Published on February 10th, 2017 | by Jayson Byrd0
Heaven & the Intermediate State
Focusing on the centrality of the gospel in the scriptures also leads us to see the totality of the Gospel in the homegoing of His saints. In this sense Gospel-centered theology becomes gloriously pastoral and comforting when facing the death of a loved one.
Outside of scripture one of the books that God used to awaken me to the centrality of the Gospel is Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life. During a time of loss in which my family was celebrating homegoing of my earthly hero, my grandfather the topic of heaven and the intermediate state came to mind. One of the final applications of the Gospel is “We shall be like Him” based in 1 John 3:1-2. In this passage, John sees the application of the Gospel as a present reality “now are we the children of God” and a hopeful future “when He appears we shall be like him.” While God is changing us to be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:29) the finality is not realized until the resurrection, the resurrection of our bodies (Romans 8:23, Philippians 3:20-21).
But what about those believers who have passed this life now, before the resurrection? This period of time between our death and the still future resurrection of our bodies is often called the intermediate state. So what does the scripture teach us about this state and those that have entered into it before us?
Here are a few principles regarding the intermediate state Bridges asserted from the following passages: 2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 1:23, and Hebrews 12:22-24.
1. We will be with Christ.
2. We will be in the presence of thousands of angels in joyful assembly.
3. We will be with believers of all ages.
4. We will be perfectly conformed to Christ in our spirits.
5. We will be in a state that is “far better” than anything we can imagine.
These are glorious truths.