Changed in the Blink of an Eye
We cannot enter God’s presence in heaven. We simply cannot do it—not as we are now, anyway. Our perishable, decaying bodies are not suited for an imperishable, undefiled kingdom.
By way of the new birth, we have already entered God’s kingdom spiritually (John 3:1-8). But ultimately, God will bring His kingdom in all its fullness, and He will reign forever over a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). And, says Paul, we can’t get there as we are. We can’t simply show up there like this, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” We must be changed, not unlike a seed (1 Corinthians 15:42-49). When the seed is planted in the ground, it retains its identity, but it comes out radically and wonderfully different.
What does this mean? How will it happen? It is a “mystery,” Paul acknowledges
(1 Corinthians 15:51). We cannot fully (or even mainly!) understand it. But we can identify at least three aspects of this change from this glorious chapter.
First, God will transform us instantly—“in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). This will not be a process but a supernatural transformation, an instantaneous re-creation from one state to another. In that glorious moment, only as long as it takes us to blink, we—whether we are waiting in heaven with Christ or alive on earth (1 Thessalonians
4:15-17)—will be changed for the better, forever.
Second, God will change us radically: we “will be raised imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:52). The one certainty of our life here is that it will end. All our earthly days were written in God’s book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). But in the instant God transforms us, He will radically change us, such that death and decay will be replaced with imperishability.
Third, God will refashion us eternally: we will “put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). There will be no risk of reverting to our former condition. “Death shall be no more” (Revelation 21:4), and our present state of decay will become but a memory.
Dwell on this truth for a moment: one day, God will transform you in an instant. He will change you radically. He will refashion you for eternity. He will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Mourning, crying, and pain will all fade from view. It may be hard to imagine now, but in faith you can trust that your God will cause all the former things to pass away. And once He does that, you will dwell with Him forever in unending bliss. That is a truth that can enable you to smile on the hardest of days.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
The River of Life
1Then the angel1 showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life2 with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants3 will worship him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
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