Monday, August 25, 2008

Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world

The following quote is written by N. T. Wright from an article entitled The Road to New Creation:

"God is not going to abolish the universe of space, time and matter; he is going to renew it, to restore it, to fill it with new joy and purpose and delight, to take from it all that has corrupted it. ‘The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom, and rejoice with joy and singing; the desert shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.’ The last book of the Bible ends, not with the company of the saved being taken up into heaven, but with the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, resulting in God’s new creation, new heavens and new earth, in which everything that has been true, lovely, and of good report will be vindicated, enhanced, set free from all pain and sorrow. God himself, it says, will wipe away all tears from all eyes. One of the great difficulties in preaching the gospel in our days is that everyone assumes that the name of the game is, ultimately, to ‘go to heaven when you die’, as though that were the last act in the drama... Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world; God will make new heavens and new earth, and give us new bodies to live and work and take delight in his new creation. And the ‘good news’ of the Christian gospel is that this new world, this new creation, has already begun: it began when Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead on Easter morning, having faced and beaten the double enemy, sin and death, that has corrupted and defaced God’s lovely creation"


Dan said...

Thank you for this post. I have been giving heaven a lot of thought lately. I find myself in disagreement with Mr. Stott, though at the same time, that disagreement makes me want to reconsider my position more than it causes me to thing him wrong. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

My experience is that Christians are not thinking eternally enough. Granted there are plenty who have the "fire insurance" mentality and see Christianity as a checked box along with their house payment.

But what about trials? How one endures a trial, it has been my experience, depends on his view of eternity. Does he endue it from the perspective of "you only got one life to live" or from the perspective "I consider the sufferings of this life not worthy to be compared."? The former will leave his wife when the going gets tough, lie to his boss if "necessary" to get out of a jam, and spend everything he makes on bigger, better and more for this life. Trials will be especially difficult, and they will be handled poorly.

It has been my conclusion that our affluence has given us the idea that we actually can experience heaven now. I love your published quote by, I think it was Matthew Henry, about money. In an affluent society where the poor are rich, holding what we have has removed us from the propagation of the gospel for fear of, among many other things, losing our jobs. (it terrifies me that I have myself kept my mouth shut for that very reason)

Pastors are not absolved from this fear either. One of your "looking backs" has a quote by Martin Lloyd-Jones on sin. I think one of the reasons that many pastors are shying away from to much "sin" talk is that they also fear loss of income, which would diminish their comfort, and thus heaveness, in this life.

This is not an accusation of any one, but more an admission of my own personal struggles as I attempt to think more eternally. Have I completely missed the point of your post?

Kenny Anderson said...

Dan, very good point and question you bring up. I think I will do a post today or tomorrow, God-willing, that will hopefully answer your question. I've been wanting to be able to articulate this topic for a while now so its about time I try.

Dan said...

Thank you for responding to my question.