Additions and Revisions in the Heaven Book at the 10th Printing
Randy decided that though the term "intermediate Heaven" is used by theologians, many people are confused by it. They think it means "some place between Heaven and Hell," when it really means "between now and the resurrection." It speaks of the present Heaven, that is, Heaven as it is right now and will be until the resurrection. So Randy believes "present Heaven" causes less confusion.
Special note: These revisions are found in the 10th printing of the book. If you have a revised copy, you will know because section 2 of the Contents will read "Understanding the Present Heaven" instead of "Understanding the Intermediate Heaven."
Chapter 5, Distinguishing the Present and Future Heavens, end of 6th paragraph, add:
Simply put, though the present Heaven is "up there," the future, eternal Heaven will be "down here." If we fail to see that distinction, we fail to understand God's plan and are unable to envision what our eternal lives will look like.
Chapter 9, God's Earthly Renewal Plan, after 4th paragraph, insert:
In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,, C. S. Lewis portrays the White Witch, who parallels the devil, as having a hold on Narnia that makes that world "always winter, but never Christmas." Those loyal to Aslan, though they've never seen him, eagerly await his appearing, for only he can make the world right again by assuming his role as rightful king. (First, however, he will shed his redemptive blood on the Stone Table.)
It's not only the individuals of Narnia who need Aslan to come, it is the entire world of Narnia. Similarly, Scripture tells us, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8).
Notice Aslan's intention. He is the king, the son of the great Emperor beyond the Sea. Yet he delegates the responsibility of ruling the world to sons of Adam and daughters of Eve: Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy. They are the rulers of Narnia. Likewise, God intends for us, sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, to be rulers of his New Earth, which he powerfully delivers from its always-winter-never-Christmas curse.
Chapter 9, The New Earth is the Old Earth Restored, insert new paragraph after 2nd paragraph:
Luke tells the story of the prophetess Anna, a woman in her eighties, who worshiped at the Temple night and day, fasting and praying. Upon seeing the baby Jesus, she immediately approached Mary and Joseph and "gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:36-38).
Notice Luke's exact wording. What were God's people looking forward to? Redemption. Their own redemption? Of course. But it was much more than that. It was the redemption of not only themselves, but also their families and community and even their city, Jerusalem. And the redemption of Jerusalem would also be the redemption of Israel. As the entire world was promised blessing through Abraham, the redemption of Jerusalem and Israel speaks of the redemption of the Earth itself.
And who would be the agent of that redemption? Jesus, this child, the Messiah who would become King not only of redeemed individuals, but also King of a redeemed Jerusalem, and King of a redeemed Earth. This is the gospel of the Kingdom. Anything less is a narrow view of God's redemptive plan.
Chapter 9, Redemption = Return, after 4th paragraph, insert this:
Most scholars agree that the point of this passage is not that Christ will someday cease to reign, but that his reign will continue until and after his enemies are conquered and judged. (When a prince handed over to his father a kingdom he had conquered, it was common for the king to entrust rulership of that kingdom back to his son.)
Christ's mission is both to redeem what was lost in the Fall and to destroy all competitors to God's dominion, authority, and power. When everything is put under his feet, when God rules all and mankind rules the Earth as kings under Christ, the King of kings, at last all will be as God intends. The period of rebellion will be over forever, and the universe, and all who serve Christ, will participate in the Master's joy!
Chapter 10, changed "Second Adam" to "Last Adam"
Chapter 10, The Last Adam Defeats Satan, after 6th paragraph, insert:
Note that it says Christ came not to destroy the world he created, but to destroy the works of the devil, which were to twist and pervert and ruin what God had made. Redemption will forever destroy the devil's work by removing its hold on creation, and reversing its consequences. It is Satan's desire to destroy the world. God's intent is not to destroy the world but to deliver it from destruction. His plan is to redeem this fallen world, which he designed for greatness.
Chapter 11, add these two sections after "Christ's Resurrected Life is the Model for Ours"
THE GLORIFIED CHRIST
The Lord Jesus Christ . . . will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21)
We've established that Christ's resurrected body, before his ascension, was quite normal in appearance. But what is Christ's "glorious body" like? We are given a picture on the Mount of Transfiguration: "There he was transfigured before them. His face shown like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light" (Matthew 17:2). The Transfiguration appears to have given us a preview of Christ's glorified body.
