Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Resolved 2008: Session #2

Randy Alcorn
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, 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. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. Revelation 21:1-6

Some have us have come groaning and longing for the redemption that will come with the resurrection of the sons of God (Romans 8). That redemption doesn’t come in snatching our souls from this world. It comes in God bringing His very presence down to the new earth, setting up His throne, and dwelling with us forever.

This used to be the great encouragement to the people of God, the North Star by which Christians navigated their lives. But heaven has largely fallen off our radar screens in the day we live in today because we think we have the capacity to create our own heaven.

When we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s ultimate answer to that is in the fulfillment of what is written in Revelation 21.

We were made for one person and one place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place. We will never be satisfied with anything less than Jesus or anything less than heaven.

In Colossians 3:1,2 that we are to set our hearts and our minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God and not on earthly things.

Jonathan Edwards’ resolution #22: Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world (heaven) with as I possibly can…

When we seek that happiness that we will have only in the presence of God when we dwell with Him, God gives us, as a byproduct, happiness in this life as we eagerly await the fulfillment of that certain time to come.

Jesus, born into the family of a carpenter, is the ultimate Carpenter. He created the world and He fixes the world go wrong. He will make us even better than Adam and Eve were before they sinned in the garden.

When many people think of heaven, they think merely of the place we go to be when we die. This is called the intermediate state. But this present heaven is not the same as the eternal heaven. Once the resurrection takes place, God will create a new heaven and earth that will be eternal.

It is this eternal heaven that is really the focus of Scripture and should be the focus of our Christian lives (2 Peter 3:13). The present heaven is like a layover on our way somewhere else. Even though we will be in the presence of Jesus, something even more wonderful awaits us after our resurrection. At that point we will receive resurrected bodies and be part of a resurrected world as we serve God and have dominion over the earth as God intended from the beginning. Satan didn’t defeat God’s plan when Adam and Eve sinned. God’s original plan in Genesis 1 and 2 is perfected in Revelation 22. God never gave up or lost His plan (Genesis 1:1, Revelation 21:1).

When Scripture speaks of a new earth, new is an adjective that modifies the noun earth. It speaks of an improvement of the same object, not of an entirely new object. This is also true of the new bodies that we will receive.

The essence of heaven, in Revelation 21, is the fact that God is with men (v.3). Even though God is omnipotent and is therefore everywhere and always with men, this speaks of His permanent dwelling place which is currently on the throne in heaven. Revelation 22 :1 speaks of this throne as being on the new earth.

This world is the closest the unbeliever will come to experiencing the reality of heaven. This world is the closest the believer will come to experiencing the reality of hell.

The intermediate state should not be devalued because Paul spoke of it as being far better than this life (Philippians 1:21, 23) and so did Jesus when he told the thief on the cross when he told him that on that very day he would be with Him in paradise (Luke 23:43).

Death is not a hole or a wall. It is a doorway into another world. Paul speaks of it as a departure (2 Timothy 4:6).

Jesus Christ experienced hell on the cross so that we would be able to spend eternity with Him after we die or when He comes.

We are all homesick for Eden because we are connected to Adam through our sin natures.

This present world is not our home. But this world, as it will be transformed by Jesus Christ, is our home, the home that we are to long for.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
Job 19:25-27
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