There is a lot of confusion over the doctrine of heaven and the future new heavens and earth. Many Christians, while they look forward to being with Jesus after our physical death here on earth, do not have a real idea of what our eternal existence will ‘look like’ or entail. Often, they read about the new heavens and earth described in Revelation 21–22 and then imagine existing forever in some sort of ethereal realm, instead of eternal existence in a real, restored, physical universe. However, the Bible has a lot to tell us about what we have to look forward to, and understanding our future state also helps us to understand what we lost when Adam fell. This also has serious implications for those who want to allegorize the Creation events in Genesis in order to add millions of years of evolutionary history.
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as being raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (15:12–19).
Paul is saying that we must believe in the physical resurrection of Christ to be saved—it’s that important. This is because our future resurrection—what we look forward to—is the same sort of resurrection as Jesus’. So the resurrection of the dead is a Gospel issue; you can’t be a Christian and not believe that we (believers) will live forever with Christ—in real, physical, resurrected bodies. But where will those bodies live? Scripture’s testimony is clear and unanimous that the new heavens and earth (hereafter NHE) will be a physical (yet also spiritual) realm.
Before we go on we would like to point out that, although we need to look into future times (eschatology) to discuss the issue, we are not taking some denominational or eschatological position that falls outside of our ministry’s mandate of dealing with origins (our reasons are explained in End-times and Early-times). As we shall see, a fully restored creation (as outlined in the book of Revelation and elsewhere in Scripture) is unequivocally linked to the events in the Garden of Eden and is part of all mainstream eschatological views. The doctrine of a NHE has been a standard core doctrine of the evangelical church and all of the mainstream (non-cultic) denominations throughout all of Christian history.
This present world will end
The Bible teaches that this present earth (indeed all of creation; cf. Rom 8:22) is cursed because of the presence of sin and will be destroyed. Peter writes:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies [or ‘elements’] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt away as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Peter 3:10–14).
Note that Peter is not using figures of speech. Indeed, just before this, he reminds his readers that God had previously judged the whole globe with a cataclysmic flood in history. He does not say, “It will be as if the heavens are being burnt up”. In straightforward language, he is saying that God is actually going to burn up the universe and set up a “new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells”. And he uses this fact to tell his audience to live a life befitting citizens of the new heavens and earth.
It is not a hyperbole to call them an “uncreation” of the heavens and earth—many judgments in the Bible are reversals of creation; for example, the Flood reversed creation to the time before the land was separated from the seas on Day 2, and Jeremiah 4:23 alludes to a future uncreation that reverses the universe back to the state described in Genesis 1:2.
Again, depending on one’s eschatological stance, many of the various judgments in Revelation (e.g. one third of mankind killed [9:15]) may be presented either with some symbolic meaning or a more literal meaning, but this distracts from the main point of this article—what happens at the end. It is not our point to discuss the details, but to clearly present the big picture, and this is that the present Creation will suffer terrible, utterly destructive judgment because of sin. But the destruction is not the end of the story, because God will create a new heaven and a new earth “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1) and believers will live in that new creation for eternity.
Why will this world be destroyed?
To destroy a whole universe seems a rather drastic solution to the problem of a fallen world. However, Scripture is clear that the whole creation fell. Romans 8:19–23 says:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (emphases ours).
When Adam sinned, the earth was cursed because of him (Genesis 3:17–19), and the earth was further polluted by murder, violence, and immorality (6:11–12; Leviticus 18:24–28; Numbers 35:33; Psalm 106:38; Jeremiah 3:2, 9; 16:18). But it is not just the dirt on the surface of the earth; it is the entire universe, all of creation (Greek ktisis), that is cursed. Thus, all of creation is in need of restoration.
Because the creation has been affected by the Curse and further polluted by man’s sin, it is not a suitable place for resurrected, perfect people to live. How could we live among fossils, graveyards and reminders of death (even if their inhabitants were vacated), and a Flood-scarred earth that bore testimony to God’s great judgment of sin? How can we live forever next to a star that has a limited lifespan or in a universe with built-in, non-eternal features that will eventually die of ‘heat death’? All of this is a reminder that death is an enemy that beset all of Creation, and a reminder that Christ has conquered death, thus, giving us something to look forward to:
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. … The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:21–22, 26).
Just as our bodies die, and return to dust, they will be raised as new bodies that nevertheless have continuity with our former selves, likewise the earth is fallen and will be destroyed, but it will be destroyed in order to be renewed. The restoration of the earth is directly analogous with the resurrection of the redeemed in Christ. Just as we have to die before we are resurrected, the earth must be destroyed before it is renewed. It is not an ‘ultimate’ or final destruction; it is a destruction that clears the way for its re-creation.
The new world we look forward to
Genesis uses the phrase “heavens and earth” to encompass all of the physical creation (the universe). When the Bible (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21–22) uses the phrase “new heavens and earth”, it is has a similarly all-encompassing meaning. It is an indication of the continuity of the new creation with the old. But the word ‘new’ has the connotation of “superior” or “improved”, such that the old will be obsolete.1
We are given several images of the new world. If we want to see what an unfallen physical creation looks like, the obvious place to start is Eden. Eden is a picture of God’s ideal paradise on earth. It was a place especially suited for humans to live comfortably and engage in easy, pleasant work (Genesis 2:15) and for the purposes of appreciating their Creator. All Adam and Eve’s needs were provided for, and they were in regular, direct fellowship with God. There was no sin, no death, and no barrier to mankind’s relationship with God.
In the NHE there is a return to a sinless state with no suffering or evil of any kind, and unlimited access to God (Revelation 21:3–4). All of this is possible because of Christ’s sacrifice in paying for our sins. But it is even better than the original creation, because it is not a simple return to Eden. Rather, God will redeem the best parts of culture as well as the earth.
The best advance in the new heavens and earth will be that there will never be any possibility for sin or another Fall. “Since ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23), the promise of no more death is a promise a promise of no more sin. Those who will never die can never sin, since death is a punishment for sin. Sin results in mourning, crying, and pain. If those will never occur again, then sin can never occur again.”2
Will the new earth be physical?
As we mentioned earlier, some people think our eternal destination is an ethereal place populated by disembodied spirits. But that makes the mistake of confusing two places: the place where believers who die await the resurrection (variously called Paradise or Heaven), and the place we will exist after the consummation of all things eschatological. On this Paul wrote:
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord … Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:6, 8).
The Bible is clear that, although believers who die are “at home with the Lord”, they still await the resurrection of the dead, when our bodies will be transformed to be like Jesus’. Again Paul says:
“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable”, (1 Cor 15:42).
We will also be morally perfected at that time so we will never sin.
The NHE will be as physical as the current heavens and earth. Just as the place where perfect people will live cannot be fallen, it also cannot be ethereal and non-physical. We will need a physical, material world to live in then just as much as we do now. And the Bible’s descriptions of this world include re-created animals and trees, cities, streets, rivers, and other physical things. Conversely, the new earth is never described in ‘ethereal’ or ghostly terms.
What about the ‘spiritual body’?
In 1 Corinthians 15:44, Paul says, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” Some people take this to mean that when we are raised, we will be some sort of ethereal being. This interpretation misunderstands what Paul means when he calls our earthly bodies “natural” and our resurrection bodies “spiritual” (see Christ as the Last Adam). It doesn’t refer to the ‘stuff’ the body is made of, but of what motivates us and drives our desires. E.g. Paul previously referred to a ‘spiritual’ person, using the same Greek word pneumatikos, and it was obviously a physical person (1 Corinthians 2:15). Let’s remember that even in our sinful physical bodies we are still spiritual beings. Even the Lord Jesus was referred to as a ‘life-giving” or “quickening spirit”. The point being made that one can be physical and spiritual at the same time. And in the same way, the NHE will be both a physical and spiritual place. The spirit is not the sum of our being but part of it. This is why God first made the body of Adam from the dust of the ground, then breathed on him and this man became ‘a living creature’ or ‘living soul’ (Hebrew nephesh chayyah, Genesis 2:7).
