There’s so much more to the Christian faith than simply dying and going to heaven.
You see, heaven is not yet finished. We have in our minds the notion that heaven is already completed and perfected, but that’s really not the way the story is told in Scripture.
The Scriptures tell us that the curse upon the created order—heaven and earth—will not be lifted until the return of Christ. The old creation will be completely done away with when Christ returns and the dead are raised.
A New Heaven and a New Earth
Revelation 21 and 22 describe the fulfillment of Isaiah 65 and 66. There will be a new heaven and a new earth; the old heaven and the old earth will pass away. Death, crying, mourning, and pain will be no more. The first things will pass away, and God says “behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
Revelation 21 and 22 describe a magnificent city filled with gold and gem stones. The language is highly figurative, so it’s hard to know just how it will all turn out in the end, but we are told that the people of God will be protected in this beautiful city. The city will not need the light of the sun or the moon because God Himself will be present. This heavenly city will not contain a temple because the city itself will be a temple when it’s in its fully completed and perfected form. Christ will be in that place, and all the people of God will be there with Him.
Already, But Not Yet
This new creation has not yet fully come to pass. We live in the space between Christ’s resurrection and return. Heaven and earth wait to be rescued from corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God on the day when we receive our resurrection bodies. There’s much more in store for you than just dying and going to heaven.
What is God doing on the ground here and now between the times? There are at least two broad things.
- On the one hand, God has told us to preach the gospel to the nations. We are to tell the world the story of Jesus, and how God has acted to rescue the world from its rebellion through the crucified and risen Jesus. By faith in Him, people can begin to participate in the restoration process. You can read the story of God’s great rescue plan, the full story of the Bible, in this blog.
- On the other hand, God is not just saving individuals. He’s also building the Church, the body of Christ. He is already working out His new creation, and He is building a new people of God. The Church participates in this work by summoning people, through the gospel, to join the body of Christ. Read more about the Body of Christ here.
God is working within us, both individually and corporately, to make us the people He wants us to be.
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Robert B. Sloan preached at Kingsland Baptist Church on November 24, 2013. A video of his original remarks may be viewed here.