Eternal Perspectives

As a child, I feared heaven would be boring. I missed the point of gold streets and pearly gates. As a 10-year-old, what I really liked doing most was playing baseball, collecting fossils, and hunting frogs.

In the years that followed, the deaths of family members and friends have changed the way I think about heaven. But I still have questions. What will we do after enjoying long embraces, tears of laughter, and catching up? My mind still locks up like an overloaded computer when I try to weigh imponderable questions about a hereafter that will last forever.

Ironically, what gives me the most peace of mind is not cutting loose my imagination, but rather learning to trust. I find rest in the thought that God doesn’t want us to know what He has planned for us. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear such a God say something like, “If I told you, I’d have to take you.” Or, based on the apostle Paul’s experience, “If I told you how good it’s going to be, I’d have to make life more difficult for you now.”

~ Mart De Haan, [Been Thinking About]

Eternal Perspectives

Joni [Eareckson Tada] tells of speaking to a class of mentally handicapped Christians. They thought it was great when she said she was going to get a new body. But then she added, “And you’re going to get new minds.” The class broke out in cheers and applause. They knew just what they wanted—new minds.

My body and mind, for the moment, may be relatively healthy. But as an insulin-dependent diabetic, I’ve known what it is for both my body and my mind to fail me. They suffer under the Curse enough that I too know just what I want—a new body and a new mind, without sin, suffering and incapacity. Every year that goes by, I long more to be a resurrected person and to live on the resurrected Earth, with my resurrected brothers and sisters, and above all, with my Lord—the resurrected Jesus.

~ Randy Alcorn, [Heaven]

Eternal Perspectives

Because we each have a physical body, we already have the single best reference point for envisioning a new body. It’s like the new upgrade of my word processing software. When I heard there was an upgrade available, I didn’t say, “I have no idea what it will be like.” I knew that for the most part it would be like the old program, only better. Sure, it has some new features that I didn’t expect, and I’m glad for them. But I certainly recognize it as the same program I’ve used for a decade.

Likewise, when we receive our resurrected bodies, we’ll no doubt have some welcome surprises—maybe even some new features (though no glitches or programming errors)—but we’ll certainly recognize our new bodies as being ours. God has given us working models to guide our imagination about what our new bodies will be like on the New Earth.

~ Randy Alcon, [Heaven]

Eternal Perspectives

[Paul] speaks of two sorts of body, the present one and the future one. He uses two key adjectives to describe these two bodies. Unfortunately, many translations get him radically wrong at this point, leading to the widespread supposition that for Paul the new body would be a spiritual body in the sense of a nonmaterial body, a body that in Jesus’s case wouldn’t have left an empty tomb behind it. It can be demonstrated in great detail, philologically and exegetically, that this is precisely not what Paul meant. The contrast he is making is not between what we would mean by a present physical body and what we would mean by a future spiritual one, but between a present body animated by the normal human soul and a future body animated by God’s spirit.

And the point about the future body is that it will be incorruptible. The present flesh and blood is corruptible, doomed to decay and die. That’s why Paul says, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom.” The new body will be incorruptible. The entire chapter [1 Corinthians 15], one of Paul’s longest sustained discussions and the vital climax of the whole letter, is about new creation, about the creator God remaking the creation, not abandoning it as Platonists of all sorts, including Gnostics, would have wanted.

~ N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope

Eternal Perspectives

Why does God go to all the trouble to dirty his hands, as it were, with our decaying, sin-stained flesh, in order to reestablish it as a resurrection body and clothe it with immortality? . . . Because his Son paid the price of death so that the Father’s purpose for the material universe would be fulfilled, namely, that he would be glorified in it, including in our bodies forever and ever.
~ John Piper, [“What Happens When You Die?”]

Resurrected bodies are not intended just to float in space, or to flit from cloud to cloud. They call for a new earth on which to live and to work, glorifying God. The doctrine of the resurrection of the body, in fact, makes no sense whatever apart from the doctrine of the new earth.
~ Anthony Hoekema, [“Heaven: Not Just an Eternal Day Off”]

Eternal Perspectives

Home is where friends come to visit us. Home is where we read and reflect and listen to the music we enjoy. It’s where we putter and plant gardens and rest to gain strength for our tasks. Home is the place I inhale the wonderful aroma of strong rich coffee every morning. . . . Home is where Nanci fixes wonderful meals, including the world’s best apple pie.

I realize it sounds like I’m romanticizing home. Yes, many people have had very bad experiences in their earthly homes. But the point is, our home in heaven is our real home. It will have all the good things about our earthly home, multiplied many times, but none of the bad.

~ Randy Alcorn, [In Light of Eternity]

Eternal Perspectives

People sometimes tell me that they dread the thought of endless days. But when I press them, what they truly dread is endless monotony and boredom and repetition of the same dull things over and over. Their human heart longs for freshness and newness and adventure, yet also longs for the familiar, the sense of being home. Heaven will fulfill not one longing, but both. 

~ Randy Alcorn, [unpublished notes]