Immortal Longings
The supernatural unity of all things


I have been praying and writing about angels recently. This teaching is not about them but reflects on an insight from the Lord when I was in America asking him about the place of angels in creation. Essentially, what unites angels, holy persons and all creation with God is a longing for the restoration of the unity of “all things”[1]. One purpose of this article is to motivate us to earnestly desire this re- union.

The Unity of All Things


This theme was unforgettably drawn to my attention in 1975[2] and it over-arches the entire biblical story[3]. While much of the church seems blinded to such a limitless horizon of expectation[4], we are witnessing an exciting global shift whereby Christians in all spheres of society are starting to realise everything belongs to Christ[5].

Since “all things were created through him (Jesus) and for him” (Col 1:16), God’s eternal purpose was “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him (Jesus), things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph 1:10). When the universe is united in Christ, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”” (Rev 21:4). This means a condition of eternal and absolute bliss[6]. This final state of perfection is something all holy beings long for.

The Longing of Angels

The angels empathetically long to see an end to the judgements of God upon his people, “Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’ 13 And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.” (Zech 1:12 – 13). They are motivated to make inquiry about the consummation of the divine plan and the end of earthly tribulations[7].

The apostle Peter confirms the passionate longing of the angelic hosts to see salvation complete, “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” (1 Pet 1:12).

The angels themselves are incomplete until the glorification of the saints. Only then will they be fully able to praise God for the absolute extent of his marvellous works among the children of men[8]. The longing of angels for the consummation of God’s plan is matched by the desires of the saints.

The Human Longing for God

The psalmists often ask “how long” before God vindicates his chosen ones[9]. Of the Major Prophets it is Jeremiah[10] who typically utters this lament. In speaking of the condition of Old Testament believers, Hebrews says, “apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb 11:40). He has in mind Jesus “bringing many sons to glory,” (2:10).

The climax of all human longing is the longing of the cross, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice… “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34). In bearing our sin[11] Jesus is completely separated from the presence of his Father. Since Jesus “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” (Heb 9:14), this Spirit inspired plea is as deep as the eternal union of the Godhead itself. It is part of the “unfathomable riches of Christ,” (Eph 3:8) and a cry that contains and sanctifies within itself all the longings of the people of God. Jesus cry for God is answered in the resurrection, which imparts to him the gift of immortality[12].

The importance of Jesus possession of immortality is that he has authority over the last enemy of humanity, death (1 Coir 15:26)[13]. Nothing in all creation can ever, even momentarily, as it did on the cross, separate Jesus from the presence of the love of God[14]; this is what it means for him to return to the realm of glory[15].

What flows from Jesus to us in the gift of the Spirit is a plea for the deepest possible union with God. When Christians are said to “cry, “Abba! Father!”” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6), the word for “cry” here is the same as that used of Jesus cry of dereliction from the cross (Mark 15:34)[16]. It is a manifestation of the activity of the Spirit, “who intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8:26), its ultimate goal is our resurrection from the dead[17].

The deep longing of New Testament believers for the return of Jesus (rather than “going to heaven”) is intimately related to the resurrection hope. Paul records a primitive Christian prayer[18], Maranatha, which means, “Our Lord Come!” (1 Cor16:22). According to the apostle, Christians are those “who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:8).

Despite being “with Christ”[19] the Christian dead also share this longing. “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”” (Rev 6:9- 10). True believers seek the final consummation of all things; “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;” (Rom 2:7).

The Bible ends on a note of deep yet unfulfilled desire for the End, “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).

The Longing of All Creation

The argument of Romans 8 moves seamlessly from our calling out to God as “Abba! Father!”” (v.15) to a recognition that “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” (v.19). Creation is incomplete until our “adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (v.22). Only when “this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:53), will the full “glory” of “the children of God” (vv. 18, 21) be “revealed”. Only then, when humanity as the pinnacle of God’s creation is complete, can the cosmos truly function as the “Theatre of the glory of God” (Calvin).

