As seen in the first part of this study, according to Scripture, after death human being continues to exist under other conditions. He is submitted to an immediate judgment in which his eternal destiny is defined. In this new existence, as demonstrated, the human being is aware of his being and his history. Those who have believed the preaching of Christ will live in the divine presence, and non-Christians will spend eternity in a place of torment and anguish, separated from their Creator.

Why does Holy Scripture state that non-Christians will live in eternal suffering? According to the text from Genesis, man is a wholeness of matter and spirit, mysteriously united (2:7). In the Fall, that is, in original sin, these constituents of the human being were broken down and lost their initial characteristics. The spirit was disconnected from its life source, God; and the body changed into a complexion that cannot be sustained over time, progressing on a trajectory that culminates in its disintegration (Genesis 3).

Note, then, that original sin generated in man a condition of existence away from God and altered his being in such a way that, by his efforts, he cannot return to his initial condition. This is why God gave man his Law. It is the lifestyle of the original man. If man succeeds in keeping it, he is reconnected to God and saved from this condition of decay that was established when the first man sinned. But because of his new nature, which is sinful, man cannot keep it (Galatians 2:15,16,21) and if he passes through physical death in this condition, he will be eternally separated from God (Romans 3:23; Genesis 2:17). 

God then, in His great love for man, sent His Son to help him out of this situation. The Son left his Godhood, became man, and fulfilled the divine Law, while living on earth. About the Law, Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17). And it wasn't easy, for the author of Hebrews wrote that He "has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin" (4:15). According to Paul, He lived like that, holy, "in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in" those who surrender their lives to Christ in search of a solution for their spirit and body, altered in the Fall (Romans 8:4). 

Christ is God's solution to man's spiritual problem. That is why the Apostle Paul says that "if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come... this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17,18). He who receives Christ as Lord and Savior is reborn, spiritually, to life with God (John 3:1-8). But his body continues toward death, but receives the promise of the "redemption of the body" (Romans 8:23) which will take place in the resurrection of the dead. Writing to the Philippians, Paul says that Christ "will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (3:21). 

It is striking, however, that Holy Scripture says nothing about these things with respect to those who do not follow Christ. Those who do not believe in Christ, those who despise God, those who believe in and follow other gods, those who understand that everything is only matter, because of these positions, do not connect their spirit to God in this life. These people's spirits are not reborn to God, and so they pass into the afterlife in the condition of being separated from the Creator, and for this reason they will live an existence of anguish and meaninglessness.

Nor will they have the "redemption of the body" of which the Apostle Paul spoke. This Apostle, in his second letter to the Corinthians, speaks of this question of the human body. He comments on the satisfaction the Christian has in knowing that when he dies he will receive a glorious body to be united to his spirit, becoming a being fit for full life with God, in his glory. But it also talks about the danger of the human being becoming just a spirit without a body. He states that we would not like to think of dying and then having no body at all.... (2Corinthians 5:1-5).

This Pauline text gives the impression that the non-Christian will spend eternity as an incomplete human being, endowed only with a fallen spirit and without a body, because the present body will disintegrate in the grave. There is a mystery here. If so, it is a terrible condition of existence, for human life is only possible in the integrality of body and spirit. It is in the spirit that dreams and desires are found, but these can only be realized with the participation of the body. Thus, separated from God and without a body, fallen man can only live in the anguish of unfulfilled dreams and desires. An existence without meaning, without purpose, without definition, and without peace and satisfaction.   

Antônio Maia - M. Div.

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