The Easter season is a wonderful time for Christians. It is during this time of the year that we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Christ. But, it doesn’t stop there. We are also encouraged to contemplate the Kingdom of God in which we now dwell, and the glorious day of Christ’s return when we will dwell in a new heaven and a new earth. Unfortunately, many Christians do not possess a biblically healthy picture of our future life in heaven. Some have the idea that Christians will go to heaven and float around on clouds for all eternity, playing harps, and wearing golden halos. That’s way off. Not only does that picture seem pretty boring, but it also has more association with Greek mythology than Biblical Christianity. A more Scripturally sound, “reformed/covenantal” idea of heaven can be seen through a two-fold lens. In fact, Biblical Christian thinkers would describe heaven this way:
First, believers absolutely do go to heaven to be with Christ when they die. In the instant after their death, believers will be immediately with the Lord and dwelling with him where he is. However, they will still be awaiting the full redemption of creation, which will include a redeemed body.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
Second, the Bible affirms that, at some point in the future, Christ will return with all believers – who now dwell with him in heaven – to restore all things, so that heaven and earth will gloriously become one. At that time Christians will dwell with Christ physically on the earth, receiving a perfectly restored body and dwelling in a perfectly restored creation.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
2 Corinthians 5:1-3
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.
1 John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
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, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
So, a more Biblically accurate description of the believer’s future might be stated this way:
“Christian believers look forward to the day when they will die and go to be with Christ, where they will dwell with him until he returns to restore all creation, when heaven and earth will gloriously and eternally become one. At Christ’s second coming, Christians will receive a new body, dwell on a new earth, and physically reign together with Christ as their King.”
With these thoughts in our hearts, I would encourage you all to contemplate heaven more purposely during this Easter season and over the summer. SPC, know that you are in the Kingdom of Christ right now. You are heavenly citizens already! And one day soon, we will enjoy the fullness of our redemption as our King will bring heaven down and dwell with us forever. I can’t wait to live together with you all in the new heaven and earth as we worship our King Jesus face to face!
* If you would like to think more about the coming glory of heaven, there are three books that I would recommend:
Heaven, by Randy Alcorn
Surprised by Hope, by N.T. Wright
Heaven Misplaced, by Doug Wilson