Monday, March 24, 2014
The Twelfth Article of the Creed.
And (look for) the life of the age to come. Amen.
The twelfth article of the Creed mentions the life of the future age; that is, the eternal life which will begin after the general resurrection of the dead, the renewal of the whole world, and Christ’s judgment over all.
For righteous people, eternal life will be so joyful and blessed that in our present state we are not even able to describe it. The Apostle Paul says, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him (I Cor. 2:9).
This understanding of the blessedness of the righteous arises from visions of God in light and glory, and from union with Him. In Paradise, the souls of the righteous will be united with bodies which will be illumined with the light of God as the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was at the time of His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
The Apostle Paul writes, It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory (I Cor. 15:43).
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43).
The states of the righteous will be in various degrees of blessedness, corresponding to the virtue of each. The Apostle Paul said, There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:41-42).
For unbelievers and unrepentant sinners life in the future age will be one of eternal torment. The Lord says to them, Depart from Me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels ... and these shall go away into everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:41,46).
This torment of sinners will proceed from their estrangement from God, from the clear realization of their sins, from severe pangs of conscience, from having to stay among evil spirits where the eternal, unquenchable fire burns.
What is this unquenchable fire? The Word of God does not define it, but uses the term to portray the inexplicable, inexpressible torment of hell.
Thus punishment of sinners will not be because God wants them destroyed, but they themselves perish because they did not accept the love of truth for their salvation (II Thess. 2:10).
The Creed is concluded with the word "Amen," which means "truly" or "so be it." By saying this word after the Creed, we attest to the fact that all that is stated therein we acknowledge to be undoubtedly and invariably true.