DO YOU REALLY WANT TO LIVE FOREVER?
A happy couple growing old together through life is what most of us dream of.
But is that all there is?
Wouldn’t you like to live forever young?
The prophet Daniel was inspired to foretell the resurrection of the dead at the coming of Jesus and called it an awakening from the dreamless sleep of death. Then he adds that only some of those raised from the dead will be made immortal. Here’s what he said:
“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt (death again). Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2,3).
Jesus expands on this Old Testament teaching as follows:
“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:41–43).
Many shall Awake
After the resurrection, the faithful will be rewarded with eternal life (perfect life that lasts forever), but in these words there is also an important warning. Those judged unfaithful will experience ‘shame and everlasting contempt’. Please note that the verses do not say they will suffer eternal pain.
In fact the Psalmist says this:
“The wicked shall return to Sheol (the grave), all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17 ESV).
“Hell” or “Sheol” are names that just mean the grave and what we are being told is that people who are rejected at the judgement in the last days will just die again. Their fate will be that of “everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9) and their bad reputation will be always remembered as a warning.
Jesus was once asked a trick question about the resurrection concerning who will be married to whom in the future age. His answer tells us much about the blessings of immortality:
“Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34–36).
Equality with angels! Not ever dying or being sick or sad again! This is what God offers to us, if we will believe the truth of His word really try to remain faithful and obedient to His word of truth.
We are not thinking of living for ever with the weak sinful nature we have at present: that would not be a blessing at all. Angels enjoy a perfect quality of life in total obedience to God:
“Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word” (Psalm 103:20).
God promises that those who try to please Him now in their weak mortal state, will enjoy perfect sin-free lives helping forward God’s purpose in His kingdom when Jesus is here as King.
We can be sure that if we really want to serve God properly, and for ever, He will make it possible for us. Here are two more of these promises:
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24–25).
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation 19:6–9).
Immortality will be a free gift from God, we can never deserve it. All that we actually earn is death, but God wants us in His kingdom and He wants to forgive our failings. The apostle Paul, writing about Abraham, says this about his faith:
“It was accounted to him for righteousness.”
“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:22–25).
God will count us righteous in His sight if we have a faith like Abraham’s and act accordingly. God wants us to be baptized into the saving name of Jesus, so we can be covered by his sacrificial death. And Paul’s chapter about baptism ends with this summary:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
But let us not ignore something else that Paul said, earlier in this letter:
“[God] will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality” (Romans 2:6–7).
But to get eternal life, we have really got to want it, and must reach out to God for the salvation that He has graciously provided. As Jesus said, we must ‘hunger and thirst’ (Matthew 5:6) after the things that are right with God.