Summary: Talking about our ultimate eternal existence, the new heaven and the new earth (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Says About the Church: Rediscovering Community, chapter 15 Eternally Worshiping, pgs. 373- 380)
This is from Daniel Overdorf but I am have been in many of these kinds of conversations and situations: One Friday afternoon I struggled to prepare for the weekend. The week’s hectic pace, filled with activities, left me scrambling on Friday to finish my sermon. While I hunched over my desk, unable to develop anything that resembled a sermon, the office phone rang. From the phone’s earpiece came the shaky voice of an elderly lady who lived in the nursing home, Mrs. Robinson. She wanted me to visit. I looked at my unfinished sermon, then at the clock, then back at the computer screen. I grimaced. “I’l be right over.” Mrs. Robinson served in the church for years. She had endured a difficult life. She had outlived all of her family. Though she resided in a nursing home full of people, she lived alone. “I’ll just make it a short visit, then I can get back to more important things.” I entered her room, sat in the recliner next to her bed, and asked Mrs. Robinson about her week. She raised her head briefly from her pillow and smiled. “Awful kind of you to visit an old lady.” My shoulders and eyes dropped, “My week has been fine, thanks for asking,” she continued. “The beautician came by and gave me a new hair style. Do you like it?” “Very pretty,” I responded, though I could tell no difference from before. I glanced at my watch. We chatted briefly about the happenings at the nursing home, then Mrs. Robinson grew quiet. Her eyes focused somewhere beyond the room. “I’m tired, and I want to go home,” she said. Her head turned toward me,”Is it okay to want to go home?” To Mrs. Robinson, heaven meant home- a home for which her tired body and spirit ached. Is it okay to yearn for our heavenly home?
Discussing the community of the church the past several months, focusing on community.
Started in the past, in the OT and discussed the background of the community of the church
Working our way into the present and discussing struggles, trials and persecution. How can we persevere in the midst of these things?
Now we are moving into the future, offering a glimpse of the church’s destiny.
3 things before we start over the next several Sundays:
1. End times theories of pre, post, dispensational, or a millennialism are absent. See my views bleed through but more practical in nature
2. Must understand that the Bible provides signs of the end times but no precise, indisputable, clear roadmap of the times that lie ahead. Panmillenialist.
3. We are going backwards. Tonight discussing our ultimate eternal existence, then Christ’s return, then Christians who die before Christ’s return, then the present “heaven,” and finally how all of this should affect the church in the present, particularly regarding our worship
Thesis: Proclaim our ultimate eternal existence; new heaven and earth
God’s ultimate restoration project
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind- Isaiah 65:17. He (Jesus) must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets- Acts 3:21 The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness- 2 Peter 3:10, 12-13. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away- Revelation 21:1
Sometimes we picture heaven as a place where we will be free floating spirits among the clouds, drifting about in an eternal state of enchanted bliss. Such images grow from fairy tales and cartoons more so than from the Bible. Scripture pictures the church ultimately existing- following Christ’s return- in a physical heaven and a physical earth.
John the Revelator pictures the new heaven and the new earth as “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” - Revelation 21:2. This New Jerusalem will include a throne, from which the Lord will proclaim, “Now the dwelling of God is with men”- Revelation 21:3, and "I am making everything new!”- Revelation 21:5. To summarize Stanley Grenz the biblical picture of this cosmos differs from the vision of which many Christians dream. They conceive of our eternal home as an entirely spiritual, non material place. They picture eternity as a realm inhabited by purely spiritual beings. The picture present in the NT is different. Instead of resurrected believers being snatched away to live forever with God in some heavenly world beyond the cosmos, the seer of Revelation envisioned something different. John uses physical terms to describe a physical place. Yes, beyond our present physical knowledge but to ignore this is to go against the description.