October 16th 2022: Gareth Edwards

Revelation 21.

            At a service station on the M5 I recently heard a song being played on the public address system entitled, “Heaven is a place on earth.” It was a pop song about some kind of love relationship. But what do really understand about “heaven”? In this message I want to speak about “heaven on earth.” What we really want to know is that special dwelling place of God. There are three phases of the reality of heaven that believers experience. These are not three separate heavens but three phases of the experience of heaven – the special dwelling place of God.

            First, when a believer is born again. Before we go to heaven, heaven comes to us. The indwelling Spirit of God and the fellowship of Father and Son in the believer’s life is an experience of heaven on earth – the beginning of eternal life (John 17:3).

            Second, when a believer dies, then they go into the presence of the Lord immediately. There is no purgatory or half-way house. We know this, for example, from the promise the Lord Jesus gave to the dying thief: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). So, there is an experience of heaven on being born again and then an experience of heaven on physical death, sometimes referred to as “the intermediate state.”

            Thirdly, after the resurrection and final judgement we have the final phase of experiencing heaven – where God dwells with us eternally. This is found in our text of Revelation 21. The imagery of Revelation is not always easy to understand but we shall not dwell today on the specific details found in Revelation 21. Christians of the first century, perhaps, appreciated these images more readily than we do today. [Note: there is a strong connection to the prophecy of Daniel]. For now, we shall look more generally at the text to consider this final phase of the experience of heaven by believers.

Heaven is our new earth.

            We see in Revelation the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. What does the term “heaven” indicate in Scripture? In some cases, it simply means the air or the sky as in the phrase “the birds of heaven.” In some cases, it refers to the universe or space. In others it means the special dwelling place of God.

            But we need to understand that the ultimate dwelling place of God is not part of creation. The new creation is not the creation of the place where God dwells. Where God is and where He dwells is perfect and glorious eternally. So the new creation which includes a new heaven and a new earth cannot be that eternal place where God dwells. The new heavens and the new earth in Revelation 21 speaks of a new creation of the universe, not the special dwelling place of God which is eternal and pure.

            But, one of the great characteristics of this new creation is that heaven – the special dwelling place of God – will come to earth (new earth). The popular idea is that we ‘go to heaven.’ But here in Revelation 21:2,10 heaven (the special dwelling place of God) comes down to the new earth.  At this the distinction between that special dwelling place of God and the new heavens and earth will cease forever. The two will merge and it is pictured figuratively here in Revelation 21 as the new Jerusalem. The new creation will therefore be heaven on earth which we could describe as:

            a heavenly earth OR an earthly heaven

God is omnipresent. He is present fully everywhere at all times. There is no place where He is not present. God is beyond the confines of space and time. As creatures we are limited by both space and time. We cannot be in two places at one and the same time and we are limited by time. However, the presence of God (whilst always there everywhere) is not universally experienced nor revealed all of the time.

            In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve only experienced God’s presence on occasion.  God was always there – He is omnipresent – but not experienced always. In Genesis 3:8 Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord and sought to hide. They became aware of God at this time and sought to hide from His presence. The Lord was always there even when Adam and Eve were unaware of Him. Or consider Moses who requested to see God and was shielded in the cleft of the rock so that the Lord could pass by and he could see only the hinder or back parts of the Lord (Exodus 33). Or think also of the holy of holies in the temple where God’s presence was experienced by the high priest and by Isaiah (Isaiah 6). But in Revelation 21 the glorious presence of God permeates the new creation so that it is manifest, real, obvious, and tangible all of the time for everyone, always. In Revelation 21:22 we are told that there is no temple in this new creation because the special dwelling of God is manifested everywhere always.

            Here in the new creation is the reality of heaven (the special dwelling place of God) on earth. Heaven (the dwelling place of God) is merged with the new creation of God.


            One blessing of this final phase of the experience of heaven is harmony between heaven and earth or within the new creation. In the Lord’s prayer we pray that God’s will, will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven (the special dwelling place of God) God’s will is always done and done perfectly. The angels and saints in heaven always do what God requests. On earth (this earth) His will is not always done. God permits evil for a time. Sin pervades the days in which we live. BUT in the new heavens and earth God’s will, will always be done perfectly. There will be no natural catastrophes. There will be no environmental troubles. There will be no “nature red in tooth and claw.” Instead, there will be harmony (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:17-25). The lion will lay down with the lamb. There will no longer the groaning of creation. Creation will no more be longing for the release from its bondage brought about by mankind’s sin and the curse (Romans 8:18-22). The new creation will never groan because there will be no more sin. It will be a glorious world in which there is perfect harmony.

