So what comes next, at the end of this life? According the the Bible, it will be one of two things. For the one who has not put their faith in Jesus, the end is destruction. But for the one who has entrusted their life to Jesus, death is not really an end; it is just the beginning. But the beginning of what?
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.1 John 3:1-3 (NIV)
Children of God
This passage, directed to believers in Jesus Christ, says that we are children of God. And that is not just something we look forward to. It is our reality now. But what is that reality; what does it mean to be a child of God?
- Is it someone who is in relationship with God?
- Is it one in whom the Spirit of God lives? One who shares in the life of God?
- Is it someone who has surrendered to the lordship of Jesus?
- Is it one who has been ‘born again’, this time with God as Father, spiritual rebirth?
I do believe that there is some truth in all of these. Romans 8:14-17 says that “all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God … and the Spirit we have received has brought about our adoption to sonship.” It is the work of the Holy Spirit, given to all who believe, that makes us children of God.
Being Made Like Christ
John also looks forward to what awaits the children of God at Jesus return. And that future is beyond any rational expectation on our part; we will be like Christ. The church, throughout its history, has rightly rejected the notion that this means we will becomes gods in our own right, or in any way equal to God. But the passage clearly says that we will be like Christ. So what does this mean? Let’s look at some other passages and see if we can shed any light on this.
- Genesis 1:27 tells us that we were originally made in the image of God. So we might look at this passage in John as saying that that image of God will be restored in us.
- Colossians 3:3-4 says that we have died and our life is currently hidden with Christ. But when he appears, we also will return with him in glory. We will be glorified!
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 also talks about glory, that we are being transformed into the Christ’s image, with ever increasing glory.
- 2 Peter 1:3-4 tells us that God has given us everything we need to live godly lives, including his great and precious promises. These promises allow us to participate in the divine nature. If that is true now, how much more when Christ returns for us.
I don’t believe anyone knows just what awaits us the other side of this life. But the scripture affirms to us that we will experience the glory of God, will be remade into his image, and will be like Christ. That is the hope he has given to us.
What To Do With We Wait
Since I have this hope of being made into the image of Christ, how should I spend my time here as I wait? John says that all who have this hope purify themselves, just as Christ is pure. In other words, becoming like him even now. We have an unimaginable future awaiting us. Why do we obsess so much with this world that is temporary? Instead, let us purify ourselves of all that contaminates, both body and soul, and be holy, useful to the Master.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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4 thoughts on “So What Comes Next, After This Life Is Over?”
I found “One Minute After You Die”, written by Erwin Lutzer provided an interesting study that parallels your title and topic. The book was used as a guide to have us look at Biblical references on the subjects of heaven, hell, and aspects of both from the perspective of we humans who will enter into one or the other immediately when we breath our last breath on earth.
We do indeed have an unimaginable future awaiting us as Christians. Our current restriction of being able to see God and be with God will be forever lifted. We will be able to stand in His holy presence through the purification in the blood of Christ.
I also like to think of the limitations of this present body and our physical environment will be lifted. Imagine how you love and experience God now in very limited ways through our six senses. Can we hear, smell, taste, touch, etc. much beyond the what he has given us in His creation? What if we are able to experience Him first hand and all that he has in store for us not with just 6 senses, but with 12, 20 or mores at our disposal. How intense an experience that would be. I am not saying that’s what we will have, I’m just trying to figure out a way to imagine how intensified the experience will be to be with God, to understand God, to really worship God and serve Him according to His plan and design. Even my imagination cannot imagine. Wow!!! What a day that will be.
I suspect much of what we think the experience will be like is dependant on our current personalities, meaning that my vision of heaven is likely different than yours. But I believe it is so far beyond our ability to comprehend that whatever we imagine will fall short. Picture someone growing up in Omaha and never leaving the area. And someone tries to describe to them the Pacific Ocean. They might be able to grasp it intellectually, but nothing can prepare them for the actual experience of standing on the beach staring off toward Japan.
Totally agree. That was kind of the point I was making in regards to our senses and the heightened experience we would have in heaven. Even with our existing senses — heaven would overload us.
I wonder if the lost will experience regret, just as the rich man did in the Bible that wanted his brother’s warned. Maybe that is part of their torment. Who knows?!
Fortunately we will not enter into eternity with our earth suits, or tents. Instead we will be clothed with a heavenly dwelling (2 Cor. 5:1-4).
As for the unbelievers, I would think that they will have tremendous regret, at least until their destruction is complete.