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Who Are We?

by Kevin Ford
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash
 

A strange question, isn't it? Quite apart from our own vivid awareness of our lives, our existence is surely well documented in official records. Each of us has a distinctive name, appearance, birth date and place, Social Insurance number. Our names are recorded on the birth records of a province or of another country. Revenue Canada seems well aware of our existence when it is time to pay income tax! Yet how many of us could give similar details of our great grandparents or more distant forbears? If this society were to continue another hundred or two hundred years, would that generation know anything of us?

If you have read George Orwell's famous novel of a totalitarian society set in 1984, you may recall that when the citizens of "Oceania" fell foul of the State, they were not merely executed, they were "vaporized" - removed from every official record. They ceased to exist in every sense and were removed from the past as well as the present. Is this such a far-fetched idea? Think back to the Rwandan tragedy of a few years ago when countless numbers of men, women and children in that country perished in bloody massacres. It would be totally impossible today for anyone to compile a complete list of those victims, many of whom were consigned to mass graves, their names never recorded. Some were infants who may have never had a name. Yet they lived and breathed just as we do. Their lives were just as real to them as ours are to us. So how is it possible that we no longer know who they were? Like Orwell's characters, have they been eradicated from the past and from the present?

In the New Testament, we read the names of many of God's people who lived during the first century AD. Not all were well-known Church leaders like Peter or Paul. Some of those mentioned in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Romans may have been regular members of the local congregations. Multiple thousands were called into God's Church in the first century (Acts 2:41). Who were they? What of those brought to repentance and conversion throughout the succeeding centuries? Of these, we know almost nothing. It is sobering to realize that, of those we call the "saints," called to God's truth over the centuries, most lie in unmarked graves, their names and all other identifying characteristics lost from any official record. Even their physical bodies have decomposed into dust and are totally unidentifiable, but God knows who they are! He knows their names, their characters, the depth of their conversion and the trials they had to endure. He knows their strengths and their weaknesses, and He knows what positions they are qualified to fill in His Kingdom on earth. He has inscribed their names in His own official record which is called "The Book of Life"!

"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life." (Revelation 3:5)

One day soon, that human dust, forgotten for centuries, will reach the culmination of the great spiritual journey that began in the waters of baptism and continued through year after year of trials and testing, until finally a character was forged that, even in its weakness and humanity, God the Father could recognize as resembling that of His own divine Son. Jesus Christ will command the graves to give up the bodies of His saints and they will come forth, no longer in human frailty, but as powerful spirit beings, to meet their Creator face to face.

"Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement." (John 5:28-29 RSV)

These resurrected, glorified saints will not be mistreated, scorned, persecuted and forgotten a second time. This time, the world will be made to sit up and take notice!

"The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44 )

It is an event that many in the world today are anxiously awaiting, though they may not understand the real reasons for mankind's horrendous problems, nor the only hope of their solution.

"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God... we know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:19, 22-23 RSV)

The first commission of the resurrected saints, put bluntly, will be to assist Jesus Christ in the violent overthrow of this present Satan-inspired society. From reading the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah and the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, we know this will not be achieved without bloodshed on a massive scale. Corrupt world leaders will see their worst nightmares become reality, their apparently secure power bases overwhelmed by unimaginable forces. Every power structure on the face of the earth is to be systematically dismantled and replaced with elements of God's divine government.

No one, however rich, famous or powerful has an inside track on God's favour (Jeremiah 9:23-24). No Napoleon, Beethoven or Einstein has a head start toward the Kingdom of God. There is only one way a human being can "get God's attention." Without His revelation, would we ever come to know it? God looks to the one who is "humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word" (Isaiah 66:2 RSV). No one is ever going to have a relationship with his Creator on any other terms.

So who are we? Humanly speaking, it hardly matters. We are all "a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14). Before our call and conversion, we were little more than talking animals, destined, at best, to live out our physical lives and then perish from the earth. But when that miracle took place for each of us that enabled a carnal, physical mind to receive a portion of God's Spirit and to begin to understand the thoughts of God, to reach out to Him (1 Corinthians 2:11) and to want to surrender his life to Him, a new entry is made in the Book of Life. Then, and only then, do we acquire a real identity. For ever!

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