The Bottom Line Of Christianity Is The Resurrection

It was only just 9 days ago that I received the news that my Aunt Tina wasn't doing so well. She was dehydrated and experiencing pain that she couldn't explain. After seeing the doctor, it was immediately discovered that she had cancer in her pancreas, liver and lungs. Soon after becoming hospitalized, her kidneys began to fail. This was insane!! All of this came from out of nowhere and blind-sided every member of the family. She was only 55 years old, still full of life, still full of wit and character, still full of her trademarked classic Tina attitude.

This was unacceptable so I launched into double-time prayer. I sent out private messages to as many close friends as I could who trusted to seriously take this matter to the Lord in prayer and stand in faith for His immediate reversal of what was happening. I also asked friends that I've made in the past few years who work at grocery stores and who wait tables at my favorite restaurants to take my Aunt Tina to the Lord in prayer. When I mentioned this to the woman who cuts my hair, I learned she was a prayer warrior and she was added to the long list of prayer warriors from all over the country praying for my Aunt.

I believe in the power of prayer. I've seen what it can do. I'm well aware of the fact that some Christians with cancer are bathed in prayer for years and nothing every happens. But I'm also aware of the fact that other times, Christians with cancer are bathed in prayer and their very next screening shows no traces of cancer whatsoever! So what this all comes down to is the sovereignty of God. Trying to figure out what God intends to do shouldn't get in the way of praying for God to do the impossible. If we only prayed for things we thought would happen anyway, where's the faith in that?

But then last Sunday morning, I heard the phrase, "...Tina passed away this morning." It was my sister's voice. She, my mother and I were together and she immediately said, "Josh, we need to pray." We bowed our hearts with tears and what came out of my mouth was, "Dear God, the first thing I wanna say to you is 'thank you so much that we know where she is right now and that YOU made that possible'." I don't remember what I said after that. But that's truly the bottom of line of Christianity, isn't it? That as soon as someone dies, if they're in Christ, we know where they are, who they're with and most importantly... WE WILL BE WITH THEM AGAIN. And when that day comes, nothing and no one will ever again separate us from our loved ones and we will enjoy everything life has to offer without the burden of death and depravity.

This future was made possible by the personal sacrifice of Jesus Himself, who gave up His former life as a non-human, transcendent member of the Trinity and became a physical human being with flesh, blood and bone. He came to personally take upon Himself the judgment and penalty for all of mankind's transgressions against God so that those who wish to be forgiven of their part in humanities transgressions could accept Jesus' death as a "balance transfer" so that their own personal sins would be punished at the cross, and Jesus' personal righteousness would be imputed to them. That's what it means to be "in Christ". He exchanged our sins for His righteousness and then He bought our freedom from death and decay with His own blood. Jesus paid that debt in full and then after suffering the most brutal death in recorded earth history, He got up and walked out of His grave three days later as if nothing had happened. This is the bottom line of Christianity. It's how we became members of God's family and it's the ultimate destiny of every one of us who've been adopted into it.

Here's what I posted at Facebook on Sunday...

"My beautiful Aunt Tina passed away this morning. This is a huge loss for our family. I wish I had spent more time on the phone with her just listening to her talk. There was a life and light to her character and presence that I can't describe in words. But you always felt better after talking with her, usually with sore belly muscles from all the laughing. I'm gonna miss her so much!!!!! God would not respond to my prayers for her recovery because He had bigger and better plans for my Aunt that my puny little finite mind cannot possibly conceive. But I know where she is. And I know how she's feeling now. She's in upgraded hardware, looking closer like her old self from her mid to late twenties (She was a smokin' knock-out, by the way, in her hay-day) and she's having the time of her life with her mom and other family and friends who've gone home before her. As for the rest us down here, well, something tells me we don't have long before we're outta here. This isn't goodbye, it's "see ya later!" But please pray for the family because this is going to be so hard."

One of my Facebook friends asked, "We know we get to see our loved ones again for those in Christ. But why doesn't it feel that way now? Is it a lack of faith? Or maybe it's supposed to feel like this by design? I struggle with this nearly daily Joshua. I trust God knows exactly how and why I feel and think the way I do and perhaps even laughs for what he has waiting for us. I would love to hear someday your perspective Josh!"

I know exactly what he's talking about. Despite what we know from Scripture, despite everything we've been promised, when death comes to someone we know and love, we're just not prepared. All we can feel is the fact that, "They're gone!"

Here's what I wrote in response to my friend...
"I was thinking I need to do a video about this basic "Christianity 101" subject which is what everything hangs upon. But the answer to your question, I don't think it's a lack of faith. Scripture says somewhere (Ecclesiastes 3:11) that God has implanted "eternity" in the hearts of man. So even though we live in temporary dwellings, we still think of everything in life from an eternal perspective. Even though we know everyone dies, we can't imagine our lives without the people we love. Even when we think we've prepared ourselves, when it finally happens, we realize we just aren't prepared.

The reason for this, I believe, is because no matter how much we know about death both physically and Biblically, we still live with a perspective of "eternity" which is why interruptions in our linear time-line always catch us off guard whether it's the loss of a job, the sudden betrayal of a close friend, an unexpected automobile accident, news of terminal cancer, or the death of a loved one. We all know these things exist in our world, but it always catches us off guard as if "it could never happen to us". But I don't think that's a lack of faith. That's because death and loss, while part of life, deep inside we know they weren't meant to be part of life. We also know they won't always be part of life, but they still are now, which gets in the way of eternity.

That's what Romans 8:20-23 is talking about when it speaks of us groaning inwardly for eternity through every moment of pain because we're wanting the curse of death and sin to get out of the way, finally, once and for all. We want what's promised to start now with all of us together, no sin, no death, no disease, no negativity, no pain, no striving, nothing but the good for ever and together. That day is coming. But until it gets here, we hurt when someone we love dies. We don't hurt for them, we hurt for ourselves because now we have to pick up the pieces of our life without them as we push onward with our temporal lives on this decaying planet, which even now we continue to get glimpses of God's glory and eternity, but with the interference of death and decay.

The only hope... Our only way of pushing onward... is to force ourselves to remember the truth... Jesus promised us and the Apostle Paul reverberated that promise that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That presence with the Lord isn't an abstract, formless void of spiritual vapor. It is a physical existence of spiritual hardware in a spiritual domain just as solid and real as our domain here, only separated from us because of sin. That separation isn't permanent. It is temporary. Jesus is not forever leaving this planet to Satan to do with as he pleases. Jesus is coming back. To not believe this is to call Jesus a liar. That's what Jesus promised when he said, "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house (Heaven) are many mansions (estates, places to dwell): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And since I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you will be also." John 14:1-3

I think it's important to note that when Jesus said He was going away to prepare a place for us, He was speaking to a group of people who knew that Jesus was already here. He was standing there in the flesh, right in front of them. So they didn't think Jesus was talking about preparing a place for the souls of the dead. Jesus hadn't died and no one Jesus was speaking with had died. So they interpreted His promise as a literal promise to go up into Heaven, prepare a place for them, and then come right back down to pick them up and take them there.

Before Jesus had this conversation, His followers were expecting Him to fulfill all of the Old Testaments prophesies as well. It was foretold that He would tread down the wicked, establish an earthly Kingdom bringing in universal peace, not only between peoples and nations but even among all the animals. This coming kingdom was promised by God to King David to be a Jewish Kingdom.

God is always good on His promises and those to whom Jesus was speaking were expecting Jesus to keep these promises during His first coming. But in the famous passage from John 14:1-3 that I just quoted above, He's introduced to them something new... that before He fulfills those long awaited prophesies, He's got an errand to run. The 1st part of the errand was going to the Cross. The 2nd part of the errand was rising from the dead. The 3rd part of the errand was doing exactly what He said He would do, to go to Heaven and prepare a place for them and then He would come back and pick them up. These folks got to see Jesus go to the cross, rise from the grave and then ascend up to Heaven to go do exactly what He said He went to do.

