reynaldo reynoso (admin)
What’s our understanding of our salvation? What is our understanding of Jesus conquering death?taking away its sting; taking away it’s victory? One day some of us will be absent from the body and be present with the Lord. It is an immediate occurrence where the departed finds him or herself in a place of blissful comfort with the Lord. Fondly called Abraham’s bosom, it must be a place of tremendous comfort and no more physical pain?but is that it? Any believer reading this will say ?of course not? and explain that we will be worshiping the Lord for all eternity. That we will be in His very presence and our joy will be realized because He will wipe away all tears from our eyes and there will be no more death.
Perhaps, like cartoons, we will be in heaven sitting on poofy cloud playing a harp and singing to the Lord with golden haloes over our heads. Personally I’m not keen on that idea of heaven?clouds seem a bit too soft for my taste and I’m not a fan of Harp-only music?it strikes me as an instrument meant to be played with cellos or something.
Every so often I like to think about exactly what the Lord accomplished on his rescue mission here on earth.
The Lord came and did countless miracles?so many that John would say that if they were all written down there would be a limitless amount of volumes telling of the events. These miracles were an announcement of the Kingdom.
How did these miracles announce the kingdom?
John’s disciples ask Jesus a question he leaves mostly unanswered: ?Are you the Promised One??. ?Tell John? Says Christ ?the things you saw?the Lame are walking, the blind are seeing and the Gospel is being preached?. Apparently this announced Kingdom would be one of no pain, no lame, no sickness, and no blindness. A time where people will be side by side with the Lord as he walks among them. Jesus was giving a tangible taste of what was to come!
Then it comes to an abrupt end.
One day he is being exulted as king and palms are being laid before him as he rides a colt into Jerusalem?a few days later he’s being bustled to the Golgotha, nailed to a cross and mocked. The curtain closes as the world looks upon a massacred man but the disciples eventually see a resurrected savior.
God judged contrary to the world and Jesus walks the earth again, speaking and being seen and being touched and handled. Sitting and eating with his disciples, showing them infallible proofs and teaching for another 40 days about the Kingdom of God no less. A disciple asked when this kingdom was to be established and while Jesus was answering he was lifted up into heaven and caught up into the clouds and the only words we hear as our eyes are fixed upwards are ?What are you doing looking up in the sky. Don’t you know that the same way you saw Him leave is the same way He will return??
So then what does it mean to the kingdom of God that the savior resurrected and went to heaven and we’re told that He’s coming back? How does this impact the picture the Lord was painting here on earth? The Kingdom sounded like something that would be established in a physical place, tangible with streets and people talking?how does that impact the idea of sitting in the presence of the Lord in a place of music and worship and poofy clouds? Okay, he’s returning then?but how does that impact our idea of those people who have gone to be with the Lord already and are not here to see Him return and see the kingdom established? Will they miss out?
When Jesus returns it will be in His full power as a King leading a tremendous army. Speaking to that young church at Thessalonica, Paul tells them that not to worry about those who have died in Christ?or, have fallen asleep. Those will return with the Lord Jesus Chris. Then he says that we won’t be caught up before them for the dead in Christ will rise first and we will meet up with them in the clouds (1 Thes 4:13-18).
What does this mean? How is it possible for those who have fallen asleep in Christ to return with the Lord Jesus but those dead in Christ will be raised first? Doesn’t it sound like the same people?
First off, lets focus on the dead in Christ rising. Apparently there’s a resurrection of the dead, which will be activated by the shout of the Lord Jesus Christ. We find out in Mathew that the resurrection is by the Power of God, in John by the power of Christ and in Romans 8:11 by the Power of the Holy Spirit. The Triune God working in the effectual resurrection of the dead.
Paul, speaking to the Corinthians (some of which were reporting that there was no resurrection of the dead) tells them that this resurrection will not be passive (if there is such a thing) but will actually be immediately followed by changing. Not only will the dead in Christ change but those who are awake will also be changed.
This change will occur in the twinkling of an eye, and the corruptible flesh will put on the incorruptible. The perishable will become imperishable. Like a seed planted in the ground blossoms into a flower, the dead planted in the ground will put on a new living glorified body which is described as powerful, in the likeness of Christ and incorruptible.
