R.I.P. (Part 4)

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:22-25 ESV).

The third principle is that when in heaven we will be continue looking forward (as we should be already in this life) to the resurrection of our bodies from the dead. Disembodied existence is not God’s ultimate and final and greatest purpose for us. As great as it will be to be in heaven after we die, God has something greater in store: being resurrected from the dead so that we will live soul and body forever in the new heavens and new earth.

In our reading today, Paul stated that he was waiting eagerly for the redemption of his body (v. 23). This eager anticipation for our resurrection stops not when we die, but when we finally receive the fulfillment of our anticipation in the resurrection of our bodies. Understanding this should greatly increase our desire for the full coming of God’s kingdom. John Piper has written:

It seems to me that the hope of resurrection does not have the same place of power and centrality for us today that it had for the early Christians. And I think one of the reasons for that is that we have a wrong view of the age to come. When we talk about the future and the eternal state we tend to talk about heaven, and heaven tends to imply a place far away characterized by non-material, ethereal, disembodied spirits. In other words, we tend to assume that the condition that the departed saints are in now without their bodies is the way it will always be. And we have encouraged ourselves so much with how good it is for them now, we tend to forget that it is an imperfect state and not the way it will be, nor the way Paul wanted it to be for himself. Yes to die is gain, and yes, to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord, but no this is not our ultimate hope. This is not the final state of our joy. This is not our final or main comfort when we have lost loved ones who believe.

Our current bodies are characterized by weakness and debility. Our earthly “temples” are undeniably fragile and susceptible to the plethora of diseases. We are also weakened by sin and temptation. One day, though, our bodies will be raised in power and glory, and we will no longer be subject to the flaws and fragility that this life is so filled with. Now that causes me to rejoice and know peace! I hope it does for you as well.