Through a resurrection of the dead, God promises to reunite us with loved ones and offer eternal life to all.
Eventually God's plan will lead to death itself being destroyed in an awesome future almost beyond our comprehension!
Death has always been humanity's enemy. It brings loneliness, sadness, disorientation. But it need not be a mystery nor be entirely devastating. Even though it is inevitable, death is not the end. Though at times death seems unfair and arbitrary, it does not thwart God's plan for eternal life. Through a resurrection God will reunite us with family and friends and extend His promises to all who have ever lived.
Eventually there will come a time when death itself will be banished. Writing about the resurrection that will take place when Jesus returns, Paul paraphrased from the book of Hosea: "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O Death, where is your sting? O Hades [grave] where is your victory?'" (1 Corinthians:15:53-55). Death will be swallowed up and defeated in the victory of eternal life.
Holding on to this view of the future can give us hope and optimism at a time of great loss. "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [died], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians:4:13).
A future beyond our wildest hopes
Some people are put off by the thought of eternal life. Some feel this life is painful and difficult enough, so why would anyone want to live forever? Others may think that eternity sounds vague and uninteresting, that if it means they have to give up pleasure in this lifetime it just isn't worth the effort. They would rather experience all the good times they can for now and worry about eternity some other time.
In all the scriptures we've read we've seen that God wants to give us an everlasting, eternal, immortal life. We are assured that it is more valuable than any physical treasure (Colossians:1:26-27; 2:2-3). But exactly what will we be doing for eternity? If receiving eternal life requires effort and sacrifice in this life, is it going to be worth it?
Let's remember the limitations of our human experience and observation. God is so far above us that it's difficult for us to understand His ways and thoughts (Isaiah:55:8-9). What God is preparing to give us is beyond our wildest imaginations and fantasies: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever" (Ephesians:3:20-21).
God is Creator. He plans, builds, implements. He designed the universe and devised His plan and our reward before He even started creating it (Matthew:25:34). He is planning and preparing an infinitely more exciting and rewarding life for us in His divine family (John:14:1-3). We can only try to begin to imagine the incredible and eternally enjoyable life He wants to give us—an eternal life free from human limitations and disappointments, weaknesses and suffering.
Pain, disappointment and death will be no more. Regarding the vision he received of "a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation:21:1), the apostle John wrote: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (verse 4).
From Revelation 21 and 22 we learn that those who receive eternal life will be a family, the children of God, with community relationships in the New Jerusalem. Relationship principles that God is teaching us now will be as applicable then as they are today. That is why God wants us to learn and apply His ways in our lives now. What we can take with us for all eternity is our love and concern for one another.
The full hope and meaning of an eternal existence with God and Jesus Christ is truly beyond our ability to grasp or express. "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John:3:2).
John states that God hasn't revealed everything that He has in mind for us, as we can't yet conceive of what it means to be fully like the glorified Jesus Christ. Our finite minds couldn't contain it.
We have seen prophecies that take us into the future about 1,000 years beyond Christ's promised return. As Paul wrote, we see spiritual concepts and promises in a kind of vague outline as if we were looking through a steamed-up mirror (1 Corinthians:13:12). But someday, as Paul also says in this verse, we will see clearly—just as clearly as God sees everything about us.
Responding to God in faith
Is it worth it to seek God's Kingdom rather than sinful pleasures or priorities in this world? Many are not so sure.
But God assures us that His promise of eternal life is more than worth the effort, struggles and disappointments of life and death: "Therefore do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians:4:16-18).
Everlasting life is, after all, a matter of faith (John:3:16). Faith is not just a warm, vague feeling that Jesus has done everything for us. Faith is a frame of mind that is expressed by the kind of person you choose to be, the actions that express what you believe (James:2:20-24). When all is said and done, we must have faith that eternal life is worth anything we might be required to endure to receive it (Romans:8:18; Philippians 3:12-14).
Learning more about life, death and what happens after death should make quite an impact on how you live. That knowledge should make you pause and consider what use you are making of the precious gift of life and whether you are using it to prepare for the eternal life God offers you.
Psalm 90 was composed by Moses. In this prayer to God he contrasts the power of God with the frailties of man. He writes of God's view of time, of the relative mere moment that represents our lifetime, and of the punishment that is sometimes necessary to correct man's ways. In verses 10-12 he says: "The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Regrettably, most people seem to notice that life is short only after much of it has slipped away. We must learn to number our days, keeping in mind that our time will pass and we must take care to make the most of it (see Ephesians:5:16; Colossians:4:5). Solomon told us to remember the Creator in the days of our youth (Ecclesiastes:12:1).
What will you do?
Peter wrote of the culmination of God's plan. He prophesied of the time during which everything physical will be burned up and replaced by new heavens and a new earth. Then he asks a challenging rhetorical question: How does that knowledge change your life? "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be, in holy conduct and godliness . . . ?" (2 Peter:3:10-11).
Understanding the meaning of life, death and what follows this physical life can give priceless comfort and hope in the face of death. It should also have a great impact on the kind of person you are, motivating you to live carefully and make wise choices. Knowing that the purpose of this life is to prepare you for an eternal life of power and ability beyond anything you can imagine should encourage you to turn to God so He can begin to fulfill His purpose in you!