Confusion Reigns

 

When you die, then what? Atheists have the simplest answer: “nothing!” The religious among us have opinions all over the map.

Allah’s Islamic warriors see a brothel of panting virgins awaiting them in heaven. Some Catholics see purgatory as their likely first stop after death, others see the fluffy clouds of heaven. Non-believers and backsliding Christians had better enjoy the cold now for the fires of eternal hell await them. Eastern religions and New-agers speculate that upon death souls transmigrate to another incarnation of life, perhaps a bird, snake or even into a newly born human.

Citing several “near-death experiences,” some suggest all the dead will universally experience a tunnel of white light leading their departed souls to a heavenly home.

Does the average person have in hand a clear doctrinal understanding of the afterlife? Hardly. What passes for doctrine is mostly loose talk of going to hell or heaven. More often the afterlife is a setting for cartoons and jokes with Saint Peter screening would-be-saints at heaven’s Golden Gate; or the Devil welcoming lawyers and used car salesmen to the fires of hell. They’re funny, but have absolutely no resemblance to biblical or historical fact.

Even among religious folk, notions of the afterlife are vague at best and rely more on denominational traditions than on Scripture itself. It’s sufficient for most believers to just assume the Bible teaches blissful heaven is the reward of the saved and a super-heated hell awaits the unsaved. Yet assumptions don’t equate to facts anymore than fantasy does to faith.

It’s no wonder folks are confused by the variety of religious opinions on the “afterlife.” Is there a reliable authority, beyond mere opinion, to consult with our “after death, then what” question?

 

Would you be surprised to learn that the biblical answer to each of the four questions to the left is . . . NO! ?

 

Would you be surprised to learn that the Bible denies you have an immortal soul? Rather, it affirms that you (and your “soul”) are mortal and that when you die, you, not just your body, are dead and without thought or consciousness.

Another surprise, the Bible does not offer heaven as the reward of the “saved.” Nor does it teach an ever-burning hell for the eternal torment of the “unsaved” —be they unrepentant sinners or among the unlucky millions who never heard the Christian Gospel.

Yet happily, the Bible affirms there is life after death and God’s offer of eternal life is at the heart of his plan for mankind.

 

Everybody Dies

 

Somewhere along the road of life we discover the phenomenon of death. This usually happens sometime in our youth and it may be a novel discovery, as is the case with a boy in this nineteenth century verse by Frances Cornford, A Recollection.

 

My father’s friend came once to tea.

He laughed and talked. He spoke to me.

But in another week they said

That friendly pink-faced man was dead.

 

“How sad . . .” they said, “the best of men.”

So said I too, “How sad”’ but then

Deep in my heart I thought with pride,

“I know a person who has died!”

 

My first awareness of death, at age four-and-one-half, was my Father’s funeral in 1943. A few days earlier I recollect sitting on a park bench on the grounds of Chicago’s St. Luke’s Hospital on a hot August day. My dad in his hospital pajamas and gown sat with my mother and us four kids. I also remember roaming the corridor outside the hospital room where my mom and dad were talking. I now wish I’d asked my mom what they talked about in their last conversation. My main interest at the time was the little penny gum machine in the hallway with pull down levers for a variety of wrapped sticks of gum. My favorite in those days was Black Jack, but I can’t remember if that machine had any.

My next memory was the funeral with all the flowers and the grownups tenderly patting me on my head. My father, Clarence O. Westby, was the first person I knew who had died. I now know many.

My father lies buried in Rose Hill Cemetery with six million other dead Chicagoans. Fifty-eight years later my mother, Margit, joined him in death and before too long I will join them both. And all too soon, you too will join the billions of humans who have moved from life unto death.

As God said to Adam, you will “return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”[i]

 

No Escape

“Because I could not stop for Death; He kindly stopped for me,” penned Emily Dickinson in the opening line of her poem by the same title.

“It is appointed for men to die once”[ii] says Scripture, and then comes a resurrection—either to eternal life or to judgment, which could include what Scripture calls the “second death”[iii] —annihilation forever.

Everyone who has ever lived is either dead or going to die. This should come as no surprise to any of us despite our reluctance to think about it. The “eternal life” of youth eventually gives way to the reality of an aging body, and try as we might to avoid it, we sooner or later must face head-on our own demise.

