What will new creation be like when it finally comes? One thing is clear. When the Scriptures speak of this event, they rarely speak of an exclusively future occurrence. When the Bible speaks of new creation, it usually speaks of something that has already been inaugurated. The startling message of the New Testament is that new creation broke into this old world on the day when Jesus sat up inside a borrowed tomb, wiped the sleep of death from his eyes, and walked confidently into the morning sun. God’s new creation started with the incarnation and, especially, the resurrection. And since Scripture starts there, perhaps we should follow suit.
The new creation message of the Bible is this: what God did for Jesus physically (raising him to eternal life on the third day) God has begun, and will complete, for us as well. Paul says it this way: while we were dead in our sins, God made us alive in Christ (see Colossians 2:13). In other words, while we were spiritually deceased, God raised us to new life in Jesus (see Colossians 3:1). We were walking corpses and God made us alive in the Messiah. And the good news is that our spiritual renewal has implications for the physical world as well. Salvation isn’t just about beaming our immortal souls to heaven.
To be sure, “heaven” is a real way of speaking about those who have gone to be with Christ upon their death. As Paul puts it, to be absent from our earthly body is to be present with the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:8). And as Jesus tells the repentant thief on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). So this spiritual existence in heaven is a promise for Christians after death. It’s real. As Christ’s followers, we go to heaven when we die.
Even so, God’s final chapter is even better than this. That’s because God’s ultimate plan is not about getting your ghost to the Great Beyond so you can sit on a cloud and drink (non-alcoholic?) mojitos. God’s final salvation is about renewing the entire physical cosmos as we know it. It involves a bodily resurrection (just like that of Jesus), and as the New Testament hints, aspects of that final resurrection have already begun. In a letter to the church in Corinth Paul says it this way: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
This video and article are an except from Long Story Short: The Bible in Six Simple Movements by Josh McNall. The study is perfect for: 1) Newcomers classes 2) College or Young Adult Ministry 3) Home groups 4) Neighborhood Bible studies 5) Sunday School. As you walk through this book, you will: Learn the big story of Scripture as a seamless whole; engage with a highly readable book; be challenged to think about familiar stories of the Bible in fresh ways. | “Joshua McNall in his engaging and witty little book Long Story Short, can help you understand the storied world in and of the Bible, and perhaps more importantly help you understand how actually you are in the story, and you must embrace it as yours.” (Dr. Ben Witherington III) Get the book + DVD or streaming from our store here.