Currently, even at our best we’re sinful, even though we’re forgiven sinners. In the resurrection, our desires will be perfectly aligned with God’s will. Not only will we not be able to sin, we won’t want to sin. It will be incomprehensible to us to sin.
Will we experience time?
If the NHE will be made of matter, then it will take up space. And we know that space (size) and time are connected and related to each other. It is a common belief that eternal life will be timeless, but that is not really correct. Time, as we understand it, began with the creation of the physical universe. And the timeframe used in the Bible is the earth’s. When the earth rotates with a light source on it, it defines a day. So only God is outside of time, because He preceded what He created—only that which has no beginning in time can ever be outside of time. Every created being experiences and will always experience life as a continuous series of events, one moment after another. When we sing a hymn in heaven, we will sing one word after another in time and we will need to count the bars of the song over time. If we go from one place to another, it will take us time to travel. It’s uncertain how that time will be measured, but it will certainly be experienced in some form.
“God has never given up on his original creation. Yet somehow we’ve managed to overlook an entire biblical vocabulary that makes this point clear. Redeem. Restore. Recover. Return. Renew. Resurrect. Each of these biblical words begins with the re- prefix, suggesting a return to an original condition that was ruined or lost. God always sees us in light of what He intended us to be, and He always seeks to restore us to that design. Likewise, He sees the earth in terms of what he intended it to be, and he seeks to restore it to its original design.”3
One important theological reason that the new earth has to be physical is simply: if God does not redeem or restore the physical world, then Satan wins, because he would have foiled God’s original purpose in creating. We’re told that God will undo everything Satan did, and He will make creation even better than before.
By the end of Revelation, sin is gone. In addition, God gets praised because of His mercy and grace, and Jesus is glorified as the Saviour of the nations. Humans are resurrected. We’re not just sinless in the Resurrection; we’re positively righteous and can never fall again. The earth must similarly be restored, or there is a huge gap in how we perceive God’s redemptive work.
Compromise on Genesis creates an NHE problem
When one reads of the restored creation and the New Heavens and Earth, particularly in chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation, it is absolutely clear that this is analogous to what God originally did in Genesis 1. They are inexorably intertwined. He is sovereign and finally has His way and we can only marvel at His plan—even though He knew of Satan’s plans in advance.
Those who believe that God somehow used a process of millions of years of evolution have a huge inconsistency problem here. Presumably they have no problem with what is often called the ‘Blessed Hope’—this future eternal paradise where all believers will live forever in a restored universe, recreated miraculously and instantaneously by God. But because it is analogous to Genesis 1, then how could God have used a process of death and suffering to create the original? Simply, is God going to restore things back to millions of years of death and suffering? Moreover, if in the NHE we can see stars billions of light years away, do we then think that God ‘recreated’ and stretched out space over billions of years again (according to an old-Earth view of Genesis). Of course, that makes no sense. One option would be to allegorize the concept of a NHE just as is done with Genesis 1, but one then has to wonder why bother being saved because one cannot be sure of the future state or have any real hope of what there is to look forward to. In short, if God’s original design involved millions of years of death and suffering, then what is wrong with this creation? Why destroy it and create a new one?
Paul tells us, “‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’—these things has God revealed to us through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9–10a). The Bible tells us exactly what we have to look forward to when we trust in Jesus—eternal life in a perfect resurrection body, in a physical restored body, in perfect sinless fellowship with God.
References and notes
Alcorn, R., Heaven (Tyndale House, Carol Stream, IL, 2004), p. 149. Return to text.
If we will be in a new real physical earth and universe with physical bodies is it possible for us to accidently kill these bodies in this new universe for example tripping and hitting your head on something? Will this new universe be made after the 1000 year reign after God's wrath?
