Flowers Butterfly

What Next

This is a long lesson, but I pray you will take the time to read. It should provide some ease to those of us at or near retirement age, and perhaps even those who have thoughts of what is to come. Comments are encouraged.

What Next?

As I get older, I recognize more and more, just how quickly this life is. It truly is just a vapor, which rises up and is gone. Recognizing that simple fact can be life changing, at least it seems to be, at this point in my life. Many things go through one’s mind, as the reality of mortality really kicks a person in the head, but there are three basic feelings than envelop you, and three basic thoughts that stand out over all the rest.

I have a constant feeling of wonder. I have a regular feeling of anxiousness. I have an occasional feeling of fear. From these three feelings, come three thoughts. Wonder at what is happening each day, creates curiosity at what might come next, which ends up as desire to seek the truth of what might be in store hereafter. I want, actually I need to know what to expect now, at the time of my death, and after I pass through. This is basic thought number one.

When I consider thought number one, I begin to get anxious. This anxiousness is not just a mental thing, it affects my body. I get anxious legs, when I think about it, and I can’t get them to calm down, until I find comfort, either in a Word from the Bible, or in a calming from inside that comes from somewhere outside of my physical body. The anxiousness leads me to question things. How long do I have, what is my purpose here, what will I have to look forward to after I pass on, am I ready, how can God even care about one person on a personal basis, when there are so many people in the world, and do I even really matter? This leads to an overall desire to know these things, making basic thought number two a question. How do I fit into the overall picture?

Usually, I begin to study at this point. I read what other folks have to say on these subjects, I do word searches through the to seek references and guidance from the only One who has all the answers, and I try to reach an end that makes sense, while giving me comfort. As I do this, I read of things that have happened to other folks, both in scripture, and in current events. This causes the mind to think of the details of what is to come, and fear sets in on so many levels.

What if I die, while I am doing something I should not be doing? What if the rapture takes place at a time, when I not paying attention? What if I am one of those that are told that He never knew me? What if it hurts to die? What if I get scared and don’t man up when those I leave behind need me to be a strong example? What if? Thought number three has various forms, but the same substance. What do I need to do to make me capable to leave this earth under the same circumstances and confidence as Paul? I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

Let me try to shed some light on all the questions I have forged into your mind.

Let’s talk of Heaven and things to come.

I know of very few people, who do not feel, deep within themselves, that there is something more than just this short excursion through life. There is something beyond all this. The Bible, as my final source of knowledge and guidance, supports this belief.

Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

This scripture supports the feelings I have inside me about this subject. I have, inside me, knowledge that there is something about me and this life that goes way beyond my current existence. God had to have placed that feeling there.

What that something more is, my mind and body are just too puny to understand.

1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ears have heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those that love Him.”

We, as humans, are living within the confines of time. Heaven and the hereafter are eternal, not held to the strict discipline of time. This explains why we cannot conceive of the eternal. Life is similar to living in the womb of our mother, awaiting our entry into this world. We are limited to the simplicity of life as it is now, and not how it could be. Butterflies have four stages. Egg, caterpillar, cocoon, and then, finally, butterfly. Our stages of life are similar. Blastocyst, embryo, fetus, baby, toddler, elementary, and adult. There has to be more.

I am certain that a fetus, in the womb, is very warm and comfortable and, given a choice, would probably have opted to remain where it was comfortable, rather than go through the pain of the birth. However, upon arrival, we begin to develop a comfort in our new environment, even though someday, we will face a similar re-birth into eternity. We fight the notion, and avoid having to leave this world, with every breath, but the end of this period in our development is inevitable, no matter our level of comfort in our current location.

Some of us recognize the signs that demonstrate a further stage beyond this current life. Others do not. The old saying “Ignorance is bliss” is appropriate, when it comes to our next life stage. Some of us feel our immortality and look for signs of the next stage, while others become comfortable in their ignorance until mortality hits them in the face. When those signs become pressing, fear sets in.

Fear of the unknown can be intense. There are many reasons for this fear, and the Word assists in our search for answers.

One reason for fear is that life is short, and the older we get, the more obvious this becomes.

Psalm 144:4, “Man is like a breath, his days are like a fleeting shadow.”

One breath, and that is it. That is the extent of your life. This life goes by almost that quickly. I have read that a person relives their life at the moment of death. At the very end, I imagine the fact that your whole life is now gone, like that vapor would seem as if only a breath.

Hebrews 2:15, “Those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

With life being as a vapor, and death always looming out there somewhere, within range of our sight, we seem to find methods of trying to avoid it, to not think about it. I assume we do that, thinking that if we can’t see it, it can’t see us.

The fear that we all have about death has to be, at least partially, due to all the misinformation and misconceptions about death and dying. Seems that most of our lives, we are led to believe that Heaven is the place where we go to get our wings. Satan is a guy dressed in red, with horns and a pitchfork. Movies portrait many different descriptions of Heaven and Hell, and never really touch on the one true way to achieve Heaven and avoid Hell. Star Wars taught us that we could become one with the force. The Matrix showed us that we can become superhuman, simply by opening ourselves to the power within. Today, the news and even pulpits send out mixed messages about how there are many roads to Heaven, leaving one to question if immortality in the good place can be achieved by simply being a good person and doing good things. We’ve got all these ideas coming at us from all these different directions giving us different views. The misinformation can leave a person extremely confused and can cast doubts, even on the believer.

Misconceptions form in our own minds, mainly because we have become “womb” comfortable, and we just don’t have enough information, causing us to begin guessing on some of the missing details. Here is a very important piece of information. We don’t have to totally guess about any of this. A large number of details about the afterlife can be found in Scripture. God put those details into the Bible, so we would not have to guess.

1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neighed have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

In the Bible, God shares a taste of what He has prepared for us related to living our lives now and for living after this life. This can help in clearing up some misinformation and the resulting misconceptions.

One common misconception is that of annihilation. Atheists insist that there is just nothing after this life. When you die, you are just gone. Nothing is left, and there is nothing to look forward to. This is an interesting concept, and there is certainly no data to back it up. How would anyone know such a thing? Where would one get the credible information to support the fact that this life is all there is to existence? I have often thought to myself how silly they are to hold such a ridiculous belief, and how ignorant they are to hold to this claim. If my belief in Christ, salvation, Heaven, and the afterlife is wrong, and their theory is correct, then the worst that can happen to me, is I die and there is nothing. And, they won’t be there to tell me I was wrong and they were right, will they? On the other hand, if I am right, and they are wrong, then my I will live in Heaven for all eternity, and they will have a huge surprise, and not a pleasant one. Seems to me my approach is just the safer method to take. And, my reference guide has some great information, contrary to what they’re claiming.

Jesus explained that there is an afterlife. One of my favorite accounts is located in Luke 16.

Luke 16, 19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivest thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

This is NOT a parable. When Jesus told parables, He did not include names. In this account, He uses real names. I believe it is an actual account of an actual happening, not a parable. There is a wealth of information contained in this account. Separation of good and evil, recognition of persons, the inability to go back and fix what you have lost, no mechanism to send a warning back to those left behind. This passage contains loads of good information that could become a whole sermon on its own.

Another good resource is contained in Revelation 20.

Revelation 20
1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Many Eastern philosophies teach reincarnation, that we come back again and again to rid ourselves of the bad karma. This bad energy, that is supposed to be all around us, had to be erased, so that we can become a god force. This is contrary to scripture.

Hebrews 9:27, “Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.”

We are destined to die but once, then to be judged.

One belief in the Catholic Church is they you are sent to Purgatory, because you have to suffer in some place of torment to purge yourself of your sin before God will let you into Heaven.

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one will boast.”

1 John 1:17, “The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from sin.”

Jesus has cleansed us from our sins, all at once, on the cross. There is no need to burn our sins off for a time somewhere, to earn the right to enter Heaven.

Another big myth is soul sleep. This is a popular belief, but is false teaching. The misconception here is that when you die you go into the ground and take a long nap, longer for those who died thousands of years ago, but long enough for anyone. The teaching is that your soul remains unconscious, until someday when you rise again. I actually get those anxious legs at night, when I am lying in bed, because I don’t like spending 8 hours unconscious, much less years, decades, centuries.

2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us, “To be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

Thank you, Lord. Paul’s words have helped me to feel better about this nonsense of being frozen in unconsciousness upon death. Whew!

I couldn’t tell you how many times I have heard folks make comments about how a loved one, who has passed on, is up there flying around with the other angels.

If that were true, and God created the angels, why was I put here on earth, and have to earn my way to get my wings, while the created angels just get them?

Doesn’t really seem fair, does it?

Hebrews 1:14, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.”

1 Corinthians 6:3, “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of life.”

God created the angels for a purpose, completely separate from our creation and placement on this earth. We don’t become angels. We have a higher destination.

Another misconception teaches of an ethereal world, where we’ll end up as spirits, sitting on clouds and playing harps all day long. Sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it? One of the greatest deceptions around today is that Heaven is going to be boring. Even our children are exposed regularly to this concept. If you had occasion to see a movie called All Dogs Go to Heaven, you will recall that the lead character spent the entire movie trying to escape from Heaven, because he is afraid that it will be boring. Believe me…….Heaven is not going to be boring.

In my mind and heart, I am convinced the most dangerous of all misconceptions is the method in which we can arrive. The concept that just being a good person will get you in the gates of heaven is not only misleading, it is dangerous. Many good people will fail to reach the desirable eternity, because they have fallen for the constant propaganda that you just need to be good, no matter your beliefs.

This danger is because we all fall into sin, and need cleansing before we can reach Heaven. Not by works, lest any should boast. It is Jesus who saves us from that road to Hell and pulls us in the direction of Heaven. That is why it is called “being saved.” He is rescuing us from something. He is rescuing us from our sins which send us to the final destination of Hell.

John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. But whoever rejects the Son will not see life, because God’s wrath remains on him.”

If you were in the ocean, drowning, and a lifeboat came by to pick you up, would you not reach out and accept a helping hand? Or, would you just remain in the ocean, having been told by the Captain that the cruise was perfectly safe, and no one would be in any danger on the trip? That seems like a silly question, but it is a true comparison. Jesus is reaching His hand out to save you. If you are smart, you will take His hand.

All misconceptions, and there are a lot of them floating around, seeking to devour you, are meant to confuse the reality of how to guarantee your place in eternity. If you are rescued from the punishment of our sins, and if you are saved from God’s wrath, because you have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, you can find comfort in knowing what life will be like for you after you die.

If you were to die today, as a saved Christian, the sequence of events will be as follows:

Immediately after death your spirit will go right to Jesus, escorted by angels into His presence.

Luke 16:22, And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

When you get to Heaven, you will be given what is called an “intermediate body.” It’s a real body. You are not just a spirit being. God alone is spirit, but the rest of us have bodies. You are in Heaven with a real body.

John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Your intermediate body will also be recognizable. The people who are up there with you will be able to recognize you. We can see examples of that from the Bible, including the story in Luke 16 that I gave as an example earlier, where the rich man recognized Lazarus and Abraham. Samuel was recognized by King Saul, when he came back. When Moses and Elijah came with Jesus to the Transfiguration, Peter offered to build them a tent. If they were spirits, they would have no need for a tent. They were clearly in recognizable, physical bodies. The Martyrs in the Tribulation are described as wearing white robes.

They have physical bodies, and so will you.

If you live in Heaven at the time of the Rapture of the Church, you will get to experience your own personal resurrection, as your earthly body (still in the ground, ocean, or ashes) will be combined with your intermediate body, and you will receive a resurrected, glorified body.

At the Rapture, the dead in Christ will rise first, before those that are alive.

However, the twinkling of an eye is the entire time it takes for all this to occur, so being first in line is not going to be of concern to anyone.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “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. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

While we, in our new bodies, are in Heaven with the Lord, the earth goes into a period of Tribulation. This is a seven year time period, the final 3 ½ years are referred to as the Great Tribulation. During this period, the world is punished for its continual rebellion against God. This punishment is only for those on the earth and not for those who are up in Heaven.

