For, I am certain, there is nothing in this world worth living for but hope, and every hope will fail us, if the last hope, that of a future state, is extinguished.
-John Adams, Letter to F.A Vanderkemp
“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”- Romans 8:23-24
John Adams, in a letter to F.A Vanderkemp, described the atrocities and beauties of Christianity, remarking that though Christianity was distorted to promote the most bloodiest of acts, it is a religion of the highest value and hope. This hope is the foundation and indeed the motivation to all true, meaningful life and future existence. The hope in a future state, or a place where all hope and expectation find glorious release, is essential to Christian livelihood. The Apostle Paul points out in his letter to the Romans that the primary hope and expectation to which the believer is saved and called is our adoption in Christ, culminating in the future resurrection from the dead. Most of us think of a cloud-ridden heaven when we think of the future, and some of us entertain a beautiful future with fat, winged, baby neighbors with harps floating amongst the clouds. When entertaining thoughts of hope and our future state, our minds so easily drift to seeing loved ones, perhaps eating giant chocolate chip cookies, or, perhaps for some, sitting in the most torturous worship service for eons and eons, singing the chorus of How Great Is Our God until our eyes pop out. But we don’t often consider the complete truth. The future state and hope of believers is physical, glorified resurrection from the dead. We know from the Scriptures that all will be resurrected with imperishable bodies, brought back to life and lifted from our graves by the power of God, but believers will be resurrected to utter glory, overwhelming joy, and ultimate salvation. We tend to picture our future as simply spiritual, boring, or something that we can’t really enjoy, can’t really long for. This is why we can rarely get excited about what’s to come. It is true that we can’t comprehend the glories and riches of what is to come. We have never known bodies without death, bodies without limits to joy or bodies not tempted to worship anything but what they were meant to worship. We have never known a world without corruption, without sin.
But the Christian’s future, while gloriously spiritual, will be gloriously physical as well. It is a magnificent hope to await a day when all physical pain will be eradicated, when all sinful temptation will be taken away, when gluttony and obesity are no more but where we can feast to the glory of God, experience unending, overwhelming joy to the glory of God, have relationships with others without the dark marks of sin marring them, where we can drink water that will quench our 75 year old thirsts, where we can rest to ease our life-long weariness, where we are healed from our pain and released from our sadness. We will experience all of this with bodies raised in glorious newness to image the Christ and give glory to the Triune God. What a future! I amen John Adams. If there is no future that consists of this, the fulfilled promises of God, then there is nothing to comfort me here. There is no vacation to ease my longing, no 401k to make me feel secure, no amount of financial security to give me solid ground, and indeed nothing worth living for. If this world is it, I will quote Adams further and say, “my advice to every man, woman, and child would be, as our existence would be in our own power, to take opium.” I’m not quite sure what our great Founding Father meant by this, but it sounds like Paul when he says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied,” (1 Corinthians 15:19). I find in this life no shelter from disease, no assurance of stability, no certainty of life, no drink to quench, no object to fulfill, and no ultimate object that satisfies. Opium, as Adams so eloquently put, may be the best possible release if there is no future state. Still, Christians hold onto the word of God. And this what the Lord says.
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”- 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
And that, friends, is worth living and worth dying for. It is the most certain inextinguishable hope.