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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 50

New heaven? New body?

A number of Bible scholars, including [N. T.] Wright, believe that heaven, in its final state, does not yet exist. There are some good scriptural reasons for thinking this, such as John 14:2-3, quoted earlier in this chapter, indicating that Christ was going to do some preparatory work on the final resting place of believers. Then there’s Romans:

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us. 19 For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.

This seems to be talking about the redemption of fallen earth, during the End Times. And, somehow, the redeemed creation, the rocks, plants, and mountains, maybe even the planets and the stars, are to be delivered, and, somehow, this deliverance is connected to glory “revealed toward us.” Or, as John put it in Revelation:

Revelation 21:1 I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. 2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away.”
5a He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

(For some musings about “the sea is no more,” see here.)

This is apocalyptic and visionary literature, of course. But it does mention a new heaven and a new earth, suggesting that there will be a physical existence inhabited by believers.

Not only Paul, and John, but Peter also had something to say about this matter:

2 Peter 3:13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Also, Genesis tells us that all of God’s creation was originally good, in Genesis 1:31a, which says that “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” God could, of course, discard or destroy His original good creation, but indications are that, instead, He wishes to redeem and renew it.

The above material is an excerpt from my self-published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain.

The previous post in this series, on the topic of the idea of going to heaven, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will continue with a related topic. Thanks for reading.

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