What is Your Christian
Can you put it into
David R. Reagan
In 1 Corinthians 13:13
the apostle Paul wrote that there are three cardinal Christian virtues
"faith, hope and love." As I was thinking about this statement
one day, it suddenly occurred to me that I had heard hundreds of
sermons on faith and love, but hardly any on hope.
What about you? Can you
remember hearing a single sermon about hope? How would you articulate
your hope? How would you define it? How would you put it into
Are you aware of the fact that both the quality and strength of
your hope are directly related to what you know about Bible prophecy?
And that, of course, is the reason most Christians have so little
hope. Their preachers have ignored God's Prophetic Word.
I was born into a Christian
family, and I was raised in church. I'm thankful to say that my
family was present every time the church's doors were open Sunday
morning and evening, Wednesday evening, Vacation Bible School,
and Gospel meetings. Yet, after 30 years of faithful church attendance,
I had little hope.
The preachers in the church
I grew up in rarely ever spoke about Bible prophecy. During all
those years of church attendance, I never once heard the word,
"rapture." Even worse, when prophecy was preached, we
were taught Greek mythology rather than Hebrew theology.
The result was that after
all those years of Bible teaching, if you had asked me to define
my hope, I would have given you a pathetic answer like the following:
"My hope is that if I die before the Lord returns, my soul
will sleep, waiting for the resurrection. When Jesus returns,
a big bang' will occur, resulting in the annihilation of the created
universe. At that point my sleeping soul will be awakened, and
I will be resurrected to live eternally with the Lord as a disembodied
spirit in an ethereal world called heaven. I will spend my time
floating around on a cloud playing a harp."
Needless to say, the only
thing in that scenario that appealed to me was the promise of
a resurrection. I couldn't get excited about lying comatose in
a grave for eons of time. The "big bang" concept scared
me to death. I was appalled by the idea of continuing my existence
as a disembodied spirit an ethereal blob with no individuality.
And I was both bored and amused by the thought of playing a harp
eternally. The reason it amused me is because my boyhood church
did not believe in instrumental music. Praising God with an instrument
was considered a sin. Yet, I was going to spend eternity playing
a harp! It made no sense to me, so I wrote it all off as bunch
of nonsense. I tossed the whole scenario out the window, and with
it went my hope.
Discovery of Hope
You can imagine, therefore,
how excited I became years later when I started studying God's
Prophetic Word, and I began discovering the Lord's fantastic promises
about the future. I started jumping pews and swinging from chandeliers!
People thought I had gone Pentecostal overnight! For the first
time, I started getting excited about the future, and my hope
began to grow.
Let me share with you some of the discoveries I made in my study
of Bible prophecy. I think you will find them thrilling, and I
pray they will build your hope.
1) Consciousness - My first discovery was that the concept
of soul sleep is unbiblical. It is true that when we die, our
bodies "sleep" metaphorically, but the spirits of the
dead never lose their consciousness.
Jesus clearly taught this in His story about the rich man and
Lazarus (Luke 16:9-31). When they died, their spirits went to
Hades. The rich man's spirit went to a compartment called "Torments."
The spirit of Lazarus went to a compartment referred to as "Abraham's
bosom." On the Cross, Jesus called this compartment "Paradise"
(Luke 23:43). The two compartments were separated by a "great
chasm" which could not be crossed.
In Jesus' story both men are pictured as fully conscious. They
even carry on a conversation with each other. Their souls are
Paul affirmed consciousness after death when he wrote in 2 Corinthians
5:8 that he would prefer to be "absent from the body and
to be at home with the Lord." He repeated this sentiment
in his Philippian letter where he wrote "to live is Christ,
and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). He elaborated on
the meaning of this statement by adding that his desire was "to
depart and be with Christ" (Philippians 1:23).
When Jesus died for the sins of Mankind, Paradise was moved from
Hades to Heaven. Paul attests to
this in 2 Corinthians 12:4 where he states that he was taken up
to the "third heaven," which he identifies as "Paradise."
The Redeemed could not go directly to Heaven before the Cross
because their sins had only been covered by their faith, not forgiven.
Their forgiveness awaited the shedding of the blood of Jesus (Hebrews
This means that when a believer dies today, his soul is taken
directly to Heaven where he resides in an intermediate spirit
body until the time of the resurrection. Martyred believers during
the Tribulation are pictured in their spirit bodies standing before
the throne of God clad in white robes and waving palm branches
(Revelation 7:1-9). They are fully conscious as they sing, "Salvation
to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" (Revelation
2) Bodies - My second discovery was that we are not destined
to an ethereal existence as disembodied spirits. It is true that
at death we receive an intermediate spirit body which the Bible
does not define in any detail, but God has promised that the Redeemed
will one day receive new glorified bodies.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:13-18 we are told that when Jesus returns,
He will bring with Him the spirits of those who have died in Christ.
Their bodies will be resurrected in a great miracle of re-creation;
their spirits will be reunited with their bodies; and their bodies
will then be glorified. Those who are alive in Christ will be
translated to meet the Lord in the air. Their bodies will be glorified
on the way up, without experiencing death.
What a glorious promise!
It is no wonder that Paul begins this passage by saying it is
intended to give hope to believers (1 Thessalonians 4:13). He
concludes it by saying, "Comfort one another with these words"
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul
reveals that the glorified body will be "imperishable"
and "immortal." It will be raised in "glory and
power" and will be spirit controlled, rather than controlled
by the flesh (1 Corinthians 15:42-44,52-54). In Philippians 3:21
Paul further states that the glorified bodies which will be given
to believers will be like the body that Jesus had after His resurrection.
Think about that for a moment.
