FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 16, number 34, August 24, 2017
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” -Revelation 21:1
The Final State of the Believer, The New Earth
The ethnic cleansing and atrocities against the Christians in the Nuba mountains by Sudan, as well as that against the Christians in South Sudan, has been going on for years with no end in sight. Thousands of people have died, including children. Why does this happen? Why are children born with serious birth defects? Why is there such evil, wickedness, oppression, sickness, despair, and death in the world? The short answer is Adam’s sin as well as the sin of everyone living in the world. God created a perfect world in the space of six days, saying at the end of each day, “It is good.”
Adam and Eve lived in perfection and bliss, managing the creation, but then they disobeyed God who pronounced on them and their posterity a sentence of death. Women would endure pain in childbirth. The ground would yield thistles, men would earn their living by the sweat of their brow, they would return to the dust from whence they had come. In other words, the world would be filled with decay, dysfunction, division, and death. Paul says the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now (Romans 8:22). He also says that through one man sin entered the world and through him death also entered the world (Romans 5:12). But God also promised to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
From that point forward God’s intention has been to recreate this fallen, broken world of sin, sickness, sorrow, and death. He promised that a virgin would conceive and bear a son called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). He promised that a child would be born, a son would be given and the increase of His government and peace would have no end (Isaiah 9:7). From Christ’s incarnation there was to be a move toward recreation of everything fallen. John was to announce His coming (Isaiah 40:1-5). He would bring forth justice to the nations (Isaiah 42:1-3). He would be pierced through for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5).
He would create a new heavens and earth and the former things would not be remembered (Isaiah 65:17). And then, in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem us from the works of the law (Galatians 4:4,5). Paul also tells us that Jesus, the One who redeems us by His blood, will make known to us the mystery of His will, the summing up of all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:7-10). To “sum up” has the idea of the accountant, at the end of the business day settling the company’s accounts. One day God will settle His accounts with every vile, perverse, wicked person of oppression and injustice. He will make all things right in His time.
And when will this occur and under what circumstances? Paul says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first,” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). So the new heavens and the new earth will come to the world on Christ’s return, what Joeland Peter call the day of the Lord, a day of reckoning. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. . . looking for the coming of the day of God . . . we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells,” (2 Peter 3:10,13).
And the apocalyptic vision of John in Revelation 21 lays it out in more vivid and glorious detail. He saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and earth passed away. He saw the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, being adorned as a bride for her husband. This phrase is dripping with hope, expectation, and beauty. He promises to dwell with them forever. He will be our God and we will be His people forever on the new earth. He will completely eradicate all sickness, sorrow, injustice, pain, and death. How? He promises to make all things new. He is promising to return the world to its original pristine purity, peace, and purpose it had before the awful fall into sin. God has always been about restoring paradise. We shall have it with Him and His saints for all the ages.
One more beautiful and important detail. Because Christ was raised from the dead, He is the first fruits of all who are asleep in death. This means that everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, shall receive bodies upon Christ’s return on the day of judgment and recreation. I will focus next week on the resurrection bodies of the wicked but for now, consider what awaits you, dear saint, upon Christ’s return.
When you die, as I have already shown, your soul will enter into the very presence of Jesus Christ and all the saints of all the ages. While this is glorious you must understand your limitations. You will be a disembodied soul. You will have no body in heaven. But when the Lord Jesus returns, that will all change. You will receive a glorified body like that of the Lord Jesus. Paul lays this out in splendid detail in 1 Corinthians 15.
I well remember holding our infant son Patrick who was born with multiple birth defects. I was wonderfully comforted by these words, “Our bodies are sown perishable bodies, but they will be raised imperishable bodies. They are sown in dishonor, they will be raised in glory. They are sown in weakness, they will be raised in power. They are sown natural bodies, they will be raised spiritual bodies,” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
Perhaps you have a Down’s syndrome child, or one with other serious birth defects. Your covenant child will one day receive a perfect, glorified body. Your Christian loved ones, who were ravaged by cancer, Alzheimer’s, or some other debilitating and dreadful disease, will one day receive perfect, glorified bodies utterly and completely devoid of any sickness, abnormality, or disease.
You will live with these glorified bodies, with Christ Jesus, and all the saints of all the ages on the new earth forever. You will work, but your work will be utter joy. No death, no war, no injustice. Every created thing will be living in perfect harmony. This is not “pie in the sky, by and by.” This is the truth as it is in Jesus, my friend. This is the hope every blood bought sinner has. No other religion in the world can deliver on this vital issue. God will make everything right. He will judge all wickedness and injustice. He will restore His creation to its original beauty, all to the praise and glory of His marvelous grace. Hallelujah. What a Savior!
1. Joel 1:15, 2:1,11,31, 3:14. The day of the Lord is a day of judgment on the wicked.
Al Baker is an Evangelistic Revival Preacher with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship.
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