Frequently it is the death of a loved one that makes us consider our own mortality and ask questions about the state of the dead, and further inquire into the possibilities of future life.

We wonder, where is that loved one now? Is he simply dead in the ground without consciousness? In heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Reincarnated into another person or animal? Will I see her again? And if there is life after death, will we recognize one another?

My experience tells me that most folks have only vague ideas about death and an afterlife. I’ve preached hundreds of funerals from one coast to the next and from north to south and conclude that among the grieving, ignorance and confusion are the rule, not the exception. Counseling with families, I’ve realized what a poor job churches have done in educating people on this most important topic.

People have bits and pieces of information they’ve picked up from preachers, relatives and the popular culture from which they’ve developed a general idea of what happens after death. But as the grieving try to express their beliefs they may as well be describing a fairy tale for they don’t speak with conviction, nor do they have in their grasp hard evidence upon which to base their generalized notions.

At funerals we mortals often open up our hearts to honestly consider death and what follows. Such thoughts are heavy and uncomfortable. We push them aside as soon as possible. We close that momentary window of candor and openness to press on with the daily crush of activities. We table the question of what happens after we die to some future moment, perhaps to when we get older and have more time to think about it. Often that moment never arrives.

Anciently, the mythical Sphinx asked the mythical Oedipus to answer this puzzle: “What walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three at night?” He correctly replied, “Man.” We’ve each seen the bookends of life’s sequence countless times; a baby crawling, an oldster on a cane. The sequence always ends in the grave.

 

Surviving Death

If you find the discussion of death depressing, you are not alone. I and any normal person should find it depressing. Death is an enemy to life—your life and mine. Life is the greatest gift we have and we must fight to keep it as long as we can. But fight as we might, we will ultimately lose. Then what? The question before us: Is death survivable?

The Bible and history both testify that there is only one way to survive death, and that is by the resurrection of the dead!

In all history there was only one person who died, went into a grave, and later came back to life—and remains alive today.

You know to whom I refer. Each year millions of professing Christians celebrate his resurrection at the Easter/Passover season. Jesus Christ was resurrected to eternal life almost two thousand years ago. He now sits beside his heavenly Father in heaven and has been given authority to rule over all creation. He will soon bring the Kingdom of God to earth and call forth millions from their graves to receive the gift of eternal life.

Are you and I offered the same kind of resurrection Jesus experienced? Will Christians be raised with new eternal bodies that can never die? If so, will non-Christians be resurrected to some lesser state of life, or left in their graves, or consigned to live forever in the fires of hell?

These are among the most important questions any human could ask. They get to the heart of our mortal state, our purpose in life, and our eternal future. These questions must be faced and answered with utmost diligence in the pursuit of truth.

 

Facing the Future

How we conceive of the afterlife can affect how we live life here and now. For those who believe there is no God and that nothing exists past the grave, life can be lived anyway they want: “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” or whatever code they choose to live by. No God, no hope, no eternal standards of right and wrong, no future beyond the grave…nothing.

Islamic suicide “martyrs” believe their afterlife welcoming committee consists of attentive virgins in paradise. A Hindi might anticipate his reincarnation into a higher caste human, or into a lower life form, depending on his “karma” force.

Certain orthodox Catholic Christians believe purgatory may be in their future since they’re not good enough for heaven, nor rotten enough for “lower hell.” Protestants are divided over whether heaven is guaranteed to the saved (“once saved, always saved”), or whether ones’ spiritual condition at the time of death determines the direction the soul flees the body—upward or downward.

Rather than survey all the various afterlife ideas in the religious marketplace and decide which one to buy, we will begin with the plain promises from the Word of God.

 

All Will Live Again

 

God made man in his own image[iv] for a grand purpose that is clearly disclosed by his own revelation—the Bible. The Creator, Yahweh, placed man in a paradise setting and in the middle of Eden he placed the Tree of Life, and nearby, The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil[v]. Man was forbidden to take of the latter for by so doing he would, as the Serpent said, “be like God,” that is, usurping God’s authority to decide what is good and what is evil. It was evil for man to disobey his Maker, which is the first sin mankind (and womankind) committed. Everything wrong in the history of the world can be understood as disobedience to a kind, wise, loving, eternal God.