Gary Bates responds
No, I don't believe death will be possible. It was not possible in Eden until the first people sinned, and God judged them for it. As a smaller example of God's sustaining power, when the Hebrews wandered in the desert for 40 years, their shoes and clothes did not wear out etc. We will live eternally with God so death cannot reign. Revelation 21 specifies that there will be no more curse, and of course, originally, the curse brought death. RE: your question about the 1,000 year reign; it deals with a particular eschatological view that is outside of our ministry's mandate. However, the fact there will be a NH&E is a standard for all mainstream eschatological views, which is why we could mention it.
Hans B., Australia, 19 April 2014
Great article and a nice read. I'd like to ask a question however. You mention that: "God will redeem the best parts of culture as well as the earth." Can you please explain further I find this line confusing. The earth and universe will be made new entirely. Will some parts of culture be kept? Isaiah.65  For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Doesn't this indicate that we will have no and are to have no memory of the former earth or the activities we engaged in? Isn't our current culture, whether it be sports or the arts, borne our of the fallen state the world is in? I hope you can clarify this for me. Best Regards.
Gary Bates responds
Here's my take on this. I think the Isaiah reference is a strong indication that we won't remember, in a sense, the bad things in the way the Earth was corrupted due to sin. In short, living in a perfect paradise with bodies not wracked by sin, it is likely that we won't dwell thinking about the former spoiled creation. Revelation clearly talks about those who are redeemed and how great God is for achieving this, and they sing God's praises as a result. In short, how can it be great if we can't remember what we've been redeemed from? It's often been said that we won't remember or else we would mourn those left behind as well. However, being in the presence of the Lord, with bodies that no longer bear sin, will be unimaginable joy. Randy Alcorn thinks that most people don't understand how good heaven will be, thus, they don't look forward to it as much as we should. BTW If we remember what we have been saved from we are likely to be happy about it. And if we have such memories, we are also likely to remember aspects of the culture we came from too. Paul also talks about hope that is seen is not hope at all. At the end of the day, none of us today can really say for certain what it will be like. But a restoration means a return. It makes no sense to me to have no memory of the former.
Michael T., Australia, 20 April 2014
What will our spiritual bodies be like? The Lord Jesus had a spiritual body after his resurrection. He appeared many times to the disciples, and ate fish, and honeycomb before them (Luke 24:42-43).
Gary Bates responds
One can only presume that they will be physical if the NHE is physical as the article suggests. Let's remember that Adam and Eve were physical but would have lived eternally if they had not sinned. The creation was similarly eternal but subject to decay once they sinned. As it is a restoration I think Eden is a good analogous example.
Gordon H., Canada, 20 April 2014
I've heard another interpretation of the NHE that is quite compelling. The fire on 2 Peter 3 is not a destroying fire but rather a refining fire. This creation is not going to be destroyed and replaced; this creation which we know will be renewed and made right by the removal of evil. The "elements" refer to all that's wrong and anti-God in the world. Evidently, this is a reasonable interpretation of the original Greek of the passage. It also makes more sense of a creation being restored. I.e. why would God restore this creation only to end it?
Gary Bates responds
To say this is 'evidently a reasonable interpretation of the Greek' is simply not correct. One of the authors (Lita) has a Masters in NT and would strongly disagree. The article went to great lengths to show how the NHE was analogous to the original creation, and none of those points were addressed, which they would have to be to suggest that it is a partial 'refining' restoration. Romans 8 is clear that this creation is winding down because of sin. The ground was cursed, as were the animals and plants (read Genesis 1). That's why there needs to be a new creation. This other view does not take Scripture at face value? Making a new creation is not too hard for God given that He created ex nihilo once before! I am not sure why people come up with man made ideas limiting God's creative power.
