Why Do You Write About Heaven as a Future Reality, When the Lord’s Prayer Suggests Heaven on Earth Is a Possibility?

Question from a reader:

Years ago, I found reading your book about Heaven fascinating. Yet, over time, the verb “will” has stumped my reading. Why do you speak of all about Heaven as a thing in the future, when in fact, the Lord’s Prayer suggests that “as in Heaven so on Earth” is a possibility right here right now—if—we, His creation, cooperate with the will of God?

Answer from Stephanie Anderson, EPM staff:

I’m responding on Randy’s behalf. So glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed reading the Heaven book.

Randy writes in that book: “God’s new center of government will be the New Earth. This will be the ultimate answer to the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10, KJV). God’s will shall be done on the New Earth as it now is in Heaven. Indeed, the New Earth shall be a part of Heaven, for the veil between the worlds, first torn apart by the Cross and Christ’s resurrection, will be permanently removed. There will be no barrier between Earth and Heaven, or between mankind and God.”

But the clear reality is that this earth, as it is now, is not Heaven. (I think of wars going on around the world, and the death of Randy’s wife Nanci.) So many hurting hearts, in such a broken, pain-filled world.

Randy writes in his book If God Is Good:

I’ve heard people say, “God’s will cannot be thwarted.” If by “God’s will” we mean his ultimate, decreed purpose, then yes, that is true, since Ephesians 1:11 says that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

But if we mean that God’s moral laws and stated desires cannot be violated, that is clearly wrong. Wherever evil exists, we see a violation of God’s moral will. The prayer “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, KJV) assumes that God’s will often is not presently done on Earth.

And so we long (even groan, along with creation, see Romans 8:22-23) for Christ’s return and a better world, a world without sin and decay and suffering and death. “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

As Randy likes to say, we are living in the already-but-not-yet time: “Christ has already defeated Satan, but the full scope of his victory has not yet been manifested on Earth. At Christ’s ascension, God ‘seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything’ (Ephesians 1:20-22). These words are all-inclusive, and they are past tense, not future. Christ rules the universe. And yet it is only upon Christ’s physical return to the earth that Satan will be bound. This is the ‘already and not yet’ paradox that characterizes life on the present earth.”

Still, as believers we absolutely have the opportunity and the calling to bring glimpses of that future reality as we serve Jesus, and love Him and others. Randy writes:

Whether it’s coaching a team, mentoring young people, mowing a widow’s lawn, standing up for unborn children, working for racial reconciliation, going on short-term missions trips, or giving a large portion of your income to missions or inner-city work—what are you doing to bring a vision of the coming New Earth to this current, hurting Earth?

The ESV Study Bible provides this commentary on Matthew 6:10:

Christians are called to pray and work for the continual advance of God’s kingdom on earth… The presence of God’s kingdom in this age refers to the reign of Christ in the hearts and lives of believers, and to the reigning presence of Christ in his body, the church—so that they increasingly reflect his love, obey his laws, honor him, do good for all people, and proclaim the good news of the kingdom. The third petition speaks of God’s will. This means God’s ‘revealed will’…which involves conduct that is pleasing to him as revealed in Scripture. Just as God’s will is perfectly experienced in heaven, Jesus prays that it will be experienced on earth. The will of God will be expressed in its fullness only when God’s kingdom comes in its final form, when Christ returns in power and great glory…but it will increasingly be seen in this age as well.

Photo: Pexels

Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.