We are joined again by author and speaker Randy Alcorn, sitting in this week for John Piper. We’re calling it “Heaven Week.” In Monday’s episode (episode 359), Randy, you said this: “If there is a new Jerusalem, why not a new Los Angeles, why not a new Chicago, why not a new Paris, why not a new London?” So I want to pick up on that today and ask about travel. Will we travel around and leisurely explore the new earth? Assuming there are cities, will we travel to them? And will we travel to other planets and explore the universe?
The new earth will correspond to the old earth in the same way that our new bodies will correspond to our old bodies — a better version of the same, but not fundamentally different except in the sense of perfected, glorified, always healthy, not subject to death and suffering and all of that, because we are no longer under the curse.
Therefore, I think the natural understanding would be that travel on the new earth, in the resurrection, would be similar to travel as it is now. We can walk. The new Jerusalem has streets. Streets are made for walking. They could also be made for riding horses. There could be automobiles. There could be jet engines and air travel. There could be space travel — all of these things. In fact, there is no reason at all to think there wouldn’t be, because on the new earth — what we see in Revelation 21 and 22 and, for that matter, in Isaiah 60, 65, 66 and other new earth passages — you would expect people to do what they have been able to do — except do it better. Our minds will be better. Our bodies will be healthier.
“The new earth will correspond to the old earth in the same way that our new bodies will correspond to our old bodies.”
So will we run? Well, we will probably run faster than we have ever been able to run, not getting as tired. Of course, we will still be finite. So some people suggest that, because they see Jesus in the resurrection appearing suddenly in rooms where the disciples are present (see Luke 24:28–43), maybe we will be able to do that — transport Star Trek-like without the transporter to another location. That is possible, although it is also possible that only Jesus can do that — that he, the God-man who has a fully human body, yet at the same time still has properties of deity that we don’t have, will be able to do that and we won’t.
Galaxies Far, Far Away
But will we explore the universe, because we are talking about the new heavens and new earth? When we talk about “the old heavens,” we are not talking primarily about heaven, the dwelling place of God. We are talking about the physical, celestial heavens — what we think of as outer space. I remember as a teenager having a telescope and looking at the great galaxy of Andromeda three million light years away and all these hundreds of billions of stars and thinking, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great someday to go there?” And then later I became a Christian, and I was looking through the Bible, and I had read about the new heavens and the new earth, and I thought, “Maybe one day I will go to the praise and glory of God.”
Christian Bucket Lists?
What about bucket lists? So many people say, “Before I die, I want to see Paris, and I want to see Rome, I want to see London” — I’ve never heard Chicago on anyone’s bucket list. If what you’re saying is true, it makes these “bucket list” aspirations seem a bit lame.
I think the whole concept of a bucket list is entirely understandable for people who believe that this is the only life they will ever live — that after they die, they no longer exist or who believe that after they die, they will still exist, but they will be a ghost forever and won’t have actual bodies. But as Christians, we should be the last people to think in terms of the bucket list. Now, we can distinguish between a bucket list and having some things I would like to do with my wife and family. That is fine, of course. But if by “bucket list” we mean, “Hey, I am going to kick the bucket and this is my only opportunity as a physical person to do things in a physical world,” that is utterly and completely unbiblical — contradicted from start to finish in 1 Corinthians 15 and in every passage that speaks of the resurrection and eternal life.