Millions are in ignorance of the purpose of human existence. What will you do — What will you be like — after this life is finished?
From the beginning of time, man has yearned to understand what lies beyond the grave. Is death the end of everything? If there is to be a life after death, what will it be like? Will we ever really be able to explore the universe, travel to other galaxies, understand the vast cosmos? At this season when many are observing Easter, isn't it time we examine the question of the resurrection from the dead? Think for a moment! Human beings have minds to visualize life after death and the creative capacity to travel to other planets even while mortal, material beings. Is it reasonable that creative beings such as we are should end with this present life? The answers to these enigmas are revealed in the Creator's revelation to humanity of essential knowledge otherwise inaccessible to man. This revelation is called the Holy Bible. In it we read of a man of great renown, the patriarch Job, who considered the question of the resurrection. "If a man die," he asked, "shall he live again?" He answered the question in an address to his Maker: "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands" (Job 14:14-15). Job knew something that is missing in this world's education — that after death God would call forth the "work" of his hands to fulfill his purpose. For God had said, as he created man: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion..." (Gen. 1:26). Man was created with powers unlike any animal. He was created with the ability to exercise "dominion." But for what great purpose?
Better Than "Star Wars"
Tens of millions have seen the films Star Wars. E. T. and other Hollywood space films. These exciting films are extremely popular. Their unusual popularity stems from man's yearning to know what is going on "out there" — out in space. Even apart from God, man is swiftly increasing in his scientific knowledge of — and capacity for space exploration. This very capacity, of course, was given man when he was created "in the image of God." Though the human spirit is capable of envisioning and planning toward space travel — and, unfortunately, potential "star wars" — man's bodily needs are rooted in this earth. For man needs food from the earth, oxygen that is available in the right amount only in this earth's atmosphere, a climate that only this earth provides adequately. Man is endowed with the incredible mental capacities to envision interstellar space travel but not the physical capacities to express this tremendous potential. Why? Even the very distance in light years makes it impossible for mortal man to travel to the nearest star beyond our solar system. But will interplanetary space travel become a reality — in a life after death? The apostle Paul begins to reveal the answer in these words: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall 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" (I Thess. 4:16-17). The Lord — the once dead and now resurrected Jesus Christ rocketing through space? Perhaps we have not thought of the resurrection and our awesome human potential in terms of space travel before. But it is certainly there!
Our Awesome Potential
Now look at this awesome description of mankind's potential: "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him" (Heb. 2:7-8). Think of it! The entire UNIVERSE is to be subject to man. The translator Weymouth indeed renders the middle sentence of verse 8: "For this subjecting of the UNIVERSE to man...." Man was created to rule the earth and, later, to rule over angels and ultimately share with God in the rule of the entire universe! "But now we see not YET all things put under him" (verse 8). Major lessons have to be learned by humanity first. The true purpose of life — and why mankind has not yet attained it — is both exciting and awesome. Man was made in the very image of God because God is reproducing himself! When Jesus, the pioneer, the firstborn, was born from the dead (Col. 1:18), he was born to be like his Father, GOD. Yet he is also the elder brother of true Christians, the captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10), the direct example of what we shall become. I happen to have four sons. My sons are totally human just as I am human. They are on the human level of existence — just as I am. What makes us think that the great God who set in motion all laws — like the law of biogenesis causing everything to reproduce after its own kind — would suddenly vary from this principle when it comes his time to reproduce? Notice I John 3:2: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." Yes, though now, as humans, true Christians are only begotten of God, we shall be born of God in the resurrection and be GLORIFIED like Jesus is! We shall be able to look on the glorified faces of God and Christ. For, as John states, we shall be like him! How does Jesus look now? The answer is clearly given in Revelation 1:13-16. Here the resurrected Christ is pictured as having the very GLORY of God: "... his eyes were as a flame of fire... his voice as the sound of many waters ….his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." That is the way we will look in the resurrection — IF we truly humble ourselves to be forgiven our transgressions and begin to do God's will and believe his Word and obey his commands! That is why YOU were born!
A Job to Perform
An old-time religious song talks about "rolling around heaven all day." But Jesus said: "My Father WORKETH hitherto, and I WORK" (John 5:17). God is the creator, the builder, the sustainer of all his creation. He is busy — not only with matters on earth, but throughout the vastness of the entire universe. God may even now have absolutely stupendous projects under way in various parts of the cosmos that he will bring us in on after we are resurrected and born into his family. For the next thousand years, though, those whom God is now calling to lifetimes of service already know what their primary duties will be. Notice: "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron... " (Rev. 2:26-27). The first job will be to restore order to this planet! Under Christ, the resurrected king David will once again be placed over all 12 tribes of Israel (Ezek. 37:24). The 12 apostles, resurrected, will each be given authority over one tribe of "the reunited House of Israel (Luke 22:30). And all those in the Church of God that Jesus founded — and through which God is now working to warn this world — all those who have overcome and remained faithful to the end, are to be given "authority over TEN CITIES" or "over five cities" depending on how much they have grown spiritually and overcome (Luke 19:16-19). There will be no empty boredom and frustration with nothing to do! Rather, God will share with his newly born sons the challenge of finally bringing infinite peace, prosperity and JOY to the peoples of this earth! Our ultimate challenge and responsibility extends even beyond this earth and its peoples. "Know ye not that we shall judge ANGELS? how much more things that pertain to this life?" (I Cor. 6:3.) And Isaiah was inspired to write: "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isa. 9:7). And all this is to be accomplished with and through those of us who now are willing to BELIEVE what God reveals about our "reason for being," and who now are willing to SURRENDER our will to his. With and through humans finally born again as immortal beings, by a resurrection, into the kingdom of the great God, the Creator will expand his government and direct the "programs and projects of his divine family to the far corners of the universe! Even the word awesome seems inadequate to describe the opportunities and challenges our Maker has in store for us.
Totality of God's Love
The incredible future that awaits those who overcome will be the product of the outflowing LOVE that God the Father and his Son, Jesus, have had and do continually have for the human family. "For God so LOVED the world, that he GAVE his only begotten Son …" (John 3:16). God is the one who loves and who GIVES. God's desire is to SHARE eternity in a family relationship — a divine family composed of the humans who would surrender themselves to God's will, be literally begotten of God through reception of the Holy Spirit, and finally be BORN of God composed of the Holy Spirit — IF they continue yielding to God and growing in the divine nature through a life of prayer, study and spiritual overcoming. Few realize it, but the real Lord's prayer — Jesus' only complete prayer in the Bible — was directly concerned with this very awesome human potential. Here is Jesus' request: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the "world was" (John 17:5). Before his human conception, Jesus had shared eternity with the Father. Now he requested that his total divine GLORY be returned to him! Then he prayed for his disciples (verses 9-11), and for others who would come to believe through their teaching (verse 20). He asked: "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be ONE, as we are" (verse 11). Again, he prayed: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (verses 21-23). Jesus asked that the exact same GLORY that he was to receive be given to his followers! What will you be like in the resurrection? If you grasp this fantastic calling, if you overcome and make it, your face will SHINE like the sun in full strength, your voice will BOOM like rolling thunder (Ps. 18:13), and you will possess the awesome POWER that the Father has determined to share with all the members of his family. God has left NOTHING in the entire universe that will not be subject to the ultimate authority and power of God and his spirit-born sons! That is why you and I were born! That is why the resurrection.