“Paul, a slave of God, and Apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of the elect of God and the knowledge of Truth which is according to godliness, with the hope of eternal life which was promised by God who never lies from the ancient times,”
In Christ, we have the hope of eternal life. And this hope is not a flimsy hope grounded in wishful thinking. We have a hope in eternal life that is grounded in the promise of God…the God who is Truth (1 John 1:5) and cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). And what sort of life is it that we are promised? Is it some eternal but unconscious existence as part of the great universal spirit as the Buddhists would suggest? Is it flying around from cloud to cloud in a spiritual existence as the Greek philosophers (and far too many Christians) would suggest? No, none of these is the case. We are promised eternal life in glorified bodies in a new heavens and earth — a physical and tangible life in a physical and tangible world. And if we let go of that hope, we are to be pitied over all people (1 Corinthians 15:12-28). Why pitied? Because we have placed all of our hopes in this promise.
With this in mind, isn’t it sad that so many Christians either have convoluted ideas of the afterlife? Perhaps this is why so many professing Christians fear death and leaving this world behind — because they really aren’t happy about existing as disembodied spirits forever. Yet, beloved, this is not the afterlife that the Bible speaks of…further, it is not the afterlife that the Bible has ever spoken of. God has been speaking about this promise from the ancient times. Adam and Eve, even, in the Garden, were given a promise of life forever if they acted in obedience. Yet, they chose disobedience and with it came death. At the heart of the promise of the Messiah is this notion of making right all that was made so wrong as a result of the Fall. Adam and Eve’s life was not a spiritual existence as many Gnostics or Kabbalists would suggest. They were the first two humans…physical and as real as you or me…and they lived in a physical garden of paradise prior to the Fall. It will be to this kind of life that Christ will restore us at the consummation of redemptive history.
How we need to be reminded of truths like this. It is easy to fall into the trap of mentally thinking about life here as physical and eternal life as spiritual, but that is not the testimony of the Bible. Our lives here in this world are both physical and spiritual and the promise is that we will have spiritual and physical lives in the new creation. There will come a period of spiritual existence “in the middle” between the time you die and the time that Jesus returns, but that is always spoken of in the Bible as transitory and non-permanent.
So, be bold in your commitments to God and don’t cling to this world with all of your strength — it too is passing away. There is a remaking to come. Be committed to the Gospel in this life because in the grand scheme of things, this life will be gone in the blink of an eye and glory is eternal. God has promised.