Monday, March 10, 2014

What will the redeemed do in the New Heaven and New Earth?

English: Binkley Chapel at the Southeastern Ba...
Binkley Chapel at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

What will we do in heaven? The Revelation affirms that we will (1) rest (Rev 14:13), (2) worship (Rev 15:2-4), and (3) serve (Rev 22:3) God and others. We may be given (4) stewardship over the new creation as we were the old one. Could that be part of ruling and reigning with him? 

If God had given up when Adam and Eve failed at the cultural mandate (Gen 1:28), why did he repeat the command with Noah after the flood (Gen 9:1)? What God-honoring works of art, technology, building, even sports might we develop? Remember, the Lord created us in His image, and He is a creator. If we can create and solve mysteries and cure diseases in our current sinful, depraved minds and bodies, what could we create and develop in a creation without sin? 


We will see (5) life from God’s perspective finally, and answers to those “Why?” questions will be answered for us (Rom 8:28). We will have the (6) renewed relationships, friendships, and communion of the saints. We will be able to see their lives as we see our own. We can walk back through the events of their lives and praise God for his faithfulness where we never guessed it was. 

Finally, we will begin an eternal journey of (7) knowing God more and more. Heaven is not static, but rather forever expanding and growing.

WHAT IS ETERNITY? For us who have always been bounded by time, it may be different to think this way, but eternity is like a point containing all other points in time.

WILL THERE BE ANIMALS, MUSIC, SPORTS, OR FOOD IN THE NEW HEAVEN? Why should we think that there will be anything truly good on earth that is lost in heaven? Revelation 21:24-27 tells us that the glory and splendor of the nations will be brought in. Why should there not be these things? Why should God show us a shadow on this earth that He does not intend to bring into reality in the next? Perhaps even extinct species will be renewed (Rom 8:21-23), but I’m not so sure that your favorite dog when you were a child will be in heaven waiting for you. Nothing will be missing that will take away from heaven.

HOW CAN WE BE JOYFUL IN HEAVEN IF WE KNOW ABOUT HELL? Perhaps God will cause those things no longer to come to our minds (Isaiah 65:17). Perhaps we will feel differently about them than we did earlier. What we loved about them was some aspect of God’s image, but after death and judgment, all that is gone, perhaps, no longer bearing God’s image because they rejected that status. Secondly, C.S. Lewis suggests that those in Hell are not there by mistake, and that the joy of heaven is unshakeable.[1] Hell cannot veto the joy of heaven. Third, when we fully understand the goodness of God’s justice, we will applaud it. God will judge justly, and all angels, saints, and martyrs will praise him. We, too, will approve the judgment of rebels, even the ones we have known and loved. Does it sound hard-hearted? Yes, but in heaven our minds, hearts, motives and feelings will be fully sanctified and glorified, so that we are fully conformed to our Lord Jesus, and we will, with the angels, applaud God’s judgments.[2]

Sources for the entire series on Death and the Hereafter:

Alcorn, Randy. Heaven. Nashville: Tyndale House, 2004.
Barackman, Floyd H. Practical Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 4th ed., 2001.
Hammett, John. THE6130 Christian Theology III Lecture Notes. Wake Forest, NC: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009.
Hemphill, Ken. Core Convictions: Foundations of Faith. Tigerville, SC: Auxano Press, 2010.
Russell Moore, “Personal and Cosmic Eschatology,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. by Daniel A. Akin. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2007.





[1] C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, chapters 12-13.
[2] J.I. Packer, “Hell’s Final Enigma,” Christianity Today, April 22, 2002, 84.
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