Tuesday, July 11, 2006

BETTER MICHAEL JORDANS IN "HEAVEN"????

Here's a quick summary of a great article entitled "Heaven:Not Just an Eternal Day Off" by the late Anthony Hoekema, who taught at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Is heaven boring?*

"Life in heaven sounds downright boring, if some descriptions are to be believed. In my boyhood, psalms were sung very slowly in church, and I thought heaven was like that—a place where one sat on hard benches all day long and sang Dutch Psalms. I was not enthralled. Huck Finn thought heaven was a place where a person would "go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and forever." This future life is often seen as an eternal existence without bodies. Also, it is thought of as "above," somewhere off in space, far removed from this earth—an escape, in fact."

Heaven is a tempory existence*

"Are we then to spend eternity in space, disembodied spirits who flit from cloud to cloud, plucking golden harps in an endless day off? We can agree with the element of truth in these teachings: Paul tells us that when he dies he will go to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23), who has now been taken up into heaven (Acts 1:11). And he also says that this state is "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). But, and here is the critical point, this will be a temporary existence—one where we shall eagerly await the resurrection of the body to take place on the last day, at Jesus' second coming.

Ressurection is forever*

"Resurrected bodies are not intended just to float in space, or to flit from cloud to cloud. They call for a new earth on which to live and to work, glorifying God. The doctrine of the resurrection of the body, in fact, makes no sense whatever apart from the doctrine of the new earth."

Renewed and Purified, not Annihilated*

"Hoekema quoting Edward Thurneysen writes, "The world into which we shall enter in the Parousia (2nd coming) of Jesus Christ is therefore not another world; it is this world, this heaven, this earth; both, however, passed away and renewed. It is these forests, these fields, these cities, these streets, these people, that will be the scene of redemption. At present they are battlefields, full of the strife and sorrow of the not-yet-accomplished consummation; then they will be fields of victory, fields of harvest, where out of seed that was sown with tears the everlasting sheaves will be reaped and brought home" (Zwischen den Zeiten, 1931, p. 209)."

Restoration, not the Destruction of "WORK" in the New Heaven and Earth*

"In the resurrection we shall retain our individuality, but in a heightened way. This means that we shall not only still possess the gifts God gave us, but that our potential for exercising these gifts will then be realized to the full—as it never was in this life. Using the analogy between the talents of a child and the fully developed gifts of an adult, Abraham Kuyper suggests that in the life to come we will retain the seeds of our present gifts, but God will then give to what is developed from those seeds a new form that will be in harmony with the everlasting glory of his kingdom (Gemeene Gracie, I, 461)."

"In the beginning man was given the so-called cultural mandate—the command to rule over the earth and to develop a God-glorifying culture. Because of man's fall into sin, that cultural mandate has never been carried out in the way God intended. Only on the new earth will it be perfectly and sinlessly fulfilled. Only then shall we be able to rule the earth properly."

Better Rembrants, Better Raphaels, Better MICHAEL JORDANS???*

"The possibilities that now rise before us boggle the mind. Will there be "better Beethoven" on the new earth, as one author has suggested? Shall we then see better Rembrandts, better Raphaels, better Constables? Shall we read better poetry, better drama, and better prose?"

"Will scientists continue to advance in technological achievement, will geologists continue to dig out the treasures of the earth, and will architects continue to build imposing and attractive structures? Will there be exciting new adventures in space travel? Shall we perhaps be able to explore new Perelandras? We do not know. But we do know that human dominion over nature will then be perfect. Our culture will glorify God in ways that surpass our most fantastic dreams."

Developing and Building the Kingdom, NOW*

This all means a lot for us now. If there is continuity as well as discontinuity between this earth and the new earth, we must work hard to develop our gifts and talents, and to come as close as we can to producing, in the strength of the Spirit, a Christian culture today. Through our kingdom service, the building materials for the new earth are now being gathered. Bibles are being translated, peoples are being evangelized, believers are being renewed, and cultures are being transformed. Only eternity will reveal the full significance of what has been done for Christ here on earth.

*These summary points are mine, and do not appear in the original article.

The full article can be found here:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/122/54.0.html

2 comments:

Ted said...

Hey dan, thanks for stopping by my blog. And thanks for the very helpful article. The video give nearly as much detail.
It's interesting to see your posts on New Perspectives on Paul. I'll be sure to stop by now and then. I hope you and Julia are doing well!

person in the pew said...

I too have long been troubled by the descriptions of Heaven as a place where one just sits around. I love to do things, and the idea of just being idle, or maybe sitting around singing, doesn't seem very pleasant. I love your description of the article, and plan to go read it for myself. I also love C.S.Lewis's description of Heaven as a place where you will continue to do whatever your heart's desire was here on the "old" Earth, only doing it perfectly! I'm not doing his description justice, but it's wonderful image.