God’s Promise of the New Earth Gives Us Hope and Perspective in Loss

The Promise of the New EarthLast month, I was on Dr. Lee Warren’s podcast to talk about the eternal Heaven, my new book The Promise of the New Earth, and how an eternal perspective has shaped the grief I’ve experienced since Nanci went to be with Jesus last March.

Dr. Warren is a brain surgeon, inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know. I’ve been on his podcast before to talk about my book Happiness, and he was one of the most thoughtful interviewers I’ve ever interacted with. (And we share a love for dogs!) 

Here's our conversation:

I was happy to talk with Lee about the New Earth because it is rarely spoken of in churches. While all Christians believe in Heaven, they envision the present pre-resurrection Heaven as the ultimate and eternal Heaven, but biblically it clearly is not. God’s plan for the eternal Heaven is a resurrected Earth, inhabited by resurrected people, doing physical activities. Not only is this the emphatic biblical teaching, it is also wonderfully good news to all who have imagined Heaven to be dull, boring, and unearthly, with nothing to do but sing or strum harps, nowhere to go and no one to see because human relationships will either no longer exist or no longer matter.

That disembodied existence is a Greek concept that Plato popularized, and it is utterly contradicted by 1 Corinthians 15 and other passages, including Luke 24 where Jesus says, “Touch me, I am not a spirit, for a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bones as I do.” We’re told our resurrection bodies will be like Christ’s and that means they will have flesh and bones. Scripture teaches no more sin and no more suffering and sorrow. It does NOT teach no more bodies and no more Earth; rather, the exact opposite—eternal bodies on an eternal earth!

I received an email from a woman who is a Bible student and has been listening to sermons for 40 years, but had never once heard a pastor or anyone else (except Jehovah’s Witnesses) talk about the New Earth. People believe in the resurrection but have no concept of what that really means because we don’t teach them. I think the Devil has vested interests in obscuring this doctrine because he doesn’t want people to look forward to being with Christ, believing it means the end of all the things they enjoy about earthly living. We should look forward not to a non-earth but a New Earth, a Redeemed Earth!

One of our staff shared this note from a pastor they saw online: “I appreciate Randy Alcorn for many things, but I have to admit that his book on Heaven was very disappointing when I read it five years ago. His view of Heaven is very earthly, just a better version of what we have now. I can’t get behind that.”

Of course, people are entitled to not like any book, and I always welcome criticism of my books. But this comment does really make me smile, with deep irony, because so many believers just don’t get it. Like “earthly,” as in the garden of Eden, before sin, was NOT God’s plan?!?! And Earth and bodies and human creativity and culture were Satan’s idea instead of God’s? And earthly, as in resurrected physical bodies on a New Earth is anti–Bible instead of exactly what the Bible promises?

If we’re honest, we all long for a return to Paradise—a perfect world, without the corruption of sin, where God walks with us and talks with us in the cool of the day. Because we’re human beings, we desire something tangible and physical, something that will not fade away. And that is exactly what God promises us—a home that will not be destroyed, a kingdom that will not fade, a city with unshakable foundations, an incorruptible inheritance.

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

Photo: Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries