“There will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” -Acts 24:15
One of the reasons I like Christmas is the focus on Advent. Advent means “coming”. We know Jesus has come once to earth, born as a baby like the rest of mankind, except for our first parents Adam and Eve. He in every way knows what it is like to be human as we are. He grew up with parents and siblings. Jesus experienced temptation to sin just as we do, yet He never sinned. Only Jesus is worthy to be the Spotless Lamb of God for the sake of our souls. Yet the rest of the story still includes Advent. As Christians we know Jesus is coming again. His Second Advent will be different from the First, but it is the hope and glory for God’s people. We who know Christ and have made Him our Refuge wait for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I want to share with you my devotional reading from this morning. It focuses on the Christian’s resurrection when Jesus comes again. This is worth meditating on as an encouragement to persevere in the temporary and wait in joyful expectation of what is to come. It is written by John Bunyan, also the author of the famous Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan writes,
When we rise and live we shall be changed into a far more glorious state than when we were sown in the grave. It will indeed be the same body though raised in great splendor. We will not change our nature, but our glory. Our earthly bodies without sin and infirmity shall inherit the kingdom of God. They will be raised with no weakness or sickness, but in glory. Glory is the sweetness, comeliness, purity and perfection of a thing. Light is the glory of the sun, strength is the glory of youth, and grey hair the glory of old age. To rise in glory is to rise in all the beauty and utmost completeness that is possible to possess as a human creature. Sin and corruption has made a mad work in our bodies and souls. But, in glory there shall be no lame legs, no crumpled shoulders, no bleared eyes, and no wrinkled faces- He will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body (Phil 3:21).
Souls now in Heaven will in a moment come into their bodies again and inhabit every member and vein just as they did before their departure. Their bodies will be raised in power. Death quakes, and destruction falls dead at our feet. We shall stand with grace and majesty and our countenances shall be like lightning. It will be raised a spiritual body. It is this body, and not another. We will have the same human nature in every way though changed into a far more glorious state. Otherwise, it cannot be us in Heaven, but something besides us. If we lose our proper human nature, we lose our being, and so are annihilated into nothing. Therefore, it, the same it, that is sown a natural body, will be raised a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44).
I have often pondered what my son Jesse will be like in Heaven. He has autism and developmental delay. What will his glorified state look like? I still believe Jesse will be Jesse, just without certain struggles he faces now. I have had people say they pray for my son to be normal. First of all, what is normal anyway? I know what they mean, but it isn’t a helpful comment. I pray for my son to be whole and complete one day. I look forward to the day when his disability does not hold him back but serves as an asset in Glory. But I believe his glorified body will not change his personality. I will still recognize him in Heaven and give him hugs and kisses. Ultimately, I trust God in how He has designed what Heaven will be like for His children. He loves Jesse better than I do. He loves each of His sons and daughters better. So this is where I rest. I hope for loved ones who have gone before you there is comfort in reading what we do know of Heaven and our resurrected bodies. Believers still grieve when we lose someone we love but we do not grieve as those without hope. There is brokenness in this world that also grieves us but it is not the end of the Story, praise God. As you close out this year and reflect, I pray you remember the Lord’s future graces. Meanwhile, there is strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Blessings all ours, with ten thousand beside. Great is His faithfulness.
Grace upon grace,
Growing deeper: 1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:20-21; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; Revelation 20:11-21:8