Sunday, February 21, 2010

Save Our Souls - III

cmpicHell is the kingdom of the Devil, the throne of the ancient Serpent. The Oxford dictionary meaning of hell is “the place believed to be the home of devils and where bad people go after death.” The dominion, rule and control of the ancient serpent in hell make every lost soul his slave. The lost souls who are under the dominion of the ancient serpent are the evil spirits (Mt 10: 1). The fallen angels are also under the dominion of the serpent. They are known as demons (Lk 9:1).
The Apostles’ Creed says that Jesus after His death on the cross “descended into hell” in spirit CCC article 5. By His death on the cross Jesus destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil and delivered all those who through fear of death were subject to life- long bondage” CCC article 5 : 635. The Catechism teaches that hell is the place where Jesus after His death descended and delivered the lost souls. “The Gospel was preached even to the dead. The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment” CCC 5:634. “He descended there as savoir proclaiming the good news to the spirits imprisoned there” CCC 5:632. The Catechism reveals many things through these teachings. (1) Christ descended into hell. (2) The lost souls who were prisoners of the devil were in hell. (3) Jesus preached the Gospel to the prisoners and delivered them.
The modern scholars of the Church changed the descent of Jesus into hell as ‘descended among the dead’. They are frightened to say that Christ descended into the kingdom of the devil, that is, hell. But remember Christ destroyed the devil on the cross, then, in spirit He descended there and opened the doors of hell for salvation. “In spirit He descended there and proclaimed the good news to the spirits imprisoned there” (1Pt 3: 19).
Catechism says that “Scripture calls the abode of the dead to which the dead Christ went down, hell. In Hebrew, it is known as Sheol and in Greek, Hades. The word HELL is originated from German and Dutch. Hell is the common name. In the different books of the Bible, Hebrew and Greek versions are used to mention about hell. In some Old Testament books the Hebrew word ‘Sheol’ is used while in others the Greek word ‘Hades’ is used. This gives to the common people an impression that Sheol is different from Hades. They distinguish Hell from Hades and Sheol. So we may understand that Hades and Sheol are the different names of Hell in different languages. In the New Testament we read about hell in the book of Luke where Jesus teaches about Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19). The rich man died and his soul was taken into Hell or Hades. The poor man Lazarus also died and his soul was taken into Abraham’s bosom. The Catholic Bible ‘Revised Standard Version’ (RSV) calls the place as Hades where the rich man’s soul was taken. But the ‘King James Version’ Bible says the rich man was taken into Hell. Similarly in the book of Revelation 1:18 Jesus says “I have the keys of Death and Hell” (KJV). RSV says “I have the keys of Death and Hades.” The correct word is Hell.


‘In Hades (Hell) where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames” (Lk 16: 23,24).
The rich man’s soul is crying for help. The soul looked up and saw Abraham. A soul can look and see things clearly. He can identify every one. He speaks and asks for help. He is experiencing the pain of fire in hell. Then he pleads to Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house. ‘He said, “Then father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment” (Lk 16:27-28). A soul in hell is worried about his family. He remembers everything. He is arguing with Abraham for his and of his family members’ salvation.
Through this parable Jesus proves that a soul is not dead. It lives forever. During death only the body dies. A soul cannot die, because it is a gift from God. A soul, whether it is in Paradise or Hell, is not dead. It can move, talk, see and do all necessary things. Jesus says “Now He is God not of the dead but of the living, for, to Him all of them are alive” (Lk 20:38). The dead are not dead before the eyes of the Lord. But for us the dead are dead. Jesus said, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is useless” (Jh 6:63). A soul is a spirit from God. It cannot die. But it is the flesh that dies.


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