Thursday, March 6, 2008

What Is Our Future Hope?

During Easter, all Christians throughout the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Although this holiday is specific to believers in Jesus, yet more than half of the people in the world believe in some kind of resurrection. But what is it? Even those who claim a belief in resurrection as it is described in the Bible do not really understand it.

What resurrection is not:
Reincarnation is a soul being transferred to a new life on earth after an old one has passed. In reincarnation, one begins again in a woman’s womb, and is raised as a child over again and dies again. Although in resurrection, one is given another life after death, one is not born over and over again. Rather, Scripture says that one only dies once and after this, they are judged by God (Hebrews 9:27). No one lives another life, they will only have the opportunity to continue the one they began.

A Spiritual state—
Resurrection is not living without a body. While it is true that the Bible teaches that after one dies, one loses the body and the soul lives on, yet this is not resurrection (Philippians 1:21-24; Luke 16:19-23; Psalm 89:48). Perhaps some live in heaven in this intermediate state, but it is not the fulfillment of the promise of God (Revelation 6:9-11). The ideal life is not a spiritual state, but the soul and body united in new life (Psalm 16:10-11; Acts 2:29-32).

What is basic resurrection?
Resurrection is not just life after death as a spirit. Rather it is life after “life after death”. After a period of time living as a soul without a body, then one’s body is renewed. Just as when we are alive we have a body and we are a whole person, even so, after being dead for a while we will be restored to a new life in a revived body. On top of this, the new, revived body is better than it was, for it will never die again, nor get sick.
Everyone who has ever lived will receive a new body like this, and have an opportunity for a new life. However, the state of their life is dependant on how they responded to God while they were alive. On the day in which God resurrects all of mankind, he will judge them all, depending on whether they have been faithful to him or not through his Son Jesus. (Daniel 12:2; John 5:25, 29; Revelation 20:12-13)

What is the resurrection of blessing?
Some, however, will not only receive the “basic resurrection package”—a new immortal body—but they will also gain great blessing from God. Their bodies will be resurrected, not only to a new life, but a body pure from sin and defilement. They will not only life forever, but they will live in a place and in a way that will grant them eternal pleasure and contentment. And they will also gain status and significance after the resurrection that they could never gain while they were alive. These people with new bodies will be living on earth, but earth will be transformed by heaven to be an ideal existence. (I Corinthians 15:40-43; Revelation 21:1-3; Romans 8:18-23; John 5:24; I John 3:2)

How did Jesus get raised?
Up till now, Jesus is the only one on earth to be raised into this new kind of body, and this new kind of life. He is right now at the right hand of the Father, ruling the world with his Father in his new, immortal body. But he didn’t start there. Rather, he started as a man, doing God’s will. God’s command led him to heal the sick and to cast out judgement and to teach the good news that God’s restoration was coming soon. But the leaders of God’s people were threatened by Jesus, and so they had him killed by crucifixion—the most shameful death possible. But God saw Jesus’ faithfulness to him and his willing sacrifice for others—so God raised Jesus from the dead, for he was worthy of all honor. (Philippians 2:5-9; Acts 2:22-24)

How can we gain the blessing of resurrection?
Again, according to the Bible, everyone will be resurrected—whether evil or good. But the evil will be raised into suffering, and those who are faithful to God will be raised to a happy life. How do we gain the joy and not the suffering? We have to live the same life as Jesus—remaining so faithful to God and so believing in God’s promise of resurrection that we would endure anything, even shame and suffering now, in order to gain it. In this way, we will gain eternal life. (Romans 8:16-17; Mark 10:17-30)

But this kind of life is difficult, even impossible to live. But what is impossible for weak humans is more than possible for God. Anyone who devotes themselves to Jesus will receive the Spirit of God who will help one live the life of Jesus and so gain the resurrection of blessing. The way to gain the resurrection is to be faithful to God, like Jesus. The way to gain such faithfulness is to gain the power of God’s Spirit. The way to gain God’s Spirit is to commit oneself to Jesus as Lord. (Mark 10:26-27; Acts 2:38; Romans 8:1-4).

Resurrection is the opportunity for physical bliss.