John describes the glorified Christ he saw in the present Heaven:
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." (Revelation 1:12-18)
Now, in comparison to both Matthew 17 and Revelation 1, it appears that the risen Christ, before his ascension, was not yet fully glorified. If he would have been glorified, surely his identity would have been immediately apparent to Mary Magdalene (John 20:14), the disciples on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:15-16), and Peter and the apostles when they saw him on the shore (John 21:4).
Consider one of the apostle Paul's reports of encountering the glorified Christ on the road to Damascus: "A great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' And I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' And he said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me . . . I could not see because of the brightness of that light" (Acts 22:6-11, ESV).
It appears that Paul's unredeemed eyes were not yet ready to behold the glorified Christ. This is in contrast to Stephen, who saw the glorified Christ at God's right hand, but apparently was not blinded: "But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God' " (Acts 7:55-56).
Certainly, the glorified Christ will be by far the most glorious being in Heaven. Yet, as we will see, Scripture indicates that we too, in a secondary and derivative way, will reflect God's glory in physical brightness.
Scripture speaks of the likeness of Adam and the likeness of Christ, making some distinction between them: "And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven" (1 Corinthians 15:49). Christ will remain a man, but his deity that was once veiled in his humanity will shine through it. Because of the Fall and the Curse, we have never been or seen human beings who are fully functional as God's image-bearers, conveying the brightness and majesty of his being. But that day is coming. Christ, the God-man, the new head of our human race, will be the ultimate image-bearer, fully conveying the brightness and majesty of the Almighty.
Note, however, that the difference between Adam and Christ, which Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, is not that one was a physical being and the other wasn't. It was that Adam was under sin and the Curse, and Christ was untouched by sin and the Curse. Jesus was and is a human being, "in every respect like us" (Hebrews 2:17, NLT), except with respect to sin. So although we should recognize that our resurrection bodies will be glorious in ways that our current bodies are not, we should also realize that those bodies will continue to be—in both the same and in greater ways—the functional physical bodies that God designed for us from the beginning.
OF THE DUST OF THE EARTH
After reading the first printing of this book, one Bible teacher expressed his disagreement with my belief that there will be a fundamental continuity between our present bodies and our resurrection bodies. His understanding is that our resurrection bodies will not be Earthly, as our present bodies are. He believes they will not contain DNA or any genetic or physical ties to our current bodies.
In support of his position, he cited 1 Corinthians 15:47-48, which says, "The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven."
Paul's point here, I believe, is not that Christ's body wasn't "of dust" but that Adam's was. Indeed, if Christ's body wasn't "of dust," if he had no genetic relationship with Adam, then he would not be fully human, and he would not be Messiah, the Son of Man. He is—not merely was, but is—a descendant of Adam. He is the last Adam, not a non-Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).
When viewed in context, "dust of the earth" seems to refer to more than the first man's origin, and at points appears to be associated with mortality and corruption. The man of dust, who was human only, succumbed to temptation; the man from Heaven, who is both human and divine, could not and did not.
Can one be "of dust" yet not under sin and death? Yes. Adam was, until the Fall. But he was subject to temptation, with the potential to succumb, whereas one day, when fully redeemed, human beings will not be.
Christ, as the last Adam, is certainly more than Adam, and far greater than Adam, for he came from Heaven. But he did in fact become a man, and was therefore of the Earth. God originally made man from the Earth. That is intrinsic to humanity, and Christ is fully human.
Christ's resurrection and glorification did not negate his genetic tie to his ancestors. They do not mean he is no longer a Jew, no longer of Abraham's seed, or no longer fully human. He who is tied to the Earth in terms of his humanity will rule the Earth for eternity.
Christ is and will forever remain both God (from Heaven) and man (of Earth).
I will grant that if 1 Corinthians 15:47 were the only verse we had, then it could be legitimately interpreted as saying our resurrection bodies won't be physical or organically related to our current bodies. But it is not the only passage we have, and the other passages simply do not allow us to conclude that Christ's resurrection body did not have actual physical continuity to the old, and was in that sense "not of dust." Surely the risen and glorified Christ remains a descendant of Adam, Abraham, and David. Indeed, it is difficult to understand how he could hold to his claim to Messiahship if this were not the case.
The nail prints in Christ's hands and feet are the strongest possible affirmation that the same earthly body that was crucified is now the same heavenly body that was raised. "It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Luke 24:39).
"Heavenly" transcends "earthly" but does not negate it. The earthly becomes heavenly, not losing its original properties but gaining much more. (It loses the properties that came with the Curse, of course, but those were not its original properties.)
In 1 Corinthians 15, the Resurrection is repeatedly depicted as overcoming the Curse. Our bodies in their present condition are referred to as perishable, corrupted, dishonorable, and weak in relationship to the death which results in burial. The passage culminates in verses 51-57, which speak of the sounding of the last trumpet, at which time the perishable will put on the imperishable, and the mortal will put on immortality. Then death will be swallowed up in victory. Its sting will be forever removed. Why? Because sin will be removed ("the sting of death is sin").
This great passage about bodily resurrection does not simply focus on a new state and a new life, but also on the reversal of the Curse, and the conquest of sin and death. With all its allusions to what is new, it is nonetheless a passage of restoration of the old. It introduces glorious newness—but before anything else, it conquers all that sin and death and the Curse bring to humanity, human relationships and activities (including culture), and the Earth itself. God will restore us and the Earth to what he made us to be. Then, in resurrection and glorification, he will take what was and make it far greater yet.
Chapter 11, The Promise of Imperishable Bodies, insert this after paragraph 5:
One Bible student told me that he couldn't believe that the risen Christ might have DNA. But why not? Who created DNA in the first place? Christ explicitly said that his body was of flesh and bones. Flesh and bones have DNA. There is no reason to believe that his new body doesn't. Is Christ a former descendant of Abraham and David, or is the glorified Christ in Heaven still their descendant? I believe his claim to rulership in the Millennium and on the New Earth depends in part on the fact that he remains, and will always remain, an actual, physical descendant of Abraham and David.
Chapter 11, The Promise of Imperishable Bodies, insert this after paragraph 6 (that ends with "truly flesh and blood":
Scripture portrays resurrection as involving both fundamental continuity and significant dissimilarity. We dare not minimize the dissimilarities—for our glorification will certainly involve a dramatic and marvelous transformation. But, in my experience, the great majority of Christians have underemphasized continuity. They end up thinking of our transformed selves as no longer being ourselves, and the transformed Earth as no longer being the Earth. In some cases, they view the glorified Christ as no longer being the same Jesus who walked the Earth—a belief that early Christians recognized as heresy.
Chapter 14, The Promised New World, after paragraph 7, (before paragraph starting with "The New Earth . . . , insert:
Throughout church history, some Bible students have believed that the thousand-year kingdom spoken of in Revelation 20 is literal. Others believe it is figurative. I cannot resolve that debate. My point here is not to say that Isaiah 60 and 65 don't refer to a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on the old Earth. Rather, I am saying that they do refer to the eternal reign of Christ on the New Earth.
It is common for prophetic statements to have partial fulfillment in one era and complete fulfillment in another. It may be that these passages will have a partial and initial fulfillment in a literal millennium, explaining why the passages contain a few allusions to death, which is incompatible with the New Earth. But, in context, these prophecies go far beyond a temporary kingdom on an Earth that is still infected by sin, curse, and death, and that ends with judgment and destruction. They speak of an eternal kingdom, a messianic reign over a renewed Earth that lasts forever, on which sin, curse, and death have no place at all.
Chapter 16, Familiarity of Home, last paragraph, after (billions of them, throughout the universe), replace last two sentences with:
He's also an expert at repairing what has been damaged—whether people or worlds. He does not consider his creation disposable. This damaged creation cries out to be repaired, and it is his plan to repair it. He's going to remodel the old Earth on a grand scale. How great will be the resurrected planet that he calls the New Earth—the one he says will be our home . . . and his.
