In “the third option” Jefferson Vann shares thoughts about the Christian hope based on a reading of John Eldredge’s All things New.
the third option
“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And whoever has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:28-29 NET).
This week I started reading John Eldredge’s All Things New, and I am halfway through it. I really enjoy his approach so far. I don’t think he is a conditionalist, and I am sure he does not believe in an unconscious intermediate state, but he is absolutely on target when he talks about the restored new earth being the Christian hope.
“…restoration is exactly what Jesus promised. Despite what you may have been told, he didn’t focus our hopes on the great airlift to heaven” (p.22).
He says that “…what gets presented as the ‘hope’ of Christianity feels more like a bait and switch” (p.22) because the Bible consistently points us not to heaven when we die, but to the restored creation when Jesus returns.
“Oh yes, we’ve heard quite a bit about ‘heaven.’ But Jesus is clearly not talking about heaven here (in Matthew 19:28-29) — he is talking about the re-creation of all things, including the earth we love” (p.46).
“God has given you a heart for his kingdom — not the wispy vagaries of a cloudy heaven, but the sharp reality of the world made new” (p.49).
“… the renewal of all things is meant to be your first hope in the way that God is your First Love” (p.92).
I also like the way Eldredge describes our present life as a “culture of impermanence” (p.109). Amen. We have for too long made the choice between this corrupted age and the cloudy pie in the sky. There is a third option, and it is really the only permanent option: God’s renewed creation.
I reject the vaporous, nebulous idea of heaven when I die. I don’t want to go there. I want a new world, but not totally new. I want a restored earth. If God can recreate me at my resurrection, he can certainly recreate the world he placed me in.
So, this week I plan to finish this wonderful book in the evenings after work. It is my entertainment, and my recreation, and so far it has been time well spent. I don’t know how Eldredge is going to deal with the other question — the question of where the bad boys and girls will go after their resurrection. At this point, Eldredge has not addressed the subject.
For me, that question is settled by passages like Psalm 37.
“Wicked men will be wiped out, but those who rely on the LORD are the ones who will possess the land. Evil men will soon disappear; you will stare at the spot where they once were, but they will be gone. But the oppressed will possess the land and enjoy great prosperity. Evil men plot against the godly and viciously attack them. The Lord laughs in disgust at them, for he knows that their day is coming” (Psalm 37:9-13 NET).
There will be no place for the wicked in God’s new permanent universe. And God is not obligated to keep the wicked alive for eternity either. He can simply punish them as their sins deserve, and then wipe them out. They will disappear, and be gone forever. That is why only those who have opted for the third option will have everlasting life.
I recommend Eldredge’s book because it puts its finger on the pulse of the biblical hope: not a distant unknown place, but this place, renewed, restored and glorified.
For more on the new earth, see: