we go to heaven when we die?
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The Apostle declares,
"As is the earthy so are they also that are earthy; and
as is the heavenly so are they also that are heavenly."
(`1 Cor. 15:48`) We understand these words to signify that the
world in general, who will experience restitution to human perfection,
will be like the earthly one-- like the first Adam, before he
sinned, and like the perfect "Man Christ Jesus" was
before his begetting to newness of nature. We rejoice with the
world in this grand prospect of again becoming full and complete
earthly images of the divine Creator. But we rejoice still more
in the precious promises made to the Gospel Church, "the
called ones" according to the divine purpose, who are to
have the image of the heavenly One--the image of the Creator,
in a still higher and more particular sense--to be not fleshly
images, but spirit images. "We shall be like him [the glorified
"changed" Jesus], for we shall see him as he is."
He is a spirit being, "the express image of the Father's
person," "far above angels, principalities and powers,
and every name that is named," and hence, far above perfect
manhood. If we shall be like him and share his glory and his
nature, it means that we too shall be images of the Father's
person, "whom no man hath seen nor can see, dwelling in
light which no man can approach unto"; but to whom we can
approach and whom we can see as he is, because we have been
"changed." `1 John 3:2`; `1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16`; `Exod.
Lest any should misunderstand him, the Apostle guards the above
language by adding, "As we [the Church] have borne the
image of the earthly [one], we shall also bear the image of
the heavenly [One]." It is not the Apostle's thought that
all shall bear the image of the heavenly One, in this sense,
ever. Such was not the design of our Creator. When he made man
he designed to have a fleshly, human, earthly being, in his
own likeness [mentally, morally], to be the lord and ruler of
the earth, as the representative of his heavenly Creator. (`Gen.
1:26-28`; `Psalm 8:4-7`) The selection of the New Creation,
as we have seen is wholly separate and apart from the earthly
creation. They are chosen out of the world, and constitute but
a "little flock" in all, called to be the Lord's Kingdom
class, to bless the world during the thousand years of the Millennial
age--subsequently, we may be sure, occupying some very high
and responsible position, and doing some very important work,
in the carrying out of further divine purposes--perhaps in connection
with other worlds and other creations.
But the Apostle guards the matter still further, saying in explanation
of the foregoing (verse 50), "Now this I say, brethren,
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God."
Thus he distinguishes between our present condition in the flesh
and our future condition as spirit beings; most positively declaring
that so long as we are in the flesh we cannot constitute the
Lord's Kingdom in any actual sense, because that Kingdom is
to be a spiritual one, composed of spirit beings. Our Lord himself,
the Head, the chief, the leader, the example to his Church,
is the glorious spirit being, a glimpse of whom was granted
to the Apostle Paul (`1 Cor. 15:8`), and a vision of whom was
granted to the Apostle John in Apocalyptic vision. "We
shall be like him"--not flesh and blood, like the remainder
of the race from which we were selected, and whose restitution,
or resurrection by judgments, will bring them back to the perfection
of the flesh-and-blood conditions, as the same restitution times
will bring the earth to the condition represented by the Garden
of Eden in the beginning.
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