Have you ever seen the Tom and Jerry episode where Tom goes to heaven via an escalator? He travels right on up, as expected, to the fluffy clouds in the sky. It is no wonder that we have not even a vague understanding of eternal life.
To be fair, the Bible does not give us a plethora of detail when it comes to the intermediate state; that is the time after a believer dies but before Jesus Christ returns and literally establishes His kingdom on earth. I guess you could say this is where our friend Tom is after Jerry hits him with a piano. What we do know is that the Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). That is great news!
However, lost in the ideas of going to heaven, fluffy clouds, and playing harps is the truth and reality of the resurrection. For the early Christians, this was their hope. It must become ours as well. Being absent from the body and in the presence of the Lord is a wonderful thing. I am convinced that those who have died knowing Christ would never want to come back to this life. In fact the Apostle Paul was torn between life here on earth and dying to be with the Lord Philippians 1:21-24). However, the hope that the Bible speaks of is not what happens when we die, but rather what happens when Jesus returns! (Romans 8:23-24)
The believers ultimate destination is not to go to heaven, but rather heaven is destined to come to earth! We must come to grips that when the Messiah returns, those who have followed after Him by faith will inherit the earth (Matthew 5). It says nowhere about spirits inheriting fluffy clouds, a halo and harp. Those who are dead in Christ, that is those in the intermediate state, will return and be resurrected as Christ was on the third day after his crucifixion. Then those who are alive on the earth will join them to meet the Lord in the clouds as He returns to earth. The Apostle Paul speaks of these things in 1 Thessalonians 4. What a glorious day that will be!
Remember that in the beginning God created everything! We find this at the beginning of our Bibles in Genesis 1. Now flip on over to the end of the Bible (Revelation chapters 21, 22) and see for your self that God will renew this creation which has been corrupted by sin. Imagine the garden of Eden, but better; much better as the world will be without sin! This is the new heavens and the new earth that the Bible speaks of. That is the hope that has motivated those who have been persecuted and martyred for the sake of Jesus Christ throughout the centuries. It is a hope that we must regain if we are to endure the trials and tribulations that Jesus promised would come with the Christian life.
Can you imagine the earth without sin, restored and renewed? It is so refreshing to meditate on. It’s also a lot more fun than imagining fluffy clouds. Think upon the return of Christ and think upon it often. It will do wonders for you spiritually!
Scott A. Hescht
Life Spring Church <)))><
Psalm 22 Ministries
GOD has not forsaken you
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jesus