Sunday, January 18, 2009


I just finished reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn. In the book, Mr. Alcorn makes the case that Christians can anticipate not only going to heaven when we die, but also the time when heaven will come to earth in the end.

His thesis is based on Revelation 21:1-5, which states,

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"

He challenges the common perception that our final state of existence will be non-physical and boring. At our anticipated resurrection, we will experience an actual physical resurrection just like Jesus did. "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised" (1 Corinthians 15:13). Since Christ has been raised, his followers hope to be raised like he has been.

In the end, not only will people enjoy the resurrection, but the universe itself will take part in a physical resurrection and be restored to the condition in which it existed before sin entered the "very good" creation of the beginning. "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:19-21).

In the new heavens and new earth, resurrected and glorified people will enjoy the presence of our Savior forever. God will live with us. He will give us opportunities to serve based on how we have handled our responsibilities on the old earth. We will enjoy life with each other without the presence of relationship-destroying sins like envy, pride, hatred, or any other sin. A new culture will develop as we use our gifts and abilities to continually enrich the lives of others.

Although Mr. Alcorn engaged in some speculation about what the future may hold, his general thesis is solid. We can look forward to a new heavens and a new earth in our resurrected and glorified bodies. Christians will enjoy the presence of God forever. To his credit, when he engaged in speculation, he admitted it. He acknowledged that he could be wrong on some of the details, since he was using his imagination to describe in more detail what the Scriptures reveal in a more general manner.

Heaven is a book worth reading. It inspires hope for the future. It warns against the alternative of hell. It motivates people to trust in Christ and to follow him. It encourages the use of one's gifts and abilities to love people and honor God in concrete ways as we await the coming resurrection and renewal of creation. It prompts people to appreciate God in all his glory.

"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 look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:11-13).

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