You’ve imbibed a special potion that makes you immortal. Now that you’ve got forever, what changes will you make in your life? How will you live life differently, knowing you’ll always be around to be accountable for your actions?
I needn’t imbibe a special portion. I have immortality. This comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such faith is not the byproduct of my upbringing. Nor of my education. Rather, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is faith that He authors. In addition to its authorship, Jesus is committed to the perfection of that faith.
“…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2)
Yet the same epistle promises death. “…it is appointed for man to die once…” (Hebrews 9:27)
How does that add up? I have immortality. I will die. Surely that’s a contradiction?
Lazarus was a man Jesus’ loved. So much so that Lazarus’ death produced Jesus’ tears. Not only His, but tears of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha. In response to their tears, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)
In this sense, though I may experience physical death (just as Lazarus did, twice!), I will live. My physical-ness is not the source of my life in it’s truest sense. Rather, though in the resurrection I will have a glorified, immortal body – even now, I have an immortal spirit. That is because I am the recipient of the new birth. This new birth is heavenly. This new birth is a birth of the Spirit. The Spirit is an eternal Spirit, who will give life to my now mortal body, and who gives life to my now immortal soul. I am no longer a mere mortal.
The Already. The Not Yet.
Redemptive-History is divided. The division is drawn by the advent of Messiah. Before the advent, history is categorised as “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). On this side of the advent, history is defined as “the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5). The former is passing away, having effectively been poisoned by the water of life. The latter is shining brighter and brighter, and will be most fully, most gloriously manifest when Jesus returns again. This final Day of the Lord will be a day in which the covers are pulled back and the glory of the immortal ones will reflect, in body AND soul, the light of the Immortal One.
This eschatological reality is not all future. But nor is it all present.
Outwardly, physically, bodily – I experience the effects of the fall. Pain, disease, sickness, fatigue. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians “…our outer self is wasting away…” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Inwardly, spiritually, at a heart level, my true self is being renewed day by day. Again, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians “…our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
This day by day renewal is the sense in which the Lord Jesus Christ is actively perfecting and finishing our faith. Added to this is the reassurance that there will be a full and final consummation where the redemption that has begun inwardly, will be manifest outwardly, that is, in the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).
The Day of the Lord
Mortality will give way to full and final immortality. The Day of the Lord will seal that reality. In light of the cataclysmic events of that day, Peter asks “What kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Peter 3:11). He campaigns for holiness that is innate to the immortality of those who have faith in Jesus Christ. It’s like he’s saying, “In light of what’s coming, and what will be forever, don’t you go living as if your present experience of mortality will be perpetuated beyond the grave.”
The challenge for me, and for every believer is to live in light of what is already, conscious that what is not yet is sufficient explanation for struggles, suffering, pain, and the difficulty of life where the aroma of death is an unignorable reality.