Q&A: New Heavens and New Earth

New Heavens and New Earth

How will the new earth be both similar and different from the current earth?

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Answer

I love the expression "the new heavens and the new earth" in Scriptures. We find it back in the Old Testament prophets, and then we find it again, of course, in the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter in the New Testament. And they are talking about the re-creation of all things or the new creation of all things once Christ has returned in glory. I don't think the Bible tells us an awful lot about what the new earth will be like, or even the new heavens. There seems to be, just by the expression, there seems to be a greater to-ing and fro-ing, if you like, between what we consider the spiritual realm of the heaven, the place where the Lord is and the earth where we live, and we know that the new earth will be ruled by Christ who will be there with us, and will see him face to face. So, there seems to be a much greater sort of coherence, if you like, between heaven and earth when all things are made new. But I guess the closest we get to some sort of a description is in Romans 8. At the moment, we are given this picture that all creation — and that's the physical creation, not just human beings — is groaning like the pains of a mother in childbirth, we're told, waiting for the sons of God — that's God's people — to come into this inheritance of the new earth. And at least the implication of that seems to be that when the new earth does come, creation as we know it will function properly and will be looked after properly by us. So, I like to think of the new earth as a place where, finally, we shall work for the Lord in an environment which is working well and not under the Fall, the curse of the Fall, the judgment of God that happened when Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, but where everything is integrated well. So, that earth, which we're supposed to look after well, we will look after well. Those end-of-day feelings that we have of have I accomplished anything? If we do come back and go to sleep in the new earth, I think I will go to sleep feeling I have accomplished what I was set out to accomplish because I have been perfected and I'm living in this perfect earth. And the Lord I know, who is seated in the heavens, who is seated in glory, I see with me. I see him face to face day by day.

Answer by Dr. Paul Gardner

Dr. Paul Gardner is Senior Pastor of ChristChurch Presbyterian in Atlanta, GA.