‘He is risen!’ – Part 19
Concerning the time between the believer’s death and his or her bodily resurrection, Scripture teaches the following: (a) At the time of death, believers are brought into Christ’s presence (2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23). (b) Believers exist in full consciousness (Luke 16:19-31) and experience joy at the kindness and love shown by God (cf. Eph 2:7). (c) Heaven is like a home, i.e., a haven of rest and security (Rev 6:11) and a place of community and fellowship with other believers (John 14:2). (d) Activities in heaven will include worship and singing (Ps 87; Rev14: 2-3; 15:3), assigned tasks (Luke 19:17), and eating and drinking (Luke 14:15; 22:14-18; Rev 22:2). (e) While awaiting the bodily resurrection, believers are not invisible disembodied spirits, but are clothed with a temporary heavenly form (Luke 9:30-32; 2Cor 5:1-4). However, this Biblical teaching about the resurrection of the body (e.g., 1 Cor 15) emphasises that a permanent re-embodiment of spirit is the final state of the believer. This teaching has important ethical implications for the believer, making the use of the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit here on earth a matter of great significance. Unlike pagan teaching, the body is more than merely a shroud for the human soul and spirit. (f) In heaven, believers maintain their personal identity (Mat 8:11; Luke 9:30-32). (g) Believers who have passed on will continue to be concerned about God’s purpose on earth (Rev 6:9-11).
(4) Even though much hope and joy awaits the believer at death, believers still grieve when a loved one dies.
After Jacob’s death, for example, Joseph mourned deeply for his father; his response to his father’s death is an appropriate model for all believers who experience the death of a loved one (see Gen 50:1).
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Gives Substance to the Believer’s Hope.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ assures us of the future aspects of our salvation
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Rom 8:24,25)
In Romans, Paul presents the idea that salvation is past, present and future. It is past because we were saved the moment we believed in Jesus Christ as Saviour (3:21-26; 5:1-11; 6:1-11, 22,23); our new life (eternal life) begins at that moment. And it is present because we are being saved; this is the process of sanctification (Rom 6:1-8:39). But at the same time, we have not fully received all the benefits and blessings of salvation that will be ours when Christ’s new kingdom is completely established. That’s our future salvation. While we can be confident of our salvation, we still look ahead with hope and trust toward that complete change of body and personality that lies beyond this life, when we will be like Christ (1 John 3:2)
We are called to a “living hope” through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Pet 1:3-6)
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