lord of their life, those who rebelled against God:

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Leave Me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (demons)…these [unbelieving people] will go away into eternal (unending) punishment…” Mt. 25:41 & 46. AMP

This is what Aquinas called the ‘final wretchedness,’ the end result of the practices of unrepentant vice – leading to ultimate unhappiness, completely and eternally separated from God, deprived of all goodness and love.

When death occurs, our souls are eternally ’set’ in the condition that it was in that moment – either for good or for evil.

Those who are condemned will still want to indulge in their vices, but that will not have that satisfaction. Moreover, they will be aware of the heavenly status of the children of God, even though they have no hope of ever reaching it.

Jesus illustrated this in a parable about the ‘rich man and Lazarus.’ Lazarus was a beggar who laid at the rich man’s gate begging for scraps of food. The rich man never came to his aid. When they both died, Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man to hell. Lazarus was comforted in the bosom of Abraham, but the rich man was tormented by fire. The rich man called out to Abraham for comfort, and Abraham answered:

‘…between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, no can those from there pass to us.’ Lk. 16:26 NKJV

Judgment is forever as is the torment of the condemned:

“…look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched.” Is. 66:24 NKJV

“Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty…every man’s heart will melt, and they will be afraid…their faces will be like flames.” Is. 13:6 – 8. NKJV

The bodies of the condemned will feel pain, but remains corporeally intact, so that the process is continual. This eternal torment, which is fire-like yet does not consume, produces an agony which is spiritual in nature.

There is a hell folks. God has warned us about it for thousands of years. God is not about hurting people; it about His inviolate word and the part of His essence that is pure justices.

It sure makes a great case for staying on the right side of Him, yes?

Goodnight and God bless.

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God’s Divine Providence

God brought us into this world with an end in mind. That end began with Adam and Eve. They put a detour in that end, yet God’s plan was not thwarted (who could do that?). He re-routed it through the saving grace found in Jesus.

He has a great ending / beginning for us, as well as for the rest of His creations. His non-human creations don’t have free-will, so they are naturally being perfected by God to arrive along with His children throughout the ages. Together they receive His perfection at the gates of eternity:

For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us! For [even the whole] creation [all nature] waits eagerly for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration and futility, not willingly [because of some intentional fault on its part], but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be freed from its bondage to decay [and gain entrance] into the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been moaning together as in the pains of childbirth until now.

And not only this, but we too, who have the first fruits of the Spirit [a joyful indication of the blessings to come], even we groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly for [the sign of] our adoption as sons – the redemption and transformation of our body [at the resurrection]. For in this hope we were saved [by faith}. Rm. 8:18 – 24. AMP

Thus, according to Thomas Aquinas’ (we’re still in the midst of his theological understandings), this ending that all is drawing near to, is the perfection of God’s divine goodness – a place where we humans finally lay our eyes upon the essence of God and gain freedom from all wants and desires.

Fortuitously for us, God Himself guides us in the way of this ‘good end’ through His Divine Providence. He sets forth a distinct order of actions that we must undertake in order to have Him facilitate our perfect end. God presents us with the Truth that we can both understand, follow, and share – found in His word and through the Holy Spirit and His angels.

“I will lead the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will turn darkness into light in front of them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.” Is. 42:16 NKJV

Man’s steps are ordered and ordained by the LORD. Pr. 20:24 AMP

Given that God exists in all things, we are all recipients of His Divine Providence; to what degree that we receive it, is subject to the use of our free will to align with it.

Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do. Dt. 29:9 NKJV

“…choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding closely to Him; for He is your life [your good life, your abundant life, your fulfillment] and the length of your days…” Dt. 30:19, 20. AMP

Out of His Divine Providence, God works miracles, and He oversees the dispensation of all things. And yet, there are trials and tribulations because there is evil in the world. Evil is not part of Divine Providence; evil results from free-will choices (which God will not violate) to act contrary to His ways.

However, God will still take the results of evil, and do some good with it: e.g. the god results of Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery:

“…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is in this day, to save many people alive.” Gn. 50:20 NKJV

Finally, we see Divine Providence at work through God’s grace, offered through the death and resurrection of His Son.

Because we have free will, we are held accountable for our actions – blessings for those that are godly, and punishment for those that are not (it may not be immediate, but it will come).

Aquinas writes:

God infuses into man, over and above the natural faculty of reason, the light of grace whereby he is internally perfected for the exercise of virtue…inasmuch as man’s mind is elevated by this light to the knowledge of truths surpassing reason, and as regards action and affection…to the love of God, to hope in Him, and to performance of acts that such love imposes.

This light is the freely given light of God to facilitate the journey to your good end. Grace is deflected by sin but is restored by repentance.

Your good end manifests as your eternal life in an immortal soul, nestling in God’s fullness in all things…

Goodnight and God bless.

God and the Soul

In part one, we talked about the essence of God Himself. In part two, we examined Thomas Aquinas’ treatise on the trinitarian concept of the Godhead. Now, we’ll follow his progression into God’s creative process – beginning with his supposition:

God is the first and most perfect Being. Therefore, He must be the cause of being in all things that have being.

As we’ve seen, God is existence itself. Therefore, He does not require pre-existing matter to be able to create, because He is the Creator. And because He is infinite and infinitely powerful, only He and He alone, can create something from nothing:

By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made of things which are visible. Heb. 11:3 AMP

Yet what He creates are finite, because only His essence (which includes Christ and the Holy Spirit) is infinite. We are but a finite representation of that infinitude.