Chapter 17, Seeing God in Everything Good, add this section at the beginning:
They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life. (Psalm 36:8-9)
This passage portrays the joy that God's creatures find in feasting on Heaven's abundance, and drinking deeply of his delights. Notice that this abundance and the river of delights flow from and are completely dependent on their source: God. He alone is the fountain of life, and without him there could be neither life nor joy, neither abundance nor delights.
Chapter 18, added question below before "Will God Serve Us?"
HOW CAN MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ALL BE WITH JESUS
AND RECEIVE PERSONAL ATTENTION?
After the first edition of this book, this question was one of the most frequently asked. It's worth considering.
Though it's possible we may cover vast distances at immense speeds in God's new universe, I don't believe we'll be capable of being two places at once. Why? Because we'll still be finite. Only God is infinite.
Because the resurrected Christ is both man and God, the issue of whether he can be in more than one place at the same time involves a paradox not only in the future, but also in the present.
On the one hand, Jesus is a man, and man is finite and limited to one location. On the other hand, Jesus is God, and God is infinite and omnipresent. In a sense, then, one of these truths has to yield somewhat to the other. I suggest that perhaps Christ's humanity defined the extent of his presence in his first coming and life on Earth (humanity thereby trumping deity by limiting omnipresence). But Christ's deity may well define the extent of his presence in his second coming and life on the New Earth (deity thereby trumping the normal human inability to be in two places at once). Jesus has and always will have a single resurrected body, in keeping with his humanity. Yet that body glorified may allow him a far greater expression of his divine attributes than during his life and ministry here on Earth.
Since we can accurately say that Jesus' functioning as a man does not prohibit him from being God, we must also say that Jesus' functioning as God does not prohibit him from being a man. So, although we cannot conceive exactly how it could happen, I believe it's entirely possible that Jesus could in the future remain a man while fully exercising the attributes of God, including, at least in some sense, omnipresence.
Don't we already see that now? Where is Christ? At the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). Just before dying, Stephen saw him there (Acts 7:55). Jesus will remain there until he returns to the Earth. In terms of his human body, Christ is in one location, and only one.
But despite his fixed location at God's right hand, Jesus is here now, with each of us, just as he promised to be (Matthew 28:20). He dwells in our hearts, living within us (Ephesians 3:17; Galatians 2:20). If even now, in this sin-stained world, he indwells those who are saints and yet sinners, how much more will he be able to indwell us in the world to come when no sin shall separate us from him? That indwelling will in no way be obscured by sin.
On the New Earth, isn't it likely we might regularly hear him speak to us directly as he dwells in and with us, wherever we are? Prayer might be an unhindered two-way conversation, whether we are hundreds of miles away in another part of the New Jerusalem, thousands of miles away on another part of the New Earth, or thousands of light years away in the new universe.
Consider the promise that when Christ returns "every eye will see him" (Revelation 1:7). How is that physically possible? By the projection of his image? But every eye will see him, not merely his image. Will he be in more than one place at one time?
If God took on human form any number of times, as recorded in Scripture, couldn't Christ choose to take on a form to manifest himself to us at a distant place? If he did that, might he not take on a temporary form very similar in appearance to his actual physical form, which may at that moment be sitting on the throne in the New Jerusalem? Might Jesus appear to us and walk with us in a temporary but tangible form that is an expression of his real body? Or might the one body of Jesus be simultaneously present with his people in a million places?
Might we walk with Jesus (not just spiritually, but also physically) while millions of others are also walking with him? Might we not be able to touch his hand or embrace him or spend a long afternoon privately conversing with him—not just with his spirit, but his whole person?
It may defy our logic, but God is capable of doing far more than we imagine. Being with Christ is the very heart of Heaven, so we should be confident that we will have unhindered access to him.
Chapter 21, 1st section, after 5th paragraph (before "Rejoice greatly . . .", insert:
Because Christ will be the King of kings, this will be the Kingdom of kingdoms—the greatest kingdom in human history. Yes, human history, for our history will not end at Christ's return or upon our relocation to the New Earth. It will continue forever, to the glory of God.
Chapter 21, Should We Want to Rule?, add as last several paragraphs, replacing "On the New Earth, we'll do . . ." with:
Of course, not all positions of responsibility over others involve people. Adam and Eve governed animals before there were any other people. Some of us may be granted the privilege of caring for animals. (My wife would love that, especially being responsible for dogs!) Perhaps some will care for forests. Ruling will likely involve the management of all of God's creation, not just people.
