God is in the business of restoration and resurrection. His Kingdom will come one day — Satan will be overthrown — but restoration is also happening now on a smaller scale.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5).
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old (Isaiah 43:18).
What Is it Like Now?
What is God going to make new? Everything will be transformed. The world is in a state of natural, political, social, and individual chaos. Floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes cause mass destruction and death.
World powers oppress their own people and threaten war or are currently engaged in wars (both military and economic) with other nations.
Society is divided along racial, religious, economic, and gender lines leading to poverty and pain for many, and great wealth for just a few.
At the personal level, sin hurts individuals and leads them to hurt other people. Sin separates people from God. Sin has defiled everything God made, including us.
In the beginning, God surveyed his handiwork and called it “good,” but at this moment, as Paul said, all of creation is “groaning together in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22).
What Will the ‘New’ Look Like?
There will be no more suffering, no more sin, and no more separation from the Lord for all who have placed their trust in him alone for salvation. The entire earth will be healed; made whole.
John Piper described the four types of renewal, which will take place: Physical renewal, renewal of morality, a new creation, and a new relationship with the Lord.
1. Physical renewal. John Piper says that Revelation 21:4 points to a real body, meaning a bodily recovery. “The body we know now will be changed. Because it dies. And it hurts. And it cries.
If death is gone and pain is gone and tears are gone, then the body as we know it here is gone.” In other words, we will still have a body, but it will no longer feel the emotional and physical strain of corruption.
2. Moral renewal. Piper also refers to “spiritual” newness. Right now, we are fighting with ourselves because we sin when we do not want to sin. “This war is the most frustrating thing about life in this age — at least it is for the children of God.”
Our flesh interferes with our spiritual lives. “We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
When Christ returns to call us home, however, “we will be made spiritually and morally new — not just partially as now, but wholly.” Our confusion and immorality will disappear, both in thought and deed.
3. Creation will be renewed. The Apostle John saw “a new heaven and a new earth” in Revelation 24:1. The first earth will be wiped clean; there will be a second, perfect earth. “God promises that the glory of his people will demand a glorious creation to live in.”
Piper quotes Paul who says, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21).
In Romans 11:36, Paul says, “from him and through him and to him are all things” and the apostle also says that all things were made for God (Colossians 1:16). The Lord is pleased with what he created; he has every intention of resurrecting it to perfection.
4. Relationship with God will be renewed. “God will make our relationship with him new and glorious.” That is what the Apostle John means when he says that “He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:3).
We say that God is with us right now because we have the Holy Spirit, but Christians will experience the presence of God in a way they have never known before. “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar” (Psalm 138:6).
God is close yet far at the same time. This mystery will no longer puzzle the Lord’s people. As for those who rejected Jesus, God will cut them off completely.
How Will God Make All Things New?
In one sense, the work of renewal and resurrection has already been completed. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Today, even while we are still sinners, believers have died with Christ and been raised with Christ. That victory is already a blessed assurance as the old hymn goes. In Isaiah, he puts it like this “remember not the former things.”
We are instructed to stop allowing past mistakes, sins we have committed, and sins committed against us to cycle over and over in our minds. They tend to rule us and drag us back to our former, unsaved selves. Instead, “seek the things that are above, where Christ is” (Colossians 3:1).
We are taught to spend our time thinking about “everything true,” “honorable,” “just,” and “pure” (Philippians 4:8). In other words, we are counseled by the Word to live in a state of spiritual newness at this present time, anticipating complete bodily transformation in the future.
We have been set aside for resurrection, but full restoration has not yet come to pass. We “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
That upward call will come when Christ returns. “Before He establishes His kingdom on earth, Jesus will come for His Church” and then “the dead in Christ will be raised and living Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever.”
When God renews the rest of creation, he will not start over. “The earth that God created is [...] full of beauty, color, and creativity. God declared it to be ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). God did not hold back when he created this world by keeping the best for heaven.”
Thus, when Jesus returns, he “is coming to stay.” “The New Jerusalem will descend to earth” in order to restore “the beauty of God’s creation” to its former wholeness and glory. The old will be new again.
But first, when Christ returns “the Antichrist will be cast into the Lake of Fire and Satan will be bound for a thousand years. The nations and their representatives will be judged. Israel will be restored to her land, never more to be removed.”
Jesus is going to remove the blight of sin, but there will be “apostasy and rebellion” first. “God will crush this uprising in the last battle of the ages” and “all those who rejected the Word of God will be resurrected” before they are sent to be with Satan. Finally, “there will be a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is the norm.”
God provided the model for this formula whenever he instructed Israel to destroy all of their enemies, to the last person.
God will dwell with us, and since “evil may not dwell” with God (Psalm 5:4), he will not permit anything corrupt to taint his perfect earth or his perfected people.
The new heavens and the new earth represent wholeness and unity; the Father and his children reunited; heaven and earth will no longer be separated.
What Happens to the Old?
The “old” is everything in us that is dying, dead, or incomplete; every pea under the mattress; every stone in the shoe; every ringing in the ear.
It is the taint of the old man we have put off when we “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
Our sinful flesh will pass away, revealing our true selves as imagined by God before we succumbed to corruption. We will walk bodily with the Lord in perfect peace.
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Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.