Imagine you’re part of a NASA team preparing for a five-year mission to Mars. After a period of extensive training, the launch date finally arrives. As the rocket lifts off, one of your fellow astronauts asks, “What do you know about Mars?”
Envision shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Nothing. We never talked about it. I guess we’ll find out when we get there.” It’s unthinkable, isn’t it? It’s inconceivable that your training wouldn’t have included extensive study of and preparation for your ultimate destination. Yet in seminaries, Bible schools, and churches around the world, there’s very little teaching about our ultimate destination: the New Heavens and New Earth. We’re told how to get to Heaven, and that it’s a better destination than Hell, but we’re taught remarkably little about Heaven itself.
Are the Present Heaven and the Eternal Heaven Different?
The apostle Paul considered it vital for us to know what happens when we die: “Dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died” (1 Thessalonians 4:13, NLT).
People usually think of “Heaven” as the place Christians go when they die. But this keeps us from understanding important biblical distinctions. A better definition explains that Heaven is God’s central dwelling place, the location of his throne from where he rules the universe.
The exact location of the present Heaven is unknown, but we’re told the future Heaven will be located on the New Earth, where God will come down to live with his people (Revelation 21:3). The present Heaven is a place of transition between believers’ past lives on Earth and future resurrection lives on the New Earth.
Life in the Heaven we go to when we die is “far better” than living here on Earth under the Curse, away from the direct presence of God (Philippians 1:23). But although it will be a wonderful place, the present Heaven is not the place we’re made for, the place God promises to refashion for us to live in forever. God’s children are destined for life as resurrected beings on a resurrected Earth.
Revelation 21:1 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared.” Once we abandon our assumption that Heaven cannot change, it all makes sense. God doesn’t change; he’s immutable. But God clearly says that Heaven will change. It will eventually be relocated to the New Earth.
What Will the New Earth and Life There Be Like?
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Source: Randy Alcorn | epm.org