The other tree, The Tree of Life, was not initially forbidden to the first couple. It was God’s grand purpose that mankind fully participate in the divine image by ultimately sharing eternal life with its Maker.

Adam and Eve were mortals already alive so the “life” referenced in the Tree of Life is symbolic of a dimension of existence beyond their present physical, mortal life. Since mankind’s parents chose to disobey God and chart their own way of living, God prevented them from partaking of The Tree of Life. They were not ready to receive God’s supreme gift. When their bodies wore out they both died.[vi] Like all humans who have died, including the righteous, they await the call of God to live again.[vii]

But God’s plan for us didn’t die in Eden. His plan is and has always been to bring us fully into his image—including sharing eternal life with him. Jesus’ message is essentially the same as his heavenly Father’s: obey God and live. Jesus became a living, breathing “Tree of Life” so that all who would follow him, who was in the perfect image of God[viii], would receive eternal life[ix].

There is only one source—the Bible—that provides the history of man’s creation and the Creator’s plan for him. It coherently presents God’s plan from its first book (Genesis, beginning) to its last (Revelation) which pictures mankind finally united with its Creator in the everlasting Kingdom of God.

The entire plan of God is revealed in Scripture—that ancient, venerable record of God’s dealings with mankind, his revelations about himself, his Way for us mortals to live, and finally, his spectacular revelation of his Son, Jesus Christ, who became the first of mankind to be resurrected to eternal life[x]. The life of Christ becomes for us our path to walk in taking on the divine image and, like Christ, to ultimately pass from death into eternal life with our God.

 

The Promises

You have seen “John 3:16” and “Romans 6:23” flashed before the TV cameras at football games and public events, or painted as graffiti on roadside objects. Sadly, the profound promise contained in those popular verses, and many other less popular ones we could cite, is missed because they are never actually read. Or if read, they are viewed as mantras evangelicals use to close the sale—to get the sinner “saved” and into a church.

Let’s read them with fresh eyes.

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

 

These verses state that:

  • God loves us and has a Gift for us—Eternal Life;
  • There are only two choices before us—Death or Eternal Life;
  • God’s purpose is that we accept his gift of Eternal Life;
  • That gift can be ours through God’s Son, Jesus.

 

Jesus said,

 

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

 

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (vss 28-29).

 

Jesus speaks of a time when all the dead will be raised, yet only the righteous will be resurrected to eternal life. We will discuss the resurrection to condemnation or judgment a little later.

Resurrection is not simply a New Testament doctrine that originated from the time of Christ. The concept of resurrection is evident from Genesis to Revelation.

 

Evidence of Life after Death—Old Testament

The doctrine of a future resurrection for the dead is not nearly as well developed or articulated in the Old Testament as it is in the New. This is to be expected as there had been no such resurrection until Jesus was resurrected to eternal life. This event (in about 30 AD) occurred during the lifetime of Jesus’ contemporaries whose lives were forever changed by it, and they authored the books we know of as the New Testament. Paul wrote Timothy, “…our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”[xi]

That is not to say that the belief in a resurrection after mortal life was absent from OT faith and Scripture. There are many references to a belief in life after death. The writer of Ecclesiastes speaks of a dying man going to his permanent place, the grave, and his breath—the divine breath given to Adam and his children—returning to God who had loaned it[xii]. The ancient sage, Job, wrote of his hope and trust in God that following his death and time in the grave, “You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made.”[xiii] He wistfully spoke, “I will wait for my renewal to come.”[xiv]

The plainest OT resurrection passage is from Daniel’s God-given vision, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” To Daniel himself, God said, “You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”[xv]

But the prime basis for the faithful, in the centuries before the birth of Christ, believing they would live again is found in their understanding of the very character of God himself. They knew God had made life and that God masters death as God masters life.[xvi] God has created life and thus can re-create life.

