Why Live Forever?

Rod McNair

What happens when you die? Countless millions hope to extend their physical lives— but for what purpose? Few truly understand the Bible's promise of eternal life—but you can!

Eternal Life in the Flesh?

For many years, scientists have sought to find ways to extend the human lifespan. Great strides have been achieved in the last century through better nutrition and health care. But some scientists are searching for ways to actually attain "eternal life" in the flesh.

Other scientists accept the inevitability of death in the present, but seek to arrest the corruption of the body through cryogenics until better technology is available. But is that really the ultimate goal—just extending physical life for hundreds of years? What about individuals who are plagued by pain, heartache, regret, and loneliness?

Human beings' destiny is not to live forever in the flesh

Of course, human beings have a natural desire to try to avoid or escape death. But regardless of our attempts to create eternal life in the flesh, "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Death truly is an enemy of mankind (1 Corinthians 15:26). But death will finally be destroyed. Human beings' destiny is not to live forever in the flesh, but those who willingly submit to God and His ways can live forever, because of their Savior, Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, He is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

Eternally Searching for Happiness?

Perhaps attaining happiness is the purpose of eternal life? Will that be the highest goal for the saved? Many believe so. But who defines happiness—and how it is achieved? Many equate eternal happiness with sensual, terrestrial pleasure—good food, beautiful sights and even sexual fulfillment.

Christ did say that the future for resurrected saints would be terrestrial, not celestial, and that it would be exciting and fulfilling! In the parable of the talents, He referred to the Kingdom as "the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:21). In Matthew 5:5, He taught, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"—not heaven!

The physical creation will be a beautiful and enjoyable dwelling place for the resurrected saints to dwell in with God. Yet satisfying the senses will not be the ultimate goal of resurrected Christians living on earth!  Living in the Kingdom of God—under God's laws, through His Spirit—will be a joyful experience! But happiness in itself will not be the ultimate goal and purpose for eternal life.

Gazing at Glory Forever?

If the ultimate goal of eternal life is not satisfying sensual pleasures, is it achieving spiritual bliss through looking into the face of God, or floating on clouds forever?

Looking into the face of God will be an awesome and thrilling experience, as the Apostle John explained: "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). To see God the Father on His throne, and to see Jesus Christ—whose face shines like the sun—will be exhilarating! But will the saints simply gaze at them, unendingly, for all eternity?

Certainly, the resurrection of the saints has a greater purpose than just staring at God, or lounging around on clouds. But what is that purpose?

Created for Work!

To understand our spiritual destiny, we must recall the commission God gave when human beings were first placed on the earth. God gave Adam and Eve "dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Genesis 1:26). The human family was given responsibility to govern—to rule—over God's creation. In turn, Adam was to dress it and cultivate it. He and his descendants were to help in God's creative work of enhancing and beautifying the earth!

The saints' role will be to rule over the earth with Christ (Revelation 3:12, 21).

Adam failed the test of obedience, and Satan the Devil was able to ensnare and entrap all of humanity (Revelation 12:9). But through the work of the Messiah—Jesus Christ's life, sacrifice, resurrection and second coming—the Devil will ultimately be overthrown (Revelation 20:2, 10). At Christ's second coming, the earth will be returned to a millennial, Eden-like state (Isaiah 51:3).

But whom will God use to restore the world? The resurrected saints! Scripture clearly describes their role: "[You] have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10). God also instructs His saints: "But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:25–26).

In the parable of the minas, Christ explained the leadership role the resurrected saints will be given, as a reward for their faithful service: "Then came the first, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities'" (Luke 19:16–17). The saints' role will be to rule over the earth with Christ (Revelation 3:12, 21).

As commentator Hoekema explains, "…The Old Testament reveals that the ultimate destiny of man is an earthly one… According to the parable of the talents, the master's reward to the faithful servants is this: 'You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things' (Matthew 25:21, 23, NIV). 'Being in charge' or 'ruling over' (KJV) many things suggests a busy program of administrative activity… In these… parables, the reward promised consists not of idle rest but of service."

But what will happen after the general resurrection, after the Millennium—the prophesied thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth—has ended (Revelation 20:4, 12)? What will the saints do after obedient and converted human beings have been glorified, and the incorrigible have been reduced to ashes in a lake of fire (Malachi 4:3)?

The Earth… and Beyond!

God inspired the Apostle Paul to write about our ultimate destiny: "For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: 'What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands'" (Hebrews 2:5–7). The resurrected saints will not only help God rule over the earth; they will also "judge"—govern, or manage—the angels (1 Corinthians 6:2–3)!

There is more! Paul wrote further, "You have put all things in subjection under his feet" (Hebrews 2:8). What did Paul mean by "all things"? The Greek used here, ta panta, is all-inclusive, meaning "every, the whole" (Strong's Dictionary). The Weymouth translation renders "all things" as "the universe." All things will be put under the dominion of the resurrected saints, working through God's Kingdom.

In other words, even though all things—the whole universe—are not currently under humanity's dominion, they will be (Hebrews 2:8)! Can we grasp that? Just as God originally gave human beings dominion and rulership over the earth, His ultimate goal is for us to rule over the entire universe! In the same way that we were meant to work on and beautify the earth, God has also called us to assist Him in refashioning and "planting" the desolate planets throughout the vast universe (Isaiah 51:16).

But why has God created human beings to help Him rule the earth—and the universe?

Joining the Family Business

When God created man and woman, He created them "in His own image" (Genesis 1:27). While the animals were made after the animal kind, human beings were made after the "God" kind! All members of the human family, created by God, are rightly called His children. But through the indwelling of His Spirit, and actually being born again, human beings can become part of God's spiritual family. As Jesus told Nicodemus, "unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

When does this "second birth" occur? At the resurrection! Jesus Christ became the "firstborn" from the dead at His resurrection (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5; Romans 8:29). Since He is the "first," this implies that others will follow! Paul explained that Christ is "declared to be the Son of God with power… by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4).

As members of the divine family of God, obedient, faithful and resurrected saints will share in the work and mission of the family—governing and beautifying the entire universe in peace and righteousness, forever!

God wants to share the "family business"—rulership over the entire universe—with His children! Human beings' destiny is to be born into the family of God, as the "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17).

Eternal life—the greatest gift God could bestow on His children—will have a great and awesome purpose! Eternal life is not just for human existence indefinitely. It is not for joining the "world soul." It is not to pursue sensual pleasure or even to achieve "heavenly bliss." As members of the divine family of God, obedient, faithful and resurrected saints will share in the work and mission of the family—governing and beautifying the entire universe in peace and righteousness, forever!

Thank God for our awesome destiny—and God speed the day when His plan for each of us is complete!