OUR early brethren and sisters gave a great deal of thought to the blessings of life in the Kingdom and perhaps it is a reflection on our comfortable lives that except in public addresses we seldom discuss the subject in any detail among ourselves. Questions about it are frequently countered by, “We must leave it to God. We cannot know with our finite minds”, or by partially quoting 1 Corinthians 2:9–10: “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him.”

The rest of the statement however is omitted and this goes on to say: “But God hath revealed them unto us by His spirit.”

Of course there are many things that we cannot know in our mortal state, but it is very sad if we use this argument as an escape for not finding out how much God has already revealed to us in His Word. It is so much part of the joy set before us, “that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4).

Some of the following observations are clearly stated in Scripture, others seem reasonable deductions or possibilities from certain Scripture facts. They are presented in the hope that we shall all think more about the life we hope to share with Christ at his coming, which could be very soon.

The apostle Paul tells us in the glorious resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, that the saints will receive immortality all together, instantaneously, at a set moment in time when the last trumpet sounds. There are passages which strongly suggest that this wonderful change takes place in Jerusalem, for example: “As the dew of Hermon and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:3).

“And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her” (Psalm 87:5).

Can we know anything of the life that follows this great change? The Lord Jesus told the Sadducees: “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels and are the children of God” (Luke 20:36). The apostle John wrote in 1 John 3:2: “We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

Paul tells us in Philippians 3:21 that the Lord Jesus will “change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body”. So if we consider some of the characteristics of the risen Lord and of the angels we shall appreciate a little more what God has in store for those that love Christ’s appearing.

The Lord Jesus is the only human being who has been raised from death to immortality. He was raised from weakness, pain and death to radiant fulness of life for evermore. In his case there was no change in his personality for he was perfect in character already. Although he now had all the spirit power of God at his command he was the same person. He emphasised this himself to his disciples saying: “It is I myself—handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.”

At his ascension the angels said, “This same Jesus—shall so come in like manner” (Acts 1:11).

Peter preaching at Pentecost assured his hearers that “God hath made that same Jesus—both Lord and Christ.”

And the writer to the Hebrews again assures us for all time: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and for ever” (Heb 13:8).

The Way of Salvation

The Lord Jesus in his ministry showed the way of salvation and how sinful men and women could be forgiven; he healed sick minds and bodies, shared the lives of ordinary people and knew their problems, joys and sorrows. He had infinite compassion for all those in need, but was stern in his condemnation of pride, hypocrisy, selfishness and greed. The risen Lord still had these qualities. He again ate and drank with his disciples, comforted, warned and strengthened them for the work they had to do. At his Father’s right hand in heaven he still cared about his disciples, sending his angel to help and deliver them. Through their written word he still sustains, warns and comforts and is ever ready to intercede. We read further: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb 2:18).

And later: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin” (Heb 4:15).

We learn from these various passages that the immortal saints will have real tangible bodies, free from pain and weakness and all the physical disabilities that afflict us now. They will be renewed to the splendid vigour of youth but even better, for they will never grow old.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint” (Isa 40:31).

It would appear from this verse and also from the swift appearances of angels that the saints will have some means of locomotion that is at present unknown and that it will be possible for them to be transported when necessary by the power of the Spirit.

The force of the passages quoted on the nature of the risen Lord is to show that our Mediator is the same understanding and compassionate Jesus as when he was on earth and that he fully remembers what it was like to be frail and mortal. It is the memory of his experiences in the flesh that give reality to his sympathetic intercession for us now.

Just as the angels have been given charge over our present dispensation, so the saints will have charge of the world to come under the headship of Christ. Thus if it is necessary for the risen Lord to remember his life on earth when interceding for us now with loving compassion, then surely the saints will need to remember their own human experiences in order to advise, help and rule their mortal subjects with understanding and mercy as well as with justice.

And if the saints remember their mortal life for any reason whatsoever, then they must also remember the people and experiences that moulded them. Our characters are shaped by all the events and circumstances that happen to us and by how we re-act to them for good or ill. God keeps a record of the lives of each one of us and it is by this that we shall be judged when the Lord returns.