The OT Patriarchs and faithful believed in God’s justice that sooner or later had to become manifest, and the resurrection allowed this very thing to happen. They knew God was good and that his mercy was full of faithfulness, loyalty, and solidarity toward his own. Thus belief in the resurrection of the dead is based on Yahweh’s power, on his justice and on his love—all of which was revealed in his dealings with Israel.

In the New Testament, that belief flowered into an actual prototype resurrection of the great resurrection at the end of the age of man. Perhaps it is better described as the “archetype” resurrection since it is the first of what will later follow.

 

 

Evidence of Life after Death—New Testament

By the time of the birth of Christ (2-3 BC), the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead had become firmly developed within Judaism’s leading sect. Its custodians were the Pharisees who together with the Mosaic lawyers defended the doctrine against challenges from a small, but politically powerful sect called the Sadducees. Jesus’ doctrine was quite similar to that of the Pharisees, though Jesus’ spiritual understanding and application of doctrine differed remarkably and occasioned the constant friction between them we find recorded in the Gospels.

Some Sadducees, “who say there is no resurrection,” came to catch Jesus with a hard hypothetical case that made the notion of a resurrection an unworkable and silly proposition. Jesus told them they were ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God. After correcting their other false assumptions, he reminded them that God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Jesus interpreted that to mean, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”[xvii] Clearly, God considers his sons and daughters as having already received the gift of eternal life though they yet “sleep” awaiting its fulfillment. The living God commands a coming kingdom of dynamically living, glorified sons and daughters.

Paul captures that concept when he affirms that our “citizenship” is already divinely documented in heaven, “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”[xviii] Every Christian is said to have his name already written in a Book of Life at God’s side in heaven.[xix]

Of course, the fullest understanding of the resurrection to eternal life was not possible until it was actualized by the man Jesus. Prior to his own resurrection he gave dramatic evidence that as the Son of Man, he was God’s agent for restoring life by resurrecting the dead. To the four-day dead Lazarus, Jesus commanded, “Lazarus, come out!” and immediately “the dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.”[xx] During his ministry Jesus raised others from death to physical life (not eternal life) pointing toward his own coming resurrection to eternal life. Jesus could truly claim and offer this powerful hope,

 

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”[xxi]

 

A few days after raising Lazarus, Jesus was betrayed, beaten, crucified, and placed in a cave tomb and sealed with a huge boulder. It all took place on the Passover, the opening day of an annual festival which drew pilgrims from around the empire. Crowds packed into Jerusalem and flowed into its famous Temple of God, one of the architectural wonders of the ancient world and twice the size of Solomon’s Temple.

The recent movie The Passion of the Christ graphically and accurately pictured his suffering and death. The execution of Christ was not done in secret, or behind closed doors, or in a remote setting with few witnesses. It was the major event in the crowded capital city of Judea with thousands watching. Roman rulers, soldiers, temple guards, Jewish priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, Jesus’ followers and thousands of common citizens attended the great uproar in Jerusalem. His death and resurrection is no mere myth invented years after the fact, but is manifestly a historically authenticated fact.

It was Passover when the rite of slaying the lambs took place. This annual sacrifice was done in commemoration of the spectacular salvation God wrought in saving an entire nation out of Egyptian slavery, delivering them into freedom, and ultimately into the Promised Land. At the original Passover in Egypt, the blood of the slain lamb was put over the door of each house and all inhabitants inside were spared the death of their firstborn, the final plague God visited upon an obstinate Pharaoh and his pagan nation. Those under the blood were “passed over” and spared from death.

Jesus, God’s firstborn son, died on the Passover and his sacrificial blood becomes our forgiveness and protection from eternal death. The symbolism is perfect and its theology was not missed by Jesus’ followers. Jesus died, was buried, his tomb sealed, and a crack Roman guard was set to deter any tampering. There he lay dead for three days and nights. Then, as Jesus himself prophesied before his death, he rose from the dead.[xxii]

Consider it: A dead-in-the-grave human awakened by God, rising to complete consciousness, and possessing an eternal body impervious to death. This was a first—the first human in all history resurrected to eternal life! Jesus was a living, breathing man with bones and blood and subject to pain and death. He was like us. Yet he, through the power of his heavenly Father, defeated death, came forth from the grave, and now lives.

