Immortality and Human Flourishing

By J. Warner Wallace


The afterlife we experience in the future can change the way we live today. Imagine working long hours in terrible conditions for the promise of receiving one dollar at the end of the day. Now imagine working in the very same job but for the promise of one million dollars at the end of the day. Which job offer would be easier to endure? Your future expectations are the key to your present well-being. If an afterlife is waiting for us beyond the grave, our present life will be transformed. Billy Graham once said, “I trust Jesus with all my tomorrows, knowing that He will solve the mystery of life beyond the grave.” Allow the promise of eternity to change the way you interpret the present.

. . . Augustine understood the relationship between immortality and well-being: “The true life is one that is both everlasting and happy,” and “since all men want to be happy, they want also to be immortal if they know what they want; for otherwise they could not be happy.”

The Bible described this truth about human desire long before modern researchers confirmed it.

The authors of the New Testament understood the debilitating power of death anxiety. The first human couple had no personal experience with the nature of mortality, and as such, they had no anxiety about death. Their sin, however, introduced death to humans, and we’ve been aware of our mortality ever since. God had a plan to conquer the grave. Just as death entered the world through Adam, the opportunity for eternal life entered the world though Jesus. This promise of eternity is made possible by the penalty Jesus paid for our sin. His death destroyed our death. His resurrection assured our resurrection. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “Death is, in fact, what some modern people call ‘ambivalent.’ It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.”

The biblical authors, therefore, encouraged us not to be anxious about the future, reminding us that life is more than what we eat, wear, or experience on this side of the grave. They acknowledged the promise of our future resurrection, describing death as the “last enemy to be destroyed,” assuring eternal life as citizens of heaven, and promising that our next life will be far greater than our present reality.

For those who accept the gift Jesus offered, the afterlife will be a place without tears, remorse, or pain. Every injustice will be righted, every evil vanquished, every desire met, and every expectation exceeded as we experience “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

The authors of Scripture also knew the future reality of heaven would change our lives today. They called us to remain steadfast when facing trials or hardships by setting our mind on “things that are above.” Like the worker who expects a huge reward at the end of the day, we are to rejoice and be glad, remembering that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Jesus came so “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Those who aren’t yet aware of the eternal life available through Jesus will continue to suffer death anxiety and its negative consequences. Those who overcome their fear of death by accepting Jesus as Savior will thrive. The fear of death can cripple us or guide us to our Creator. He didn’t create us to dwell on our mortality. He didn’t create us to die at all. He created us instead for a relationship with him. He created us for eternity.

— J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker and best-selling author. He continues to consult on cold-case investigations while serving as a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is also an adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University and a faculty member at Summit Ministries. He is the author of numerous books including Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible and Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels.

Image by Bernd from Pixabay