Robert B., United States, 20 April 2014
Heaven is where most people believe God lives but apparently He isn’t contained by it. When King Solomon was dedicating the Temple he had built, he asked God to inhabit the temple saying: “But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built” The Psalmist David also said that Heaven was not the abode of God: ”Who humbles himself to behold the things that are in Heaven, and in the Earth” To paraphrase, God has to stoop down to even LOOK at Heaven and Earth. He may be present in Heaven in a significant way, but it’s wrong to think that Heaven holds God.
Heaven and our Universe were created. Even though His omnipresence means that God is present in His creations, He isn’t completely contained by them. It’s noteworthy that this inability of Heaven to hold God seems to be the reason that, as it says in Revelation, Heaven and Earth will pass away to be replaced by a New Heaven and a New Earth. Apparently God is going to remake reality so that He CAN be with us in a way that He cannot in Heaven now. According to the Bible, God’s plan for eternity is to spend it with us just as close as He can get us. In John’s vision in Revelation, AFTER the New Heaven and a New Earth and the New Jerusalem are established, the following announcement is heard: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! 'God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.' Cool huh?
Chandrasekaran M., Australia, 20 April 2014
According to Revelation 22:1-3, not only the risen Savior Jesus the Lord but God the Father also will reside on the new earth and all those who followed the last Adam, who died on the cross and rose again, right from the first Adam will be there for all eternity. Jesus purposefully took six long 24 hour days to create the present earth and heaven equipped well for the fall of Lucifer and the first Adam. The redemption plan of God for Adam and his descendants is not a afterthought for Elohim. But according to Revelation 21:1-6, the NHE is created just in an instant as it is done. While the present earth has a sun, night, sea and marriages and death, but the new earth will not have a sun, no night, no sea, no sea shore and no sex. While the grand theory of evolution from almost nothing to moral homo-sapiens suggests that the present earth and heaven is eternal and homo-sapiens are not eternal, but the Bible indicates that humans are, whether they believe in the Savior or not, are eternal and the present earth and heaven are not eternal. The grand theory of evolution, which holds on to an archaic science, does not hold water in this day and age of technology especially after the discovery of DNA information. The sophisticated Windows 8 program is nothing compared to the DNA molecular program.
Gary Bates responds
Thanks for the comment. Just a point though. Not everyone agrees that there will be no things like a sea. A sea is described that is so nice it is described as crystal. Whether it is a real sea or not is of some debate.
Mark G., United States, 20 April 2014
God will destroy "millions of years" ...How is that possible when we believe the earth is only thousands of years old?
Gary Bates responds
I'm sorry, but I can't see where that is stated. Perhaps you misunderstood. We were challenging the evolutionist's tale of millions of years. That is, if they believe that God took millions of years of death and suffering to create then there is nothing wrong with the current creation, so why would God create a new one? That's the point being made. Death would not be an enemy etc. Interestingly, most long agers and theistic evolutionists have no problem with God creating a NHE instantly but then limit Him to millions of years of a creative process back in Genesis!
Xavier A., Australia, 20 April 2014
Great, just great! Thanks for doing what you guys do. Your ministry has been such a blessing to me, I don't have the words and its been filtering out to all my friends and family.
Susan W., United States, 20 April 2014
Thank you for this article. It has helped me to have a deeper understanding of the new earth that is to come. How great God is, that His plan is full of mercy, that His plan for us is good and loving! God bless you in all you do, your staff is in my prayers.
B. O., Canada, 20 April 2014
Your message is so wonderful today. Thank you. Full of hope and a beautiful future. May all who read this come to a place of peace about their future. "In God, all things are possible."
Vern R., United States, 20 April 2014
Over the last few years my thoughts have run along this line and I am glad to see that I am not the only one to do so. The question of "what will happen to planet earth" has been asked by some I know. I started to look in the scriptures for an answer and found there is a lot in the Bible about hell. When I looked at the things being said I began to try to imagine what was being said. As my mind tried to come up with what has been described the only thing I can come up with is the description science gives of a "Black Hole" in space. The utter darkness, no escape, the agony of the never ending heat. One could go on with more description from the word but the idea of what hell would be seems to fit the idea of a black hole. The idea that God has created a "New Heaven and a new Earth" physically, works for me. The old heaven and earth was corrupted with the fall, there will not be any remnant of the devil in the new creation. The beauty of the earth we know and the heaven we see, will be magnified far more than we can ever imagine in the new creation.