 

 

Two Resurrections

 

The First Resurrection

We saw earlier that Christ spoke of two resurrections; one to eternal life, and the other to judgment. The First Resurrection is rightly called “a better resurrection”[xxiii] and is the substance of the Christian’s Hope[xxiv].

 

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).

 

This is not a resurrection for a few more years of physical life until one’s body would quite naturally die again. Apart from the unique resurrections of Jesus, all other resurrections in the OT and NT (which could also be understood as resuscitations) were resurrections to mortal, physical life. All those resurrected later died natural deaths.

The First Resurrection is entirely different. It is precisely the same as Christ’s resurrection—a spiritual resurrection to eternal life with a new, eternal, glorified body.[xxv] The specific quality of the First Resurrection was described by Paul:

 

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

 

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1Cor 15:51:54

Our new body will be vibrantly alive, powerful, glorified (radiant, luminescent, having perhaps a burning phosphorescent white energy like the disciples witnessed at Christ’s “transfiguration” in Mt 17:1-9), and with capacities and abilities above even those of angels which now freely transverse the universe. The things God has in store for us are truly beyond our comprehension.[xxvi]

The resurrection of the righteous “dead in Christ” is the next major occurrence in the Creator’s Grand Plan. The rising of the righteous manifests at the precise moment Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

 

We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence (2 Cor 4:14).

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first (1Thes 4:16).

Jesus encouraged his followers to pray to the heavenly Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). That is exactly what will happen; the kingdom is inaugurated by Christ and immediately God’s will begins to be realized throughout the earth. Resurrected Christians are Christ’s ruling administration to assist him in remaking this earth to the Paradise of God’s vision. Wars will end, peace will reign, and joy and laughter will begin to ring throughout the land. Children will safely play in the streets without harm or fear. These are the times God inspired the prophets to describe where even the violent nature of animals will conform to a new peaceful world.

 

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, and the calf and the lion and the yearling together and a little child will lead them….They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain [Kingdom], for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:6, 9).

 

We commonly refer to the first thousand years of the Kingdom of God on earth as the millennium. At its beginning the angels will sing of the resurrected saints, now given eternal life and rulership with Christ, with these words,

 

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev 5:10).

 

So far we have seen that the Scriptures mention a resurrection to eternal life, rulership with Christ on earth, and the glories the Kingdom of God will bring to earth. However, one can search the Scripture without success to find mention of souls going to either heaven or hell upon death. Rather, the dead wait in the grave, as if in a long night of sleep, until the Judge of all mankind calls the dead to rise—either for reward or further judgment.

The first resurrection occurs at the return of Christ and will include the righteous from all ages. People like Abel, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Israel, David, Elijah, Peter, John, and…you and me![xxvii]

 

Another Resurrection: All Will Be Judged

We saw earlier that Jesus referred to another resurrection to judgment for those who have not “done good” (i.e. the unrighteous). Later Jesus makes clear the sequence of this secondary resurrection in his revelation to John:

 

They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Rev 20:4-6).

 

The secondary resurrection is here given but a brief postscript to the prime focus of this passage which is the first resurrection. The second resurrection is not one to eternal life, but to physical life. It is a time when people who have never truly known God (including babies, pagans, and virtually everyone who has ever lived) will be given an opportunity to learn of Him and His Way. They will come back to life into a world that for 1000 years had been progressing toward perfection and is as full of the knowledge of God as the sea is with water.

Truthfully, this will be the first real opportunity (not some “second chance”) most humans of all ages past will have had to grasp the reality of God and his plan of salvation. They will have the contrast of past experience in the kingdoms of men, blinded by the darkness of Satan, to that which their eyes will behold in the peaceful, beautiful, dynamic Kingdom of God on earth.

They will be given opportunity to choose which world they want and can then take the same path of moving Godward in mind, character and action that Christians in this age have taken. This period of new living is called a time of “judgment,” just as we are now being judged by God according to how we live, think, and act—our works. In fact, Christians are being judged today by the same standards that will be in place for these billions coming to life in the second resurrection.[xxviii]

You can imagine that virtually all will choose God’s way, receive eternal life, and the victory of God will be near universal. I say “near universal,” since God affords man freedom to accept or reject. Apparently some few—I suspect very few—will choose to rebel against God and reject his Spirit and his gift of eternal life. For them is reserved the “second death” from which there can be no resurrection. It is a merciful annihilation—not a burning forever in hell—for those who have spurned God gift

Space does not permit an extended discussion of all matters relating to the coming resurrection(s). Scripture doesn’t tell us all the details we’d like to know about the future, but it gives us the key events upon which we can base our hope. In the briefest way let me offer my thoughts on a few specific questions that I believe Scripture can answer.

