Easter is this coming Lord’s Day! As a child, I used to look forward to the Easter ham and family fun. As a young father, I used to love getting the Easter baskets ready for the boys, and the Easter egg hunts – great memories! These joys of Christian family life are all part of the “School of Christ” giving us glimpses and shadows of the Great Resurrection that happened once and for all, as the writer of Hebrews wrote, and yet happens every movement of every day as we carry around His resurrection in these jars of clay. (2 Cor. 4:7).
Christ’s resurrection, which the Church traditionally celebrates during Easter, gives us a glimpse of that wonderful promise we have--that we will be resurrected in the Last Day, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and live with God forever. When we see Him, we will be like Him, scripture says. When we see Him face to face, we will know Him as we are known. There will be no more war, no more tears--all will be well-- what the church has conventionally called the Beatific Vision.
We do not talk about this doctrine much, but we should. It is not only very rich and deep; it is very practical. Our blessed hope of that beatific vision is what we carry around with us, as inchoate yearnings, as we labor in this upside-down world of death and darkness. It sustains us in a world full of ugliness, error and evil. Those who have this holy fire burning in their hearts are marked as different from the world--it is a blessed sign of contradiction to the world, the flesh, and the devil.
This Beatific Vision is a sacred deposit in the faith once delivered to the saints. The Great Conversation about its meaning is one of the underappreciated gifts the church has to give the contemporary world and the next generation of believers.
I was reading John Owen’s marvelous little book entitled “Spiritual Mindedness” over the break, with men from my church. In it, this historic Puritan divine argued that the Beatific Vision of Christ is where our Faith, Hope and Love are all perfected in the transforming face of Christ. There is marvelous simplicity in that way of understanding it, and yet it is profound enough to keep us busy for a lifetime.
That is the wonder of the Christian life. The mystery of godliness given to us in the gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Being resurrected with Christ now, by the power of his Holy Spirit begins that Great Conversation. It is not the end of life--even though it is in one sense--it is the beginning of the wonderful romance of Orthodoxy, as G.K. Chesterton called it. We at Geneva are working with you to shepherd your children into this mystery. That is what the church celebrates at Easter. Not the ham and the eggs – although I must confess, I do love me some ham and eggs!
Dr. David Kester