Recreating the Personality

If the saint has fallen asleep in death or through age and illness has become impaired in mind, then from His record God will re-create the whole personality to that person’s responsible state. How else shall we appreciate the wonder and joy of salvation, unless we can remember what we have been saved from and understand at last all the lessons of our probation?

The Almighty has taken pleasure in creating all the myriad plants and animals in different forms, sizes, shapes and colours with as many different life cycles; and in man His highest creation, no two people are exactly alike. Thus every believer has a different inheritance, environment, ability and experience and is expected to develop his or her best potential in God’s service now in preparation for greater responsibility in the Kingdom. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). There would be little point in this diversity if all saints were to lose their individuality in the Kingdom and all become more or less identical robots with perhaps a few key figures being recognisable, as some appear to think.

Paul pointed out to the Corinthian ecclesia that every single member had something to contribute and that all their differing abilities were needed to make one whole body in Christ. As each stone of a literal building has a particular function and is essential to the whole, so the stones of God’s spiritual temple are being shaped for their special place in the Kingdom by the experiences of life. It is clear from Christ’s parables of the talents and the pounds that those who are faithful will receive rewards based on their abilities and their diligence in using them.

We learn too that the angels had differing powers and authority and some were clearly recognisable, such as Gabriel and Michael. Sometimes they worked alone, sometimes in twos or threes and sometimes as a host as at Creation and at the birth of the Lord Jesus. They appear to have been given freedom of action to further God’s will and purpose in various ways and we have the interesting case in Daniel where a more powerful angel came to help in a difficult situation (Dan 10:13).

This suggests that the saints too will be given freedom to administer their inheritance under the overall guidance of Christ and will be able to work and confer together when necessary.

Areas of Special Significance

As natural Israel will occupy the land of Israel under the jurisdiction of the apostles, and various Bible saints will receive their inheritance in that land, it is obvious that subsequent Gentile saints must be given their inheritance in different parts of the world. It has been suggested that as many of the Jewish saints will rule territories with which they were particularly associated in their lifetime, so many Gentile saints will be allocated to areas that have special significance for them either in their home countries or in the mission field. Certainly with the whole world to convert, educate and rule there will be plenty of work for all the saints.

If this suggestion be true it brings us back to the conclusion that the saints must retain a memory of their former lives and it is clear from Scripture that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the twelve apostles are not only to be totally recognisable, but must also remember the great promises made to them in their lifetime and the various circumstances under which these were given. The patriarchs are to inherit literal portions of the Land of Israel which they will recognise. There was little point in Abraham being shown all the land that he and his seed would be given unless he would recognise and be fully aware of the details when the promise was fulfilled.

The heroes of faith enumerated in Hebrews 11 will also receive their promised reward as named individuals, whose characters and exploits are known and remembered by all subsequent saints and whose example will continue to encourage the mortals then living. Meeting them will be one of the joys of the Kingdom.

The great comfort and power of 1 Corinthians 15 and of 1 Thessalonians 4 is the literal nature of the resurrection. The Thessalonians were still grieving because some of their beloved members had died in recent persecutions. Paul reassures them, saying: “Sorrow not, even as others which have no hope; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”

These words would bring little comfort unless they meant that the Lord would bring with him those same recognisable brethren and sisters that they had loved. It is this very real hope that has sustained many of us in our saddest hours and deepest need. The very word “sleep”, which is so often used in relation to those who have died in faith, conveys the idea of personality and individuality temporarily suspended, to be resumed on waking.

If our essential identity and memory is to be carried forward into the Kingdom, will any of the close friendships of this life be continued? Consider this—the Lord God himself had special human friends; Abraham was called the friend of God; the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaketh to his friend; David was a man after God’s own heart; and Daniel was a man greatly beloved. God says of himself, in Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lord, I change not.” It would therefore seem reasonable to believe that these faithful men will still have a special place in God’s heart when they are alive again and perfected.