 

Questions

  • Will we be recognized by family, friends and others in the resurrection? Yes, I believe we will be the same recognizable person, possessing the same godlike character fashioned through our Godward Walk, same personality, but with a new, eternal, beautiful, glorified body.[xxix]
  • Will we have the same name? Probably not. We will be given a new name by our God—one that matches our unique personality, character and our new responsibilities.[xxx]
  • What will we do? We will be given a job of importance and rulership in his kingdom—one perfectly fit to our talents, interests and passions. Our overall job, in concert with the rest of God’s sons and daughters, will be to remake the entire earth into a new Eden. This will be the largest enterprise ever attempted in the history of mankind and will involve an administration of millions directing innumerable multitudes in various worldwide intellectual, scientific, and building projects with budgets of a magnitude today’s politicians could never imagine.[xxxi]
  • What happens after the Millennium? The first 1000 years of the rule of Christ’s Kingdom is but the beginning of God’s New Creation.[xxxii] The prophets spoke of this future Paradise world when peace reigns, war ceases, the deserts bloom, and prosperity overwhelms. God gave Daniel a vision in which he states: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed….it will itself endure forever.”[xxxiii]

 

The millennium is but the first day of God’s eternal kingdom. Beyond that we must behold the limitless universe as God’s mysterious canvas upon which he will expands his Paradise kingdom. Christians will be royalty, priests, sons and daughters of the Most High[xxxiv] joining the Creator in planning and bringing to pass the never-ending growth of his Celestial Kingdom.

What a high calling! Can we grasp it? The picture God presents to us of the future isn’t a static scene of floating around heaven plucking harps, adoring each other’s wings and eating cake. Rather it is a dynamic, active world full of challenge, excitement, learning, fun, and with never-dull building and beautification programs conceived and executed by God and his glorified sons and daughters. Supreme among all joys will be the continual fellowship with our Creator God, Jesus Christ, our loved ones, and the finest people ever to have walked the earth.

 

A resurrection awaits you and God is calling you to join him for eternity in his Kingdom of Light. The surest things in the universe aren’t taxes and death, but God and life.

 

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is you sting?

Death has been swallowed up in victory![xxxv]

 

. . .The victory of the Resurrection of the Dead, through Jesus Christ, our Lord!


 

[i] Genesis 3:19

[ii] Hebrews 9:27

[iii] Revelation 20:6; 2:11

[iv] Genesis 1:27

[v] Gen 2:9

[vi] Gen 5:5

[vii] Heb 11:13

[viii] 2Cor 4:4

[ix] Jn 6:40

[x] 1Cor 15:20-23

[xi] 2Tim 1:10

[xii] Ecc 12:7

[xiii] Job 14:15

[xiv] Job 14:14

[xv] Dan 12:2, 13

[xvi] 1Sam 2:6; Dt 32:29

[xvii] Mt 22:23, 32

[xviii] Phil 3:20-21

[xix] Dan 12:1; Phil 4:3; Rev 21:27

[xx] Jn 11:38-44

[xxi] Jn 11:25-26

[xxii] Mt 12:40

[xxiii] Heb 11:35

[xxiv] 1Pet 1:3-4

[xxv] 1Cor 15:49

[xxvi] 1Cor 2:9

[xxvii] For a short list of those included in the First Resurrection see Hebrews 11.

[xxviii] 1Pet 4:17; Heb 9:27

[xxix] Mt 17:3

[xxx] Rev 2:17

[xxxi] 1Cor 6:2; Mt 19:28, and many others

[xxxii] Rev 21:5

[xxxiii] Dan 2:44

[xxxiv] 1Pet 2:9

[xxxv] 1Cor 15:55,54