What Will You Be Doing for Eternity?

Posted by colin on August 9, 2010 under From the pastor | Comments are off for this article

Many Christians believe that when they die they will go to heaven. But, they are not too sure what they will be doing once they get there, which, raises the question, why do they want to go there in the first place? Some think they will be gazing on the face of God for all eternity. This prospect raises some theological questions –for example, does God have a face? Or if, by this, they mean they will be looking into the face of Jesus, are we sure that Jesus is going to be comfortable with the idea of billions of people staring at him forever? This uncertainty about what Christians will actually be doing in heaven has, of course, given the comic strip cartoonists a field day – depicting bored people sitting around on clouds with nothing to do.

The Bible teaches that the ultimate future of human beings is not to live as some ethereal spirit floating around in a heavenly realm, but to be resurrected back to life in a material body. This new body is described as a glorious body, one which will no longer be subject to death (I Cor. 15:35-44). Our present bodies are only a shadow of this new glorified existence. These new bodies will not need to be sustained with food and water (they are not ‘physical’ bodies), but will be sustained by the Spirit of God (hence the term ‘spiritual’ bodies).

This new life will be lived, not in some far off spiritual realm, but here on earth. We do not go to heaven, heaven comes to us. This is what the apostle John saw in vision in the book of Revelation:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev. 21:1-3).

This verse is telling us that it is not we who go to heaven, but heaven that comes down to us. This is the ultimate answer to our prayer, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). God will make His dwelling place with mankind on earth.

What we see in this vision is a picture of heaven and earth coming together and being united – just as in the beginning God created man male and female, and intended that man and woman be joined in marriage and become one flesh, so, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1) and it was always Gods’ intention that heaven and earth be joined together in one world – a world where God would dwell in communion with mankind.

This new heaven and a new earth will be an incorruptible one. Our current universe is subject to death and decay. As Paul writes in Romans: ““The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21).

The whole creation is waiting for the time when human beings will be raised to eternal life. And why? Because this will be the time when the creation will also be delivered from its bondage to decay. The creation will be transformed so that it can enjoy eternity along with the children of God.

These verses tell us something about our God. He did not create this present universe, and create mankind to have dominion over it; and then respond, when mankind sinned, by saying, “Well, that idea didn’t work. I am going to have to do something different.” God’s original purposes still stand. He will accomplish His will, and neither Satan’s rebellion, nor our sins can prevent Him from accomplishing what He has purposed to do.

When God created the earth, He proclaimed it very good (Genesis 1:31). Creation was an act of God’s love, motivated by a desire to share the communion of the tri-une God with a creature of His making. God created human beings in His image so that we might participate in God’s life of love and joy. It was His purpose that mankind rule over, and take care of, this creation (Gen. 1:28; 2:15). Mankind, as the apex of God’s creation, and is designed to be a reflection of who God is, both to reflect God back to God in worship, and to reflect God to the rest of the creation in his stewardship over creation. (See “Surprised by Hope” by N.T. Wright)

When mankind rejected God and chose to listen to Satan, God did not abandon His plan. He came to rescue mankind, to redeem us from our sins and to restore our relationship with Him. He did this in the person of Jesus Christ. After His death, Jesus did not abandon His humanity. When He returned to heaven, He retained His humanity, and will do so forever. The first Adam failed to fulfill His commission. The second Adam, Jesus, accomplished what the first Adam failed to do. As a result, He has now taken over the controls of the universe, ruling over God’s world (Matt 28:18). And He is bringing about the transformation that will lead to a new heaven and new earth in which the saints will live with Him forever, and participate in His rulership.

Rather than sitting around on clouds, playing harps, the redeemed people of God will be the agents of God’s love, participating with Jesus in accomplishing new creative tasks, celebrating and displaying the glory of God throughout the whole creation.

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