With Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection the new creation has already begun, but what will it be like to live in the fullness of the new creation in which heaven and earth are fully and finally brought together when Jesus Christ returns from heaven to earth?
God, being fully man and fully human, is the ultimate doorway between heaven and earth. The message that Jesus preached is not about us escaping to heaven but rather us bringing heaven into our square inch of earth. Jesus dying on the cross allows a holy heaven and sinful earth to come together. This act represents the beginning of a uniting of dimensions. The final marriage of a renewed heaven and earth at the end of time will be when Jesus returns and is seen in John’s visions in the book of Revelation.
What will it be like in heaven? It’s important to realise that our final destination will not be heaven but a coming together of heaven and earth – a new creation. The story of the bible does not start with creation and end with us escaping to heaven – it speaks of a story from creation, to the creation broken by sin, and then the creation restored through Jesus, to be all that God made it to be. We see this idea in the healing miracles Jesus does – where bodies and minds are healed to be all God has intended. We also see it when Jesus is raised from the dead – he is not restored as a shapeless soul but raised with a renewed body.
In terms of dualism, we look at heaven as a shapeless, shadow world with floating souls but in truth it is the fallen, broken world that is the shadow world when compared to the glorious restoration that Jesus will bring when he returns to earth. What awaits us is not less than this world but more than it! Right now we are living in a flat, 2D earth when compared to the full 3D world that is to come when heaven and earth are finally, fully brought together.
When we are in this new creation, we will have resurrected bodies, just as Jesus did. We will be enjoying all that has been created because this is what God made us for. The chief end of humankind is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Because Jesus died in our place, we will be welcomed into the ever-increasing joy and love of the trinity as sons and daughters of God. We will also have the joy of being with other renewed people, each of us filled with the love of God and more our true selves than we have ever been on this earth. We will have a job to do in this new creation – God invites us to join with Him in caring for it.
‘The world view of spirit-matter dualism sees heaven as a spiritual realm, free from the material substantiality of the earth.’ (p.121)
In Colossians 2:16-17 the apostle Paul writes;
“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
In C.S Lewis’ The Last Battle, Lord Digory says that the mountains of the new Narnia (the new creation) look ‘more like the real thing’ when compared to the mountains of the old Narnia.
On p.126 I write that, ‘In the end we will find we do not love heaven because it contains the things of this life but that we have loved this life because it has contained the things of heaven?’
The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that, ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever?’ (p.126)
On p.128 I argue that the crown we will receive as a reward in the new creation is “the joy of being in eternal relationship with the people whose lives we have blessed with the love we have received from God.’
Look at this artwork called ‘The Peaceable Kingdom’, painted by the Quaker minister Edward Hicks in 1833-4. It is based on a prophecy of the new creation in Isaiah 11:6.
Give thanks that God created us to enjoy him, to enjoy one another, and enjoy his creation. Ask God to help you see other people as your crown.