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

Eternal Perspectives

One of the greatest characteristics of our modern culture is our egalitarian mindset, the desire for everybody to be equal. If this were the case in heaven, it likely would be terribly dull. Can you imagine what it would be like to have no heroes, no role models for your children, and only yourself to look up to? The modern fixation on equality is perhaps one of the greatest blind spots of modernity.

~ Barry Morrow, [Heaven Observed]

Eternal Perspectives

We don’t want to live as some other kind of creatures in some other world. What we want is to be sinless, healthy people living on Earth, but without war, conflict, disease, disappointment, and death. We want to live in the kind of world where our dreams, the deepest longings of our hearts, really do come true.

That is exactly what God’s Word promises us. Our failure to grasp this hurts us in countless ways. We become discouraged, supposing that if we’re handicapped, we’ll never know the joy of running in a meadow or the pleasure of swimming. Or if we aren’t married—or don’t have a good marriage—we’ll never know the joy of marriage.

On the New Earth, in perfect bodies, we’ll run through meadows and swim in lakes. We’ll have the most exciting and fulfilling marriage there’s ever been, a marriage so glorious and complete there will be no purpose for another. Jesus himself will be our bridegroom!

The smartest person God ever created in this world may never have learned to read because he or she had no opportunity. The most musically gifted person may never have touched a musical instrument. The greatest athlete may never have competed in a game. The sport you’re best at may be a sport you’ve never tried, your favorite hobby one you’ve never thought of. Living under the Curse means we miss countless opportunities. The reversing of the Curse, and the resurrection of our bodies and our Earth, mean we’ll regain lost opportunities and inherit many more besides.

~ Randy Alcorn, Heaven

Eternal Perspectives

Without an eternal perspective, without understanding the reality that the best is yet to come, we assume that people who die young, who are handicapped, who aren’t healthy, who don’t get married, or who don’t _____ [fill in the blank] will inevitably miss out on the best life has to offer. But the theology underlying those assumptions is fatally flawed. We’re presuming that our present Earth, bodies, culture, relationships, and lives are superior to those of the New Earth. What are we thinking?

~ Randy Alcorn, [Heaven]

Eternal Perspectives

God uses suffering and impending death to unfasten us from this earth and to set our minds on what lies beyond. I’ve lost people close to me. (Actually, I haven’t lost them, because I know where they are—rather, I’ve lost contact with them.) I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people who’ve been diagnosed with terminal diseases. These people, and their loved ones, have a sudden and insatiable interest in the afterlife. Most people live unprepared for death. But those who are wise will go to a reliable source to investigate what’s on the other side. And if they discover that the choices they make during their brief stay in this world will matter in the world to come, they’ll want to adjust those choices accordingly.
~ Randy Alcorn, [Heaven]