Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thoughts on Heaven, Week 5


I am leading a small group Sunday School class through Randy Alcorn's book on Heaven. We are reading about two chapters each week and then coming together to share what we are learning about the eternal destiny of those that know Jesus. I thought I would take the opportunity each week to blog about what I am learning in this study. This week we read:

  • Chapter 9 - "Why Is Earth's Redemption Essential To God's Plan?"
  • Chapter 10 - "What Will It Mean For The Curse To Be Lifted?"

These were not simple chapters. They were weighty with Scripture and doctrine. Throughout this book, Alcorn has been making the argument that Heaven is not some ethereal realm of spirits floating on clouds, but that it is a real, physical place. In these chapters, particularly chapter 9, he shows how the redemption of Jesus applies not only to man, but also to all of creation. A redeemed earth is our final destination, not some cloud. He says,
"God's redemptive plan climaxes not at the return of Christ, nor in the millennial kingdom, but on the New Earth. Only then will all wrongs be made right. Only then will there be no more death, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:1-4) . . . He isn't going to abandon his creation. He's going to restore it. We won't go to Heaven and leave Earth behind. Rather, God will bring Heaven and Earth together into the same dimension, with no wall of separation, no armed angels to guard Heaven's perfection from sinful mankind (Genesis 3:24). God's perfect plan is 'to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (Ephesians 1:10)" (87-8).
While my guess is that most people affirm that God will create a New Heavens and a New Earth, they fail to connect the dots. They still think Heaven as being angels strumming harps on a cloud. They fail to see that the New Heavens and New Earth coming together is God's plan. 

That only happens when the Curse if finally lifted. In Revelation 22:3, we are told that in Heaven "No longer will there be any curse." One day we will know what it was like for Adam & Eve in that Garden without being under the curse. We will know it with redeemed, restored bodies. And we will know it on a redeemed, restored Earth. Alcorn says,
"We have never seen the earth as God made it. Our planet as we know it is a shadowy, halftone image of the original. But it does whet our appetites for the New Earth, doesn't it? If the present Earth, so diminished by the Curse, is at times so beautiful and wonderful; if our bodies, so diminished by the Curse, are at times overcome with a sense of the earth's beauty and wonder; then how magnificent will the New Earth be? And what will it be like to experience the New Earth in something else we've never known: perfect bodies?" (106)
I can't wait. It just gets me excited to think that the beauty we see here is just a diminished version of the original. I can't wait for the original. 

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