God then guides us towards His perfect goodness, in that if we willfully connect with Him, He will perfect us at the end of time to an infinite transcendent transformation:

And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18 AMP

Aquinas then describes the created characteristics of the human soul – first stating that intellectual beings (humankind) are closer to being like God than any of His other creations. This is demonstrated by the fact that we have ‘free will,’ as opposed to the ‘innate impulses’ that drive the other animal species. He further postulates that human beings alone possess understandings of universal themes and relationships, which he or she first begins to understand, through their five senses.

The intellect then engages in logistics and conclusions, in a process that occurs outside of the body. Therefore it exists on a higher plane than our flesh. This intellect, this ‘soul,’ is unique to each individual, as each exists in a unique environment (i.e. distinct body).

Aquinas explains that the soul is not endowed with the body, yet it may maintain a union with it, as long as the body lives. Moreover, the human soul reaches for loftier planes, independent of its associated flesh, in addition to whatever expressions it may initiate through the body.

Those capabilities of the soul which are expressed in the flesh, are subject to corruption, just as the body degrades through age; but the intellectual portion remains intact.

Since the soul is incorporeal, it cannot be passed on generationally through biological conception; it must be created; and only God creates. It is the highest part of ourselves, made in the image of God:

“The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL (an individual);” 1 Cor. 15:45 AMP

Yes, God has a soul:

“I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject nor separate itself from you.” Lv. 26:11 AMP

And, we are called by God to find Him and love Him with our own souls:

…seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Dt. 4:29 NKJV

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Dt. 6:5 ESV

Indeed, it is imperative that we preserve this God-connection:

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul?” Mt. 16:26 AMP

Returning to God’s creativity in general, Aquinas says this: …everything that is made by God necessarily exists for an end.

What he is saying is that everything will ultimately be perfected at times’ end. God’s promises found in the book of Revelation – for a new body, new earth and new heavens attest to that. What Aquinas didn’t address, which I’ll just bring up as a brain teaser, is that I contend that this wasn’t God’s original intent, because everything was perfect and incorruptible before the fall. Although, we also know that Jehovah is omniscient, so that He knew the fall would come. Food for thought…

Aquinas takes that to the next logical step when he declares: This then, is the reason why all things were made: that they might be assimilated to the divine goodness.

In order to be assimilated by God, we must be perfected by Him through the power of His glory – His divine light…

Is that not the Good News?

Goodnight and God bless.

Can You Dissect God – part 2

Last time, we looked at an overview of Thomas Aquinas’ Holy Spirit-induced revelations about the essence of who God is, as far as his finite mind could postulate. Now, let us turn to his understanding of the relationship between God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, i.e. his view of the man-made explanation (the trinitarian concept) of this Divine 3-sided cohesive.

He starts off with the premise that ‘God is Father, God is Son, and God is Holy Spirit. And these are not three Gods, but are one God.’ Thomas begins his deductive path by stating we must accept in faith that God left us His word, so that He could be revealed to us.

Moreover, Aquinas declares that God’s word is an outpouring of His essence, so it is related to God and proceeds forth as His Son:

In the beginning [before all time], was the Word (Christ) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. Jn. 1:1 AMP

First, we see that there is no ‘time differentiation’ between God and His Son. Jesus preceded time.

So, according to Aquinas, Christ was generated (begotten) by the essence of God.

Last time, we looked at the supposition that God was pure action – that He knew all things and was maintaining the entire universe through His essence. God is identical with His actions. Therefore, if God speaks, it is indistinguishable from who He is. Thus, Jesus, Jehovah’s word, cannot be anything other than God Himself:

“If you had [really] known Me, you would have also known My Father. From now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Jn. 14:7 AMP

And because everything that God does is perfect, because He is perfect, (look back to part one in this series), Christ Himself must be perfect, as He is the begotten of God…

…for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.] 1 Jn. 4:8 AMP

If God is love, according to Aquinas, then He must love Himself and expresses this love, this essence of Himself, as the Holy Spirit, living in God, as does His Son, and so also a part of the Father – in equal rank, because He is part of God’s essence.

Aquinas says, ‘…in the Godhead there is something threefold which is not opposed to the unity and simplicity of the divine essence.’

Again, God is a perfect unified essence, consisting of His thoughts, His substance and the exercise of His will (actions). God’s word (Christ) is a ‘representative’ of His thoughts, distinguished as different only with regards to the process of God’s generated words becoming Jesus’ expression of them. Otherwise, They are indistinguishable.

Similarly, God’s love is who He is, yet it is expressed outwardly through the Holy Spirit: This directed process is the only distinction if you will between the Holy Spirit and God; otherwise, the Holy Spirit too, is identical to God.

So, God expresses Himself through the Son and loves through the Holy Spirit. Seeing as how God is a unified essence, He cannot have differing views from His Son or the Holy Spirit. They must, as expressions of Him, be in complete concert with Him. Thus, there can only be one Christ and one Holy Spirit, in perfect harmony with the only one true high Jehovah God:

I will cry to God most High, Who accomplishes all things on my behalf [for He completes my purpose in His plan]. Ps. 57:2 AMP

For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods. Ps. 97:9

NASB

Yet, God is the Father. Jesus, the Son, emanates from the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from them both.

God, the Father, the Prime Mover, is at cause in this universe through His active will. That means He ‘begets’ from His own divine essence, whereby we have the begotten word and love – Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Aquinas is an arduous read. But I’m wacky in that way. I love to sift for the pearls of wisdom and revelation. God nudges me to help you meet Him where you are at. It’s my passion. I do so hope that you are enjoying this process.

This is foundational work.

Goodnight and God bless.