Living in the Hope of Heaven
Revelation 21 and the New Earth

By Nathan Bierma

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had
passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and
he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be
their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning
or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21: 1-4

My thesis in this book is very simple, but, in my experience, very far-reaching: We don't hope for heaven,
we should, and we can. The problem is the imagery of heaven that dominates our minds: floating around on
clouds, playing harps, and chanting hymns. This might seem like a nice vacation, but it's hard to hope for as
an eternal existence, especially when it all remains such a mystery. The message of Revelation 21 is that
heaven will not be airy and detached, but rather a very earthly resolution of this current era. Heaven will be
on earth, this earth. more...
The doctrine of the new earth is important for a proper grasp of the full dimensions of Godís redemptive program. The work
of Christ is not just to save certain individuals, not even to save an innumerable throng of blood-bought people. The total
work of Christ is nothing less than to redeem this entire creation from the effects of sin. That purpose will not be accomplished until God has ushered in the new earth, until Paradise Lost has become Paradise Regained. We need a clear understanding
of the doctrine of the new earth, therefore, in order to see Godís redemptive program in cosmic dimensions. We need to
realize that God will not be satisfied until the entire universe has been purged of all the results of manís fall.
- Anthony Hoekema, The Bible And The Future
The Christian life is directed toward a City, a place in which God's redemptive purpose for his creation will be realized. If we think of the future life as a disembodied existence in an ethereal realm - which is not, I have suggested, our ultimate goal - then it is difficult to think of our present cultural affairs as in any sense a positive preparation for heavenly existence. But if we think of the future life in terms of inhabiting a Heavenly City, we have grounds for looking for some patterns of continuity between our present lives and the life to come. The Bible, I think, encourages us to think in these terms.
- Richard Mouw, When The Kings Come Marching In

The first step, as I see it, to having daily, meaningful hope for heaven is to expunge those images of clouds and harps from our minds, and instead think of heaven on earth, to have that be our new frame of reference. That's why I want this beautiful picture of the earth (from NASA) to appear on the cover of the book - to visually connect the ideas of heaven and the New Earth.

Finally, though, I will conclude that to hope for heaven is a six-step process. We must realize the gap between what creation is and what it was meant to be, lament that gap, realize that the Cross began to close that gap in every way, to take steps to close the gap ourselves in every way, to be frustrated by our inability to do so to any major degree, and to let this spawn a longing for God to close the gap for good, at the end of time, on the New Earth. The trick is, I think true hope is all six of these things at the same time, all the time, every day.

Chapter 1: Hope in Crisis
Chapter 2: Bringing Heaven Back Down To Earth: The New Earth
Chapter 3: Sword-Whacking: The New City
Chapter 4: God With Us
Chapter 5: Living in the Hope of Heaven

Chapter-by-Chapter Overview

Excerpt: Chapter 1, Essay Two

Excerpt: Chapter 1, Essay Six

This book is still in progress. I will post more selected chapters as they are completed, along with any more news regarding publication. Please e-mail me with questions and suggestions. Finally, let's all keep each other accountable in our hope for heaven, listening for that awesome final trumpet.

Last updated 3/26/01.

©  Copyright 2001 Nathan Bierma