So then, some time went by. As the years progressed, they continued expecting Jesus to return and pick them up, just as He promised. While they were waiting and anticipating the Lord's return during the years that progressed, some of them died. So the Thessalonian Christians became upset that their departed loved ones would miss out on this exciting event.

That's when Paul reassured them in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1st Corinthians 15:51-52 which explained to them how God would fulfill His promise to both those who have died and those who remained on the earth.

1st Generation Hardware: The Physical Body
All of us are born wearing 1st generation hardware. We live with it all our lives. When we become reborn in the Holy Spirit, our software is fused with the software of the Holy Spirit, making us a new creation. But we remain in our 1st generation hardware until it wears out and dies.

2nd Generation Hardware: The Spiritual Body
When our 1st Generation hardware dies, our software is immediately uploaded into 2nd generation hardware in Heaven. Our place in Heaven is the place that Jesus spoke of in John 14:1-3. Our 2nd Generation hardware is a spiritual body. How it moves and works is not something I fully understand, except to say that whenever it was seen by human eyes as recorded in Scripture, these spiritual bodies looked just like normal human bodies except they could only exist in the domain of Heaven. These Spiritual bodies do not function on the earth, they can only function in Heaven.

3rd Generation Hardware: The New Physical Body (a.k.a.) The Resurrection Body
1st Generation hardware can only exist on the Earth. 2nd Generation hardware can only exist in Heaven. 3rd Generation hardware will be able to exist and maneuver in both Heaven and Earth simultaneously! This final upgrade will be necessary for every Christian when Jesus returns and joins Heaven and Earth, fulfilling all of the prophecies from both the Old and New Testaments. Paul explains how this will happen in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1st Corinthians 15:51-52

1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 (JPA Paraphrase)
"I wouldn't want you to be ignorant, brothers, about those who have died in Christ, that you do not grieve for them in the same way that others do who have no hope beyond the grave. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we know also that those who have died in Christ will God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have died. For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout (calling everyone by name), with the voice of the archangel (calling every guardian angel by name), and with the sound of the trump of God (declaring victory): and the dead in Christ (coming with Jesus in 2nd Generation hardware) will rise first (being given their resurrection body) and then we which are alive and remain on the earth, still wearing our old 1st Generation hardware, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort each other with these words."

1st Corinthians 15:51-52 (JPA Paraphrase)
"For behold, I show you a mystery which was hidden before. Not every Christian will have to die first to get their final upgrade. But every Christian both in Heaven and on Earth will be upgraded. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet of victory shall sound and those who have previously died will be raised into their new physical bodies while we who haven't died will be changed into our new physical bodies.

This is the bottom line for Christians, the blessed hope of the believer! Death is no longer death!! Thanks to what Jesus did for us 2000 years ago, we can know with assurance that when our loved ones die, they are merely being upgraded into superior hardware for a new environment. But as awesome as that is, what's really awesome is the fact that we will receive that same upgrade when we die, or possibly........ WE MIGHT NOT HAVE TO WAIT THAT LONG.

It is the blessed hope of the Christian that we shall not all sleep, but in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we will hear the Lord Jesus shout our name out loud accompanied with the music blast of God's trumpet and we will instantly find ourselves in 3rd Generation hardware with abilities and powers transcending both physical and spiritual dimensions for which immediately after this moment, we will join in progress the family reunion to end all family reunions!!!

My Aunt Tina, my Nannie, my Papaw, my Great-Grandparents, several teachers and neighbors from my childhood, countless pets and animals are presently in Heaven today, right now as I type this post. One day, we will all be with them. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord." AMEN AND AMEN!!!