Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
I have always focused on the last part of this verse; today while reading it I noticed the first part. Often I have cited, in great excitement, this verse, wanting to be like Him. But look at the first part, for that is what I wish to focus on now. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Many of my attempts to look forward more to what we shall be are doomed—they deserve not to be classed as more than vain imaginings. By faith, we look forward to being remade into new creatures, and by faith I accept the promise of Christ that He is going to prepare a place for me.
Now, the locations of those places that Christ is fixing for us are evident. First of all, I am going to heaven, by death, or by the Rapture, should it come soon. It is there that the Bible tells us that Christ is preparing for us “many mansions”. I know that after seven years in heaven, Christ will take us with Him as He returns and sets up His Kingdom on earth, and if I read my Bible aright, ever afterward we will follow our Lord—one day into the new heavens and the new earth.
But as to what we will really be like, it is mostly unknown. Randy Alcorn suggests that if we die we may receive “temporary” bodies to hold our spirits. I admire his work to try to press the Bible for the most possible information about our afterlife. But even he is quick to admit that the picture is unclear, and it must be looked forward to by faith. Paul tells us that we will “reign” and “rule” with Christ and I know not what that means. Right now I am utterly unable to judge as my Lord does—evidently something happens within me to change that inability. I rather suspect it to be a profound change, one that will wrest my character apart. I like the picture that Lewis presents of our conversion in The Great Divorce: “This belief [the belief in a marriage of some sort between heaven and hell] I take to be a disastrous error. You cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys; on one journey even your right hand and your right eye may be among the things you leave behind.” I rather suspect that the grand change God has for me will involve my leaving much of my personality behind (it may feel like losing a hand or an eye)—a painful process—to press the new me to fit the very high mold of a new creature capable in any fashion of ruling and reigning with Christ. By faith I look forward to this great adventure, trusting in the goodness of my God.
And it is with all these changes in mind that I wish to reflect some on what I call the ‘new name thing.’ I wish to present a few verses from the Bible that show a tremendous penchant for names. Revelation 2:17 has a vivid illustration of this. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Am I to be given a real white stone? Perhaps it is so, but metaphors abound in Revelation, and I am not sure. If it is so, I cannot imagine anything more precious to me than that gift of the white stone. If it is figurative, perhaps standing for the righteousness the Rock imputes to me, then I shall be equally dazzled by the gift. Is it a literal name? A name known by no other man, and given to me by God personally. What a precious gift!
I know the new name could quite signify the completely new me that will be remade, yet Revelation takes at least two more opportunities to talk of this new name, telling me that it will even be written on my forehead. (Rev. 22) If I understand it at all, it means that God is staking His claim and protection on me forever. To all who see me, I will belong to God. And that thought I find quite comforting!
To be remade in His image, marked with His righteousness, and given a new name reflecting the new creature He has made me? Life would be impossible to be any better! Bring it on, Lord! Come quickly.