Previously we talked about the current, intermediate heaven. Eventually that heaven and the current earth will be no more. They will be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth. Often when we think about heaven, we don’t focus on the new heaven and the new earth. This is where we will spend eternity with God, so we should learn everything that Scripture has to tell us about it. That way we can be excited about living there, and we will be able to tell our kids about it. No believer who understands what Scripture says about eternal life will ever see it as dull, boring or dreadful.
The most important aspect of heaven is that we will see and be with God (Revelation 22:4), but I won’t focus on that aspect today. For Christians, it should be our primary focus and desire, to be with God.
Much of the concepts I’m about to cover are discussed in Randy Alcorn’s book called Heaven. I highly recommend it.
When God creates the new heaven and the new earth, we will be free from sin (the curse), we will see and serve God, and we will rule the new earth. God will fulfil His original plan, to have the earth ruled by man.
No longer will there be any curse. [God’s] servants will serve him. They will see His face. And they will reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5 NIV
We won’t know everything when we get to heaven. We will always be learning, especially about God, because He is the only being that is Omniscient (all knowing), Omnipresent (everywhere all the time), and Omnipotent (all powerful).
God will create a new heaven and a new earth, and the old ones will be no more.
Behold, I will create a new heaven and a new earth. Isaiah 65:17 ESV
In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13 ESV
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Revelation 21:1 ESV
Both 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1 use the word ‘kainos’ to designate the newness of the new cosmos, and not ‘neos’.
- Kainos means new in nature or quality.
- Neos means new in time or origin.
- This means that the new earth will not be one that is totally new and different, but rather one that is gloriously renewed and in continuity with the present one.
Should we call the new earth Heaven?
- T. Wright in his book called ‘Surprised by Hope’, says no.
- Heaven will be replaced by the new earth.
- Heaven is not our ultimate home, the new earth is.
- Heaven is important, but it is not the new earth.
What and Where is Heaven?
- Heaven is the Triune God’s special, central dwelling place; where He lives with angels and His redeemed people.
- It is the place where God’s throne is; the location from which He rules the universe, and carries out His sovereign plan.
The present Heaven verses future Heaven
- They are two different time frames; immediate (at death) vs. eventual.
- Two different conditions; pre-resurrection vs. post-resurrection.
- Two different locations; one “up” likely outside of our dimension (a layover) vs. our final destination.
- Both are Heaven; original vs. relocated.
God’s future special dwelling place will be with His people on the new earth.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:2-3 ESV
Revelation 22:1 tells us that the throne of God and of the Lamb will be on the new earth. The new earth will be God’s central dwelling place where He will live with His people and where His throne will be located.
If we understand it’s 1) different from the present pre-resurrection heaven, and 2) it will be a fully embodied existence on a physical renovated earth, it’s right to call the new earth the future heaven. The new earth is where we will forever have life after death.
“Christians often talk about living with God ‘in heaven’ forever. But in fact the biblical teaching is richer than that: it tells us that there will be new heavens and a new earth, an entirely renewed creation, and we will live with God there. There will also be a new kind of unification of heaven and earth. There will be a joining of heaven and earth in this new creation.” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology.
He will answer this prayer forever and ever.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 ESV
See how many times “all things” are mentioned in verses below.
For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:16-20 ESV
Making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:9-10 ESV
All things, means “all things”. It includes rivers, streams, trees, plants, animals, food, our bodies, etc. Everything we currently have and know about, God will renew.
“The new earth will also be heaven, since God will dwell there with his people. Glorified believers, in other words, will continue to be in heaven while they are inhabiting the new earth.” Anthony Hoekema.
“[The early Christians] believed that God was going to do for the whole cosmos what He had done for Jesus at Easter.” N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope.
In the below, Daniel is talking about kingdoms on the new earth, and how we will possess it forever and ever.
He [Son of Man, Messiah] was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:14 ESV
But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever. Daniel 7:18 ESV
We will rule with Christ. We are in God’s family, and the family business of God is ruling over creation.
But the court [of God] will sit in judgement, and his [evil earthly leader’s] dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; His kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. Daniel 7:26-27 ESV
Our eternity will be on the new earth.
“Everything in the Gospels points to the idea that life in the Kingdom of God in the Age to Come will be life on the earth—life transformed by the Kingdom of God.” George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament.
God will make everything new and glorified.
“Everything will be glorified, even nature itself. And that seems to me to be the biblical teaching about the eternal state: that what we call heaven is life in this perfect world as God intended humanity to live it. …men and women are meant to live in the body, and will live in a glorified body in a glorified world, and God will be with them.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible.
God will live on the new earth with us, forever and ever.
“God will make the new earth his dwelling place… Heaven and earth will then no longer be separated as they are now, but they will be one. But to leave the new earth out of consideration when we think of the final state of believers, is greatly to impoverish biblical teaching about the life to come.” Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future.
Talk to your children often about the new heaven and the new earth. Let them know how excited you are to go there. It is the glorious place where we will one day spend eternity with God, getting to know Him more and more with each passing millennia.