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The Best is Yet to Come

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(11/30) I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting

I have a question for you. Next to your wedding day, & the birth of your children, (because you have to say those things) what was your best good day ever?

Well, your best good day ever is still future but it is getting closer. Itís the day when you get home. Have you ever been away and you just canít wait to get home? You just want to relax in your own chair and sleep in your own bed and used your own bathroom. It feels good to go home. Your best good day ever will be when you get to go home.

We have reached the end of another series. I sincerely hope that you have benefited and learned from this study. Specifically, I hope that you are able to remember and state clearly what you believe as a Christ Follower. I want you to be able to tell others what you have staked your life upon.

We began in the Garden of Eden and Genesis 1:1 and today we will end on the Golden streets and Revelation 22. The Apostles Creed has taken us from the beginning to the end of our faith. Letís do a quick review.

I. I Believe Ė A Review

I Believe Ė I trust with my very life in these facts and realities.

I Believe in God, the Father, Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth. There is a being far more powerful and intelligent than anything in the universe, He is our creator, not some explosive gas that cooled and crawled and became us. He is our Father

I Believe that God has revealed Himself to us in His Son Jesus who is the promised deliverer, redeemer, anointed one, Savior, and Satan crusher, and He is my Lord.

I Believe in His unique birth

I Believe He suffered horribly, was crucified, dead and buried, that He was in the realm of the dead and that on the third day, He rose again.

I Believe He ascended into heaven, interceding for me and every Christ Follower when Satan accuses us with our sins, and He is pulling for us to always to do what is right.

I Believe He is going to return and that He will be the judge of the living and the dead.

I Believe in the Person, Presence, and Power of the Holy Spirit, living in us to enable us to obey God and do things we never imagined possible, that He is our guarantee of adoption and eternal life, and He will never leave a follower of Jesus no matter what.

I Believe that the Church is Jesusí brainstorm, His body, and yet His bride and His means of continuing His life and ministry

I Believe that the Church is about a body of people who share a common life, a common experience, and a common future. We all share the same God and Father, Savior, and Spirit. I believe that Body is to share in life together, all their joys and heartaches. And, I believe that body is to share the things they have been blessed with to help each other. That is the communion of the saints. The reason we stress life groups (small groups).

I Believe in the forgiveness of sins, not on my own meritorious actions, because my actions cannot pay for my lawless acts against God, but the death of Jesus could and did. I am released from my sin debt because Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

And that brings us to the end. Letís look at John 5:25-29, and Acts 26:1-8, 22-23. This is the teaching that got Paul in the hot seat and this is the hope we have in Jesus. Not a hope so, but the promise that we have to look forward to. I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting. The two together is what our hope is. Life is hard, the old saying says, and then you die. Most of us in America have never experienced and arenít likely to experience, what the people of Rwanda, and now Syria, and many parts of the world have experienced. Complete displacement, no place to call home, no idea how we are going to eat, or where we will sleep, or how we will be protected, or what will tomorrow bring?

But we have experienced the pain of disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimerís, the loss of a job, the pain of the death of a loved one, the pain of arthritis, the pain of a prodigal, a divorce, a robbery, an accident, more bills than money, ad etc. And we hope and want to believe that there is something better, something more, some peace, some joy, something that makes all we go through here on earth, worth it all, and with no more pain. There is, and that is our great hope and expectation.

Many of you have heard this story. I have used it many times at funerals for Christians, but it is appropriate that we hear it again today.

There was a Christian lady who was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things "in order," she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible. Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

"There's one more thing," she said excitedly.

"What's that?" came the pastor's reply.

"This is very important," the woman continued. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."

The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say. "That surprises you, doesn't it?", the woman asked.

"Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor.

The woman explained, "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main courses were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, "Keep your fork." It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming...like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, "What's with the fork?" Then I want you to tell them: "Keep your fork. The best is yet to come."

The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of Heaven than most Christians did.

She KNEW that something better was coming.

At her funeral people were walking by the woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing, her favorite Bible, and the fork placed in her right hand.

Over and over, the pastor heard the question "What's with the fork?"

And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

II. The Resurrection of the Body

When someone we love and we know has loved the Lord, we believe that their soul or spirit immediately enters the presence of the Lord. Paul says as much in 2 Cor. 5:6-7, "So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Paul likewise said to the Philippians (1:21-23), "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

The body we bury, or many today, will burn. But the teaching of the Bible is that God didnít just redeem your soul or spirit, He also redeemed your body and is going to resurrect your body and reunite it with your spirit.

Enoch and Elijah were translated in their bodies into the presence of God. Job was confident that regardless of his suffering his body would be raised, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27). Isaiah said, "Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead." (26:19)

Do you remember how Dickenís A Christmas Carol begins? "Marley was dead, to begin with, there is no doubt whatever about that." John 11 could have this as an opener, it doesnít, but it could, "Lazarus was dead to begin with, there is no doubt whatever about that." 4 days dead. Buried, dead! Then Jesus shows up.

John 11:20-26 says, "Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

In John 5, our Blessed Lord says what Daniel 12:2 says, when He says, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forthóthose who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."

The proof of this is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Paul says His resurrection is the first-fruits, the first to be presented to the Father (Acts 26:23; 1 Cor. 15). Because He lives and was raised, our bodies will be as well. We will maintain our individualism, and personalities. We will be recognized as who we are. Paul says this, 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:20-21) Maybe that means we will all be about 33, I donít know. But what I do know is that it will be a glorified body, that is not bound by time or space, and that cannot grow old, will never wear out, or die again. Some of you are left with memories of the deterioration caused by cancer, or the jaundice of a diseased liver. Or the swelling of a body filled with fluid. Painful memories of a loved one who has passed in to eternity.

