“Behold, I make all things new.” —Revelation 21:5.
I am not a fan of “relocation theology” as much as I am very keenly interested in thoughts about “restoration theology.” In other words, if you asked me if we are to be relocated to heaven, I would instead argue that the Bible addresses a rebuilding or restoration of the earth—a new earth. The idea that God is working to restore all creation to the fullness of the holiness and glory that He originally intended excites me. Restoration seems far more credible than understanding that one day some select people will begin to disappear and others will remain to vigorously search the Scriptures because they were the ones left behind.
John Wesley’s point in his sermon “The New Creation” is that God would be restoring all things in the life hereafter.
Every element will work to produce peace and calmness. There will be no more war within the various elements of creation.
In the new earth, fire, water, air, animals, and all other pieces of creation will “be then light, fair, serene; a lively picture of the eternal day.” Wind, water, fire, and air will retain their vivifying powers and will not produce any fear or harm to any of God’s creation. Humankind itself, which sustained the most significant plunge in the Fall, will receive the greatest work of restoration.
Jesus calls all of humanity to “seek first” that Kingdom which was lost, and we are called to seek the very righteousness that could help us keep our relationship with God holy as intended at first (Matthew 6:33). As taught by Jesus, our invitation is to seek God’s best, not for our own self-interest but the best of what God offers to all of His creation. Such selfless seeking is very different than that which the first Adam sought and achieved.
The restorative nature of God is deeply embedded in the generosity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When Adam and Eve sinned, we, too, lost the perfection and goodness that were given to us. The only way to restore it was for Jesus to take that power and authority back and give that again to His ambassadors on earth. The nature of God is to give. God gave breath. God gave humankind a perfect earth. God gave us prophets. He gave us protective laws. The Father gave us His only begotten Son. He gave us His Holy Spirit. Here again, humankind is in a position to receive the opportunity to be made entirely whole again. Being restored to wholeness is the point of holiness. In being holy, we will remain in loving fellowship with our holy God.
Gabriel Benjiman currently serves as the regional education and clergy development coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene in Africa. He holds graduate and postgraduate degrees in theology and social sciences. Gabriel and his wife, Mary, along with their two daughters, live in South Africa.
To read the full text of the sermon, click here.