Chapter 10: The Future Reality of God’s Forever Presence
This in the present reality before us is this: we’re on a lifelong journey of going vertical and reconnecting with God. This relationship begins with our salvation and grows closer with each passing day God grants us the continuance of life and breath.
The Apostle Paul is one of our greatest examples of a Christian who both knew and lived out this reality. His faith was securely rooted in the belief that what God had started in his life, God would also finish (Phil. 1:6). Furthermore, Paul’s entire post-conversion life was marked by an earnest, relentless passion to know Christ in an ever increasing measure (Phil. 3:10). So intense was his yearning to experience God’s presence right up close that he wished his life would end prematurely, and thus consequently immediately usher him into heaven itself (Phil 1:23). Yes, Paul longed to return to the permanence of what Adam and Eve initially enjoyed in the Garden of Eden - God up close, side by side, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and humanity interacting together in an unending, sinless, perfect relationship.
The apostle Paul was never able to realize that longed-for reality on earth until he was martyred for his unwavering commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, even now, there is no question he is being continually immersed into all of heaven’s indescribable glories, experiencing the unimaginable bliss that only the ones standing before the throne of God can know (2 Cor. 5:8). But what about those of us who still walk this sin-cursed earth? How long will it be before we no longer have to go vertical and God will be as close to us as the air we breathe? How long will it be before the apostle Paul and the millions of saints who have also have long since died and now occupy heaven’s portals will be resurrected with new bodies to once again commune with God on earth?
Praise God, there is a time coming when these questions will have no more relevance and never again have to be framed in our minds or expressed from our lips! Long ago, one man, the apostle John, was privileged to look into the future and see how God’s eternal plan for humanity and this universe would ultimately unfold. This is what he saw, and this is what he wrote:
"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away'” (Rev. 21:1-4).
This is the culmination toward which history advances according to God’s divine plan. God will be with us! It is very significant that John specifically states that he saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. It’s reunion time! God and humanity forever reunited, brought once again into perfect togetherness. Going vertical will become a thing of the past - our past, never to be repeated throughout eternity.
Nothing can or will change this future reality. The presence of evil and the possibility of sin will be forever eradicated. Knowing God up close will be an ever-present experience. How comforting! How amazing!
This is what the Scriptures are all about, returning us to what once was and never returning to what now is. God will be right back beside us, with us. There’s nothing more glorious than this. There’s nothing that can compare with this. Nothing! This is what gives us the courage, the confidence to go on and stand true for Christ, no matter what trials break in upon our lives during our earth-side existence.
We therefore echo these glorious words from the Apostle Paul: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37-39).
This has not been a long closing chapter. That’s because it’s my earnest prayer that the simplest truths of this present chapter will come home and anchor themselves deep within our hearts. Yes, there is so much more that can be written about the new heaven and earth. Yes, there is so much more that can be written about what it will be like to experience the complete absence of death, sorrow, crying and pain.
But what is most important is what will ultimately bring every glorious blessing into reality - God’s immediate presence. That’s the bottom line of human existence - to know God up close and to glorify Him forever. Let’s look forward with great anticipation to when going vertical will no longer be necessary. If you need to go vertical for the first time and come to Christ, repent of your sins, and receive Him as your Lord and Saviour, do it today. God is waiting. He’s longing for you to come to Him and receive His unconditional love and His everlasting forgiveness.
Once you have done this, find a Bible-believing church in your community. Attend your new church as consistently as possible. Listen attentively to the Scriptures as they are preached and taught. Interact and pray with other believers. These things are essential because they are the only way you can grow into a committed, vibrant, spiritually mature Christian.
If you are a Christian and your life had become consumed with earthly, horizontal pursuits, now is the time to change your orientation and go vertical. Eternity matters. Make sure your life counts for what is most significant.
"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (Rev. 22:20,21). Until He comes, let’s go vertical!