Salvation 2.0: Part 2.6: The Afterlife

grace5In short, the Bible doesn’t say much about where we go when we die. It says quite a lot about where we wind up at the end of this age.

There will be a resurrection of the saved — sometimes called “the general resurrection” — and heaven will come down, merge with the earth, and God will live among his people. Rev 21-22 will all come true, just as prophesied in Isa 65-66.

(1 Cor 15:51–53 ESV) 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

We will exist in resurrected bodies. That is, the resurrection is clearly taught as a bodily resurrection. Our bodies will be transformed to be like the body Jesus had after his resurrection. Indeed, his resurrection is a preview of the general resurrection.

(Phi 3:20-21 ESV)  20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. 

Now, we don’t know a lot about Jesus’ resurrection body. We know he could walk through locked doors. We know he could cook and eat and drink. We know he could choose to be unrecognizable to his closest friends. We know he could ascend to heaven.

The Gospel writers are oddly matter of fact about Jesus’ body. They just state the facts and offer nothing in the way of explanation. It’s as though they know that some things are simply incomprehensible by mortal minds.

So we’ll have bodies — but marvelously transformed bodies. We won’t be incorporeal spirits floating in the ether. But that leaves much to be imagined or dreamed of. And that’s okay.

Now, there’s a  practical point for today. We must rid ourselves of the notion that “it’s all going to burn” and so we live on a disposable planet with disposable people.

All that’s in rebellion against God will burn. The futility and brokenness of this world will be consumed by God’s wrath. But God made a very good Creation, and he plans on keeping it around forever.

And for those of us who are faithful to his purposes, in Jesus, he’ll keep us around forever, too. We’ll inherit the earth — but better: a transformed, refreshed, renewed, perfected earth. And we’ll be transformed, refreshed, renewed, and perfected, too.

Therefore, the church is not a holding tank for storing saved souls until God calls them home. We’re home already. Rather, we’re the beachhead. We’re the first troops into enemy territory, fighting to recapture God’s land from the Enemy.

And just as was true on D-Day, once the landing was made, the outcome was inevitable. Hitler could not stand up against the combined forces of the Allies. But he could — and did — go down fighting, killing many good people as they fought all the way to Berlin

The resurrection of Jesus is our beachhead. We know that the victory is certain. We’ve already gained the most important piece of ground. But there are many tough, painful battles yet to be fought to end the war. But God will win the war, and we’ll be more than conquerors.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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10 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 2.6: The Afterlife

  1. Richard constant says:

    well I can’t remember a better time thanks for yesterday I got to go to work today and wander around sorta kinda. oh and just as a PS when I was laughing in that restaurant you gotta remember I’m 68 years old and I don’t got no front teeth boy not only that I’m in a dirty t-shirt shorts and flip flops and I’m in Newport Beach.
    I’m supposed to be on the corner of broken dreams.
    Absolutely too much fun blessings J.

  2. laymond says:

    Jay, I have a problem with at least two of your statements, If you care to, please explain.

    “The Gospel writers are oddly matter of fact about Jesus’ body. They just state the facts and offer nothing in the way of explanation. It’s as though they know that some things are simply incomprehensible by mortal minds.”
    Are you saying that the “gospel writers” were immortal, or they just didn’t understand.

    “Therefore, the church is not a holding tank for storing saved souls until God calls them home. We’re home already. ”

    Jay, does this sound like the church you are a member of?

    Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

    And are you saying that once a Christian, there is no falling away?

  3. Richard constant says:

    ok J I’ve decided I’m hoping that you’re happy that I have done that.
    I’m going to call death like what Paul did.
    And stick to that until I can figure out something else & I dont think theres anything either.
    That would be 15 first Corinthians first one through 28 about the only analogy that I can agree with is what happens to us when we sleep. so if anybody ask me what happens when you die you get to go to sleep and then you get to wake up.
    what do you think yes No? that’s all I got J if you’ve got some more dude spill it.
    well at 6:30 I got to go to work and and do my thing . you know blessings today J

  4. Richard constant says:

    and so to answer your question about a Enoch
    he was God’s friend God took him up so that he wouldn’t have to suffer the pains of death ,said here you go buddy and he went to sleep and that be that.
    amen brother

  5. Richard constant says:

    well on my way to work I just thought I’d say.
    I’m ready to turn the page.

  6. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond asked,

    Are you saying that the “gospel writers” were immortal, or they just didn’t understand.

    The disciples who saw Jesus’ resurrected body doubtlessly saw something they could not communicate adequately in words.

