Adrian concludes his book with two chapters about how the resurrection gives Christians hope for the future.
In chapter 18 he looks at the future hope for individual believers. He notes how this helps us to endure difficulties in this life. But he rejects how
many Christians associate “going to heaven to be with Jesus when we die” with a disembodied “spiritual” resurrection. (p.243)
He also rejects the idea of “soul sleep”, noting that “Our spirits are already with Christ in heaven” (p.244, citing Ephesians 2:6) and suggesting that after the death of the body
We remain distinct, aware beings, but in heaven we still await our eternal destiny of a physical resurrection. When we die we only become aware of what is already true of us. (p.245)
The very same bodies that are placed in our tombs will one day rise again. … We will, however, be changed from being weak, frail, and mortal into being glorious and eternal. (p.246)
In passing Adrian quotes Spurgeon agreeing with me that resurrection bodies have blood (p.243).
In his concluding chapter 19 Adrian moves on to the broader hope of the “The Resurrection of All Things”. He looks at the renewal of creation without death. associated with “the actual revealing of the resurrected children of God” (p.250). Thus he answers the question of where our resurrection bodies will live, which (in agreement with N.T. Wright’s view) will not be in heaven as popularly understood:
in the new creation heaven will be a place on earth as the heavenly Jerusalem descends. We will live on earth with renewed bodies … (p.252)
Adrian then looks at the judgment to come at the return of Christ. He ignores controversial issues of chronology as he describes three possible outcomes: condemnation, leading to real pain, but not for Christians; being saved “as through fire”; and rewards for those who have been faithful.
The last section of the chapter is a look at the kingdom of God, which is eternal, but already present now, as
God himself is living inside us! We experience the power and presence of a Jesus who is living, active, and doing things today. … The kingdom really is now and not yet! (p.259)
We have already been raised with Christ, and yet we are waiting for the final day when our bodies will be resurrected with Christ. (p.261)
Adrian may have in mind some of his more conservative and “cessationist” Reformed friends when he writes:
It is sobering that Paul warned us that in the last days there would be people “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). I trust that none of us deny the power of Jesus’ resurrection to work in our lives and change us. But I hope that as we have been studying this subject, we are now more desperate than ever to see his transforming power at work, changing everything in our lives and in those around us. (p.261)
Adrian fittingly closes the book by quoting Ephesians 1:17-21 as a prayer for his readers.
I nearly wrote that I was pleasantly surprised by “Raised with Christ”. I was certainly pleased by it. But I wasn’t really surprised to find that Adrian could put aside the sometimes polemical tone he uses on his “blog” and write something as well argued and positive as this book. As I would expect it is not at a high academic level, and this occasionally comes through in minor weaknesses in the argument. But this ensures that the book is accessible to ordinary people with a reasonable education.
The only significant reservations I have are really because, as an Arminian charismatic suspicious of much “Reformed” evangelicalism, I do not fit into Adrian’s target audience. That is why I found somewhat grating the way in which he keeps quoting Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, and Piper, as well as older Puritans. But I know that for Adrian’s intended audience of Reformed readers, “cessationist” as well as charismatic, these are the traditionally accepted authorities, and so it is important for Adrian’s case to show that these preachers and writers support it.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone whose background is “Reformed” or conservative evangelical and whose faith seems to be somewhat doctrine-centred and dry. In fact I can think of people I might like to give it to. I would think that anyone like that who read this book would find it acceptable – and if they then took its message to heart their faith would be transformed. I hope and pray that God uses the book in this way to revitalise many Christian lives.