Pastoral Letter April 2018

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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
 
    — 1 Corinthians 15:51–52

Dear Friends,

Two dear friends of our fellowship have been called into the presence of the Lord in recent days. What a sharp focus this places upon the awe-full, wonderful events of the death and resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ!

For our dear friends, we rejoice that they have entered into what the Apostle Paul here calls ‘sleep’. They indeed ‘rest from their labours’ as we saw in our focus verse last month. But what an encouraging choice of word this is!

God’s people who pass from this life are said to ‘sleep’. Death is not a natural thing, but rather a result of sin entering the world. Man was created to live forever, and death is the failure of the body, at which moment the soul leaves the body and enters the immediate presence of God. Yet, for God’s people, death is merely ‘sleep’, for we shall awake immediately. Our eyes close upon this world, and open to unspeakable beauty and glory, as the Psalmist says:

As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness’
(Psalm 17:15)

There is another sense to these words also. For we serve a living and risen Saviour, one who has died and defeated death, who was raised the third day, and appeared to His followers many times, in a glorified resurrection body. And we shall follow Him in this, also. For while the world endures this blessing must wait, it will not be long, just a sleep, and then:

‘we shall all be changed’

Those who are alive at the second coming of our Saviour will join with those who come with Him, and we shall receive, in an instant, our new bodies. Who can imagine how 

wonderful this will be, and what potential and capacities will be ours? All will be as God has perfectly designed. There will be no flaw, no decay. I imagine that the  abilities reserved in this time for geniuses, that the strength and athleticism reserved only for elite athletes, will be the lot of every believer!

And in this moment of glorious gain and triumph, as we who love Him meet Him in the air, we shall know that this new state and condition is ‘incorruptible’. It shall never be reversed, never be spoiled, downgraded, nor could it be improved. Such perfection will be ours as can only bring supreme joy and eternal praise.

All this, towards which we should look with wonder—all this is the fruit of Christ’s finished work at Calvary. All this is the reward for the suffering of the Lamb!

As our ranks on earth may thin, we should know that the armies of Heaven grow accordingly. Friends, the best is yet come. Is there not cause for great celebration this Easter, even in the midst of mourning?

Permit me again to appeal to you, if you are in any doubt as to whether this glorious future will be yours, to make it your first concern to be certain about it! Jesus Christ has died for sinners, and He will not cast out any who come to Him. Repent of your sin, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, redeemed, made whole, in soul, and then, in body!

Looking forward to glory with you,
Jonathan

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