Perhaps God will offer us choices of where we might want to serve him. On the New Earth, we'll do what we want, but we'll want what God wants, and that will bring us our greatest joy.
Some of the most qualified people to lead in Heaven will be those who don't want to lead now. Some who are natural leaders here but have not been faithful will not be leaders in Heaven. Remember, it's not the proud and confident who will inherit the Earth and rule it; it's the meek (Matthew 5:5). And even the meek will be stripped of their wrong motives and the temptation to exploit others. We'll have no more skepticism and disillusionment about government. Why? Because we'll be governed by Christlike rulers, and all of us will be under the grand and gracious government of Christ himself.
Chapter 21, Whose Idea is our Rulership?, before last paragraph, add:
This is an astounding statement, one that should cause us to pause in wonder. Christ is conferring to us a kingdom? A kingdom? To us?
Chapter 27, Will There Be Oceans?, add this to end of 3rd paragraph:
Of course, God created the seas (Genesis 1:9-10). Like everything else he made, they were very good (Genesis 1:31). But the Curse had a devastating effect on creation. The seas as we now know them are deadly to human consumption. God's originally created seas surely wouldn't have poisoned people if they drank from them. It seems likely that the Curse resulted in the contamination of the oceans, as well as the threat to human life from floods, tidal waves, and tsunamis.
Chapter 29, Will Our Bodies Shine, replace 3rd paragraph with the following (to A. B. Caneday):
Some people have asked me if our resurrected bodies will shine. They cite two passages: "The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43) and "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:3, NASB).
On the one hand, Jesus didn't have a halo after his resurrection, and there's no reason to believe we will either. Christ's body appeared so earthly and normal that the disciples on the road to Emmaus didn't notice he was the resurrected Lord (Luke 24:13-24). However, at this point he was not yet glorified.
During Christ's transfiguration, his clothing "became as bright as a flash of lightning" (Luke 9:29). Since this portrays Christ as King, it makes sense to think he will literally shine in his kingdom on the New Earth. John says of the city, "the Lamb is its lamp" (Revelation 22:23). As noted earlier, John saw Christ in the present Heaven as a powerful shining being, not someone who would blend into a crowd (Revelation 1:12-18). Moses and Elijah, who joined Christ on the mountain, "appeared in glorious splendor" (Luke 9:31). After Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on the mountain, Moses' face shone (Exodus 34:29-30).
Many believe these descriptors are figures of speech. Yet in some cases (including Moses') it was clearly literal. Since God himself is consistently portrayed as existing in brilliant light, it shouldn't surprise us to think that in his presence we too will partake of his brightness. I believe that as resurrected beings, we will indeed bear this physical evidence of being God's image-bearers and living in God's presence. To be glorified appears to mean that, among other things, we may literally shine.
If this seems hard to imagine, think of a person with drab, grayish, malnourished skin, and then imagine the same person as vibrant and healthy. Couldn't you say the person shines? Have you heard it said of someone "she's radiant"? I've met people so full of Jesus that they seem to have a physical brightness. If God himself is bright, then it seems appropriate that we, his image-bearers, will reflect his brightness. Now, moving beyond that analogy of our present condition, imagine people in the very presence of God, who are so righteous, so beautiful, so devoid of sin and darkness, so permeated by the very righteousness of God, that they have a literal physical radiance. That's not so hard to imagine, is it?
Chapter 29, add this at end of 4th paragraph, after "(Revelation 19:13).
Just as Jesus wore clothes after his resurrection on the old Earth, he wears them now in the present Heaven, and will presumably wear them on the New Earth.
Chapter 30, Will We Literally Eat and Drink, after 6th paragraph, add this section, (after paragraph ending with "we'll be the bride!):
Part of the conclusive evidence for the true physical resurrection of Christ is the fact that he ate and drank with his disciples:
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. (Luke 24:40-43)
God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. (Acts 10:40-41)
Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught . . . Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished eating…(John 21:10-15)
These passages emphatically link eating and drinking to the resurrected state. The fact that it's so often repeated means it's not viewed as incidental. Scripture goes out of its way to prevent us from embracing the very misconceptions so many of us have: that life in Heaven will be "spiritual," not physical, and that we will not partake of any of the basic pleasures of this life.
