When Jesus of Nazareth stepped out of that tomb with an immortal body, Easter Sunday 2,000 years ago, I can assure you, he didn’t go to all that effort to take me or you to heaven. He had something much bigger in mind, dare I say so stupendous that we can’t begin to understand its enormity.
But before I reveal to you the real goal of his resurrection, I need to talk about the prevailing confusion which clouds Evangelical thought on the afterlife, in our so-called modern times.
Christians Don’t Tell Lies
‘……they just go to church and sing them’. This barbed quip by A.W. Tozer, lays bare the bipolar relationship which Christians have between Heaven and the Resurrection.
You might be wondering what are the Hymns to which Tozer refers? Let’s try the timeless Christmas classic Away in a Manger”
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care
And take us to heaven to live with thee there
Well that’s a wonderful thought, being assigned a cloud and a harp, enjoying the bliss of some ethereal existence with Jesus forever, but notwithstanding it’s nothing more than a fairy-tale. (Dare I go further and say the ‘H’ word)
Nowhere does the Bible say that Heaven is the believer’s final destination. Yet we sing these Hymns and there are plenty of others, disseminating the same falsehood. I could site Wesley’s “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, or “My Jesus, I Love Thee” wherein the author explains that our ransomed souls will be spirited away to dwell in mansions of glory, and there forever sing.
The lyrics of these hymns and so many others, demonstrate how muddled our theology is. You see the Bible does not teach that the ultimate destination of a believer is heaven. But we hold somehow together, a vague belief that when we die our “ransomed soul” (the immaterial aspect of our humanity) will go off to heaven to be with Jesus forever. And yet at the same time we affirm vigorously that we’ll be raised bodily at the final judgement.
So what is it ? Are we to spend our days immaterially in Heaven with Jesus or perhaps have bodies in heaven, and where does the bodily resurrection fit in?
Life After, Life After Death
Oops, I borrowed that term from Tom Wright.
When Jesus walked out of that tomb, the world was changed forever. For since the inception of time, both the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor, male and female, princes and paupers alike, all face the same inevitable, inescapable reality; Death.
However, Jesus’ resurrection changed the destiny of humanity for all time. His resurrection is a type of prototype, or better still, I should say an archetype. Irrefutably showing to the world, that death has been defeated finally. Now there’s a new option on the table, if you choose it, you can experience the wonder of a material existence not in heaven, but on a renewed earth.
No harps and clouds here, nor ‘ransomed souls’. Rather with the earth firmly beneath our feet, we can enjoy an immortal existence in bodily form. The same existence that we now share but without sin and pain, and this time with immortality.
On a renewed earth, we will have the ability to engage in the diverse and multivalent array of activities which currently define our lives and culture, but this time our actions/work will be crowned with splendour, because it will all be done for the glory of our King, our God who is with us.
Note the direction, not us going to heaven, but God coming to earth to live with us. What a mind-blowing thought. God’s original purpose for us, fulfilled at last.
So, What’s the Purpose of Heaven?
I think that we can safely say that only our immaterial selves will survive death. We don’t take our body to Heaven with us. Let’s call it our ‘Soul’, our time in Heaven without a body is only temporary.
Jesus said ‘In my father’s house there are many rooms, I go there to prepare a place for you, so that we can be together’.
However, the word ‘room’ (Mone in Greek means temporary lodging for a person on a journey). I liken Heaven to a Christian travelling abroad by plane. The destination is a great distance away, the plane needs to refuel, so we need to spend time in the transit lounge at the airport. The transit lounge isn’t the final destination, it’s comfortable resting place where we wait for the next leg of the journey.
So, to is Heaven, a place where we rest and wait, for God’s judgement to make all things right on the earth and where we receive our resurrected bodies, in order to do eternal life to excess.
Heaven is definitely, an inferior option.
Vic Matthews, has three degrees B.Optom, B.Arts & B. Christian Studies. He is a kiteboard tragic, who now works as a Christian Copywriter. He can be found at http://trustworthycopywriter.com/writing-services/christian-copywriter
Vic's previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/vic-matthews.html