Edmund: Did you know the tortoise is practically immortal?
Emily: What? No way.
Edmund: “Senescence” is the term scientists use to describe the gradual deterioration of the body due to age. Now human beings experience senescence. But tortoises have what scientists call “negligible “Senescence””. They usually die only from predators or diseases.
Emily: Couldn’t we use science to figure out how to be like tortoises and live forever without the senescence stuff?
Edmund: Well, we do actually live forever. Just not like a tortoise. Our earthly bodies may break down and die, but we will continue on forever.
Emily: You mean if we go to heaven?
Edmund: Well, Jesus said that all of us will be given a new body and rise from the dead. The just will go to heaven and the unjust will go to hell.
Emily: So people that are destined for hell also get a resurrected body?
Edmund: Yes, pretty wild right? Our soul will live forever, and we’ll have our bodies come back to life eventually.
Emily: In the creed we say we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting, right?
Edmund: Yes, and death is when these bodies die and the soul leaves the body. Jesus died to destroy death and rose to restore life. So we also believe in the resurrection of the body. This is so important to God’s plan that Jesus even said “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Emily: But how are we going to rise from the dead?
Edmund: Well, Jesus’ resurrection gives us a hint about this. Jesus’ resurrected body was different from his body before his death. We will be given a glorified body — meaning a body that has been elevated by God.
Emily: Wow, when does that happen?
Edmund: Jesus will come again. And every person who dies will be judged to be destined for heaven or hell. Heaven is perfect life with the Trinity. It’s communion in life and love with God. We’re all made for heaven and this will fulfill all of our deepest human longings. It’s a state of supreme happiness.
Emily: Well, what about…you know, the other place?
Edmund: If heaven is ultimate happiness and the fulfillment of all of our deepest longings, hell is a place without all of this. Hell is eternal separation from God and a place of punishment and torment.
Emily: Does God want people to go to hell? Why would he even make such a place?
Edmund: See, God doesn’t want people to go to hell. People end up in hell through a willful turning away from God all the way to the end of their lives.
Emily: Okay so all people either go to heaven or to hell.
Edmund: Well yes, ultimately. But when we die, if we’re destined for heaven but we’re not ready for it yet, we undergo a form of purification. This is known as Purgatory.
Emily: Sort of like a waiting room?
Edmund: Well, not exactly. It’s more like a cleansing fire that prepares us to be in heaven. Think of it like burning off all the little impurities that would cause us difficulty being in heaven in the presence of God. But the good news is that being in purgatory means you are destined for heaven!
Emily: So at the end of time Jesus will return and everyone who hasn’t died yet will be judged.
Edmund: Yes, because ultimately Jesus died to defeat death and rose to restore us to true life. And because of this, we believe in and can hope in a new heaven and a new earth.
At the end of time, the whole universe will be transformed and united back to God. God will dwell among those who will be with him for eternity. The Kingdom of God will be in its fullness both in heaven and on earth.
Emily: It’s sort of like a happy ending to a movie?
Edmund: Yes, we believe that the story of the universe, of creation, and all human people, does not ultimately have a bad ending especially for those who are alive in Christ and part of the Kingdom of God. We can have hope in life everlasting and a resurrected body. The end of time will end in a new heaven and a new earth unlike anything we could imagine — and this perfect life with God