Q 52. What hope does everlasting life hold for us?
A. It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.
As we come to the close of the year and consider our last catechism lesson in this series, we are confronted with a concept that is at once alien but also familiar: eternity. I wonder what your thoughts are on what eternity might mean for you. The author of the book of Ecclesiastes says that “God has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT) Though we have immortal souls and are meant to continue existing for all eternity, we cannot fully understand this idea of “no ending.” But even though we do not fully understand it now, the hope of everlasting life is something that all true believers have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our catechism in question fifty-two asks, “What hope does everlasting life hold for us?” Answer: “It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.” The Christian’s hope in Christ is one that is not just for this life but extends to eternity. As the late Bishop J.C. Ryle has summarized so beautifully, “Let us settle it then in our minds, for one thing, that the future happiness of those who are saved is eternal. However little we may understand it, it is something which will have no end: it will never cease, never grow old, never decay, never die. At God’s ‘right hand are pleasures for evermore’ (Ps. 16:11). Once landed in paradise, the saints of God shall go out no more. The inheritance is ‘incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away.’ They shall ‘receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away’ (1 Pet. 1:4; 5:4). Their warfare is accomplished; their fight is over; their work is done. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more. They are travelling on towards an ‘eternal weight of glory,’ towards a home which shall never be broken up, a meeting without a parting, a family gathering without a separation, a day without night. Faith shall be swallowed up in sight, and hope in certainty. They shall see as they have been seen, and know as they have been known, and “be for ever with the Lord.” I do not wonder that the apostle Paul adds, ‘Comfort one another with these words’
(1 Thess. 4:17–18).” And indeed, such is the comfort of the Christian united to Christ by faith. Hope is the currency of the Christian life and hope can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. As we come to the close of our journey through the New City Catechism, it is my earnest hope that these lessons have aided you in considering Christ and placing your ultimate hope in life and in death in Him alone.