Hope In Our Future
Words by Glenn Jago // Images by Jessica Donar
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:50–58)
There are three facts, as determined by God, which believers must hold dear and sacred. First, God as Creator and Savior has determined the way of salvation. Second, God has revealed that the way of salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. Third, God will raise every believer from death to live in a glorified body forever.
Now, for all those who have already trusted in Christ alone, here are a few brief thoughts regarding the anticipation of the glory that awaits every believer. First of all, this 1 Corinthians passage reveals that there will be a change before we enter into heaven. Christ, in his sacrifice and resurrection, provided hope for victory against sin’s power, for forgiveness of sin, and for an intimate relationship with God.
All that is great, but what about our future? If our current physical body is incapable of entering into heaven, then what must we do to guarantee that we will be able to get there? Thankfully, it is not what we need to do, but rather it is something God, through Jesus Christ, has already provided. Paul says it twice, “We shall be changed,” in verses 51 and 52. Both times, this guarantee of change is something that is done to us, not something we must do. The change that takes place is what God will accomplish as he exchanges, or makes different, our present state into something exceedingly better. What is that change? It is the exchanging of our mortal body for an immortal body; exchanging our perishable body for an imperishable one.
Imagine the joy of anticipation knowing that someday there will be an exchange for an immortal, imperishable, and never-decaying body, without having to travel to some fictional remote island to find an exotic but disgusting plant to ingest. Yes, this immortality is God’s guarantee to all those who believe in Jesus Christ as it is the final piece to the completion of our salvation.
The second thought to consider is the circumstances surrounding this hope of exchanging the perishable for the imperishable, which Paul calls a “mystery.” This is not some secret word for deciphering a coded treasure map, but is one that is dependent on God disclosing what was unknown previously. The revelation of this mystery is very clear and very certain. Paul declares that whether we are dead or alive, we will be changed, and will be brought into heaven by Christ himself. Similarly, Jesus comforted his disciples in John 14:3 by promising, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
We may not know when, but we know it will happen within an indivisible moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the trumpet, and no matter what time zone one lives in, this change will happen, and we will be forever and ever with Christ in heaven.
One final thought wrapped in this passage of Scripture regards the final outcome. Paul says that once and for all, death and sin will be erased forever from all those who believe in Jesus Christ. Death will be swallowed up in victory and the stigma of death and the power of sin, which is the law, will be completely dealt with.
What guarantees this absolutely amazing victory? 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “thanks” is also the word for “grace”—charis—because it is only by grace that God provides victory. But this victory is only made available to those who no longer trust in their works but have trusted completely in the Lord Jesus Christ who arose from the grave.
In our world of empty promises, which are short on guarantees, it is important to think seriously about Paul’s words, since our hope is not wrapped in our ability but in what the risen Savior has provided—a body to be made ready for heaven. Thankfully, our present state is not all there is to life. Therefore, we can continuously live steadfast and immovable, always abounding in every good work because deep within our character we know that with the Lord our labor is never in vain.