During the Tribulation, those in Heaven will experience three events. First is a judgment call the “Judgment of the Just.”

2 Corinthians 5:10, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

This is not a judgment for salvation. You are in Heaven, so you are already saved.

This is a judgment of what you were doing while on earth. We were each created in this life to do good works. We were created in Christ Jesus to do on His behalf.

So, you should be asking yourself just what are you doing with all your time and energy?

At the Judgment of the Just, we are going to be rewarded, based on the quantity of our good works, how we used our time and talents, how much effort we really put into trying to do a good job of reaching people for Christ and serving others in His name. In addition, we will be judged on our motivations. Did we do those works to glorify ourselves, or did we do them for someone else? It is to be a great reward ceremony.

The second event is a party, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It will be a welcome to Heaven party. God loves a good party. He’s not all gloom and doom, as some would like you to believe. Jesus went to parties all the time, while He was on earth. God is going to throw a big party, a celebration, for those of us who are in Heaven, reunited with Him forever.

The third event will be our preparing to return to earth with Jesus.

Revelation 19, 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Since Jesus will be fully decked out in warrior apparel, I have to assume that we, too, will get some kind of armament. We are going to get a horse to ride. It has been a long time, since I have ridden, but I am looking forward to that ride.

The next thing in our new life that we’ll experience is Jesus Second Coming.

There are about 500 prophecies in the Old Testament and one in 25 verses in the New Testament concerning Jesus’ Second Coming, so there’s a lot of description of this event.

We are told that we will accompany Jesus when He returns. Revelation 19:14 describes this event. “The armies of Heaven were following Him, riding on white horses, dressed in fine linens, white and clean.” Well, there is my answer; I am not returning in my cherry red 55 Chevy, I’m going to have to ride a horse.

When we get to Earth, we are going to watch Jesus all by Himself defeat the worst scoundrel in the history of the world. This guy is ten times worse than Hitler, and he will be referred to as “the Antichrist.” He is the eventual conqueror of the earth, but his rule will be short. Jesus, upon His return with His church, will defeat the Antichrist and his army at a battle called Armageddon. With just a word, Jesus will destroy all those armies that follow Satan.

We will witness Jesus order an angel to take Satan, have him chained, and drop him into a pit. Satan will no longer torment the world; he will be in a deep pit for 1,000 years, a long, long time.

For those who are saved, we are looking at the events, which will be after death.
After Jesus ends the Tribulation in victory, He is going to usher in what is called the Millennial Kingdom. During this 1,000 year time period, Jesus is going to physically reign over all the earth. For the first time, the earth will have a grand era of peace, pure righteousness, and justice. Because of all the damage and destruction during the Tribulation, Jesus will need to cleanse the world of the impurities, including radiation, poisoning, and death. All the ecological problems will go away. The Earth will return to the beautiful paradise, just like the Garden of Eden.

Jesus will rebuild Jerusalem and rule the world from there.

The faithful, in glorified bodies, will reign with Him over all the people, who still living after the tribulation in earthly bodies. The people, who have accepted Jesus as their Savior during the Tribulation and have physically survived the Tribulation, are going to pass through what is called the Sheep-Goat Judgment.

They will be permitted to live into the Millennium and to have children and repopulate the planet. I have to assume that, our roles will be as governors, administrators and teachers, as we reign with Jesus. We will be there to help folks, and I look so forward to my role, no matter how small it may be. How could anyone be bored having a role in the rebuilding of a perfect world?

At the end of the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will release Satan for one final battle.

Folks, who have been born during this 1000 year reign of Jesus, will be given freedom of choice, just as we have been given. Those that choose to rebel against God, will be allowed to follow Satan in this one final battle. You see, even after being given a paradise in which to live for 1000 years, folks will choose to rebel against God. They would rather ‘do their own thing’ in contrast to God’s moral laws. Just the spoken word from Jesus will bring the final defeat of Satan and his followers. Revelation 20 seems to describe them as just melting away.

