The final state of the saved may be characterized by six adjectives.
- Embodied. The believer’s ‘spiritual body’ (1 Cor. 15:44) is a body animated and guided by the perfected human spirit and revitalized by the divine Spirit, a body perfectly adapted to the ecology of heaven. It has a divine origin (1 Cor. 15:38), with God as its architect and builder (2 Cor. 5:1–2). It is ‘imperishable’, free from any form of decay; ‘glorious’, of radiant and unsurpassed beauty; ‘powerful’, with limitless energy and perfect health (1 Cor. 15:42–43, 50, 52–54). It is ‘angel-like’, not because it is sexless (sexual identity, a crucial ingredient in personality, is retained in the resurrection) but because it is deathless (Luke 20:36) and without sexual passions or procreative powers (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25).
- Localized. Although heaven is a condition, that of knowing and serving God, it is also and always a place, the locality where God’s presence is most perfectly expressed and felt. The ‘new heavens and new earth in which righteousness has its permanent home’ (2 Pet. 3:13) correspond to the believer’s resurrection body. Whether this ‘newness’ of creation comes about by annihilation or by transformation (both concepts find expression in Rev. 21:1, 5), the result will be that the whole material order will unswervingly serve the purposes of spirit.
- Personal. Believers are not destined to be absorbed into the divine, but to bear the image of Christ without forfeiting their individuality (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49). Such a view leaves no room for a pantheistic immortality in which the many are absorbed into the one, or a racial immortality in which people survive solely in their posterity. From first to last God treats us as distinctive individuals.
- Corporate. The life of the age to come is not marked by an exclusively individual enjoyment of the beatific vision of God so that myriads of individuals live in fellowship with God but in isolation from other worshippers. Although individual believers will enjoy unmediated interpersonal communion with the Lord, it is only in the corporate context of the City of God, the perfect society of the consummated kingdom (Rev. 21:1–22:5).
- Permanent. Through their transformation, believers will assume an immortality that guarantees the permanency of their resurrection state (1 Cor. 15:53–55). ‘They will reign for ever and ever’ (Rev. 22:5).
- Active. Redeemed believers will worship and serve God and the Lamb enthusiastically and acceptably (Rev. 7:9–10; 14:1–4; 19:9; 22:3–4).
New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, art. ‘Salvation’
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