But on the greatest good day ever. It will be perfect, no flaws, no jaundice, no swelling, no deterioration. All of our hair, teeth, and parts will be there, and all our wrinkles, warts, and flaws will be gone. Those who were bound to a bed or chair will walk, run and yes, they will even dance. Those who were blind will see, those who were deaf will hear, and those who were mute will speak. None of us will need to go on a diet nor will need make-up. We wonít need Clearasil, plastic surgery, or liposuction. We wonít need hearing aids or insulin or even an aspirin.

Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 15, that from the old seed, comes a new body of life. It is the same as the seed that went into the ground only it is different. A grain of corn planted in the ground will burst forth with a new stalk and multiple seeds of corn. Plant a bulb in the ground, and a beautiful crocus, daffodil, or tulip will blossom. From these old or young bodies God will raise a glorious body fit for His presence, that is no longer damaged by sin, or the sun, or Satan, or sickness. Revelation 21:7 reminds us that God is making everything new. Your body will be a brand new, yet distinctively the same you and, fit for the presence of God.

Paul also reminds us that the resurrection of our bodies is what all creation is waiting for and is what will be the completion of our adoption process. Listen to Romans 8:18-25, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Jesus died to redeem your body. The Holy Spirit now lives in your body and will never leave your body until the day he raises it and transform it (Romans 8:11, 22; Eph. 1:14; 4:30). That is why you should glorify God in your body and present your body as a living sacrifice, a gift to God now (1 Cor. 6:20; Rom. 12:1). And it is why Paul prayed, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," (1 Thess. 5:23).

I believe in the resurrection of the Body.

III. I Believe in the Life Everlasting

The last statement of the Creed is the affirmation of Life Everlasting. Eternal life. Eternal Life is both Quantity and Quality.

Eternal Life is both a Promise and a Gift. Our Lord Jesus said, "Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life." (John 6:47) Paul said, "The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom.6:23). It is a grace gift. John tells us, "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:11-13).

This life is about being in a right relationship with God. This relationship was lost for man in the Garden of Eden when our first parents didnít trust and obey God our Father and death came into the world. Death is a separation. Sin separates us from God, and from the life God wants us to have and enjoy. Left alone sin results in an eternal death; that is, to be eternally removed from the presence of God when we die physically.

But life is about being reconciled to God now. God was in Christ reconciling us to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18). And being with God forever. It begins when we place our belief, our trust, and we stake our very lives on the fact of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross and through the empty tomb. Upon that belief the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us and gives us this life that enables us to know God, intimately, personally. This is what our Lord Jesus said, Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:1-3) You have heard this before, but the word Know doesnít just mean to know intellectually, but to know relationally, personally, experientially.

It is a life meant to be abundant or overflowing with the Fruit of the Spirit. Our Lord said, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10). Right now, in these bodies that have not yet been changed we are able to bask in the love of God, and enjoy the peace and joy of God, and see our personalityís change to become more like Jesus, because the God we were separated from now resides in us and we reside in Him. Paul said, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is passing away and the new has come to stay." (2 Cor. 5:17)

Eternal Life is also about a place called Heaven. The place where Godís throne is. The place where God is. The place Jesus has prepared for us, the children of God. The place where we will share a table with God. The place where we will enjoy God, our Father forever. A place that we cannot really describe. The Revelation gives us a glimpse but our minds cannot fully grasp it now. Itís a place of beauty beyond comparison, a place where everything is new. A place of joy, peace and rest. Not a place inactivity or cloud floating and harp playing, but fulfilling and energizing activity. David said, "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

And itís a place where there wonít be the effects of sin anymore. Turn to Revelation 21:1-5. And look at the promise for His people

And then God makes a plea to people in verses 6-8.

There, there will be a reunion of Christ followers who passed before us, and the saints of all time and we will recognize and know them. 1 Thess. 4:13-18 says that we should comfort or strengthen each other with those words and thoughts.

But perhaps, what will make heaven the most wonderful is the promise of the longing of our hearts. The promise to see the face of our Father. Since Adam and Eve sinned, no one has seen the unveiled face of God. Moses wanted to see the glory of God and God showed him His back but not His face saying "No one can see my face and live." (Ex. 33:20)

Jobís great hope was to see God (Job 19:26-27)

Our Lord Jesus said that the pure in heart will see God (Matt. 5:8).

The Author of Hebrews said that without peace and holiness no one can see God (Hebrews 12:14)

John said, "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."

Look at Revelation 22:1-5.

Letís scratch that imagine of harps and halos and cloud hopping and imagine the best good day of your life compounded by a kazillion. This is what Jesus died to save us for. This is life as God intended it to be. This is your best good day ever.

I have officiated or attended about 200 funerals, and everyone is a reminder of this phrase of the creed. I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. This, my friends is our incentive for holy living now; for trusting and obeying our Father no matter what. On that day, it will be worth it all.

Those who do not receive Jesus will also be raised bodily and they also will experience an existence forever, but it is an existence of torment, because of their sins (Rev. 20:11-15). The Bible ends with a several pleas. That the offer for eternal life, this gift and promise, is still available and can be had by everyone and all. It was offered to self-righteous religious leaders. It was offered to a terrorist on a cross. It was offered to you and me. And our Father wants us to offer it to those we know who donít have it. Rev. 21:5-8 again says

Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Rev. 22:12-17

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last."

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Anyone who repents of sin and believes in Jesus; that is, trusts in Jesus with their very life can have His eternal life as His gift. Folks save your forks, the best is yet to come and it will be worth it all when we see Jesus. This is our hope and It will be the greatest good day ever.

Letís pray about it.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman