Now, But Not Yet
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Why did you become a Christian?
When I was 8-year old, I sat on the foot of my parent’s bed on a Sunday evening and prayed a prayer that went something like this:
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.”
When I was 11 because I was scared, I didn’t do it right when I was eight, and I was going to end up in Hell when I died.
In some ways, you can say my heart attitude was to claim my fire insurance or collect my golden ticket, so I needed up in the good place.
I eventually became a Jesus follower seven years later, when I was 18. The difference between what I shared was that when I was 8 and 11, I never wanted to surrender. I just wanted to pray so I wouldn’t go to Hell. It wasn’t even about forgiveness. I wanted to escape the bad place in the future and continue to live my life how I wanted to.
I quickly came to discover that it isn’t wrong to desire Heaven and look forward to Heaven being my new home. I encountered a heart chance—a new way of thinking and seeing life and death. My motivation to become a Jesus follower wasn’t about a golden ticket. I finally surrendered to Jesus after years of fighting against God. In my surrender, I accepted His invitation into my life.
Previously I would have seen the life that Jesus talks about in the Gospels, for example, John 3:16, as something I would have to wait for when I physically died on Earth. But through solid Bible teaching, I came to discover that eternal life started on Earth, and it wasn’t something I had to wait for. Life had been given to me. I was filled with the life of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. After all, Jesus did say He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
The Kingdom of God
If you did a quick Google search on the Kingdom of God, you would find a common phrase of, “now, but not yet.” God’s heavenly Kingdom is currently here but not in all of its fullness. Similarly to what Jesus says in the Lord’s Prayer, “let you will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). When we are praying that prayer, we are asking for the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God to come to Earth now. And that is made possible through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection to new life.
So what are we meant to do with that?
It is not wrong to be forward-thinking. It is not wrong to look ahead and long for the effects of sin to be lifted from creation and ourselves. We must desire our future home. It is good to express our desire for the curses of this world to be ceased. The harmony and unity of Heaven are going to be beautiful, and we are can whole-heartedly long for it.
But those desires cannot stand-alone. We shouldn’t live with our head in the clouds waiting for that day when all things are made new.
We can have an attitude of today and tomorrow. We can cry for King Jesus’ rule and reign to be present on Earth as it is currently in Heaven as a foretaste of what we will experience tomorrow.
Each day we have a choice before us to live on Earth by way of Jesus bringing His Kingdom to Earth through us. By that, I mean, all the glorious and good things we so deeply look forward to in Heaven, Jesus wants to display them today, now, at this very moment that you are reading—to us and through us.
Jesus said, knowing the God of love who has the power to create life from death is eternal life. And that eternal life can be received and enjoyed today.
Billy Graham described Heaven for us:
“Heaven will be a place in which its inhabitants will be freed from the fears and insecurities that plague and haunt us in the present life. No energy crisis there … Free from the economic and financial pressures that burden us down here. Free from the fear of personal and physical harm … No fear of personal failure … Our relationship with Him will be intimate and direct. I’m looking forward to that glorious day of going to Heaven.
“Heaven will be what we have always longed for. It will be the new social order that men dream of. All the things that have made Earth unlovely and tragic will be absent in Heaven. There will be no night, no death, no disease, no sorrow, no tears, no ignorance, no disappointment, no war, no racism. It will be filled with happiness, worship, love, and perfection.
Heaven will be a place to challenge the creative genius of the unfettered mind of redeemed man.” Revelation 21:4 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
The choice we daily have before us is to allow Heaven to be displayed through us. Everything and more that Billy Graham described is possible to be on display today. We don’t have to wait to experience the goodness of Heaven. We can experience that foretaste today and show others what it is like to live under the rule and reign of King Jesus.
While all keeping in mind, now, but not yet. The Kingdom of God is here, but not in its fullness. Therefore the foretaste we can enjoy is a glimpse into more and should heighten our desire and longing.
A New Humanity
Jesus announced God’s heavenly was here on Earth through Him after rejecting Satan’s temptations in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). So He went around confronting the power of death and opening the way back to eternal life, experienced initially by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to rule with God. But this time, He was announcing a new humanity.
Jesus confronted spiritual powers that have lied to whole communities. Lies like, my tribe is superior to your tribe. But Jesus said every human is an image of God. And the lie that power comes through force. Instead, Jesus taught that real power comes through sacrifice and generosity. Or the lie that peace comes through violence. While Jesus taught differently, true peace comes through self-giving love.
Jesus proclaimed a new kind of humanity. A humanity that is transformed by His life and love. Jesus didn’t just talk about these ideals; He lived them out. He brought God’s heavenly Kingdom to confront the powers.
Heaven is a New Earth
When you read the book of Revelation (of Jesus Christ), you’ll find that John describes a New Earth. That is because our eternal destiny as forgiven children of God is not fluffy clouds in the sky; it is a new earth that God uses to restore all of His creation.
Tim Mackie of The Bible Project share it with us this way:
“This is the hope of the story of the Bible: God’s domain and our domain will one day completely unite. All things will be made new. Death will be replaced with life. The whole Earth will be a recreation of the garden, and the glory of the temple will cover the whole Earth. Every nation will be blessed through the power of the resurrected Jesus, and God’s own personal presence will permeate every square inch of the new creation.”
In the meantime
For now, we are told by the Apostle Paul to set our mind on Heavenly things (or things above), where Jesus is seated on His throne as King, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2). Ask yourself, what are the things of Jesus? What was Jesus about while He was on Earth? What do we know to be true about our future with Jesus on the new Earth? Set your mind there and let Him produce that goodness in and through you because your eyes, mind, and heart are fixed on Him and not on the stuff of this world that moths will destroy and thieves can steal.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
We don’t have to wait for a Kingdom of unity, love, harmony, kindness, forgiveness, freedom, healing, worship, servant heartedness, and more. It can be received and on display now, as Jesus produces it in and through us.
For more on this topic of Heaven and Earth, we invite you to watch The Bible Project’s videos. We encourage you to watch a New Humanity.