KEY TEXT: Heb 9:27-28 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
KEY THOT: Forgiveness of sins is the means to fulfil the ultimate end of salvation—to bring us into heaven itself where the presence of God is. Even now, Jesus, having offered himself to bear the sins of many, is in “heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (v.24). He is there as our representative and in Him, we are also now seated in the heavenly places. But one day, he will appear “a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (v.28). All who belong to Christ will be taken up by Christ while divine wrath is poured upon the earth at the last trumpet sound: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:16-17; cf. Rev. 11:15). Believers will be clothed with their new resurrection bodies to meet Christ in the air. Thereafter, they will descend from heaven with Christ as the heavenly Bride to take on permanent residence on the new Eden, a fusion reality where heaven and earth will be one continuous reality: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:1-3).
But for those outside of Christ, after death “comes judgment” (v.27): “And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done” (Rev 20:12-13). The ultimate destiny of all who are outside of Christ's saving grace is the same as Satan and his angels. In rejecting Christ's offer of salvation, they have opted to remain under Satan's rule and therefore share his ultimate destiny in the lake of fires: "the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev 20:10). If we are to avoid this ultimate destiny with the devil, we have to reject his dominion now and come into Christ's kingdom by confessing Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Believers are not permanent residents on this earth, but are left here to bear witness to Christ and His kingdom rule: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). When believers enjoy now the righteousness, peace and joy of the Spirit, they are witnesses of the kingdom reality in the pre-believing world. Just as Jesus came to bear witness to the Truth (John 18:37), so the church is called to bear witness to Christ’s kingly rule here on earth. The signs of the kingdom are just pointers to the Truth which is the Ultimate Reality of the new heaven and new earth. When the church grieves or quenches the Holy Spirit, she will also forfeit Christ's kingdom blessings of righteousness, peace and joy which He has received from the Father on our behalf.
Father, thank You that in Christ, we are already recipients of Your heavenly glory. May You continue to fill us with Your Spirit, that we may receive in even greater measure, the glory of Your presence here as witnesses to Your Truth. Amen.