Question 52: What hope does everlasting life hold for us?
Answer: It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and earth, where we will be fully and forever free from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the paradigm for our own resurrection in him. One day, when he returns, the dead in Christ will rise (1 Thess. 4:16), and those in Christ who are alive will be transformed with glorious bodies fit for the new creation (1 Cor. 15:51). With his resurrection from the dead, Jesus fulfilled the destiny of redeemed humanity and showed us a glimpse of what awaits us in the future.
Although Adam was created with a "natural body" made of dust, Christ was raised with a "spiritual body" fit for Heaven (1 Cor. 15:44). The adjective "spiritual" does not mean "non-material" in this context. Jesus' body was certainly physical. After all, he showed Thomas the physical marks of his crucifixion (John 20:24-29) and requested food that he was able to eat in front of his disciples, proving that he was not a ghost (Luke 24:36-43). When Paul speaks of a spiritual body, he means a body that is glorified by and filled with the Holy Spirit. Just as the Spirit of God formed the world in the beginning of creation (Gen. 1:2), so will he re-form our physical bodies for the new creation.
Our hope of resurrection from the dead is the hope, not of an escape from creation and physical reality, but rather for the transformation and renewal of this physical creation. God created matter; reality is more than material, but not less. And just as God raised his Son from death, so will he raise us to new life in the end. By faith, we press on that day, holding fast to the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
Suggested passage for personal or family reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. How does Paul contrast our present bodies with the resurrection body? What hope does this passage give us? How does it encourage us in our day-to-day lives now?