Chapter 31, Can We Know We Won't Sin?, after 5th paragraph, before "Hebrews 9:26 . . .", add this paragraph:
That evil will have no footing in Heaven and no leverage to affect us is further indicated by Jesus when he says, "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace . . . . Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:41-43, emphasis added).
Chapter 34, What Did Paul Say About Reunion in Heaven?, end of section, add these paragraphs:
In Philippians 1, Paul speaks with unapologetic affection to his brothers in Christ, describing himself as longing for them. Note that he clearly sees no incompatibility between his Christ-centered desire to be with Jesus (1:21) and his Christ-centered love for others:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)
Paul's delight in his brothers in Christ reminds us that the first and second greatest commands are inseparable: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart . . . and love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). And if you love your neighbor as yourself, how much more your family, which derives its identity from God himself?
As if anticipating that someone might object by saying, "But God is the only one we should find joy in and long for," Paul continues his thought in the following verses:
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:7-8)
Note the source of Paul's deep longing and affection for his brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus himself. Though it is possible to put people over God (which is idolatry), it is also possible, while putting God over people, to find in people a wonderful expression of God himself, so great that it is completely appropriate for us to have them in our hearts, to find joy in them, and long to be with them.
Such sentiments are not idolatry, and it is not wrong to have them. In fact, something is wrong if we do not have them. For finding joy in God and longing for God does not kill our joy in and longing for others. Rather, it fuels it. The joy and longing we have for other people is directly derived from our joy in and longing for God.
Chapter 36, If Our Loved Ones are in Hell, Won't That Spoil Heaven?, after 8th paragraph (ending in "the whole world", add this paragraph:
We'll also understand the truth revealed in 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." We will marvel at the patience God showed us and all of our loved ones, and how he long withheld our due judgment to give us opportunity to repent.
Chapter 38, What Languages Will We Speak?, after 9th paragraph (ending in "suspicion, and hostility"., add this paragraph:
Some argue from the Babel account that the existence of a variety of nations and languages is an aberration of God's ideal. Therefore, they conclude, it makes no sense that there would be more than one nation on the New Earth. But this perspective fails to take into account God's ability to accomplish his purposes even through human rebellion. It is God (not human sin or a curse) who is given credit for the making of nations: "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live" (Acts 17:26). Even if it defies our logic (though in my opinion it shouldn't), Scripture is explicit about the fact that there will be different nations, and kings of those nations, on the New Earth (Revelation 21:24-26). Whether they will speak different languages is a matter of opinion, but the existence of different nations is directly revealed
Chapter 40, How Closely are Animals Tied to our Resurrection?, add this as the third paragraph:
This is a clear statement that our resurrection, the redemption of our bodies, will bring deliverance not only to us but also to the rest of creation, which has been groaning in its suffering. This seems to indicate that on the New Earth, after mankind's resurrection, animals who once suffered on the old Earth will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay
Chapter 40, Will Extinct Animals Live on the New Earth?, add this paragraph after first paragraph:
It's apparent that the Curse that fell on the Earth resulted in some species dying out. But God promises, "No longer will there be any curse" (Revelation 22:3). And because it seems that the Curse will not merely be nullified but reversed, it seems likely that God might restore extinct animals and plants on the New Earth.
Chapter 44, What Will Travel Be Like?, add this as second paragraph:
Philip, after he met with the Ethiopian, was "snatched away" by God's Spirit and found himself at Azotus (Acts 8:25-40). Philip didn't snatch himself away, but perhaps he experienced a foretaste of what a Spirit-empowered person with a resurrection body might do. Since we will rule with Christ over a vast New Earth, and possibly over faraway places in the new heavens, it seems likely that we might be able to be instantly transported great distances.
Perhaps we might be able to be directly in the presence of Christ, worshiping him before his throne in the New Jerusalem, then go off to our duties far away, only to come back to him regularly. Perhaps we will be able to travel to the far ends of the New Earth, or even to the remote parts of the new universe, in the blink of an eye.