I never planned on getting old. But against my will, I’m aging. It’s something new to me. I took for granted that I would stay young, run fast, lift heavy loads, play exciting sports, and generally enjoy life without limitations, without aches or pains. But six decades have passed. Age has crept up on me. I’m begrudging every inch of ground it slowly gains. Alas, I must face reality - I am a mere man, not frail, but mortal.
However, I am included in the greatest Revitalization Plan known to man, a plan by which my mortality will one day be laid down and I will take up brand-new life in an immortal, glorified body! This is the hope that lies ahead for Jesus’ followers.
The great apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that the sleeping saints (believers who have died in the faith) will return with Jesus on the day of His appearing. Apart from this reunion, we would grieve over lost loved ones just like despairing unbelievers.
Grieving over a dead or departed Christian was unknown to the early church. They had joy instead of tears. They had seen the risen Lord. They were filled with hope. They recalled the promise of Jesus declared beside the tomb of Lazarus: “He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live!” Lazarus walked out alive.
The resurrection of the saved is the scheduled event when we will exchange our mortal bodies for immortal ones - a new body that will never again be diseased, die, or age. In that day our last enemy, death, is defeated forever. Hallelujah!
Modern church folk have fixed their hope on going to heaven when they die. However, the emphasis in the New Testament is not heaven, but Christ’s kingdom and our personal resurrection so as to rule and reign with Jesus on the earth.
Going to heaven when you die is merely incidental, should you happen to die before Jesus returns. Living believers will skip this step and meet the Lord in the air at His return. This exciting transformation is called the Catching Away, the Rapture. Regardless, our future holds a bright promise of immortality, paid for by our Savior who died on the cross to save us and was raised again as a first-fruit for us.
Who would want to live forever if their body kept deteriorating? These mortal bodies were not designed to live forever in their present earthly state. Nor can they handle the radiance of God’s great glory. So we need to be transformed.
The apostle Paul writes extensively about this miraculous change in 1 Corinthians 15. He says that we will have an imperishable body; that this new body will be raised in glory; be raised in power; be heavenly and not earthly; bear the image of heaven; not be weak; and will live by spiritual means, not natural.
“For this perishable must put on the imperishable; and this mortal must put on immortality.” Christ’s future kingdom on earth will have eternal, resurrected vice-regents (humans) ruling on earth with Jesus in glorified, powerful, heavenly bodies.
Brothers and sisters, we were created for this. This is what God intended for us in Genesis when he placed Adam and Even in the Garden. When Christ returns, we will be restored to our heritage in God with a new resurrected body that is immortal and is just like His body when He was raised. Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Ron Wood is a pastor and writer, and a former resident of Meridian. You may write him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @RonWoodMinistry.