“Ours is a religion whose center of gravity lies beyond the grave in the world to come… the gospel is primarily intended to prepare man for a future life and that consequently neither its true nature can be understood nor its full glory appreciated unless it be placed in the light of eternity…Christianity does many things for the present life, but if we wish to apprehend how much it can do, we must direct our gaze to the life beyond.
“…the Christian's main thinking and feeling and striving revolve around the future state; and that, if this goal should prove to have no objective reality, the absoluteness with which the believer has staked everything in its attainment must make him appear in his delusion the most pitiable of all creatures. What a gulf then lies between this statement of the apostle (‘if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied’ – 1 Corinthians 15:19) and the sentiment we sometimes meet with–that Christianity had better disencumber itself of all idle speculation about an uncertain future state and concentrate its energies upon the improvement of the present world.
“Paul could not have entertained such a sentiment for a moment because the thirst for the world to come was of the very substance of the religion of his heart. He felt deeply that the believer's destiny and God's purposes with reference to him transcend all limits of what this earthly life can possibly bring or possibly contain.
“Christ's work for us extends even farther than the restoration of what sin has destroyed. If Christ placed us back there where Adam stood in his rectitude, without sins and without death, this would be unspeakable grace indeed, more than enough to make the gospel a blessed word. But grace exceeds sin far more abundantly than all this: besides wiping out the last vestige of sin and its consequences, it opens up for us that higher world to whose threshold even the first Adam had not yet apprehended. And this is not a mere matter of degrees in blessedness, it is a difference between two modes of life; as heaven is high above the earth, by so much the condition of our future state will transcend those of the paradise of old.
“It is for this reason that we know so little, and that even in the moments of greatest clearness of our spiritual vision we form such inadequate ideas of what awaits us hereafter. But, thanks be to God, in the resurrection of Christ for once the veil has been lifted. When Christ rose from the grave he rose as one whose human nature had been transformed into harmony with heavenly conditions. This was true not merely of his body, but of all the faculties and powers of his humanity hitherto exercised in humiliation and now set free and made fit for their perfect use in heavenly glory.
“In this respect the resurrection of Christ is prophetic of that of all believers. As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man (I Cor. 15:49). In the resurrection, therefore, we have the assurance that we ourselves also shall be made fit in our entire nature for our habitation in heaven. It is only by understanding this that we can understand the true significance of the resurrection of the body. Not that our bodies as such shall be restored to us is the great hope of the Christian, but that they shall be restored to us in such a state as to resemble the resurrection-body of Christ; that through them our spirits may dwell in perfect accord with their heavenly surroundings and may lead in its consummate form the life that knows no end.” – Geerhardus Vos, A Sermon on I Corinthians 15:14, Preached in Princeton Chapel on Easter, April 23, 1905