While many believe that Christians go to heaven when they die and everyone else goes to hell, the Bible says something very different! The reward of the “saved” is so much more vast than just “heaven,” and God’s love and plan for the “unsaved” is bigger, as well! If you’re ready to move past what’s popularly believed to find out that the Bible actually says, then read on!
YOUR GLORIOUS DESTINY
by Richard F. Ames
When we look up at the heavens, we cannot help but be awestruck by what we see, millions and even billions of light years away. Yet most of us will never in our lifetimes travel more than a few miles above the surface of planet Earth. Could it be that here is a magnificent purpose for the vast universe—a purpose that involves you?
Would you like to travel to the farthest reaches of the universe? The Hubble telescope has revealed breathtakingly beautiful images of galaxies and nebulas far away. Many have romantic names: the Cartwheel Galaxy and the Tadpole Galaxy, the Cone, Crab, Eagle, Lagoon and Swan nebulas. We see these marvelous sights and we marvel with wonder, but we know they are beyond our reach—or are they?
Within our lifetimes, only a few human beings have even ventured beyond our planet into low Earth orbit. Fewer still have left Earth behind and traveled to the Moon. No one has yet made the trip to Mars, our planetary neighbor, though several nations are in the early stages of making plans for such a mission in the years to come.
So, will you travel beyond planet Earth within the short span of your human lifetime? If not, will you never have the opportunity to see “up close” what is “out there” beyond our planet? Amazingly, though few understand this amazing truth, your Bible reveals not only that human beings will live beyond death, but that God has planned for faithful Christians—those who choose His way of life over the world’s way of sin and death—a glorious future that involves not only planet Earth, but the whole universe!
We Shall Reign
Will resurrected Christians “roll around heaven all day,” as an old popular song tells us? Or will they have something important to do in their service to God? What does Scripture say about what we will be doing, and where? “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth’” (Revelation 5:9–10).
You need to know your ultimate glorious destiny! You need to know your magnificent future beyond death. Notice: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over 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” (Revelation 20:6).
Most English-speakers are familiar with Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah! It includes these words of the voices in heaven: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15). Yes, genuine Christians, who experience the first resurrection from the dead at Christ’s return, will rule with Him—for the thousand years known as the “Millennium”—and then on into eternity.
God promises faithful Christians real responsibilities in His Kingdom, as pictured in the parable of the minas (Luke 19). To the faithful servant who multiplied his mina ten times, He states: “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities” (v. 17). Another servant multiplied his mina five times. “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities’” (vv. 18–19). God is preparing us for positions of service for eternity!
The God Family
One of the most amazing and encouraging truths from your Bible is that God is producing a family! God is the Father “from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14–15). God wants each human being to voluntarily choose to become His son or His daughter! God wants us to come out of the carnal, sinful ways of the world. “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17–18).
But how do you become a spiritual son or daughter of your Father in heaven? This is important! We must first acknowledge God Almighty as the Creator of heaven and earth. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
And there is another important step. Notice: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14–15).
Yes, Jesus called all who heard Him to repentance. But what does that mean? We must repent of sin, which is the transgression of God’s law—the violation of His Ten Commandments! “Repent” means to change our mind—to express such genuine sorrow for our sins that we turn our life around and go God’s way instead.
When the New Testament Church began on the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter told his audience: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38–39).
After genuine repentance, faith and baptism, God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Once you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, you become a begotten child of God! We become the very heirs of God—co-heirs, or joint-heirs with Christ. Read it for yourself: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption [or “sonship”], whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:14–17, KJV).
We have already seen a glimpse of our inheritance: We will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). We will inherit the Kingdom (Daniel 7:18 and Matthew 25:34). We will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29). Note that we are now heirs of God, not yet inheritors. Our inheritance will take place at the resurrection! Once we are God’s begotten children, we need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18)! As we learn and practice God’s way of life, we grow in godly character. And that takes a lifetime.
What happens when you die? Many denominations teach that your soul either goes to a blissful heaven at death, or to a fiery hell or purgatory. But what does the Bible actually teach? The Bible teaches that there is a human spirit, not an immortal soul in man (1 Corinthians 2:11; Job 32:8). The Bible teaches plainly that the soul can die: “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).
Jesus stated: “But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna fire]” (Matthew 10:28). The Bible teaches that souls are mortal, not immortal, and that souls can be totally destroyed in fire. Jesus said so. The incorrigibly wicked indeed will be tormented and then burned up in a lake of fire. That is called the second death (Revelation 20:14). The second death is final—a death from which there is no resurrection. You certainly do not want to be thrown into a lake of fire!
We Shall Be Changed
Paul wrote: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 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’” (1 Corinthians 15:50–54).
At the resurrection, today’s faithful Christians will be born into God’s glorious family as glorified, immortalized children of God! We will rule with Christ on this earth as kings and priests for a thousand years, helping nations and peoples learn the way to peace, happiness, harmony and prosperity.
After a lifetime of spiritual growth, a faithful Christian dies in the faith. Notice this commendation of faithful servants: “These all 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. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13–16).
Those who died in the faith are right now resting in their graves, awaiting the resurrection. All Christians look forward to the resurrection because they know that Christ Himself was resurrected from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb, or the “heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). Notice this important point: Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).
Scripture tells us that Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). Yes, faithful Christians will be born again at the resurrection from the dead! We will be God’s glorified children! We will inherit glory and immortality. We will no longer be heirs, but inheritors of the Kingdom, the earth and eternal life. And there is more. Ultimately, the New Jerusalem will come down to earth from heaven. What will happen after that? “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” (Revelation 21:4).
What About The "Unsaved"?
Yes, we will all die, but later there is a judgment for those who never had the opportunity for salvation! It is called the White Throne Judgment. What happens to the billions of human beings who have lived and died without ever accepting Christ’s sacrifice? Are they lost forever? No! God is just and fair. He will not send spiritually blinded human beings to a lake of fire without ever giving them an opportunity for salvation.
The Apostle John writes: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (Revelation 20:12).
In the White Throne Judgment, billions of human beings who were previously spiritually blinded will finally learn from the pain of the past, and they will be given the opportunity to truly repent, believe the gospel and eventually inherit the Kingdom of God. As Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
What a glorious future lies ahead for all those who respond to God’s calling! Death is an enemy. But that enemy will be conquered. God will give His glorified children the awesome inheritance of eternal life, and further, the whole universe! “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7).
Our destiny is glorious. As spirit beings, we will not be limited by time and space. We will be able to travel to the most distant galaxies. The entire universe will be ours to rule. “For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him” (Hebrews 2:8). God will give His children “all things.” We will inherit the universe! As the psalmist tells us, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).
Thank God for the glorious destiny He has planned for you beyond your death! Pray for God’s Kingdom to come to planet Earth, and rejoice in God’s personal love for you!
Adapted from “Your Glorious Destiny” from www.TomorrowsWorld.org.