Death is not the end of us. The real you: your personality, consciousness etc., survives death, liberated from the body. Ultimately, when Jesus Christ returns to Earth in majesty and glory, God wants to give us a new body: one like Jesus’ body after he was raised from the dead. He could appear and disappear wherever and whenever he wished. He could pass through solid objects. Yet he was no spook: his disciples could feel his hands; he made breakfast for them and ate it with them.
Jesus will return to Earth to right all the wrongs and injustices in the world; to put an end to evil and suffering. Then he will set up his Kingdom of righteousness and peace. Heaven will be on a renewed, perfect earth.
He died and rose again to make this possible. Because he cares so much about each one of us, God wants us to share eternity with him. But we’re all imperfect and really deserve eternal condemnation and exclusion from the presence of our perfect God. However Jesus, God’s Son, bore that condemnation and exclusion on the cross. At that point he cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus’ great sacrifice was proved to be effective when, on the third day after he died, God brought him back to life (the Resurrection). He now lives a life which can never be subject to death, suffering, evil, sin or hell. He wants us to share the same quality of life for all eternity.
But we can experience much of this life here and now – life before death! The Bible says we need to receive Jesus and to commit ourselves to him in faith (John 1:12). It is only then, when his life is in us, that we can begin to experience this life now and to be sure that after death we shall experience it for ever.
Many people have found it helpful to say a prayer like the following:
Lord Jesus Christ, I humbly acknowledge that I have sinned through ignorance, weakness and my own deliberate fault, and that my sins have separated me from your holy presence. I know I shall never be good enough for heaven by my own efforts;
But I now firmly believe that you died on the cross for my sins, bearing them in your own body and suffering in my place the condemnation they deserved;
I sincerely repent, turning from my past selfishness. I am willing to surrender to you as my Lord and Master. Help me not to be ashamed of you. Give me the power of the Holy Spirit so that I may show my gratitude to you in the way I live;
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction