Sunday, 13 October 2013

"Yes, but"....

"And you, Lord, in the beginning, laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the work of your hands. They shall perish, but you remain. They shall wax old, as a garment, and you shall fold them up, but you shall remain unchanged, for your days shall never cease". Hebrews 1:10-12.

There are clearly many Christians who have a problem with all this talk of a 'new creation' -  the view that earth will one day be heaven - and when we read passages like the one above, it's not hard to see why. Surely, they reason, particularly in the light of this and passages like Hebrews 11:13-16, we are going elsewhere, and to focus on this realm is to become earthly minded, which isn't of great eternal value.

The answer, of course, is that there's a partial truth here.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul re-visits the issue of the life that is coming. He tells us that this current 'tent' (body) we inhabit will be destroyed, but that this is not the end of the physical - yes, those who are Christ's and who die go to be 'present with the Lord' (vs 8), but the ultimate hope for the believer is the 'clothing' of a new, heaven made 'house' - a physical body that will last forever (verses 2 & 3).

What is true of us is also true of creation as a whole.

In Acts chapter 3, following the miracle healing of a crippled man, Peter proclaims to those in the temple that Christ was crucified and raised so that they might repent and be renewed (redeemed) before the day comes when He will bring about the complete restoration of all things (vs 21) - so even judgement is merely a pre-cursor to the beginning of that momentous event.

So, let's go back to Hebrews.
The Amplified bible notes the true nature of what is being expressed here when it translates verse 12 of chapter 1, regarding the future of the heavens and the earth, "they will be changed and replaced".  In other words, the same change which happens to us, a death to the old (corruption) and a raising to the new (redemption) is common to all material things, but this brings renewal, not termination, to what God has made.

The men of faith, then, were indeed pilgrims in this life, because they looked to something far more substantial than the present temporary powers and structures to sustain and endure - they were truly mindful that from that other country, where we are given eternal citizenship, is coming a new city - the one John tells us will come from heaven to a renewed earth, where humanity will dwell at peace with God and each other without sin, sickness, sorrow or death - where all that is good shall be enjoyed through the astonishing and marvelous love of God, made ours in His beloved Son (Revelation 21:1-5).

Eternal life is not 'going up' to some pie in the sky 'otherness', where none of what has been bestowed upon us will amount to anything. True life is what we now see as good and true and pure amplified and magnified into its full potential.

So the next time someone starts talking to you about eternity on some distant shore, ask them why the Bible so clearly talks about that life as being something entirely tangible - the substance of what we all truly hope for... the return to the garden, but a garden, now, perfectly  transformed into the living city of God (Revelation 5:8-10).

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