At the end of the Millennial Kingdom, there will be a final judgment for all those who throughout human history have rejected God. This is referred to as the Great White Throne Judgment, and is also called the Resurrection of the Unjust.

Everyone who has shaken their fists against God and rose up in rebellion will be resurrected. As Philippians 2:9-11 explains, this final resurrection will finally cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus is Lord.

This will be the end to all who have rebelled against God. Those, not having come to God in faith in life, will be sentenced to death in Hell. God will have complete and total victory over all His enemies. Period!

After Satan’s final rebellion, any mess caused to the planet will be cleaned up, as God will reform Earth into something much larger, totally free of sin and death.

The new eternity will be populated by a group of people from throughout all of human history, who have loved God and want to live with Him forever. God doesn’t want to spend eternity just talking to Himself. God created everything, because He wants to live in perfect relationships with people who want to be with Him forever, and we will be part of those people.

What is Heaven like? If it is not a ghost town and it’s not a place where we play a lot of harps, then what is it like?

It is amazing, and it is rarely taught in churches, but the Bible teaches us that Heaven will come down to a restored earth. The earth has gone through lots of changes over history. During the pre-fall period, before Adam and Eve sinned, the earth was perfect. After the sin, a curse was put on the earth, and the whole earth changed. The earth we know today, came after Noah’s flood, with the new atmosphere and environment a little different than it was during pre-Flood times. After the coming Tribulation, Jesus will rebuild the earth so that it will last during the millennial time, but that will get trashed again, at the last battle. 2 Peter 3 tells us that God will renovate the earth with fire, back to the pre-fall state. It will return to a paradise, perfect, with no curse on it ever again.

On this eternal earth, Heaven will pay a visit. It is a city that Jesus built called the New Jerusalem. John 14:2 says “In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so I would have told you.” Jesus continues promising. “I am coming there to prepare a place for you.” This could possibly be a double reference. The first reference is to our eternal bodies, and the second to our house in the New Jerusalem. If you think about it, God made the whole universe in six days, and He has been preparing our eternal homes for 2,000 years. Those bodies and that New Jerusalem will be beyond awesome.

Our home is going to come down to earth. After all, this place our earthly bodies are only temporary, and we are strangers on this evil world. As for the New Jerusalem, it is described in Revelation 21.

Some teach the city as 4-square, and other believe it to be shaped like a pyramid.

We can’t be sure, as we are only told that it is 1500 miles wide, long, and high.

That description fits both a square and a pyramid. As a reference, the mileage would require the city to stretch equivalently from Canada to Mexico and from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Colorado. It’s that big! If each of 20 billion people got an area 70 acres cubed, they could all safely and comfortably live in the New Jerusalem…….it is that big!

Revelation 21 describes what the New Jerusalem is made out of, and God did not spare any expense. The city is made of pure gold, as we are told in Revelation 21:18 and 21.

The city rests on foundations made of twelve layers of precious jewels like emeralds, sapphires, and amethysts. The Twelve Apostles are honored by having their names engraved, one on each foundational layer.

There are twelve gates to this city, each made out of a pearl. Some of these angels we read about in the Bible are big folks, so we are not talking about little pearls or little gates. The gates are huge, and made from pearl. Can you imagine the size of those oysters?

God has His throne in Heaven. The few people in the Bible who have seen it, report back that it looks like an emerald with a rainbow around it. God has four living creatures, angelic in nature, perched in front of it. They have never been seen anywhere else in the world. There are 24 elders taken from time, and they sit in their own little thrones, circled around God’s throne. Millions upon millions of angels fill the chamber, all worshiping God.

Out of the middle of God’s throne flows the River from the Tree of Life for the healing of the nations. The tree produces twelve crops of fruit. This is the same Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden, and we will see it again. It produces those crops of fruit once every month.

Our Creator, our Father, God Himself lives with us in the New Jerusalem. God is radiantly bright, and He is the light source of the city. The sun, moon and stars will still be out and active, but God will provide the pure light of the New Jerusalem.

