We will all perish. Death is the inevitable end to life. Yet, for all our fear of death I do not know a single person who hopes to live forever here on this earth, or even wants to. But those of us who are Christians do hope for eternal life, for the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6). However, it is a life removed from the pain and misery many experience during this lifetime. When Paul wrote of our hope beyond this life (I Corinthians 15:17-20; Titus 1:1-3) the eternity he envisioned was one in heaven, far removed from the sin and turmoil of the current world we live in. The Christian desires to overcome the dark things of this sphere, to rise above it into the light of a paradise we can as yet only imagine. Paul once wrote, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7). Those who look forward to life ever-lasting do so with the understanding that the sinful nature they struggle against here will be left behind, that they will be renewed with a spirit of righteousness.
Paul likened it to leaving behind the tent we dwell in here to live in a heavenly dwelling (II Corinthians 5:2). When John recorded the revelation given to him by Jesus he described our new abode like this: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life” (Revelation 21:1-2, 22-27). According to John only the glory of the earth will be brought into it, but no unclean or detestable thing will be allowed in. It will be a perfect dwelling place and home of a perfect kingdom.
Naturally, everyone who gives their lives to Christ does so with the hope of escaping the damnation facing those who are disobedient to God’s will. As Paul informed the Thessalonians: “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might” (II Thessalonians 1:5-9). Of course atheists do not believe in the resurrection or eternal damnation. According to them when we die there is nothing for us but nonexistence. That possibility does not depress me, I just find it contrary to a deep-rooted feeling that something must have an eternal nature. Either the natural universe is ever-lasting or there is an Eternal Spirit. Even science no longer holds out much confidence in the idea that matter has always existed; more and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that the universe just sort of ‘popped’ into existence. The alternative to that idea is that something exists outside of and separate from the physical universe. An intelligent being who knows no beginning or end, and who created the universe. As I survey the world we live in, and the universe around us common sense tells me that it is the result of a creative and powerful intelligence that I recognize as God (Romans 1:18-22).
Not only do I have hope that there is a Supreme Being, but as a Christian I am confident that He is revealed in the Bible. I stand by the words of Luke, in Acts 24:14-15: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” I have profound confidence that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him with life eternal in His presence (Hebrews 11:6). I believe the prophets of old and the testimony of those who witnessed the life and resurrection of Christ. The power of their inspired accounts of Jesus ministry and the development of the church have stood the test of time.
According to them Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah (Hebrews 6:19-20; John 1:41). Our hope as Christians is based on that assertion. Not only that, but we are told that those who trust in Him become heirs of the promises of God the Father (Titus 3:7; Ephesians 3:6; Acts 2:39; 26:6; Romans 4:16), and that those promises include eternal life in heaven with God (II Peter 3:13; I John 2:25). According to Paul, if we believe in God we can trust in His promises: “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18). Not only do we have the promises of our Heavenly Father, but of His Son also: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
The hope they have given us has been laid out in the gospels (Colossians 1:3-5), the history of the establishment of the church (Acts), the epistles, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Through these works God’s truth has been revealed to His saints, who are in turn responsible for teaching the world about God and His Christ (Colossians 1:24-28). It is important for us to share our hope, recalling where we came from, as Paul wrote, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). As Christians each one of us is fortunate— eternally fortunate, that someone shared the gospel with us. How can we not in turn share it with others, with the hope that some will turn to Christ?
A friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. His view of the situation is to enjoy the time he has left here on earth while rejoicing in the fact that he will soon be heavenward bound. And trust me, he views that journey as a FACT. He knows that his family and friends will be sad to see him go, but sees no reason for grief, hoping that we will be able to rejoice with him, knowing that as he leaves many loved ones behind he will be reunited with others he has not seen for many years. His attitude toward life and death, and his faith are an inspiration for all those who look forward to their eternal inheritance. As Paul told the Thessalonians: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:13-17).
These words of the apostle should give each of us a thrill of expectation. No matter when our time comes we have the greatest adventure of our lives (eternal) still awaiting us. On that day our hope will become a reality, and I have no doubt that reality will far exceed all of our wildest dreams.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.