True and False Glories

I sense that we are about to enter into a time of global manifestations, both true and false. Events will happen economically, politically, climatically and militarily that will stir the souls of many[20]. There will also be signs and wonders in the church. Many of these manifestations will either be falsely interpreted or from sources other than the Holy Spirit[21]. Panic, amazement and infatuation will be mixed with a true awareness of the holy work of God.

The criterion for discerning the origin and meaning of these manifestations is Christ in the gospel. The inner identity of all supernatural manifestations worked by the Spirit is the slain and risen Lamb. Where he is being communicated by Word and Spirit there shall arise amongst the people of God a great longing to be where he is and in the form of his humanity –this entails a longing to be raised immortal. Where such a longing is absent and believer’s attention is drawn to things below and away from Christ’s Return[22], the wonders, however spectacular, must be false.


God is speaking about these things because he is releasing a functional unity of holy desire between himself, angels, humans and all creation that will reveal the Lordship of Christ[23]. This will happen on an unprecedented scale[24].

Do you share in this longing for the unity of all things by being raised immortal? If you do not, I fear you will be led astray in the days to come! The good news however is that God longs for us to share his longing, Christ died for this, and if we pray for holy desire we can be assured he will impart it in his love.

“None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” (1 Cor 2:8 – 10).

[1] This is especially a Pauline notion e.g. Rom 8:28;11:36; 1 Cor 3:21; 8:6;15:27- 28; Eph 1:10- 11, 22; 3:9;4:10; Phil 3:21;Col 1:16- 17, 20.

[2] When in Adelaide Geoff Bingham presented a teaching series on the topic, beginning with Ephesians 1.

[3] From “And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Gen 1:31) to “
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”” (Rev 21:5).

[4] Through a priestly and cultic nature Christianity. I mean “cultic” in two senses, as in the Old Testament cultus of priesthood, offerings, temple, tithing etc. and in the more sociological sense of failing to embrace the presence of God in the whole created order.

[5] “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” (Abraham Kuyper, former Prime Minister of Holland)

[6] Biblically, hell and its inhabitants are outside of the “all things” of the new creation.

[7] “Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?”” (Dan 8:13)

“And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?”” (Dan 12:6)

[8] The created purpose of angels is to glorify God by praise and service (Ps 103:20; 148:2; Luke 2:14; Hebrews 1:6).

[9] Ps 4:2; 6:3; 13:1 – 2; 35:17; 74:10; 79:5; 80:4; 89:46; 90:13; 94:3; 119:84.

[10] Jer 4:14, 21; 12:4; 13:27; 23:26; 31:22; 47:5 – 6. Compare Hab 1:12 “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?”

[11] Isa 53:12; 1 Pet 2:24

[12] The New Testament makes a clear distinction between the gift of eternal life, which all believers possess now, and immortality, which is a state of deathlessness imparted by the resurrection.

[13] Compare, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” (Rom 6:9); Acts 2:25 -32;13:34 -37.

[14] Paul’s application of these truths to believers in Romans 8:31- 39 is founded in the fact that in Jesus sin can no longer rob us of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).

[15] “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:5)

[16] Greek kradzo, it is generally related to a strong cry for help.

[17] Detaching the meaning of “Abba! Father!” from the gospel is a sign and symptom of the lack of spiritual power (Rom 1:16) in the church. My next section will develop this further.

[18] In the language of Jesus, Aramaic.

[19] 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23

[20] Compare Matthew 24.

[21] Matt 24:11, 24; 2 Cor 11:3; 2 Thess 2:9, 11; 2 Pet 2:1; Rev 2:2; 13:13- 14; 16:13- 14; 19:20

[22] “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:1- 4)

[23] Nature miracles e.g. Jesus stilling the sea and divine provision of food, (Matt 8:23- 27;14:13- 21) are signs that draw their reality from the future final oneness of all glorified creation around Christ.

[24] Geographically and numerically at least.

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