God’s plan was always to take the Human family and the Trinity and make them one in fellowship. To redeem His creation and restore it. To take what exists and not hit reset, but to pull back the graffiti of violence, pain and sinfulness to reveal both the wonder of His creation made new as well as the glory of the nations, every tribe and tongue and nation as God desired it to be. So, we will worship in many languages, have unique clothing and cultural presentations. We will see what God has been doing not only in Israel but in every nation of the earth. God has been working as Trinity to redeem our history, our families, our land and to heal the nations with the tree of life. He will wipe every tear from our eyes and allow us to enter the promise He has set forth before us. We will be in Heaven where He is, but it is not a dismembered disembodied existence. Instead, Jesus will return and we will all be given resurrection bodies like His. He is the template that all creation will be restored too. By the Word of Christ, God formed the world with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. God will take this world and restore it, take our lives which are now corruptible and make them incorruptible, take our earthly bodies and give us eternal bodies. We will be where He is and yet will also be recognisable to one another, we will be fully known and fully redeemed, just as fully human as Jesus is in the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is the culmination of all things. The human race will end in a perfect re-creation and redemption of both heaven and earth and all rifts and brokenness and disfigurement will be removed forever. We will be fully matured in our humanity. We will spend eternity working, learning, ruling and reigning with God there. Our bodies will take on new properties, but we will be human forever just as Jesus is human now forever. He is preparing a place for us filled with the wonders of creation. If it is so beautiful down here, how much more beautiful will it be there. Everything will be embodied spiritually and we will be able to see and know as we are known. Our humanity will be complete and full and we will recognise each other there. Some of what we worked on here will be there too. We will continue to invent, make music and live in communities together, using our gifts and abilities as we were designed to do from the start but without a hint of the pain, sadness or agony of life here. It will be as if we did not have this temporary sin at all, but as if our cultures and our lives had been untouched by it. We will have learned some of how to rule and reign with God while here, and this will continue unhindered for eternity there. God will take this world, heaven and earth will be refined and renewed in its entirety.
As we work here, the best of our labour will build the kingdom that we will partake of there. It is the same story and the same purpose and plan of God from the start that will be seen through to fruition in the end. God will complete the good work that He has begun in us. However, we will not be taken out of this world. Instead, this world which was good in the beginning will be made very good through redemption in the end. Obviously here we do not have any way of interacting with those who have gone before and neither do we have a way to interact with angels and the unseen spiritual world, most of it is hidden from us. In the New Creation – that is new heaven and new earth – we will be privy to all of that knowledge, culture, technology and riches. Each nation will bring their own stages of human development to fulfil their contribution to the Kingdom of God. We will be surrounded and engage with new designs, write and compose new music, and develop science and technology, all of which will not negatively impact the environment. It will be untainted by corruption; our work will last and will not wear out, rust away or be stolen from us. We will delight in God’s presence and live in complete peace and unity in all of our increasing diversity.
Paul speaks so clearly of how the gospel he is preaching in the churches encapsulates not just our souls or spirits, but all of us, in every part, all of creation in every part, and that God wants it all back. Just like Job, God suffered the loss of all things, but in the end Job was restored even more than what He initially lost through what He suffered. (Job 42:2-5) “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” What a beautiful picture of complete restoration. God has everything He has made back home with Him once more. He has been longing for the return of all things as we see in Luke 15, God longs for His creation, for His creatures and for His imagebearers to be found and to be home with Him where we belong and all will be completely restored. This is good news indeed!
The pain we feel here is one of loss. God feels it too. It is a weight that the lost sinner feels and may not be able to put His finger on, but there is also a longing in the son who lives and works for His father as within the church we may be serving God for His approval. God does not want sons who are slaves, who feel that their work for Him is a guarantee of their salvation. He wants Sons who will inherit all that He has, be restored, be reconciled not just to Him but to all things made new. There is a process that is quite an upheaval. Like an art restorer God needs to carefully and meticulously remove all that has tainted, distorted and disfigured His creation, every mark of disease, pain, sin and infection must be removed. Since He created everything through His word (Christ) in the beginning, it is something only God can do in the end. He must do this final work of sanctification for all things. There will be a refiners fire that looks at the quality of each person, each culture, all nations and removes by refining out the good we have done too. Our lives, our histories and our nations matter, because we matter in our entirety. God loves every part of us and will transform us into a bride that is fit to rule and reign with His son, Jesus. If there was a first Adam and from him God created a bride. So in the second Adam, Jesus, God will create a bride too: His church. Can you see how Old and New Testament mirror each other. The first was sunken in sin and death and the grave. The second, new creation is right now rising from the grave, restoring sight and hearing and making us whole for Him. Jesus lowered Himself so that we can be raised up in Him.
If we know that what is of God in our co-labouring with Him will last, we know that every word that restores, every service that saves lives, every action that makes a difference to those in emotional, physical, psychological or spiritual need, will last too. Those who hear this good news and come to Christ and acknowledge that He is the Son of God will be saved. They will be there with us. Also, just as we see the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles mentioned in the New Jerusalem, so the best of not just Israel but form each of our nations, will be included somehow too in this ongoing story of God and story of us. It is God continuing His plans and purposes with us into eternity. Since it was collaborative here, it will be collaborative there too. We are told we will judge the angels, that we will rule and reign and be discipled there into taking on a creative and purposeful role in eternity. Heaven will be more than harps and clouds and golden streets. We need to develop a vivid picture of the New Creation that incorporates an embodied existence, that is what makes us distinctive from the angels… We are imagebearers here and it is in preparation for How we will continue to be there along with many friends from the past, all of the saints, apostles and prophets and we will meet them and learn from each other in the process. Every generation that God has redeemed will be there and we will fellowship at a banquet for the nations.
Our view of where we are going should radically change our lives here. We should have such a ravishing view of the New Jerusalem and what God will do that when we encounter pain, suffering and death here, we are assured that this is just a glitch in the system that will be worked out. It is real and painful and we and God have paid a great price in the midst of our living here, which is in many ways a preparation for our lives there. But when we enter New Creation once Jesus returns to earth just as He left, He will do the final work, the final judgement of all things and redeem those who have responded to His invitation, incorporating them into this promised land of Heaven and Earth reunited. 1 Corinthians 2:9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him.