Eternal Perspectives

Will we have ethnic and national identities? Yes. Hundreds of nations, thousands of people groups will gather to worship Christ. And many national and cultural distinctives, untouched by sin, will continue to the glory of God. The kings and leaders of nations will be united because they share the King’s righteousness; and they, with him, will rejoice in their differences as a tribute to his creativity and multifaceted character.

~ Randy Alcorn, TouchPoints: Heaven

Eternal Perspectives

We live in a culture that worships equality, but we err when we reduce equality to sameness. It’s illogical to assume everyone in Heaven will be able to compose a concerto with equal skill or be able to throw a ball as far as everyone else. In a perfect world, Adam was bigger and stronger than Eve, and Eve had beauty, sensitivities, and abilities Adam didn’t. In other words, diversity—not conformity—characterizes a perfect world.

~ Randy Alcorn, Heaven

Eternal Perspectives

All people are equal in worth, but they differ in gifting and performance. God is the creator of diversity, and diversity means “inequality” of gifting (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). Because God promises to reward people differently according to their differing levels of faithfulness in this life, we should not expect equality of possessions and positions in Heaven. If everyone were equal in Heaven in all respects, it would mean we’d have no role models, no heroes, no one to look up to, no thrill of hearing wise words from someone we deeply admire. I’m not equal to Hudson Taylor, Susanna Wesley, George Mueller, or C. S. Lewis. I want to follow their examples, but I don’t need to be their equals.

~ Randy Alcorn, Heaven

Eternal Perspectives

Part of the central achievement of the incarnation, which is then celebrated in the resurrection and ascension, is that heaven and earth are now joined together with an unbreakable bond and that we too are by rights citizens of both together. We can, if we choose, screen out the heavenly dimension and live as flatlanders, materialists. If we do that, we will be buying in to a system that will go bad, and will wither and die, because earth gets its vital life from heaven.

But if we focus our attention on the heavenly dimension, all sorts of positive and practical results will follow. In Colossians 3:11 Paul sees the unity of the church across cultural and ethnic boundaries as one of the first of these results. In the passage that follows, he lists all kinds of other things that ought to appear in the life of anyone who really sets his or her mind on the world that is now Jesus’ primary home, the world that is designed to heal and restore our present one. In each case what he’s talking about is actual current physical reality, shot through now with the life of heaven.

The created order, which God has begun to redeem in the resurrection of Jesus, is a world in which heaven and earth are designed not to be separated but to come together. In that coming together, the “very good” that God spoke over creation at the beginning will be enhanced, not abolished. The New Testament never imagines that when the new heavens and new earth arrive, God will say, in effect, “Well, that first creation wasn’t so good after all, was it? Aren’t you glad we’ve got rid of all that space, time and matter?” Rather, we must envisage a world in which the present creation, which we think of in those three dimensions, is enhanced, taken up into God’s larger purposes, no doubt, but certainly not abandoned.

~ N. T. Wright, [Surprised by Hope]

Eternal Perspectives

Heaven is heaven because of its permanent unity, tranquility, and harmony. The kind of unity heaven will reserve and enhance will be the kind in which diversities are allowed, recognized, matured, perfected, and cleansed of jealousies, of bitterness, and of pride. The unity is perfect; these differences are not done away. . . . Inequality yields variety and helps banish dullness. A long distance driver, before whom the road is flat, fights tedium. An even road can be boring. Universal equality can be supremely dull.479 John Gilmore, Probing Heaven There is no one human individual or group who can fully bear or manifest all that is involved in the image of God, so that there is a sense in which that image is collectively possessed. The image of God is, as it were, parceled out among the peoples of the earth. By looking at different individuals and groups we get glimpses of different aspects of the full image of God.

Indeed, linguistic, racial, and national boundaries have provided the framework for a variety of cultural social experiments involving the human spirit. When the end of history arrives, then, there is something to be gathered in—diverse cultural riches to be brought into the Heavenly City. That which has been parceled out in human history must now be collected for the glory of the creator.

~ Richard Mouw, When the Kings Come Marching In