Most Christians believe that after they die they will be separated from their bodies, judged, and then go to be with God in heaven forever. This sort of view, according to traditional Christian faith, is missing part of the story. The story we find in the pages of Scripture and the story that men and women have preached, taught, believed in, and died for during the course of 2000 years. One of the distinctive aspects of Christian faith is its affirmation of the body, both for this life and the life to come.
Bishop N.T. Wright, Anglican bishop, New Testament scholar, and perhaps the leading authority today on this subject of life after heaven, has done much to remind us of the importance of the Resurrection of the dead on the last day. Bishop Wright compares our future selves, after the resurrection of the dead, to our current selves in a helpful way.
He comments that sometimes when we visit a friend or relative in hospital we say that “they were a shadow of their old selves.” Wright tells us that we are currently “a shadow of our future selves,” meaning we will become fully as God intended on that future day (to hear directly from N.T. Wright on this subject click here, to check out his book on this subject, click here).Our hope for life after death as Christians is life after heaven, the resurrected life (for more on what happens after heaven click here). Christian belief about the final things: death, judgment, heaven and hell, have vast implications for our lives right now. Since Christ will return we must always be prepared for his arrival (for more on Christ’s return click here).
Since Christ will create a new heavens and a new earth at the end of time we must get busy working with God to re-deem our world, because God will create the new world out of the old. All that we do in this life, whether we are saving the environment or saving souls will be included in the new creation. This should be a great encouragement, because this means that all of life has a double-meaning, both for the present, and for the future life to come.