Every human soul has an immeasurable state of existence awaiting. Ever since I was a young boy I have allowed my mind to occasionally ponder the concept of forever. As a grade-schooler I remember telling my father in a sense of frustration that I simply couldn’t get my brain wrapped around it. I confess today that it is no easier to embrace that, at some point in the future, I will enter into a reality where space and time are no longer boundaries. Here is one way the scriptures describe this:
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this…” – Hebrews 9:27
If we are honest with ourselves we don’t often let our mind rest too long on the “after this”. Birth, life, death…after this. Childhood, adolescence, adulthood…after this. Education, career, retirement…after this. Sin, guilt, forgiveness…after this. If all of this life offers us high doses of ease, joy, peace and happiness, then we do not usually long for the after-this. If pain, heartbreak, parting and fear become our companion, then we crave relief and want, more than ever, for God to usher us into the after-this. Wise Christians remember the rest of the wording from Hebrews 9:27 and give thought to how they are living today, knowing that there is a day of judgment after this. Unbelievers smile in numb ignorance to the consuming reckoning that awaits them after this life ends. Nothing in this world outside of the Church of Jesus Christ has anything true, valid or helpful to offer about the inevitable state of being that begins to be experienced immediately after this life concludes. I have to say that, the more years I get behind me, the more I long for the yearlessness ahead of me. I am not sad, therefore wanting to go – I am starving for a promised banquet, therefore wanting to go. It is not what is lacking here that compels my heart to yearn, it is what awaits me…after this.
That day will come for me. It’s affixed for you too. Each of us has an pre-determined appointment with the grand exit from here and entrance into there. Our after-this experience is anchored in what we decide about Jesus Christ. Eternity is wrapped up completely in Him. If you are in Him then you have been freed from your chains of fear and have been granted the unspeakable gift of after-this-with-Him. Those who remain in their unbelief are still in the state of condemnation and will receive an endless furtherance of what they have now: their right-now-without-Him will merge into an after-this-without-Him. That is the most dreadful thought I can imagine.
There are many ways to phrase eternity but the most simple is the one we have discussed today. After this. It’s where you will spend the immeasurable, incomparable majority of your existence. Heaven is real, but the reality of Heaven is not the full summary of what comes after this. There is a Kingdom that will be established here on planet earth. There is a King who will descend from the heights of Heaven and enter again into our world. He is coming in a body. He is coming with undeniable visibility. Every eye will see King Jesus. His throne will be established in Jerusalem and He will rule the nations from there. All of us who have entrusted our after-this to Him will rule and reign with Him. The consummation of His Kingdom will involve a renewed heavens and a renewed earth – yes, after-this is not detached from the planet upon which we currently live. Eternity is not a dream like state lived out in misty clouds of spiritual surrealism. After this life, we will enter into the fulness of God’s plan that was initiated in the Garden, communicated in multiple covenants, secured at the Cross and empty tomb, and prophesied in mind-blowing detail twenty-two chapters of the Book of Revelation. After-this is on its way.
If the Father has secured you in Christ, then discipline your heart and mind to keep the right-now in the proper perspective. Whether good or bad, right-now is temporary. What God has reserved for us through the saving provision of King Jesus is impossibly glorious and good. For each of us, after-this awaits only a singular final-breath. It will come. It cannot tarry. It is for an appointed time. That is the promise of a God who holds all things in the power of His hand…including your after-this.