Summary: None of us know with certainty what lies ahead after we are gathered to Christ. However, Paul encourages believers to look forward, preparing ourselves for what is surely coming.

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“We know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

“So, we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” [1]

My dad was fond of saying to his sons, “Only two things are certain—death and taxes.” So long as politicians act as politicians are observed to act, rather than acting as statesmen, the taxes part is assured. Similarly, despite advances in medical science and despite our best efforts to put off the inevitable, death is certain. We exercise, consume copious quantities of dietary supplements with our meals, visit the various health professionals regularly, and we just keep on dying. Death is more real for me now than at any time heretofore in the brief days of my earthly pilgrimage.

I am moving inexorably toward a day when this mortal flesh shall fail. Then, life as I’ve known it will cease and real life will begin. One day, if we live long enough, you’ll read that Michael Stark has died. I’m telling you now, that will be a lie. I won’t be dead! I’ll be alive for the first time. As the Apostle has written, so I have learned, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” [1 CORINTHIANS 13:12].

Now—knowledge is restricted. Then—knowledge is full. Now—truth only vaguely understood. Then—truth fully understood. Paul will testify, and we accept this testimony as true, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” [1 CORINTHIANS 15:51, 52].

We are told, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” [PHILIPPIANS 3:20, 21]. This testimony is a comfort for the child of God.

Peter hit precisely the right note when he wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” [1 PETER 1:3-5].

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