The Christian Hope

The Christian hope in life after death depends upon belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Belief in the Resurrection asserts that death does not have the last word over human destiny; God does. Jesus conquered death, and so death does not finally separate us from God. He was raised from death to a new order of life, an eternal life given by God. The Christian hope is that as God raised Jesus Christ from death, so God will raise us from death to eternal life with him.

For the Christian, belief in the Resurrection is radical trust in the one eternal God. The God of the beginning is also the God of the end. At the beginning there was God, who called the world into being out of nothing and created us in his own image. At the end there is God, not nothing; a God who calls us into a new Resurrection life with him, God, our Creator and Perfecter, completely fulfills his purpose for us.

As Jesus did not die into nothing, neither do we. We die into the life of God.

1. The triumph of the Kingdom of God

The completion of God’s purposes for the whole universe can be illustrated in the biblical language of the Kingdom of God. This language is a way of describing the rule of God in human affairs, and is demonstrated when lives and human communities are transformed by Christ. The Bible looks forward to that transformation being made complete and visible in a new world order under God. This hope is clothed in vivid pictures which attempt to describe the ultimately indescribable, the entire cosmos in mutual harmony and at peace with its Creator (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:17-25). There are descriptions of a new creation where all live in love, share an abundance of good things and know great joy. Images of banquets and wedding feasts, of water that never runs dry, of life-giving trees and an ever-welcoming eternal city, express hope in concrete terms (Revelation 21:1-7; Revelation 22:1-5). They remind us that God plans for us a whole, fully personal, eternal life together. Jesus came preaching the coming of Gods Kingdom and in his ministry of teaching, preaching and healing revealed a foretaste of the coming joy (Luke 4:18-19; Luke 7:22; Luke 11:14-20). In Christ’s Resurrection from the dead and the outpouring of the Spirit, the life of the Kingdom of God was released into the world (Acts 2:32-36). Therefore the good news of the Kingdom became the central theme of the message of the Early Church (Acts 8:12; Acts 19:2; Acts 28:23-31). All who accept Christ through faith can live in its reality and look forward to its completion at the end of time, when Christ returns (1 Peter 1:3-5).

2. Eternal life

The life beyond death which beckons the Christian is eternal life. This is a quality of life in the presence of God, not simply unending time. It begins now as we follow Christ (Mark 10:17-22; John 3:16; John 10:27-30; John 11:25; John 17:1-3). It is the life everlasting of which the Bible speaks, life with no end and love with no end. It is abundant life beyond our imagination (1 Corinthians 2:9). All we can say is that God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Eternal life focuses on unending adoration and enjoyment of God. We find our destiny and experience that for which we were created: to see God, to be like Him, to love him and to enjoy him for ever (1 John 3:2).