Monday, March 29, 2010

Die and go to Heaven or Resurrected Bodies on a New Earth

I guess the title of this post gives it away .

So often I hear good preaching about repentance and faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross only to be mildly disappointed when the preacher finishes with something along the lines of "If we receive Jesus and His gospel we are guaranteed a place in Heaven when we die."

Although it is true that on the death of a saint there will be a conscious translation into the presence of the Lord they love...that is not the end destination for a believer in Jesus.

First, the concept of our spirit or soul living forever in Heaven is closer to ancient Greek mythology than it is to sound Biblical doctrine. The Bible could not be clearer, the believer in Jesus looks forward to a BODILY resurrection. In fact it appears that there will be a resurrection for all people ;some to eternal life and some to eternal punishment. Jn 5:28-29

...for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth- those who have done good ,to the resurrection of life,and those who have done evil,to the resurrection of condemnation.

The raising up of our bodies at the last day is considered a foundational doctrine in Heb. 6:1-2 and in 2 Tim 2:17-18 Paul brands two teachers as heretics for denying the future resurrection;and in Acts 24:21 Paul in his defense before the governor Felix cries out;

"concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day"

In 1 Cor. 15 Paul goes into great detail as he, inspired by the Holy Spirit ,explains and describes how important this foundational doctrine is .

The fact is Jesus rose from the grave; a literal ,bodily resurrection as the firstfruits of all those who would rise after Him.

I understand why preachers sometimes appear to downplay this doctrine.It creates an image of B grade horror movies with zombies climbing out of their graves but of course the Biblical resurrection is nothing like those pictures of weird half-dead mindless creatures but rather redeemed restored children of God brimming over with life and vigour ;the fulfillment of our faith.

Not only is Jesus risen;and not only will we be raised but we will live together forever on a restored and perfected new earth. 2 Pet.3:13 ,the Apostle declares

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Heaven is not our ultimate destination; heaven's ultimate destination is earth. Rev 21 describes this new earth when God establishes His throne on earth and dwells with His resurrected people.

How much more exciting is this; to be dwelling with God on a perfect earth with rivers and trees and substance and animals and laughter and eating and drinking with the Lord;how much more exciting than floating on a cloud for all eternity.

These two related doctrines of our physical resurrection and a new earth raise many questions and the day will come when we can ask Him face to face but I suspect when that day does arrive we will be so overcome with the beauty and glory of the King and what He has prepared for us that our questions will be swallowed up in our adoration and worship of the one who said ,

"I Am the Resurrection and the Life.

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