Apr 08, 2019 | Corey Porter
Haven’t read part 1 or 2 yet? Start here.
God is going to relocate his throne from heaven to earth?
What? Imagine this: God is going to move his throne room, the epicentre of his rule, to a renewed earth. Yes, a physical place, suited to house my new physically-resurrected body.
Revelation 21 says that the new capital city of the world will be the epicentre of God’s throne and rule. The New Jerusalem will come down from Heaven to the earth. Emmanuel (Jesus), God, will dwell with us, forever.
The present Heaven, that my soul will go to when I pass from this present life, is only an intermediate Heaven. It houses my soul as I await my bodily resurrection. When Jesus returns, that will launch the renewal of the eternal heavens and earth. God will change the place he dwells, and relocate his throne room.
The New Jerusalem will come down to the new earth, where God will centrally dwell. There I, with the resurrected saints, will live with God. We will be a redeemed people, in a real and physically-renewed universe, and be a renewed human culture, all for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Below are just a few key Bible passages that describe the destruction of the current earth and heavens and God’s promise of resurrection of the new heavens and earth.
2 Peter 3:1-14 shows how God first cleansed the earth by waters in the flood, the time that he spared Noah and his family. But in the last times Peter describes God will use fire to purify the earth. God will then make new the heavens and earth:
“The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:10b-13)
These are a few passages that give me glimpses into what is in store:
“And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not whither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:12 ESV)
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’
And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:1-5 ESV)
Notice the retelling of some of the vision from Ezekiel 47:12:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5 ESV)
When that day comes, I will truly experience the ultimate fulfillment of this verse:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
I can be assured that God will work all things together for good. There and then the curse is utterly reversed. As Tim Keller suggests, even now I can enjoy a forward memory, in advance, believing in that future reality as if it has already happened. God is working an eternal good despite my present suffering. My sorrow will turn into joy. I will live happily ever after, and it’s not just a fairy tale; it’s real.
But what will I do in eternity?
For starters, I will feast with Jesus and all those he has redeemed. At times, throughout my Christian life, I have thought of eating and drinking as being unspiritual, a necessity for doing the more important work of ministry. That is why I needed to rethink my evaluation of the spiritual importance of food when Randy Alcorn read this quote by From C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity:
“There is no use trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. […] He likes matter. He invented it.”
Randy further stirred my imagination and appetite when he said that Jesus will be the master chef of grand banquets in the new earth. He imagined what it would be like to feast on the best of food and wine possible, having conversations with all of God’s people. In response to the amazing food, he imagines himself saying, “My compliments to the chef, it’s Jesus.” We will feast with all those who are redeemed. Throughout the Bible these vivid images are painted of such a meal in the new earth.
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.” (Isaiah 25:6 NIV)
J.I. Packer encourages my good thoughts of my resurrected life on the new earth by reminding me that God will make the new earth with all the best of what we now have:
“It will be a continuation of only that which is excellent, excellent things, experiences, my relationship with God, other Christians, material things. There will be an elimination of all evils, pain, frustration, hurt, disappointment, suffering, viciousness, joy without pain, that is the temper of heaven.
It will be a clarification of all that we hold dear that is good, the valuation of all precious things, enjoyment, what is excellent, fulfillment of all the good longings that we have, the element of achievement of all the good purposes we ever had, realization that one has expressed creativity in what he has done, joy in the presence of the Lord. Under God’s eye. Discovery, enrichment, growth, maturing, service, go on expanding.”
The beatific vision
The best part of heaven is that I will be forever with God himself. C.S. Lewis describes how God is the fountainhead of all the good that comes to me, even here in this life. It will be amazing.
Sam Storms stirs my imagination further:
“Jesus will present me to God blameless. For the first time in my existence I will experience what it is like to live sin free, my justification will be experiential. I will have no more psychological burden of guilt or shame.
But above all else, I will have a perfect relationship with God himself. Don’t get me wrong, I cherish my redemption, forgiveness, justification, but only because they serve to give me God himself, and in eternity I can experience God fully.
God is infinite. There are no limits or parameters or boundaries to God. All of his attributes are infinite, therefore I will never stop discovering him for eternity. Although my newly resurrected body and soul will be eternal, they will still be finite. Perhaps technically, given enough lifetimes, we could study and eventually know and understand all material things, because they are quantifiable, but my knowledge of God will never cease to grow and increase in the age to come.
My joy and delight in God will increase, intensify, deepen, and bring increasing joy forever. It is not merely the presence of pure and blissful joy in heaven, but the increase, the deepening, the expansion, the growth, the magnification of joy forever and ever. An eternal increase of joy.”
Ephesians 2:6-7 summarizes these thoughts:
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Randy Alcorn gives me something amazing to think about: it gives me perspective on living in a broken world. Imagine what characteristics of God I would be unaware of for all eternity if sin, rebellion—all the bad stuff—had not been permitted to happen. What would I know of the love, mercy, patience, and grace of Almighty God?
Jesus will take back all that was lost, bringing me back to an even better and glorified Eden. Even having lived through the fall, and all the suffering, and the mess, will make it all the better.
If that wasn’t enough
Daniel 7:9-14, 27 describes how the saints of the most high will one day receive the kingdom and possess it forever. One day, those who trust in Christ will rule the earth forever and ever. God will again delegate us, who trust in him and who are made righteous by Christ, to rule the earth.
Randy Alcorn says, “Jesus came into the world, not as an abandonment of God’s plan, but as a fulfillment of God’s plan. So that righteous people can again rule the earth. Satan didn’t completely derail that plan.” God has a plan and a purpose. God is at work.
Alcorn continues, “We will be reigning, ruling, as heirs with God and Jesus Christ, provided we suffer with him. What does suffering have to do with ruling and living in a glorified state? If a prince or princess grows up buffered and privileged, they have a spirit of entitlement, and end up like tyrants.
God wants us to be servant rulers, and so conforms us to his son through suffering. We learn to depend on God when things are not going our way. God is preparing us for our eternal place in the new earth. To rule.”
Romans 8:19 tells me that when my true identity is revealed, righteousness will shine like the sun, my suffering will conform me, and will prepare me for the life to come. Creation is waiting with eager longing, it wants to be set free from hurt and pain. Alcorn says “As go God’s people, so goes the entire earthly creation. With the resurrection of God’s children so comes the resurrection of the earth. I will become what I was made to be, the whole creation will become what it was meant to be.”
How exciting to meditate on God’s word to guide my imagination, informing my perspective on what my afterlife with God will be like! I can anticipate and look forward to his infinitely good plans for me. Here is what Isaiah writes that gives me hope:
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
I love how C.S. Lewis ends the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is a unique vocabulary he uses to give us a window into the future glory awaiting us:
“And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story for which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
The entirety of this article is a compilation of insights from the following people. A special thanks to: Randy Alcorn, J.I. Packer, Sam Storms, Tim Keller, and C.S. Lewis for their insights.
What happens after I die? Part 1 of 3
What happens after I die? Part 2 of 3
Sources referenced in articles:
“C.S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth: God’s Eternal Remedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering” by Randy Alcorn. Hosted on Desiring God Youtube Channel.
“The new heaven and new earth” by Tim Keller
“A Guided Tour of Heaven and Hell” a panel discussion including: Sam Storms, J.I. Packer, Randy Alcorn, Don Piper. Hosted on Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspective Ministries