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.