The first four aspects of the Good News are very energizing, exciting, and fulfilling; and they impact our lives tremendously. If these were the only benefits we receive from the Good News of Jesus, then they are more than enough.
- God is not Angry and Harsh with Us as Many of Us Thought
- God’s Love for Us Takes Away Our Fear, Guilt, and Self-Condemnation
- We are Not to Follow Burdensome Religious Rules
- We are Agents for Expanding God’s Kingdom on Earth
However—There is a Bonus!
What could be better than spending the rest of our life experiencing God’s endless love as we love and care for others, experience peace and reconciliation, grow into better individuals free from burdensome restrictions, share the Good News with others in relationship, and expand God’s will on earth?
Well, what if this life of peace, love, and happiness could continue beyond our present existence?Jesus Says He is Preparing a Place for Us
In John chapter 14, during the last supper, Jesus entices us with an intriguing commitment:
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Of course, this causes us to begin speculating. Where is this place and what is it like? When will Jesus come back for us?
But Jesus does not elaborate further; and, since he was almost immediately captured and killed, this commitment was not accomplished during his lifetime. He was dead; how could he fulfill his promise when he was dead?
The Wonder of the Resurrection
However, we know the sequel to the death of Jesus: after a few days he conquered death as God raised him from the dead. He visited some of his followers but still did not take them to a place to be with him. Instead, he told them to stay and to spread the kingdom over the earth. Then, one-by-one, all those followers died—never having experienced the promise Jesus made to come and take them to be with him—wherever that was.
Did Jesus fail in his promise? I think not.
What happens here is that Jesus’ resurrection has more significance than just his returning from death to life. His victory over death demonstrates his power to accomplish something else—our individual resurrections.
Some Jews of Jesus’ day believed there would be a personal resurrection after death, and Jesus seems to agree. In Luke 14 Jesus said to his host who had invited him to a meal:
When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
Later, in John 11, Jesus was comforting Martha on the death of her brother. She says she knows her brother will rise again in the resurrection, but Jesus tells her something important about resurrection:
I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
Whether we live or die—we will live. This suggest eternal life!
What is Eternal Life?
Eternal life has two facets. The first operates in our current lives—eternal life is a higher quality of life. In John 4 Jesus talks about this with the Samaritan woman at the well:
Everyone who drinks this [well] water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
But in John 6, Jesus expands on our understanding of eternal life—it also involves our resurrection. Jesus told the crowd who wanted more bread:
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe…my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
And in Mark 10 Jesus tells those who make sacrifices to spread the Good News:
No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
Eternal Life! Life without end. A rich life of peace, love, and reconciliation.
What Will the Afterlife be Like?
We really have no information on what the afterlife will be like, but I suspect it will involve some of the themes important to Jesus like those in Luke 4 that he read from Isaiah and applied to his own work on earth:
To proclaim good news to the poor; to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind; to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
The afterlife will be a time when no one is marginalized. Imagine an unending life of satisfaction, freedom, health—and no oppression. This certainly sounds like the time of God’s favor to me! Yet any details of the afterlife are mere speculation. Paul addresses this by borrowing from Isaiah 64:
As it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him.
Of course we have specific questions like ‘What will we do?’ Well, what do you want to do? What is your greatest dream? I suspect you will do that—or something better. ‘What about clouds, harps, robes, and that constant Holy! Holy! Holy!’ I am sure the afterlife will never be boring; I suspect it will be far more interesting than our life today.
But this is all speculation. I can do no better than to say with Paul “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived is what the Father has prepared for us.” It will be a time of endless happiness without suffering or strife; and it will last forever.
This is SOME bonus!
Unfortunately, with all this good news we can share with others there are some who share it ineffectively. In fact it often sounds like bad news rather than good news. We will talk about that next time.
In this series so far:
What is the Good News of Jesus Anyway?
God is not Angry and Harsh with Us as Many of Us Thought
God’s Love for Us Takes Away Our Fear, Guilt, and Self-Condemnation
Do You Still Feel Guilt and Fear because You Fall Short of what God Demands?
We are not to Follow Burdensome Religious Rules
We are Agents for Expanding God’s Kingdom on Earth
Death is Not the End because Jesus Offers Us Eternal Life and Happiness (Today’s post)
When the Good News of Jesus Doesn’t Sound like Good News At All
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Have a great day! ~Tim