Gary Bates responds
thanks for the comment but I think one needs to be careful about using naturalistic phenomenon to try to explain future events that we have trouble comprehending. Creation is a supernatural event. Hell was created and reserved by God for those who deny Him so presumably He did not use naturalistic phenoms like black holes to do so. Just a thought.
Leslie H., Australia, 20 April 2014
What a wonderful Easter message. Thank you all so much for your ministry. I became a Christian without knowing any Christians, I was reading Andrew Murray's "The New Life" (picked it up in an op shop - knew I needed a new life) and a Bible I'd had since I was 10 but never read (I came from a family of atheists). After meeting Jesus I was launched into a sea of conflicting doctrine. Your ministry has been a haven of reason in a world full of Big Ideas.
Grant Z., Australia, 21 April 2014
Wonderful article Lita and Gary.
King T., South Africa, 22 April 2014
My understanding of Revelation is that the current heaven and earth will be completely replaced. This is found in Rev 20:11:
"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them." The logic is that since God occupies all of heaven and earth [ an actual text in the bible, you can look it up ], if there is no place in God's presence for the current earth and heaven, they can no longer exist anywhere. That means then that they have to be replaced by something completely new. I hope I've stated that in a way that makes sense.
king T., South Africa, 22 April 2014
"there will be no sun..."
I have a different understanding of the verse in Revelation 21:23: "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." This verse indicates that the city itself will not need the sun or moon to shine on it but it doesn't say that there will be NO sun or moon. One cannot infer that from the text. As for there being no sea - that is clearly stated in Rev 23:1 although I have heard some people wanting to interpret that as being an indication that there will not be any more turmoil. I prefer to take the words literally in this case.
Gunnel B., Canada, 22 April 2014
I really like this article, and agree with the explanation, however, I am curious about something. Will we never see any babies on the new earth, since there will be no more pain (as in childbirth) everybody will be an adult?
Lita Cosner responds
Gunnel, there are two modes of thought about this. One is that everyone will be raised as they would have looked at 'the prime of life', whether they died as babies, elderly people, or in between. Another mode of thought is that babies will be raised as babies and mature until they reach that stage.
Donald H., Canada, 22 April 2014
If the earth is to be renovated as you say where will the then living people of the earth be? How will they survive this reconstituting of the earth?
Also is the complete universe such as stars & planets totally be consumed or burned up?
Lita Cosner responds
Everyone, living or dead at the time, will be transformed in the Resurrection. The believers will then live in the New Earth, while unbelievers will go to eternal judgment.
The destruction of the universe will be total, because it paves the way for an equally total restoration.
Jason V., United States, 22 April 2014
What a glorious difference we shall experience from Adam who upon opening his eyes had no recollection of former time. But you and I have that previous knowledge of our former state so that we can appreciate it all the more giving all glory to God for richness in mercy.
Rolland H., New Zealand, 23 April 2014
To Do with culture I say that in ways cultures have bad points (worshiping false Gods, worshiping creation Etc) but there are many good things about other cultures, When the Earth is restored everything good will be there. When God confused the languages it was to be for good.
Roger T., Australia, 25 April 2014
A wonderful thought that the righteous redeemed from earth will be given a new home that Paul was at a loss to describe adequately.
However, there is a sentence in the article that gives the impression that we will not be able to sin on the new earth - "Currently, even at our best we’re sinful, even though we’re forgiven sinners. In the resurrection, our desires will be perfectly aligned with God’s will. Not only will we not be able to sin, we won’t want to sin. It will be incomprehensible to us to sin."
When God created Lucifer he was an incredible being who was the covering Cherub. But Lucifer like us was given the power of choice.
God does not create robots that blindly accept Him or love Him.
So, on the New Earth we will still retain that power of choice (God is consistent) but we will not have the propensity to sin as we do now.
So sin is still possible. BUT, now there has been a precedent set. Everyone is well aware of the consequences of sin, so should sin ever raise its ugly head again God will not be restrained from dealing with it immediately and wipe it out. Jesus died ONCE for sin not a second time.
Lita Cosner responds
Roger, Eden proved that if humans can sin, we will. Adam and Eve were perfect humans, and they fell. The end of Revelation depicts the end of all the effects of the Fall, and promises that there will never be another one. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want the ability to sin against God--I wish we didn't have that propensity in this life, and Paradise wouldn't be Paradise if we could still sin. Those who trust in Jesus can be sure that we will inherit eternal life, and that our life on the New Earth will be one entirely without sin, or even the possibility to sin.
David P., Canada, 25 April 2014
I very much appreciate this well thought out analysis and explanation of what scripture tells us. I have a question concerning the absence of sin in the NHE. In the beginning, God created humans with the freedom to choose because of His great love, understanding the risk that Adam would fall (He already had a plan to redeem us at Calvary). Please explain how, in the NHE, we could be free and, "there never be any possibility for sin or another Fall?"
Lita Cosner responds
There is no indication that we will be free, if by 'free' you mean 'free to choose sin'.
David P., Canada, 28 April 2014
Since writing in, I worked out a different answer, which allows for us to have freedom without sin. Those who inhabit NHE will have been transformed in this life into the image of Christ, ie fully obedient, so sin will not be an issue. We will also be in a different position from Adam in that we will remember living as sinners in a sin-filled world and will have no desire to return to that.
Lita Cosner responds
I'm glad you were able to work through the issue in your own mind. Thanks for letting us know.
Philip U., Australia, 1 May 2014
I think David P. has touched on a core issue regarding the NHE: the free will that makes up a part of our being as image bearers of God. David has partly answered the question himself. The Bible teaches that we will have the will of God written on our hearts. This is open to interpretation but for me the most logical explanation is that we will be determined to live within the boundaries of God's will rather than our own. We will accept the creation as God's reality and possession rather than resuming the position taken at Eden, in which we chose to make ourselves gods to bend reality to our own will. The first commandment constrains this idolatry. The other very important part of this issue is the absence of the satan in the NHE. It has been argued that a primary purpose of the creation and resurrection was to 'deal with' satan and evil for eternity. Thus there will be no tempter in the NHE to lead us into idolatry, and that is of the utmost importance.
Gary Bates responds
Thanks for the comment. However, I would not agree with the idea that Creation and the Resurrection was specifically to deal with Satan. Remember that Creation was pronounced very good by the Creator so Satan could not have fallen before day 6. Meaning that the Creation was not made for the purposes of dealing with Satan and evil. The Fall did not take God by surprise so I think the purpose of Creation and the Resurrection was to bring forward and eternal bride for Christ, fulfilling God's original purpose for Creation--to have fellowship with humans.
Sue C., New Zealand, 2 May 2014
Thanks for this wide-ranging article on 'The new earth'.
Having this hope causes us to purify ourselves and to persevere to the end.
Hans quoted Isaiah 65:17. It reads (in part) that " ... the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind".
The word "mind' here is 'leb' in my Bible, and it's said to mean 'heart'. Heart and mind are very close. For example, when we hear bad news (and our mind understands it), our heart immediately feels concern and sorrow. This is something we won't be subject to anymore.
However, we will surely never forget what our Saviour went through for us : His crucifixion, His death, and His Resurrection. So I believe we will have a general memory that once we belonged to a fallen race and a suffering world, but we will not be able to recall, with our renewed minds, any of the details, for this would crush our hearts with sorrow. We'll be so full of joy and gratitude to our Saviour that we would not want to recall this era even if we could.
In Isaiah 65:13-25 God speaks of this future. In verse 16 He says "; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from my eyes." Even God, Who knows all, will have put "the former troubles" out of His sight.
