A world of life - extract from foundation module: Gospel Living

 

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The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of God’s new world, the beginning of the new age. It is eternal life initiated in history. Jesus is described as “the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:20). His resurrection is the first fruit of God’s new age (1 Corinthians 15:23). Death has given way to life, and Christ’s life is the promise of life after death to all who believe.

God’s new world is not a new creation out of nothing (ex nihilo) as the first creation was; rather it is the renewal of this world. “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation 21:5) Christians do not spend eternity in heaven because heaven comes down to earth: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2) This earth is renewed as the heavenly presence of God comes to earth. God is now among his people and his glory fills the earth: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’” (Revelation 21:3).

The resurrection body of Jesus was both like his pre-death body (it still bore the nail marks), and unlike his pre-death body (he could walk through walls). So it will be with the totality of God’s new creation. It will be this earth, but transformed, renewed and purged from sin. Paul uses the analogy of seeds to describe the relationship between our current bodies and our resurrection bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-44). Apple seeds produce apple trees. There is continuity, as they do not turn into something else. However, apple trees are very different from apple seeds.

We cannot conceive what the new creation will be like. So the Bible often describes it in terms of what it is not like: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).

Death abounds in our world, but life will abound in God’s coming world.

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Beth Butler