– Geoff Milton
If we see much of the news media we may feel surrounded by infection, death, fear of others, loneliness and financial stress as well as sorrow over the violent protests spreading from the US.
Although life is not like that for most of us, we may still be experiencing anxiety.
In this sort of world, don’t you long for something far better? Don’t you long, with a God given longing, for the life to come, what we often call heaven, where we will be free from the effects of sin in this world – death, disease, injustice and violence?
The Christian Gospel meets our deepest longings for, through Jesus’ death for our sins and resurrection to defeat death, he has done everything necessary to bring Christian believers to the life of heaven – all those who repent and believe the good news of Jesus our Saviour (Mark 1:15).
So what will the life to come be like?
1. Living with God and his people in the new heaven and new earth
We will experience an entirely renewed creation “a new heaven and new earth where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13), living with God (Rev. 21:1-4). This means there will be a joining of heaven and earth in this new creation and there we will live in the presence of God, full of joy. So let’s forget forever the cartoonists’ version of heaven with lonely people wearing angel wings sitting on clouds plucking harps and being bored. Our life to come will be in a perfect new creation. It will be a rich and varied life, a social life with other believers, full of beauty and the joy of God’s direct presence. It will be life to the full, with all God’s people, joyfully worshiping and serving and enjoying life without all the terrible effects of sin mentioned above. What a glorious future Christ has won for us!
2. Perfect strong resurrection bodies
The life of the new heaven and new earth will be physical and perfect. Whatever aches and pains and disabilities we now have, then we will have perfect, new, strong, capable resurrection bodies. Christ has defeated death for us as the first fruits and when he returns in glory and judgement, “those who belong to him” (i.e. all those who believe or trust in him) will also be resurrected to the life of the new creation (1 Cor 15:23). Do you count yourself among those who belong to him? If not, don’t leave it any longer! Turn to him in trust and obedience.
There will be a physical new creation – a new or renewed earth (2 Peter 3:13). We will receive our new resurrection bodies. We will never get sick or become old or frail. Our resurrection bodies will be “raised in strength” (1 Cor. 15:23). Won’t that be absolutely wonderful !
Can you remember when you were at your physical peak? Maybe at 25 or 30? Our resurrection bodies will be like that but far better -forever! As a young man I enjoyed squash, tennis, water-skiing and sailing. What did you enjoy? We and all believers will be fit and strong again like that. The original creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). We will have resurrection bodies that are “very good”. I can’t wait.
3. Believers will enjoy good physical activities in the beautiful new creation
We shall eat and drink and celebrate together at the marriage supper of the Jesus the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). The river of the water of life will flow from the throne of God and the Lamb through the middle of the great street of the heavenly city and “the tree of life will bear twelve kinds of fruit” (Rev.22:1-2). It is reasonable to say that these expressions refer to real physical things and are not symbolic, and refer to real banqueting, real wine (Lk 22:18), real rivers and trees. These are just some of the wonderful features and experiences to look forward to in the perfect new heaven and new earth. (More next week).
But above all, the life of the new creation will be characterised by being in the presence of God himself. We will see his wonderful face (Rev. 22:4). Come Lord Jesus !
(To be continued)