Rev. Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monk from St. Shenouda Monastery in Australia. He completed his Master of Arts in Ancient History at Macquarie University and is currently working to earn his Doctor of Philosophy on the subject of the Arrow Prayer. In the monastery, Father Anthony collaborates with many young people to produce Orthodox-inspired books and music.
Sometimes in discussions with young people, I ask them this question:
“If you were to die now, would you go to Heaven or Hell?”
To my surprise, a large percentage of young people who are in the Church, participating in the Church sacraments, and living out their Christian life say with certainty, “I will go to Hell!”
Some think they are exemplifying humility, but others may genuinely believe they are headed for Hell.
Understanding Christ’s Promise
St Paul, in his first chapter, 10th verse of the letter to the Ephesians, explains how, “In the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”
The verse indicated that we are called to live our Christian life here on earth IN HIM, and in the last day, God will gather all those who are “IN HIM” to live for ever IN HIM. So he is saying two things here. The first message is that our Christian life is the heavenly life—they are both a life IN HIM. So for Christians, we don’t wait to die to go to Heaven. We live out our heavenly life here on earth and continue living IN HIM in the world to come.
The second point is that all we have to do is be IN HIM to live the heavenly life both here on earth and when we die. To live in Him basically means living out our sacramental life. When I receive the Eucharist, I live in Him and He lives in me. When I am baptized, I die to the world and rise in Christ. When I go to confession, I go in with sin (which is death) and come out risen in Him. The sacramental life and our everyday Christian practices, such fasting, praying, and giving to the poor, are all practices that Jesus practiced. When we do the same, we become IN HIM.
St. Paul continues:
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
He is saying that eternal life is an inheritance, and children receive the inheritance. As children of God by adoption, we receive eternal life as inheritance. If you think about it, what does a child have to do to receive the inheritance of his father? Basically nothing. All he or she has to do is prove that he or she is the child of the father or in other words be IN HIM. To reject such a gift is not at all humility. Instead it is shame to our Heavenly Father. Jesus has comforts us specifically with the following words:
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
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