Precious to Each Other

The Lord Jesus had his very close apostles, of whom three were closer still, and one had a special place as the disciple that Jesus loved. We are also told, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11:5). Jesus has already promised the twelve (Matthias replacing Judas) positions of authority in the Kingdom because of their love and loyalty, and we have only to think of the peace, succour and rest that the Lord found in that loving home at Bethany to feel sure that the temporary interlude of death could not diminish such deep affection. And when the Lord has again been the resurrection and the life to all three, can we not believe that Martha, Mary and Lazarus will still be close and precious to each other as well as to their King?

On the human level we think of the deep friendship of David and Jonathan, of Daniel and his three friends, of Paul and Timothy his son in the faith, and of Ruth and Naomi. These affinities were deeply spiritual and influenced their lives for good. If these faithful people remember their earthly probation then they will remember with gratitude those that helped them along the way. This by implication means that the godly friendships of this life may find yet deeper fulfilment in the Kingdom.

How does this apply to families, to parents and children and to husbands and wives? Salvation is an individual matter and although we can greatly influence one another for good we cannot save one another. If the family bonds have been cemented by mutual loyalty to Christ, then there is hope of a joyful reunion in the Kingdom. Parents will delight to know their children have walked faithfully in the Truth which they endeavoured to teach them by precept and example. Children will rejoice to meet beloved and faithful parents again and teachers and taught will thank God together.

But there are unhappy situations as is evident from Bible families. Samuel and David both had very unworthy children, and Jonathan and Hezekiah had very unworthy fathers. It is a worrying problem to many who have relatives that do not accept God’s salvation, for they feel that they cannot be perfectly happy in the Kingdom if they will still remember dear ones who have not been accepted. We can be sure that whatever we remember, the personal pain will be removed; for if perfected we shall see the events and the people of this life with the mind of Christ and of God and we shall understand why they are not there.

Facing the Future Now

Indeed, if we are honest with ourselves we should face up to this now and it should give us urgency to witness and persuade for Christ while there is yet opportunity. Christ solemnly warned his disciples that his service could mean separation from close relatives in this life (Matt 10:37) and that those who loved parents and children more than himself were not worthy of him.

The same principle would apply to any within the household who sadly fall at that Day. This is one situation we must leave to God, knowing that the Judge of all the earth will do right. Again if we are made aware that one whom we love is falling away from the Truth we do have a great responsibility. For James tells us:

“He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

The relationship of husbands and wives in the Kingdom presents special problems because they have become “one flesh” and Christ specifically states that physical marriage will cease. One reason for this is that when saints live for ever there will be no need to reproduce the race. Marriage and all that it means is such a dominant feature of this present life that the very idea of its ceasing to exist is a cause of deep anxiety to some. Young people feel that they would like to experience this special joy before the Lord comes since they will be unable to do so afterwards. Married people who have been very devoted in this life feel that something very precious will be missing and those who have lost beloved partners need to believe that they will be reunited in some way.

Those who have tried to fulfil the Scriptural principles of marriage and have become increasingly one in the Lord at all levels, physically, mentally and spiritually are very conscious of the problem. Many have spent half a lifetime and more together, thus guiding and moulding one another’s characters and have become two halves of one unit in the Lord. Each is incomplete without the other. They are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).

Perhaps it helps to remember that God primarily instituted marriage for companionship. “And God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him” (Gen 2:18). Adam needed the loving and caring companionship of Eve to make him whole. Eve needed someone to care for as well as the man’s strength, protection and spiritual help in order to fulfil herself. Although each was individually responsible to God, together they were complete. God gave Adam and Eve to each other before sin and sex became operative, and the pattern of the marriage in Eden became the symbol of the marriage of the Lord Jesus and his perfected bride, the Church. So it seems very possible that something which was so good at the beginning will also have a counterpart in Eden restored. If other affinities are perpetuated in the Kingdom, then this very special companionship must have a place.

Surely Abraham and Sarah will rejoice together when at last they see their true “seed”, Christ their Lord and King, and they will learn with awe and wonder how God’s purpose has been fulfilled in the amazing history of their descendants. Boaz and Ruth will not only see King David, their great grandson, but David’s greater Son, Christ Jesus and will marvel at their personal link in that long chain. Zacharias and Elisabeth will witness together the final outcome of the wondrous prophecies made at the birth of their child of miracle, John.