Jesus had a tangible body that could be touched and recognized
(Luke 24:41-43 and John 20:27-28). It was body very similar to
the bodies we have now, and yet it was also very different. It
could pass through a wall into a locked room (John 20:26), and
it could move about from one place to another at a high rate of
speed (Luke 24:30-36).
His disciples were so startled
and frightened by His ability to vanish and reappear suddenly
at another place that they thought they were seeing a spirit.
But Jesus countered that idea immediately by telling them, "Touch
Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you
see that I have" (Luke 24:39).
To summarize, the Redeemed
are promised glorified bodies that will be tangible, recognizable,
and immortal. Further, the implication of a "glorified"
body is that it will be perfected. The blind will see; the deaf
will hear; the lame will walk; and the mentally impaired will
have their minds healed. There will no longer be any pain or death
- During the Millennial reign of Jesus, the Redeemed are going
to be doing anything but floating around on clouds playing harps.
We are going to reign with Jesus over those who are allowed to
enter the Millennium in the flesh (which will be those believers
who are alive at the end of the Tribulation). Jesus will reign
over all the earth from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4) as King of kings
and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). David in his glorified body
will reign as the king of Israel (Ezekiel 37:24). The Saints will
be scattered across the earth to assist with Jesus' reign (2 Timothy
Every person on earth who
is in a position of governing authority will be a glorified Saint.
Some of us will be in administrative positions, sharing in Jesus'
reign as presidents, governors, or mayors (Luke 19:11-27). Others
will serve as judges (I Corinthians 6:3). Most of us will serve
as "shepherds," or teachers, trying to bring those who
are born during the Millennium to faith in Jesus (Isaiah 66:18-21
and Jeremiah 3:15).
In the process, we are going
to be given the blessing of seeing this old sin-sick world flooded
with peace, righteousness and justice as the waters cover the
seas. I can hardly wait!
When the Millennium ends
and we move into the Eternal State, the Bible does not go into
detail as to what our activities will be. It simply says that
we will "serve" God (Revelation 22:3). Whatever that
means, I'm sure it will be a meaningful and fulfilling service.
I would imagine that, for one thing, our gifts and talents will
be magnified and that we will use them to glorify the Lord. Thus,
a singer will be able to sing with a perfection never before achieved,
and a painter will be able to paint with a glory never imagined.
- What will be the location of this Eternal State? Will it be
in an ethereal, spirit world called Heaven?
Most Christians are amazed
to discover that the Bible never promises that the Redeemed will
spend eternity in Heaven. Instead, the Bible says that the eternal
abode of the Redeemed will be in a new Jerusalem located on a
new earth (Revelation 21).
Since the Bible says that
the current earth is eternal (Psalms 78:69 and 148:6), I have
concluded that the "new earth" will be the current earth
renovated by fire (2 Peter 3:12-13).
Instead of our going up
to Heaven to live eternally with God, the Bible says He will come
to earth to live with us (Revelation 21:3). Since Heaven is located
wherever God resides, Heaven will come to earth, and in that sense
only will we reside forever in Heaven.
God loves His creation,
and He intends to redeem it all of it and not destroy it with
some mythical "big bang." He is going to restore it
to its original perfection when He created it.
Jesus died on the Cross
not only to redeem Mankind but also to redeem the creation. That's
the reason the High Priest in Old Testament times sprinkled the
blood not only on the mercy seat but also on the ground (Leviticus
The blood on the mercy seat
of the ark was a symbolic prophecy pointing to the fact that the
blood of the Messiah would cover the law of God (the tablets inside
the ark) with the mercy and grace of God. The blood on the ground
was a reminder that the sacrifice of the Messiah would make it
possible for the Curse to be lifted and for the animal and plant
kingdoms to be returned to their original perfection (Isaiah 11:6-9
and Romans 8:18-23).
What I have outlined above
are a series of glorious promises that are designed to give God's
people a strong sense of hope as they live as strangers and pilgrims
in the midst of an evil, God-rejecting world (Hebrews 11:13-16).
When you read these incredible
promises, you can understand why Paul wrote these words in 1 Corinthians
- No eye has seen;
No ear has heard;
Nor has the mind of man conceived;
What God has prepared for those who love Him".
As this verse says, we cannot
even begin to imagine the wonderful blessings God has in store
for the Redeemed, but the very next verse says that the Holy Spirit
has revealed those promises in God's Word.
The sad thing is that most
Christians are ignorant of those promises and therefore have no
idea what Paul meant when he wrote: "For I consider that
the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).
If You know Jesus as your
Savior, you are an heir to some incredible promises, and if you
know those promises and believe in them, you can live in the midst
of this evil world with hope, joy, and great expectations.
S. Lewis on Hope
Hope is one of the theological
virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal
world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism
or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant
It does not mean that we
are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history,
you will find that the Christians who did most for the present
world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles
themselves who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire,
the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals
who abolished the slave trade all left their mark on earth, precisely
because their minds were occupied with Heaven.
Importance of an Eternal Perspective
It is since Christians have
largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become
so ineffective in this one. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth
thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.
It seems a strange rule,
but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health
is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of you
main, direct objects, you start becoming a crank and imagining
there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get
health provided you want other things more food, games, work,
fun, open air.
Longing for Heaven
Most of us find it very
difficult to want Heaven at all except insofar as Heaven means
meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty
is that we have not been trained. Our whole education tends to
fix our minds on this world.
Another reason is that when
the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognize
it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their
own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something
that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things
in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite
keep their promise.
The longings which arise
in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign
country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings
which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy.
I am not speaking of what would ordinarily be called unsuccessful
marriages, or holidays, or careers. I am speaking of the best
There was something we grasped
at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in
reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a
good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent,
and chemistry may be a very interesting job but something has
- From Mere
Christianity by C. S. Lewis