Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTAND FIRM: Heaven is Better Than We Can Imagine (Part 5)

STAND FIRM: Heaven is Better Than We Can Imagine (Part 5)

If you’ve followed this series, I hope you’ve gotten down that “Heaven” is oversimplified. For the believer, there are different “phases” of this age to come. First, now when we as believers pass away, our soul is in the presence of the Lord and where Jesus called “paradise.” Then, when Jesus returns, we will be resurrected or raptured. In those events we’re given new eternal bodies. We are also brought back to earth to reign with Jesus in the Millennial Kingdom. Then after 1,000 years in Messiah’s Kingdom, the earth is made new, and we enjoy it for eternity. See, Heaven is better than we can imagine!

One of the ways Heaven is better than we can imagine is glossed over. Maybe it’s because it’s understood, but I believe it is important to realize that in all phases of the age to come we will be us — you will be you and I will be me.

Again, this may just be assumed and understood, but it is worth noting! Check out these five passages that tell us we will be us in the age to come. It is also important to note that Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection. We get a glimpse of our resurrected bodies in His resurrection.

• Jesus was still identifiable. Jesus was the forerunner of how we will be in the age to come. He was the first to be resurrected. We’re not told we will be exactly like Jesus was after His resurrection, but Scripture goes to great lengths to show He was this first fruit and that we are co-heirs with Jesus in the reward to come.

There are many examples of Jesus being recognized and identified as Jesus after His resurrection. The most memorable is when Jesus appears to the disciples and proves His identity to Thomas. How did He do so? He showed His scars. I don’t know if we will have our current scars. I hope the one on my finger where I cut myself with a saw ends up disappearing!

“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:39 NIV).

• Lazarus was still identifiable. Even though Scripture expresses Jesus’ post-resurrection life on earth was a precursor of our future bodies, it may still be easy to dismiss it as being Jesus, so it is different. In Luke 16, Jesus tells a parable about a beggar named Lazarus and a rich man. In this parable, we’re given one of the biggest peeks into the phase of Heaven for believers and the lost now. They both died. The rich man went to the place of torment while Lazarus went to “paradise.” Some how the rich man could see Lazarus and he recognized him. “In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (Luke 16:23).

• Our names are written in the Book of Life. I realize this is obvious, but I want to reinforce that we will be in the age to come. In Revelation 20, we read about the Great White Throne Judgment. The judgment of all based on salvation. Scripture says those who are saved will have their name written in the Book of Life. Notice it’s our name. I guess we keep our name. Parents might should make sure they’re picking a name that sounds good for eternity. “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

• We keep our racial and ethnic identities. I’ve leaned into Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. It is a tremendous resource. When I read that we keep our racial identities this blew me away. I had read one of the passages that expresses that many times, but it never hit me that we will be recognizable by our race in the age to come. We will all be on an equal footing — no race will be superior or inferior — but still identifiable. “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9).

• We keep our gender. This is one for us to ponder. I know many would say that Scripture says there won’t be male or female in Heaven, but if you look at those passages indicated, neither Matthew 22 and Galatians 3 explicitly says there will not be genders. One just says there won’t be marriage and the other is speaking about our identity in Christ, not gender.

On the other hand, as we get glimpses into the age to come, they are recognized in their gender. If we’re us, then we’re our birth gender. This is important when we see gender issues today. With this passage, I again return to the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16: “In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (Luke 16:23).

— Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (standfirmministries.com)