Ezekiel sees a vision that may or may not have anything to do with the subject at hand but it was a very vivid picture nevertheless. He’s sent to stand in a valley filled with bones and the bones rise up and muscle and fat and sinews attach themselves to the bones as they form together to form their previous shape and wind blows, breathing life into the bones?maybe it’s like this, maybe not.
Either way, the dead in Christ will be resurrected and we all will be changed finally meeting up with Christ who is returning with those who have fallen asleep?which of course is still a problem. We know that when we fall asleep in Christ, we immediately leave these bodies and go into the presence of the Lord. We are found there in that place of comfort?but is that our yearning? To die, leave our bodies and go to heaven?
According to Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, the desire of living believers is not to leave the tents of our bodies and be homeless or naked. Our desire is not to take off the clothes that we are wearing but to put on better clothes?clothes that don’t fade away, that feel no pain and that are incorruptible. We groan within ourselves waiting for that day that we are fully clothed.
I wonder, if those people who are in heaven, happy in ? a spiritual state with the Lord have a desire for their bodies. Some may say that ?you immediately go into the Lord’s presence and put on a glorified body??I’m not too sure about that. The glorified body seems to be tied to a specific event, the Lord’s calling?the shout with the voice of the archangel at the rallying trumpet of Christ.
Those dead in Christ who return with the Lord, I believe, are the souls of those who have fallen asleep and they come back en masse with a purpose?to rally behind the savior to complete the redemption which Christ has purchased. Picking up what’s rightfully theirs?their bodies. I wonder if that’s why the dead in Christ rise first and we meet them in the clouds. They’re in a hurry to get fully clothed and what an amazing first day of eternity that will be.
We will see with eyes that do not need glasses and look upon loved ones who have fallen asleep in Christ, perhaps in pain or in accident or injury, and yet we will see them and know them and we will be fully known in our perfected and glorified bodies. We will see each other healthy and void of our imperfections that have hindered us throughout our lives and we will be ready for real, effective living void of death, sickness and tears.
I like to imagine that it’s not so much that we’ll be playing a harp on a cloud but we will be doing those things that we did right here on Earth but doing it without the hindrances due to sin in our bodies. Maybe even those things we wanted to do but couldn’t because we had to work or pay the bills?doing it not for our own glory but for the glory of the Lord.
Imagine scientists who would be able to study the ages of a rock without having to stumble on the sinner’s lies? Imagine being able to work (like Adam worked in the garden) unhindered and fully able to focus on the task at hand and throughout it all being able to say, ?Praise the Lord!? Sure the kingdom will be saturated with music but I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be places where a person can simply sit in silence and praise the Lord in meditation. We know that there will be administrations and we will reign with the Lord?my goodness the galaxy and much more the universe are big enough for such an administration.
Our roles here on earth, these One Hundred or so years are not worthless but an effectual finding out of what we can do and, in effect, being an honest steward of what the Lord has given us.
My grandfather spent years gallivanting about and playing the guitar to different ladies and finally was stopped cold, sick and dying in a hospital. An evangelist at my church when and spoke to him, this woman so dedicated to the Lord and dedicated to the clear presentation of the gospel?some days before he died he made a profession of faith. He had peace.
I was never close to him but I’m sure one day I will see him perfecting his guitar playing in a perfect body, no longer for the ears of the ladies but for the ears of the Lord doing what he never got a chance to do while he was here on earth. Some of us have served the Lord for years and have thrown ourselves into the work of the Lord and some may be teachers or preachers or evangelists or pastors?I imagine in heaven the teaching ministry may continue. There will be plenty of people wanting to understand that unique relationship of the very Spirit of God indwelling you?we’ll need the teachers. Personally I would like some stories from Moses but since the line would be so long I’ll likely spend some time speaking with Barnabas to find out if he wrote Hebrews or not.
Perhaps I’m wrong about my perception of God’s reign. I know this: the Lord is there, those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are there and we will all have glorified bodies and reign with the Author and Finisher of Our Faith. What I imagine is what I imagine in this sinful body, which hinders my imagination with pollution of thought. A place where the asphalt of streets is made out of gold has to be much better than all that I can possibly imagine. I’ll be there and I’ll see you there as well.
Comfort one another with these words.