As far as our bodies, they will be glorified. 1 Corinthians 15:42-50 describes them. “The body that is sown is perishable…….” In other words, it can be destroyed. “…….it is raised imperishable…….” It can’t be destroyed. “It is sown in dishonor…….” Our sin weighs us down, like we are covered in filthy mud. “…….but it is raised in glory…….” It is raised in purity. “It is sown in weakness…….” Our bodies get sick, they get tired. “…….but it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” We will be in a Holy Spirit powered body. “And we will bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” The man from Heaven is Jesus Christ, and we will bear His likeness.

Our glorified bodies can’t be destroyed. We will be immortal. We will live forever. We will be powerful. We will be Spirit controlled rather than sin controlled. We will be tangible, in that you can touch and feel our bodies, just as the disciples could touch and feel Jesus, after He was resurrected.

You will be recognizable, but your body will be perfect. Hopefully, I will more easily shed these extra pounds, and stretch back to the height of my youth, but I will be fine looking like this forever (maybe a bit younger), so long as I am in the New Jerusalem and am recognizable by those I love. Another important point is that we will have no weaknesses. None!

The Bible describes how Jesus did some pretty remarkable things after He was resurrected. He would occasionally appear out of nowhere. Jesus ascended into Heaven. I hope we can fly, or just think of where we want to be and magically appear there. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Everything on earth degrades, and our bodies are no exception. All of our senses weaken, as we grow older. Our taste, touch, sense of smell, and our eyesight all become weaker. In Heaven, these senses will be perfected. I have often thought about the brightness of colors, and even some new colors we might be able to see in Heaven. We might be able to see outside of this light spectrum and into the ultraviolet. With the perfected taste, we will be able to savor the flavors of certain foods, and I often long to taste the twelve fruits on the trees in the New Jerusalem. I love peaches, and I can’t wait to taste those new fruits. An increased sense of smell might allow us to smell things that we are totally unaware in this present body. Even the concept of a new sense of touch makes one’s mind wander as to how it will be different especially knowing it will be better than what we have now. There will be no limits on our senses.

When we get up to Heaven, Jesus has rewards for us for the good works we’ve done in His name while on earth. Our getting to Heaven is not dependent on good works, but there are rewards for our actions. One of those tremendous rewards is God gives us glorified bodies made in Jesus’ image. We won’t be like God and we can’t be like God, but we will be like Jesus’ resurrected body physically.

Jesus promises crowns as a reward to us. These crowns are physical representations of how our life here on earth was spent. What you are doing here and now on earth, in making good use of your time and talents, will be turned into physical manifestations that we can display eternally. This isn’t to selfishly brag on ourselves, but to give back to Jesus. The 24 Elders who sit around God’s throne in worship place their crowns in front of God and say, “Holy, holy, holy.” Our works are an eternal reminder of our sacrifice to the Lord and a forever act of worship.

The Bible says we’re also going to be given robes. They most likely will be white, but I’m certain there will be options, so we don’t look like one eternal toga party.
I think it is amazing that we will be given new names. Seems like my life has been filled with Dons. I had two brothers in law named Don, and a pack of cousins, nieces and nephews who shared that name in one way or another.

Donna Sue, Jerry Don, Dawna Rae, and the list goes on. I had at least 7 friends in high school named Don. So, when we named our kids, we wanted them to have unique names, not shared by every other student in class. My first was Kiier, then Kiiler, then Kiiedon (the Don got in that one), and we have two great grandsons named Kiilan and Kiilys. They don’t share names, and I am looking forward to seeing what my new ‘Heavenly’ name will be.

Revelation 2:17 tells us that God puts our new name on a white stone. It may even be a marble stone. Our new names will most likely represent who we really are. I expect some will have names like Power, Faithful, Brave, or even Honest.

Jesus was always renaming the people he ran across during His earthly ministry.

What would it be like to have Jesus name you with a name that reflects how He sees you, and to have that name represent you for the rest of eternity?

