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It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.
That we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be forever freed from all sin in a renewed, restored creation.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Let us settle it then in our minds, for one thing, that the future happiness of those who are saved is eternal. However little we may understand it, it is something which will have no end: it will never cease, never grow old, never decay, never die. At God’s “right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11). Once landed in paradise, the saints of God shall go out no more. The inheritance is “incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away.” They shall “receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 1:4; 5:4). Their warfare is accomplished; their fight is over; their work is done. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more. They are travelling on towards an “eternal weight of glory,” towards a home which shall never be broken up, a meeting without a parting, a family gathering without a separation, a day without night. Faith shall be swallowed up in sight, and hope in certainty. They shall see as they have been seen, and know as they have been known, and “be for ever with the Lord.” I do not wonder that the apostle Paul adds, “Comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:17–18).
The catechism answer tells us two things about the glorious future that the gospel assures us is coming.
First, we are going to enjoy God forever. Because God is triune within himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been glorifying each other, delighting in each other, adoring each other, loving each other. Therefore, God within himself has infinite joy. And we were created to share in that joy. We were created to glorify him and to participate in that glory and joy. But none of us, even the strongest Christians today, have ever experienced what that joy is—perfect, cosmic, infinite, endlessly growing—because all of us worship and adore other things. Someday we will be freed from sin, and then we will know and experience that glory and joy. We will enjoy him forever.
Second, we will enjoy him forever in the new city, in the New Jerusalem, in the new heavens and new earth. We will experience this cosmic joy not in a purely immaterial condition. But, rather, we will be in a restored material creation. We will have resurrection bodies like Jesus’s body—physical bodies. And what that means is, as Christianity envisions, the body and the soul, the physical and the spiritual, are together in perfect harmony forever. No other religion envisions that. We will not float about as disembodied spirits, but we will dance. We will march. We will hug. We will be embraced. We will eat, and we will drink in the kingdom of God. It means all of our deepest longings will be fulfilled. All of our greatest sorrows will be swallowed up.
What could be better than that? And that’s what we’re in for. Nothing less.
Eternal God, we eagerly await the fullness of your kingdom. We long for every tear to be dried. We groan for the day when we no longer struggle against the flesh. Let the sure hope of everlasting life give us courage to face the trials of this life. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!