– Geoff Milton
Many Australians don’t like to think about death and what lies beyond death. Many assume there is no life after death, others assume when we die we will, like nice Uncle Harry, be “up there” smiling down on us all, or if Uncle Harry was a murderer we hope he will “rot in hell”.
But the Bible’s teaching about the life to come (for Christian believers) is that it is a wonderful, indeed perfect experience and something we can look forward to and long for, even while we enjoy the good things God has given us in this life.
Last week we looked at what the Bible says about the life to come and saw:
1. We will live in an entirely renewed creation, the “new heaven and new earth” (2 Peter 3:13) in the presence of God.
2.We will have wonderful new strong resurrection bodies (Romans 8:23, 1 Cor.15).
3. We will enjoy celebrating being with Jesus our Saviour and his people in the beautiful new creation (Rev. 19:9, Rev. 22:1-2)
4. It will be a social life, never lonely (Rev 21:24).
But there’s more!
5. The life to come will be a responsible life
Having satisfying tasks and responsibilities seem to help us thrive as human beings. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden had responsibility over the earth, plants and animals of God’s creation, and were called by God to “work the Garden and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
I think we tend to wither a bit if we have no tasks or responsibilities serving God and serving others. So we can rejoice that we will have satisfying responsibilities in the life to come.
Rev. 22:3 describes how we will be serving and worshiping God in the new creation. That will include musical worship – and we will all sing in key and play music perfectly, even if we can’t in this life!
The parable of the ten servants (Luke 19:11-26) gives us the idea of responsibility in this life being carried over and scaled up into the new creation.
The Christian who was faithful in God’s service in this life will be “put in charge of ten cities”. This is also an incentive to be serving the Lord in this life “doing everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Paul also speaks of believers in the next life “judging” the world (1 Corinthians 6:2, Matthew 19:28). Rev. 22:5 describes how we will “reign forever” over the new creation, as intended from the beginning (Psalm 8:4-6)
All this means we will be satisfyingly occupied, but without the thorns and thistles, droughts and floods and frustrations of this life!
6. The life to come will be a God centred life.
“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Rev. 21:3-4).
A life centred on God in God’s presence will be a perfect life. We don’t experience that fully in this life because we still live in a world ruptured by the effects of human sin past and present. However we do have glimpses of the perfect life to come. The birth of a child, a perfect wilderness landscape, a sublime piece of music or work of art, a wonderful meal and sparkling conversation, uplifting worship or prayer, all these things are pointers to the life of heaven.
God has promised this perfect life to all people who turn from sin and turn to Jesus and trust him as Saviour and Lord.
Let’s rightly long for this perfect new creation with God and his people. May we let the light of this promised future guide us in this life, even though this life will pass away. As we prepare ourselves, as God’s children, for the life to come, let us, as we are urged in 2 Peter 3:11-14, live holy lives, God centred lives, peaceful lives that are “pure and blameless” as we look forward to the Day of Christ’s return and the life of the new creation.