This post is one in a series of posts on a Bible study I am doing titled Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Dave McCleskey. The focus of this study is to get a Biblical view of what heaven is really like.
If you’re like me, then you have spent a majority of your life believing that Heaven will be some far off spiritual realm made for God and His angels, where we will end up living for eternity doing nothing more than singing and bowing in order to glorify God. As much as I wanted to go to heaven (as opposed to the alternative), I never got excited about that prospect of eternity. But as I have progressed through this study, I have come to see that in reality, God does not plan to obliterate the earth – He plans to restore it to the way He originally intended, and He plans to receive glory through His creation by letting us live on it forever. While this is definitely a relief to me, I admit that I still wonder what things will be like on the New Earth. I question whether we will still have free will (which, of course, could lead to sin again, though we are and surely will be forgiven through Christ – this is a completely different theological discussion, so I will leave it for now), or if the New Earth will be anything like the earth I know now. Today’s study tried to answer this question for me.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This is true of just about everyone on earth I believe. We all long for something more than this world has to offer. Alcorn says that people try to fulfill that longing through sex, drugs, alcohol, and other things that we think will satisfy us. We push for that next best thing – a new spouse, a new house, a new job, a new car – thinking that it will satisfy us. But the truth is, we were made for another world, and until we place our hope in that world, and until we actually reside in that world, we will never be fully satisfied. And it’s placing our hope in that world that truly pleases God. Hebrews 11:13-16 says “All these people [heroes of faith] were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (emphasis added).
Unfortunately, when those of us in Christ hear this verse, it makes us feel like we can’t feel at home here on earth. We say things like “this world is not my home” and then we turn around and listen to our favorite music, watch a movie, play our favorite game, or work in the garden. We go and do things that are linked to the earth we live on, we express how much we enjoy them, but we tell others that we don’t enjoy them nearly as much as we want to go to Heaven. Perhaps for some, this is true, but for me, this is hypocrisy. The truth is, I would miss getting to play tennis. My wife would miss getting to read a good book. My mother-in-law would miss getting to work in the garden. We were made to live on this earth, and God is glorified when His creation reaches the potential He originally intended for us to reach. When we die, God is going to restore the earth and make it new, and we will still be people. We will still have art, culture, science, sports, education, and everything else that make us human. We can still say that we are looking for a “country of our own.” But this country can be a Heavenly one, a city that God has prepared for us, and still have the things that are inherently earth-like. The only things that will be gone are sin, suffering, shame, and death.
I, personally, love the world I live in. I’m not sure I want to leave all of it behind. Thankfully, I’ve learned that I won’t have to. All the things that are terrible about this world will be gone, and everything we love about it will stay. And we’ll get to live here for eternity.
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.