Your Awesome Future

Your Awesome Future

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In light of these biblical truths, where does that leave us? As we have seen, the beliefs of people about the nature of heaven and hell have ranged over a broad—and confusing—spectrum. But there is one thing on which we all should agree: "The living know that they will die" (Ecclesiastes 9:5 Ecclesiastes 9:5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
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The prospect of death has hung over the heads of mankind as long as human beings have existed. When people do not understand God's truth, they are gripped by the fear of death and enslaved in a cruel and unforgiving bondage.

The Expositor's Bible Commentary summarizes how the truth of the resurrection, exemplified in the resurrection of Christ, transformed the outlook of many: "In the first century this [fear of death] was very real. The philosophers urged people to be calm in the face of death, and some of them managed to do so. But to most people this brought no relief. Fear was widespread, as the hopeless tone of the inscriptions on tombs clearly illustrates. But one of the many wonderful things about the Christian gospel is that it delivers men and women from this fear...They are saved with a sure hope of life eternal, a life whose best lies beyond the grave" (Leon Morris, 1981, Vol. 12, p. 29, note on Hebrews 2:14-15 Hebrews 2:14-15 [14] For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; [15] And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
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The Bible reveals that the best that man can experience lies beyond the grave. It shows us that converted Christians will inherit eternal life at the first resurrection and that death will never again lay a claim on them: "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'" (1 Corinthians 15:54 1 Corinthians 15:54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
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The life to come will be vastly superior to this present, temporary existence. It will be a life abounding in both purpose and pleasure: "In your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore," wrote David (Psalms 16:11 Psalms 16:11You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more.
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Let us now catch a glimpse of what awaits those who receive eternal life in the first resurrection.

What will we be like?

We can know in general terms what we will be like in this resurrection because the Bible tells us we will be like the resurrected Jesus. "The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven...And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man" (1 Corinthians 15:47-49 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 [47] The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. [48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. [49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
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).

We learn that in the resurrection we will take on the same image, or likeness, that Christ has. This includes becoming a spirit being with a spirit body rather than flesh and blood (see 1 Corinthians 15:45-50 1 Corinthians 15:45-50 [45] And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. [46] However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. [47] The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. [48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. [49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. [50] Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
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).

Moreover, Paul tells us that true Christians will "share the likeness of his Son," who is "the eldest among a large family of brothers" (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
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, Revised English Bible). Did you catch that? We will be Jesus' brothers and share His likeness. Though Christ has eternally existed and we have not, we will be elevated to a plane so high that we are called children of God and brothers of Jesus Christ.

The apostle John confirms these same two truths—that we'll be children of God and that we'll have the same glorified form as Jesus Christ. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us," he writes, "that we should be called children of God" (1 John 3:1 1 John 3:1Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.
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). And in the next verse he tells us, "We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

Raised in unimaginable splendor, we will share the divine glory and dominion of Christ (Romans 8:16-18 Romans 8:16-18 [16] The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. [18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
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; 2 Corinthians 3:18 2 Corinthians 3:18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.
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; 2 Thessalonians 2:14 2 Thessalonians 2:14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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; Hebrews 1:1-3 Hebrews 1:1-3 [1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, [2] Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; [3] Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
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; Hebrews 2:5-9 Hebrews 2:5-9 [5] For to the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. [6] But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that you are mindful of him? or the son of man that you visit him? [7] You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands: [8] You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. [9] But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
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; Revelation 21:7 Revelation 21:7He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
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)—though we will never equal Him. He is the one Son of God who has always existed, superior to all but the Father.

The glory of Christ

What is the glory of Christ like? During His physical ministry on earth, He gave three of His disciples a preview of His appearance in this glorified spiritual state. "He was transfigured...His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light" (Matthew 17:2 Matthew 17:2And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
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Years later, at the writing of the book of Revelation, John saw a vision of the resurrected, glorified Christ. Notice how John describes His awesome appearance: "His hair was as white as snow-white wool, and his eyes flamed like fire; his feet were like burnished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of a mighty torrent...His face shone like the sun in full strength" (Revelation 1:14-16 Revelation 1:14-16 [14] His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; [15] And his feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. [16] And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength.
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, REB).

This language describes Jesus Christ, the glorified Son of God, as a being of awe-inspiring brilliance. We, too, will share that dazzling appearance!

After His resurrection Jesus had the ability to take on the appearance He had when He existed in the flesh. Early on the morning after He rose from the garden tomb, Mary Magdalene visited His grave. When she saw the tomb was empty, she began to weep (John 20:11 John 20:11But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher,
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Then "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, 'Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away'" (John 20:15 John 20:15Jesus said to her, Woman, why weep you? whom seek you? She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, Sir, if you have borne him hence, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.
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). So Jesus appeared to Mary as a normal human being rather than in His radiant state. She at first mistook Him for the gardener.

On another occasion Jesus appeared from nowhere inside a closed room where His disciples were meeting: "And after eight days His disciples were again inside...Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, 'Peace to you!'" (John 20:26 John 20:26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you.
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). After His resurrection Jesus was able to pass through solid barriers—such as the walls of a building or the stone enclosure of His tomb.

Like Jesus, when we are changed to spirit we will not be limited by the laws that govern physical things. With the ability to simply materialize as Jesus did, we will not be subject to restrictions on physical objects. As part of this change we will no longer need to eat to survive, but apparently will have the option of eating for pleasure and fellowship if we choose. In two of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances He shared a meal with His disciples (Luke 24:28-30 Luke 24:28-30 [28] And they drew near to the village, where they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. [29] But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. [30] And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them.
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; John 21:9-15 John 21:9-15 [9] As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. [10] Jesus said to them, Bring of the fish which you have now caught. [11] Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. [12] Jesus said to them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples dared ask him, Who are you? knowing that it was the Lord. [13] Jesus then comes, and takes bread, and gives them, and fish likewise. [14] This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. [15] So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs.
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Those to whom God gives eternal life in the resurrection will forever possess these supernatural characteristics. Notice the description of the resurrection in the book of Daniel: "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:2-3 Daniel 12:2-3 [2] And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. [3] And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
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, NIV).