    “Therefore, the church is not a holding tank for storing saved souls until God calls them home. We’re home already. ”

    Jay, does this sound like the church you are a member of?

    I think it’s generally in poor taste to ask any reader to speak ill or well of his home congregation here in a public forum. But I must say I’ve previously attended churches that had a holding tank mentality — and my current congregation most certainly does not. Yes, it feels like home. Not every Sunday. Not always. But often.

    Regarding Rev 21:4, this passage is speaking of the afterlife. Once you are saved, die, and are resurrected, then there is no falling away.

  7. laymond says:

    1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

    The dead in Christ, or in Christ’s church. sounds kind of like a holding pen to me. But you are right when you say a certain congregation is not a holding tank, most congregations have leaky seams.
    But if you are satisfied with Alabama as your eternal home, it just might be. “We’re home already. ”

  8. buckeyechuck says:

    Whether my final “home” is a reconstituted earth or somewhere else outside the Cosmos is OK with me. I just want to exist in the presence of God. It seems to me that this concept is somewhat as abstract as accepting that the dead exist outside the continuum of time and pass directly to judgment. If God can take a fully burned human body (as in cremation) and resurrect it to an incorruptible one in eternity, which I surely am convinced He can, then surely He’s powerful enough to fix a slightly used and even abused earth to the state that it was in the Garden.

    Jay said, “Therefore, the church is not a holding tank for storing saved souls until God calls them home. We’re home already.” I believe I understand what you are trying to convey here and I agree we should embrace our salvation and our eternal security as believers. But, it seems contrary to what Jesus says in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” That just doesn’t sound like I am already home…

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    buckeye chuck:”

    This is from the New Interpreter’s Bible commentary on John —

    In vv. 2–3, Jesus turns from exhortation to promise. Jewish traditions that identify the “Father’s house” with a heavenly dwelling place clearly lie behind the imagery of v. 2a (e.g., Pss 2:4; 66:1; 113:5–6; 123:1; Isa 66:1),471 but it is critical to the interpretation of Jesus’ words here that the reference to “my Father’s house” not be taken as a synonym for heaven.472 Instead, this reference to the Father’s house needs to be read first in the context of the mutual indwelling of God and Jesus, a form of “residence” that has been repeatedly stressed from the opening verses of the Gospel (e.g., 1:1, 18). Throughout the Gospel, location has consistently been a symbol for relationship. For example, in 1:18, a description of Jesus’ physical location (in the bosom of the Father) communicates the intimacy of Jesus’ relationship with God. Jesus’ description as one who comes from heaven (3:31; 6:41, 51; cf. 3:12–13) confirms his origins with God. To know where Jesus is from is to know his relationship with God. The parable about the relative place of the son and the slave in the house in John 8:35–36 confirms that God’s house is about relationship and not exclusively about location (see also 2:16). It is in this relationship, as much as in any heavenly dwelling per se, that there are “many rooms.”
    The noun translated “dwelling place” [Vol. 9, p. 741] (μονή monē, “room” in the NIV) also points to the relational dimension of Jesus’ imagery. While it, too, appears in Jewish literature as a reference to heavenly dwellings for the faithful,473 it takes on additional meaning in the Johannine context. This noun is derived from the verb “remain” or “to dwell” (μένω menō), a verb used in the Fourth Gospel to describe the mutuality and reciprocity of the relationship of God and Jesus (14:10; 15:10). The use of this noun here (see also 14:23) points to the inclusion of others in this relationship, this “house.” Jesus uses the domestic imagery to say, “My return to God will make it possible for you to join in the relationship that the Father and I share” (cf. 20:18). The promise of v. 2a is thus verbal confirmation of what Jesus enacted in the foot washing; the disciples are welcome in the Father’s house (see Commentary on 13:1–8).

    Gail R. O’Day, “The Gospel of John,” in The Gospel of Luke-The Gospel of John (vol. 9 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), n.p.

    There are lots of different theories. Let’s go with Rev 21 —

    (Rev 21:1–2 ESV) 1 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. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

    John sees the New Jerusalem descending from heaven to exist in the new heaven and new earth. Several NT passages speak of a Jerusalem in heaven, based on some OT prophecies. It’s a key thought in Hebrews.

    So if Jesus is using the same imagery, his “place for you” or “room for you” is a room in the New Jerusalem, stored in heaven until the general resurrection — when it then comes to earth.

    This image is in Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22; Rev 3:12. So, to me, Jesus sounds like he’s going to get the New Jerusalem ready, which will descend from heaven and come to earth when heaven and earth unite at the end of this age.

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