“‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave'” (Revelation 1:17b-18, NLT).
Each year brings its share of death, but it seems this one in particular has been full of violent killings. Death is bad enough by itself, but many worry about what happens to their loved ones afterward. People believe many different things about the afterlife, including the belief there isn’t one, which is a sad way to live and die. Christians believe in heaven but hold various views on what it really is and worry about those who aren’t believers.
The truth is no one need be afraid of what happens after we die, believers or not. Jesus assures us we have nothing to worry about because he is the living one who died but is alive forever and ever. His resurrection means he holds the keys to death and the grave. He has forever locked the door on death and its power over us and he has opened the door to eternal life, which no one can close. Some think he may use the keys to lock out a few or even a lot of folks, but our loving Savior isn’t like that. He will only use the keys to lock out the real enemy, never his loved ones, the whole world, for whom he died.
“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1, NLT).
No one wants to think about dying, yet the reality and reminders of this part of life are all around us. We know it’s going to happen, but for now, we put it away in a compartment of our brains labelled “later” or “someday” and continue to believe death is only happening to others. Because no one knows exactly what happens after death, we continue to think of that stage of life as a great unknown.
Paul takes away some of the sting of death and answers one big question as he tells us we will have new bodies, made by God himself. These bodies won’t just get a makeover, plastic surgery or a few nips and tucks. They will be spiritual bodies, the same as Jesus had when he appeared to the disciples after walking out of his tomb. God, whom we already know as the great gift giver, is preparing this last, wonderful gift for his children and it will be glorious. His love truly is unending and amazing.
“And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3, NLT).
Many Christians, and people observing Christians, have the idea the way to heaven is to do certain things – be good, turn the other cheek, go to church – and to stop doing other things (you fill in the rest). But nothing we do or don’t do will make any difference – we can’t earn our way to heaven.
The way to eternal life is really very simple: to know Jesus and his Father, which has nothing to do with our behavior. The Amplified version expands on the word know: to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand. Wouldn’t it be great if we could help people understand that being a Christian is about knowing and loving God and our fellow human beings, not performing for him?