A great article in the Washington Post on what Christians should believe about paradise:
On Friday, Jesus was crucified and murdered, his body giving out to its’ final breaths…
On Saturday, we wait for Sunday and the glorious defeat of death, sin, and evil when Jesus resurrects and lives again…
But the question is: What is it exactly we are waiting for?
Early in life, I believed, as a Christian, that I was waiting for something like this.
However, in just recent years, I came to understand I was waiting for more. In fact, heaven isn’t our final hope or our final destination. Instead, we wait for an eventual new body and resurrection from the dead.
But today, more than ever before, I understand that I’m waiting for both! In an age fearful of making definitive truth claims, Christians tend to be weary of speaking of the certainty of heaven and resurrection. Mostly, Christian leaders will simply define one as saved or not saved, and rarely go into detail about what that means.
Trust me, I understand that no one has been to heaven and been able to assuredly tell me about it. Further, no one has been resurrected (at least that I know) that can tell me about their experience…
But what I can hold fast to as a definitive truth claim is what the Word of God says about what we are waiting for! And let me tell you, when you hear it, read it, absorb it, meditate on it – it’s the best night before Christmas (or the Big Game) feeling you’ve ever experienced.
Immediately after death, we can hold fast to the belief that we will be with Jesus RIGHT AWAY! There is no purgatory. There is no waiting.
“He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” I Thessalonians 5:10
“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
God gave us a body and he loves it. He cares about it. But Christ did not just DIE for the body. He died to “bind the soul so closely to himself that, even without the body, we are with him” (John Piper).
After death, because of what happens tomorrow on Easter, those who put their faith in Christ-exaltation and not self-exaltation, and live without unforgiven sin, can WAIT FOR and HOPE FOR immediate, continual (and full) uniting with Christ.
The final two chapters of the Bible, Revelation 21 & 22, tell us about what we can wait for. In essence, where perfection was a garden free from sin (in the beginning), now, because of Jesus, we can hope for a city of perfection with Christ as the King and Head. It’s too powerful not to write out in full…
“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 heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4.
What are you waiting for?
“If you have died with him, you will also live with him.” 1 Timothy 2:11.
Jesus defeated death on the cross. He paid the price. He met the demand of the law. Sins are forgiven. The one impenetrable power of Satan has been swallowed up (unforgivable sin).
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:5.
It’s simple. Ask yourself today: What are you waiting for?
For those who are not believers or are not Christians who believe in the radical message of Jesus, what are YOU hoping and waiting for? If I had a choice, I’d rather hope for what’s above then simply wait for death to swallow me up.
For those who are Christians, ask yourself: Do you consider the incredible hope that awaits you? Do you yearn for the new heavens and the new earth; the unhindered fellowship with God?
As we wait on Saturday, put your hope in something greater, something more profound, something real.