The great reward for me is being allowed to live in a place like Heaven, a place of comfort with no tears. Matthew 5 and Revelation 21 describe this to us. We will never have to worry about crying or hurting anymore. The Lord will always be there to comfort us, to give us mercy, and to finally give us true justice.

Also, as a reward, we will be given authority. We will have ruling authority during Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom. We will be administrators, teachers, executives, majors, captains, and governors. We will NOT be legislatures, because Jesus Himself will make the law. God has authority in the whole universe, not just in one small city. So, we may very well be put in a position of authority (as a representative of God’s law) over any part, large or small, of the endless universe.

I don’t know how anyone could find that boring, do you? I have worked in government all my life, I look forward to working for one that is honest, fair, and just. The possibilities put real meaning behind the verse that says no mind can comprehend what God has prepared for us.

As a reward, we are given salvation, from sin, from the Tribulation, and from the Second Death described in Revelation 2:11. We are saved from death into eternal life to have everlasting life. Salvation is a pretty impressive gift!

Another reward is honor. We will receive the honor of living in Heaven, the very home in which God dwells.

Matthew 10:32 and Revelation 3:5 tell us that we are confessed by Christ to the Father. God isn’t sitting up on a throne somewhere so far away that we have to look up for miles and never get to talk to Him or be near Him. Instead, John 12:26 tells us that our Father comes to us and honors us with His presence and words.

Can you imagine getting honored by God the Father? It is not honor for us, particularly. It is honor for what Jesus accomplished and for what we accepted in Him.

Romans 8:23 tells us that we are adopted as children by the God of the Universe!

What will life be like on the New Earth? What are we going to be doing throughout all of eternity? Are we truly going to be playing harps and singing all day long?

First, the very reason we were created was to have fellowship with our Creator God. John 4:23 tells us that we were made to fellowship with God forever. It is a choice that we make in life if we want to spend eternity with God. We can opt not to do so. He has not and will not ever force us to have to live with Him forever.

We will have to work in the afterlife. We will have lots of work to do. I know that the work will be fulfilling and satisfying. We are told this in Matthew 5:6. All of us work here on earth, but we don’t all find it fulfilling and rewarding. I believe that we will find our positions in the afterlife completely rewarding and fulfilling. In fact, I believe our position in the afterlife will complete us. We will be in our sweet spot, doing what we love to do. It may be work, but if you love to do it, it just doesn’t feel like work, does it? God will have some great works planned for us to do.

God has given each of us special talents, abilities, and gifts, all of which enable us to achieve goals while we work here on earth. In eternity, those will be augmented, making them better and better, with no limitations made by our human bodies.

We will have eons of ages to learn the vast sums of God’s library. I have always wanted to learn new languages, but have had difficulty making the time to concentrate on that task. In Heaven, we may not need languages, but I can see how I would be able to improve on my music skills, and even play my guitar, until I became extremely proficient. There is so much I want to know, and I will receive all the answers to life’s questions, when I get to my eternal home.

We will also mature. I won’t have stupid immature thoughts, or say stupid things, or react immaturely. It’s not that we will become all stuffy and boring, but we will mature into the truly developed humans that we were meant to be. No matter how old you are on earth, in God’s eyes you are a child who needs to rid yourself of immaturity. We will have all of eternity to mature.

You know, we will be in eternal worship. However, you have to understand the true meaning of worship. Worship is thanking God for all that we are given.

Knowing that the rewards will continue throughout eternity, we will, no doubt, be constantly thankful, and will naturally worship. And, it will be something for which we look forward. We have all received something from someone during our lives, for which we were extremely thankful, to the point where we could not wait to get to that person and thank them. That is what Heaven will be. When we arrive, we will only then realize the extent of our thanks, finally seeing what we have received through grace. We will want to proclaim with all our heart, “Oh, Lord, Holy, Holy, Holy is your name!”

There is a great big universe out there to explore. God created so much, and we are only just beginning from our little pinpoint in the universe to fathom where it starts. We will have an eternity to explore what God has created. Imagine, eternity (never ending), doing what you enjoy most, and having all your questions answered.

How can you not look forward to that? Hope I see you there.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

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