Revelation 21:4 clearly shows that redeemed humans will have hearts free from the suffering and memories of 'the bad old days'. Praise the Lord !!!
Lita Cosner responds
Thanks for these thoughts, Sue, but in the Hebrew mindset, the heart was the seat of thought, while the gut was the seat of emotion. So it really does mean 'will not come to mind'. But it takes a bit more interpretive work to figure out precisely what that's referring to, and that is outside the scope of the article.
Neville L., Australia, 2 May 2014
A well-written Biblically-based article. What a comfort to know that we will be real people able to carry forward grand enterprises and explore God's great handiwork. What a joy to know that one day the entire universe will be clean, with no more sin and sinners! Unfortunately, though, some well-meaning Christians believe that pain will exist by teaching eternal torment of the wicked - a teaching not supported by Scripture and a teaching which has led many to hate God.
Lita Cosner responds
Neville, CMI affirms the existence of Hell where sinners will be eternally punished. This is not a pleasant truth, but Jesus taught more about Hell than Heaven. It would not be biblical or loving to deny the reality of Hell. The good news is that God has provided a way to escape this terrible place, and so we should declare the reality of Hell and the way of salvation as clearly and often as possible. See Why would a loving God send people to Hell? for more on this subject.
Scott B., United States, 2 May 2014
That was one of those articles that encouraged hope and confidence in the "blessed hope" to come.
Thanks you two.
P.S...it also got me thinkin'...ow.
Mark K., Korea, Republic of, 3 May 2014
The idea that the heavens and earth will be completely dissolved and disappear is most likely not what Scripture teaches. There is a textual problem with 2 Pet 3:10 as Andrew S. Kulikovsky following A. Wolters (cf. NET Bible textual) in Creation, Fall, Restoration notes. Best is that the earth and its resources will be refined/tested as also 1 Cor 3:13 says. This is very important because everything good (as God defines) will be preserved in the new heavens and earth. We are to work to preserve and do good for eternity. Otherwise, excellent article! MRK PhD (Kosin University, So Korea)
Lita Cosner responds
Mark, the idea is that what happens to creation is analogous to what happens to people. People really die, our bodies really decompose, we really 'return to dust'. But when we are raised, we have a new body, but there is continuity with the body that died (1 Corinthians 15). So creation will really pass away, it will really be destroyed. But the new creation has continuity with the old.
Paul M., Australia, 3 May 2014
The new earth does not mean a total annihilation of Earth. There is a continuity with our resurrected bodies; God does not produce a total new set of humans. Likewise the new earth will not be totally different from the present but wonderfully renewed.
2:Peter 3 speaks of the destruction of the world by flooding. It is obvious that total annihilation is not meant. Likewise with destruction by fire next time. Satan will not have the pleasure of any victory by so corrupting the cosmos that God can't do anything about it!
The fall affected more than people. God's redemption plan is a reversal of the curse of sin that affected man and nature. Earth and land is the sphere of redemption mentioned in over 40 O.T. references. The Earth is predominantly stated as the sphere of our eternal state. Isaiah 65:17-25 clearly speaks of the new age being on a redeemed Earth. Likewise in the N.T. the Earth is described as being renewed. Mat. 5:5 ... shall inherit the Earth. Jesus speaks of the regeneration in Mat.19:28; Peter speaks of the complete restoration in Acts: 3:21. Romans 8:18-25 clearly speaks of the whole of creation, meaning non-rational physical creation, awaiting release from the curse set upon it to set it free. John 3:17 speaks of the world being saved through Him. This speaks of more than the salvation of a few individuals from a ruined world! Col. 1:15-23 plainly teaches the redemption of creation by our Lord Jesus.
A spiritualising tendency of Gnostic thought is present with a misunderstanding of Revelations. The Apocalypse employs the idiom of cosmic catastrophe to describe the of overturning of the present order and the coming of God's kingdom.
The Prophets spoke of an age to come with the highest possible happiness in the world as we know it. God is victorious.