What are you going to be “wearing” in heaven? Have you ever thought about who we’re going to be, what we’re going to look like, in eternity? Certainly the Bible tells us that we are to be clothed with Christ—that there is no other way to stand before God except in the righteousness of Christ alone—so everyone in heaven will have already “put on Christ.” But I also wonder if our distinctiveness or individuality will be an external manifestation of the degree of our sacrifice for, or of who we have become in, Christ.
“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT)
This isn’t works-based salvation. There is no salvation apart from the perfect holiness of Jesus; it is Christ in us, the hope of glory—alone. The Bible actually says that all our works are like filthy rags; there is nothing I can do to look good to God apart from Jesus and the forgiveness He gives me because of Him. So, while this has nothing to do with forgiveness or salvation, it has everything to do with rewards, because Jesus Himself commanded us to “store up treasures in heaven,” rather than “storing up treasures on Earth.” What did He mean?
We know very little about heaven’s economy, and it is dangerous to extrapolate or speculate. Yet I truly wonder if our eternal being or essence may in some way, shape or form, reflect who we were, in Christ, during our earthly lives.
It certainly may be that who we will be recognizable as in heaven—and it does appear that each of us will be identifiable as ourselves—will be our “inner person” here in these earthly bodies. That each and every time we chose Christ over self, each and every time we brought Him glory rather than pleasing self, will somehow be obvious to all who encounter us. That the suffering for Christ of martyrs—both those known and countless others no one but God Himself knew suffered for righteousness’ sake—will be gloriously displayed in their being for all to see. That we will all be a composite of who we were in Christ.
Because in addition to being merciful because of Christ Jesus, I am reminded that God is also just. He sees everything we go through—and He is a rewarder of good. Scripture tells us:
“For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NLT)
Daniel in the Old Testament is given the promise that, “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” (Daniel 12:3 NLT) The word translated “wise” can alternatively be rendered “teachers,” echoing Christ’s command to lead others to righteousness in Him.
This is also highly encouraging—to not give up! Not for salvation, because all who genuinely place their trust in Christ already have Him who is eternal life—but for remaining faithful to Him in this life, even if it costs us everything, because it matters. Our suffering and sacrifice for our Savior is not forgotten, or irrelevant, or lost in the grand scheme of things, but may genuinely remain for eternity!
In concluding, let’s read the entire passage these verses are found in, because we should always study God’s Word in context:
“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-11 NLT)
Ultimately, God will determine what we will be—what our eternal bodies will look like. Perhaps it will not be quite like this; perhaps God has planned it some other way. Yet whatever it is, we can rest in Him that it will be glorious—because He is glorious beyond anything we can imagine!
“Dear friends, now we are God’s children, and it hasn’t yet appeared what we will be. We know that when he appears we will be like him because we’ll see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3 CEB)
Dear Lord Jesus,
Please clothe me with You and the holiness that comes from You alone! Help me be faithful in all things; help me not be ashamed when You call me out of this life; help me have a crown to place before You some day! Amen.