To better understand just what all this means, be sure to read our free Bible study aid booklet Why Were You Born?

What will we do as spirit beings?

As spirit beings in God's family, we will live and work at the highest possible level and environment. Jesus said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3 John 17:3And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
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). We will spend eternity with God in His environment—the world of spirit and unimaginable power. We will not sit idle in our new life. We will be positively occupied. Jesus said, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working" (John 5:17 John 5:17But Jesus answered them, My Father works till now, and I work.
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When Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, those in the first resurrection will serve as judges (Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
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) and priests (Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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) and will "reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
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). We will not go to heaven to live passively and idly.

Jesus will return to a world that has largely destroyed itself by living in opposition to the commands of its Creator. He will teach people to obey God's laws. He will begin a massive reeducation process to help people unlearn their old ways of doing things and for the first time learn to do things God's way.

Notice Isaiah's prophecy of this future rule of Jesus as Messiah and King over the earth, wherein "mountains" and "hills" are symbolic of larger and smaller kingdoms or political states respectively:

"Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

"He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:2-4 Isaiah 2:2-4 [2] And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. [3] And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. [4] And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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At that time Christ will teach all people who have not known God's way. He will be assisted in this by all who are changed into glorified children of God in the resurrection at His return (see Luke 20:36 Luke 20:36Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
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If we enter that new life we will be endowed with great power and unlimited energy. As immortal members of God's family we will be like "the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, [who] neither faints nor is weary" (Isaiah 40:28 Isaiah 40:28Have you not known? have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
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A change for the better

Describing the event that will change our mortal bodies, Paul writes: "The sun has a splendour of its own, the moon another splendour, and the stars yet another; and one star differs from another in brightness. So it is with the resurrection of the dead: what is sown as a perishable thing is raised imperishable. Sown in humiliation, it is raised in glory; sown in weakness, it is raised in power; sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:41-44 1 Corinthians 15:41-44 [41] There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. [42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: [43] It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
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, REB).

God will give us bodies that will never tire nor grow ill—and minds having the kind of supernatural abilities He has. Reigning with Christ (Revelation 2:26 Revelation 2:26And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
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; Revelation 3:21 Revelation 3:21To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
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), we will help bring about worldwide peace. We will assist in spreading the knowledge of God to the most distant lands in His globe-spanning program of reeducation. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," He tells us, "for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
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Those changed at Christ's return will include all His faithful followers at His return as well as the dead who were called, had repented and who lived in faithful obedience to God. It will include all of the faithful listed in Hebrews 11, who "died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13 Hebrews 11:13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
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Those who died in faith include Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Hebrews 11:17-21 Hebrews 11:17-21 [17] By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, [18] Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall your seed be called: [19] Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from where also he received him in a figure. [20] By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. [21] By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.
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). The promise they have not yet received is the promise of the Kingdom of God. As Jesus says, "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11 Matthew 8:11And I say to you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
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). Remember that the Kingdom of Heaven is synonymous with the Kingdom of God, which Christ will establish on earth at His return.

Responding to God's invitation

You can be among those who arise from all parts of the world in the resurrection to be with Christ in His Kingdom—if you respond to God's invitation. God is issuing that call through the preaching of the gospel. This very booklet you are reading is part of that effort.

The calling of God is not offered to everyone in this age. Jesus told His disciples that the understanding of God's truth is not yet available to many: "It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given" (Matthew 13:11 Matthew 13:11He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
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The Bible speaks in several places about God's "elect" or chosen people. They are called to understand these things now, in this present age, but the rest—the vast majority—will not be called until later.

Most of the people of Israel, God's nation spoken of extensively in the Old Testament, were not called to understand the Kingdom of God during their lifetimes. Their hearts were hardened, their minds blinded. But the opportunity for most of them will come in the second resurrection. "Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded" (Romans 11:7 Romans 11:7What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
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).

Yet as Paul explains in this same chapter, the time is coming when "all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [i.e., Israel]'" (Romans 11:26 Romans 11:26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
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). God's calling is carried out according to His timetable. When all is said and done, His plan is entirely fair to everyone.

Peter explains that those who now become a part of His Church are chosen in this age to receive salvation in the first resurrection. Peter says of them, "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
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).

The good news is that God eventually will offer eternal life to everyone who repents. He desires that everyone enter His Kingdom. He wants to share this opportunity for eternal life with all (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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).

In a final, breathtaking view of what God has in store for those who serve Him, the apostle John was inspired to write this glimpse of the future in Revelation, the last book of the Bible: "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...He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Revelation 21:4-7 Revelation 21:4-7 [4] And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. [5] And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. [6] And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely. [7] He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
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).

The future God has planned for us is fantastic beyond belief! It is far superior to the fanciful heaven of men's imagination. God will share the real future with all who repent and turn from their sins. As for those who willfully refuse to repent, they will not suffer forever in hell. They will simply cease to be. But this need not happen to you.

You may share in the eternal Kingdom of God if you heed the words Jesus spoke when He began His ministry: "The time has come...The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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, NIV).

Take comfort in the truth of God. There is no need to fear death if you turn your life toward Him. After all, He wants you to live with Him in abundant joy forever and ever. And He'll make that happen—if you let Him!