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A New Heavens and Earth

by David A. DePra


     People like to blame God for all sorts of things.  The most common accusation that people level against God is to say that He cannot possibly be a loving God if He allows evil in the world.  Either He doesn’t care enough to intervene, or can’t intervene, some folks insist.  In either case, you have a God not worthy of worship, if you have one at all.


     Now, if you do not believe in God, or reject the God of Christianity, I won’t waste your time.  You have issues and problems which are outside of the scope and intent of this article.  But if you do know God exists, and do recognize that the one true God is, in fact, the God of the Bible – then this article may help you.  It is going to briefly address the question as to why God allows evil in the world.  And it is going to talk about what He intends to do about it.


Imagining Utopia


     If tomorrow God created a brand new earth, with nothing in it whatsoever which could cause suffering, and then promised that He would prevent all evil, suffering, and bad, some people would say, “It’s about time!”  But there is a big problem with creating a perfect world:  You have to have people to live in it.  And as we know, it is the people that cause most of the problems.  People aren’t perfect.  Most people aren’t even good.


     This presents us with a dilemma.  We want a perfect world, with nothing but good possible.  But we don’t necessarily want God to change the people.  Well, actually, that might not be quite accurate.  We really don’t want God to change US.  Everyone else – well, yes – we do want God to change THEM.  After all, it is always the other guy who is the problem, isn’t it?


     Either way, there really is only TWO possible ways in which God can create anything close to the kind of perfect world we think He ought to create.  First, God could Divinely IMPOSE His will upon all of us.  In other worlds, God could make it impossible for any of us to ever suffer, hurt, or sin.  He COULD mandate that imperfect people be perfect.  He could force us.


     Now, notice something:  I am not saying that God should impose some kind of a punishment for bad behavior, which would scare everyone into doing good.  No.  That won’t work.  In the real world, God HAS already told us that we are on our way to eternal destruction unless we receive Christ, and many people ignore that warning.  So in our imaginary world it won’t work either.  You cannot get people to change simply by threatening them with punishment.


     The only other way God could impose His will upon us – and make it work – would be if He simply intervened and stopped all suffering and evil each time it was about to happen.  Thus, to begin with, all disease and death must be prevented.  It must be prevented no matter how much we abuse our bodies, or how much we mess with natural laws.  In effect, God must mandate, up front, that all of us are immortal.  To go along with that, God must suspend all of the laws of physics every time an accident is about to happen – for accidents cause suffering.  This would, in effect, leave us with a world where there are no natural laws at all.  God would have to stop the law from working, right down to keeping me from hitting my thumb with a hammer.


     The problem with this is that many accidents are the result of neglect or carelessness on the part of people.  So God would have to override all the choices which cause harm or suffering.  He would have to make it impossible for bad choices to result in a bad consequences.  In fact, if we are talking about God imposing His will on us, God would have to remove all consequences for our actions – if those consequences were going to cause suffering or hurt.


     Do you see that?  Choices cause consequences.  But if we want God to impose His will on us, to bring about a perfect world with NO bad consequences, God would have to remove those bad consequences regardless of the bad choices.  In effect, we would be asking God to completely blur the line between good and bad.  We would be insisting that in a perfect world that there be NO DIFFERENCE between them as to the results and consequences.


     But at this point we have only scratched the surface.  Suffering and hurt are, in large part, the result of how people respond to life.  What about all of the emotional suffering you and I experience?  Are we demanding God make those impossible?  Am I saying that I want God to make it impossible for me to ever be disappointed, to ever be rejected, to ever get mad, to ever be bored, to ever need to work for anything?  All of those things are on the negative side of the human experience.  Do we want them made impossible?


     If we do want God to make them impossible, then He must alter the very fabric of what we are as human beings.  In fact, God must then make it impossible for us to exercise our free wills.  And if God does that, then we are no longer talking about a perfect world with perfect human beings in it.  We are not talking about human beings at all.  We are talking about robots.


     Our free will is what makes us human.  And for that free will to function, there must be the possibility of right and wrong.  In fact, for RIGHT to be worth anything, there must be the possibility of WRONG.  RIGHT which is mandated and imposed, is really not RIGHT.  It is not really the product of MORAL CHOICE.  This makes it worthless.


     God could have populated this planet with robots.  But He did not want robots.  He wanted creatures with a free will who would choose right.   Why?  So they would grow to know and love Him.  So that, in time, there would be that perfect world which everyone wants!


     You see, we want this perfect world – but want to divorce it from MORAL GOOD.  That is impossible, because what is wrong with this world is the BAD in it.  Unless the moral basis of things is changed, there is no hope for such a world.


     We have seen that God cannot achieve this perfect world by simply IMPOSING His will upon us.  This would destroy free will and destroy us.  But there is another option to God IMPOSING His will upon us.  It is to make a way whereby man can VOLUNTARILY be changed.  Rather than have God prevent bad and force good, God must make a way where man will voluntarily refuse the bad, and do the good.


     God is already well on His way to doing this.  He began this very work through His Son Jesus Christ.  Through Christ, we are able to be born again – with a new nature.  In time, God is going to provide a new heavens and a new earth in which we will live.


     Note the distinction between the way people think, and the way God does things.  People think God should make a new world, and put us in it, and that everything will be alright.  God says no.  He says He is going to make the people new.  And then later, He’ll make a new world and give it to those people.


     You cannot have a world without sin, suffering, and pain, until you have it populated by redeemed people – those who have a new nature.  Anything else will fail.  God knows that.  He has already started over once with Noah.  It didn’t work.


     When Jesus Christ walked out of that tomb over 2000 years ago, it signaled a new beginning.  It did not – YET – usher in the beginning of a new heavens and a new earth.  But it did usher in the beginning of a “new creature” who could live in it!


Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  (II Cor. 5:17)


That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  (Eph. 4:22-24)


Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.  (Col. 3:10)


     I become a new creation in Jesus Christ through salvation.  I am given a brand new nature, capable of living with God forever.  The “new heavens and earth” is really indicative of the fact that God intends to make His home with us and become One with us through His Son.


     That God wants to create a this “new heavens and earth” – our life in Him forever – is found throughout the Bible:


For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.  (Isaiah 65:17)


Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.  (II Peter 3:13)


And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.  (Rev.  21:1-7)


     At the end of the day, there is going to be God and us.  God is, right now, seeking those who will allow Him to redeem them, and make them new creations in Christ Jesus.  Then we will be fit for the eternal ages – for the new heavens and the new earth.  There is simply no other solution God offers for this world.  The good news is that this is the best solution possible.  God never does things less perfectly than He has to!


     So how can a loving God allow so much evil in the world?  Why doesn’t He do something about it?  He IS, and HAS BEEN doing something about it.  But on HIS TERMS.  And by His Son.  The result will not only be what everyone of us really want, but it will be REAL, permanent, and eternal.


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