Eschatology

 

 

Heaven and earth will be renewed not destroyed

 

 

 

J. Oswald Sanders, a well known Christian author, in his book Heaven: Better By Far says about the new heavens and the new earth: “In flaming metaphor, Peter foreshadows the method by which this tremendous metamorphosis and renovation will take place (quotes 2 Peter 3:10-13) . . . Those heavens have been the sphere where Satan has carried on his activities. Because he pollutes everything he touches, they must be cleansed by fire. Because this earth has also been the theater in which the drama of redemption has been enacted, it will, phoenix-like, rise from its ashes by the power of God to a new and unimaginable glory . . . The picture is of a universe transformed, perfected, purged of everything that is evil and exalts itself against God. It is ‘new,' not in the sense of being a new creation, but of being new in character—a worthy milieu for the residence of God and his redeemed people. It is new because of the presence of a new community of people, utterly loyal to God and to the Lamb.” J. Oswald Sanders, Heaven: Better By Far, Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1993, pp. 133-134). This teaching - according to which the new heavens and the new earth God will create are these heavens and this new earth renewed, that is, transformed, perfected, purged of everything that is evil. - is taught by many Protestant Churches. The Italian Assemblies of God teaches it.

 

Confutation

 

According to the Holy Scriptures the heavens and the earth will be annihilated by God and therefore they will pass away, and God will create ex-nihilo new heavens and a new earth.

● Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35 – NIV). Jesus said these words to explain that while heaven and earth, which we see with our eyes, will not endure forever for one day they will cease to exist, His words will endure forever. If this heaven and this earth were not destined to be annihilated, these words spoken by Jesus “but my words will never pass away” would not make sense and Jesus would have contradicted Himself. I ask you this, ‘Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that this heaven and this earth will be renewed and so they will endure forever, why then did Jesus say that they will pass away? Don’t you think that Jesus should have said that heaven and earth will never pass away just as His words will never pass away?

● Paul says to the Corinthians: “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 – NKJV). Among the things which are seen are heaven and earth, therefore heaven and earth also are temporary. Thus Paul confirmed the above mentioned words of Jesus Christ. As for the things which are not seen, among them are the new heavens and the new earth which we do not see yet, for God has not yet created them, but also the New Jerusalem which is in heaven and which, when the Millennium is ended, will descend from heaven to the new earth.

● Peter says in his second epistle: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10-13). As you can see, Peter says first “the heavens shall pass away” (v. 10) and then “the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved” (v. 12). Therefore, the expression “the heavens shall pass away” means that they will vanish away for ‘to dissolve’ means among other things ‘to disappear.’ That this is the meaning of the expression “the heavens shall pass away” is evident from the following words of the prophet Isaiah: “For the heavens will vanish away like smoke” (Isaiah 51:6 – NKJV). As for the earth and the works that are in it, Peter says that they will be burned up: does the expression “the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” mean that they will be purified and renewed through the fire? Not at all, for Peter says also that “all these things shall be dissolved”. Therefore when the fire of God will strike the earth and the works that are in it they will vanish away. Do you remember what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them when God rained brimstone and fire on them? Is it not written that God turned them into ashes (cf. 2 Peter 2:6) and they disappeared? So, likewise, when the fire of God will hit the heavens and the earth they will vanish away. It will be as if they had never existed, and they will not be remembered or come to mind, as it is written: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17 – NIV).

● In the book of Revelation John says: “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11), and again: “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” (Revelation 21:1). Notice that John says first that the earth and the heaven fled away from the face of God and there was found no place for them, and then he says that they were passed away. Once again we find the verb ‘to pass away’, and from the context in which this verb is used it is evident that the heaven and the earth had vanished away, that is to say, they were no more.

 

 

 

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