The greatest blessing.

            But apart from a world of harmony where sin no longer dwells, the greatest blessing of heaven on earth, of the new heavenly earth, will be the fact that we will live eternally conscious of the glory of God Himself. Every moment (every nanosecond – if such thing exists in the new creation) and every part of our being will be full of the glory of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). We shall experience knowing God fully. We shall have an endless delight so that all our senses will be absorbed with the majesty and glory of God.

            Some people are thrill seekers, (bungee jumpers, sky divers …). But the glory of this heavenly earth – this earthly heaven – will be an endless thrill, joy, and pleasure. It will be an unlimited, unrestricted fellowship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in all His glory.

            Eternal life begins when a believer first repents and trusts in the Lord. We do experience some of these things of heaven now, but they are not unrestricted, nor unhindered. In heaven these delights will be permanent.

            It is not surprising, therefore, that praise is the central feature of the new creation. We will enjoy proclaiming the praises of God. Every word, thought, action, gesture, or deed will bring praise and glory to God. We will be full of satisfaction – although this word is weak – in knowing what it truly is to worship God as He ought to be worshipped and as He deserves.

The new earth.

            Thinking a little further on this new creation there are two features we need to bear in mind. The term “new earth” is a deliberate term that conveys two important ideas.

[1] It will be familiar territory.

            It is “the earth.” The popular view of heaven with harps and clouds leads some to think that they might get bored. Who wants to sit on a cloud playing a harp all day long? But this idea is so far from the truth as to be laughable.  The glories to come can be described as “earth” in order to show that there is a physical life in heaven. Life after the resurrection is a physical existence. It will be a physical world. It will be familiar (to a degree). There will be physical activities that we know something of now.

            It is an earth but it is not ‘this earth’ with its failing and its sin. There will be recognisable ‘nature’ (creation). In Genesis 1:31 the Lord concluded that the world He had made in the beginning was “very good” and so it was before the fall. The new creation is not a renovation of the old. It will be a new creation, but in many respects the Lord will salvage what man has spoiled.

            Perhaps you know the experience of moving house. It can be unsettling and disturbing. Will you fit in? Will you find it to be your home? But there is no need to fear in coming to heaven! First, you will be with your Father, and you will be with your Elder Brother. Your whole family will be there. It will be like coming home. In reaching heaven we will be coming home truly. Hear we have no continuing city. Then second, you will be familiar with these new surroundings. This new creation will be so much better than those things we know here on this earth. We will be enabled to enjoy fully the perfections of the new creation. No one will ever be homesick for this present earth. We ought to be homesick for heaven to come!

            Physical life is precious. In heaven physical life is to be raised to new heights of glory. Psalm 139 speaks of us as being fearfully and wonderfully made, but in heaven this will be far superior. There have been those who deny that physical existence is good. The ascetics of the early Christian church fell into the heresy of gnosticism which held that the physical was detrimental to the spiritual. The body was to be beaten and held down in order to experience the spiritual. But this is a mistake, for God made us with physical bodies that were described as “good” in Genesis 1. Physical death is not good. God made us physical beings (as well as spiritual) so that the physical aspect of existence is good. But death is the separation of the spiritual (soul/spirit) from the physical (body), and this is not good. When a person dies physically the loss is keenly felt. It is unnatural. Death is an enemy, but it is the last enemy and a defeated one (praise God). Life is not cheap, nor is it disposable. Abortion and euthanasia are denials of the preciousness of physical life. In the new creation we will experience a physical life – but a physical life which is to the full. After the resurrection we will have physical bodies.

[2] It will be ‘new’.

            It will be familiar, physical, something we grasp here and now, but it will also be very different too. There are two Greek words translated as “new” in the New Testament:

[i] neos – something new in time.

[ii] kainos – something of better quality. 

The second word is the one we find to describe this new creation. It will be a far better earth than the old one – greatly superior. Not just in respect of the fall but from the original creation. Life will be familiar, but will be so much more superior compared with current existence as to bear no comparison. Paul quotes Isaiah:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1Corinthains 2:9).

We do not yet fully understand how glorious this new earth will be. It will be familiar, but it will be better by far.

            We can see a glimpse of this superiority in the risen body of the Lord Jesus Christ. After His resurrection He was familiar to the disciples. He ate food and could be touched by them. But He could also appear suddenly in a room with closed doors. Paul wrote to the Philippians:

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20,21).

We have a passport stamped “heaven” and we are citizens of this new creation. We are waiting in eager anticipation for one day the Lord will transform this “lowly body” into one fit for that new creation so that it “may be conformed to His glorious body”! It will be physical, but it will be greater and far superior! Our physical existence in the new heavenly earth or the earthly heaven will be incomparably greater than we have ever known here on this earth. The new superior existence is shown in Revelation 21 by the absence of death, sorrow, sickness, pain … It is qualitatively so superior like nothing seen on earth that it will be literally “out of this world”! The joy, the beauty, the splendour is unimaginable. These bear no comparison to what we know now. It is very difficult to imagine!

            But the thing that makes it so much better and superior is the fact of knowing, loving, and worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ perfectly. The thing that brings greater joy is the knowledge of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), not simply the absence of pain, sorrow, sickness and death (great though these things will be). All that is done and thought will redound to the glory of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will never displease the Lord. How incredible is that!

Something to ponder in closing.

            It is only possible to enjoy all of this new creation because of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in His death on the cross.

            Do you have a place reserved in heaven? If so, then praise Him! Remember what gaining such a place cost Christ at Calvary. Worship Him. Live for Him.

            Are you unsure of a place in heaven? Are you yet to trust in the Lord? If you have not yet repented of sin and put all your trust in Him, then consider your position. We all, by nature, are sinners, rebels, and deserve the wrath of God. There is nothing we can do to make things right. We deserve to experience God’s wrath in full. Yet Christ has suffered this for all who will turn, repent and trust in Him. Turn to Him while there is still day. There is a place reserved in heaven for the contrite repentant ones who call upon God in truth for rescue and deliverance.

May God grant such an assurance of this new heavenly earth to you. Amen.

June 24th 2018: Dave Evans

dave evans-june18“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The Bible describes a Christian in many different ways. We are citizens of a new country, His sheep, branches of the vine. Perhaps there is no more amazing statement then to say we are a new creation. Paul is writing years after his conversion, after missionary journeys, yet he still has that sense of wonder that has happened to him and every believer. The apostle’s heart still seems to throb with wonder, surprise and the joy he experienced in Damascus, when his eyes were opened physically and spiritually. This note of surprise and wonderment spreads its way throughout the Bible (Isaiah 43:18).

There is a great promise, new things will be accomplished. The Bible speaks of a new man, a new song, a new creation, new heavens and new earth. In Revelation 21 we read of John’s great vision, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) On that final day the alterations in this universe will be beyond our imaginations. The truth is, even seeing the wonder of our universe now, will be lost in the glories of the new heavens and new earth.

There is going to be the new heavens and earth, but if we are believers, we are already God’s new creation. To be a Christian is to experience the new birth, regeneration. A Christian is not someone who has outward physical change, someone who has been air-brushed and looks better than reality. Ezekiel speaks of one heart, and a new spirit, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19).

The greatest change is the change of heart; we’re a greater wonder than ever the new heavens and earth will be. Are we believers? Have you known this alteration in your life? Old principles have been changed with new views of truth. Does God speak through the Bible to you? Your destiny is seen in a new light, a new aim of your life.

How has this change come about? “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18). All things are of God. Genesis tells us that the first creation came into being when God spoke. His divine power is the source of creation. The great tragedy is, since the Fall, all humanity is plunged into disaster. We are dead in transgression and sin. But God is still sovereign, His power is still at work. Every believer has experienced the creating power of God’s Word and grace in this life. It is God who commanded light to shine into darkness. What we could never do for ourselves, God has done (Ephesians 2).

If this is what God has done, on what basis has He done this? We are sinners by nature, hostile to God. Our sin cries out for judgement. How then can there be newness of life? God has reconciled Himself to us. The barriers that separated the sinner from a holy God have been removed.

Generally, when we speak of reconciliation, we speak of two parties coming together. Here, this reconciliation is all God’s work. Whilst we were at enmity with God, He worked reconciliation through His Son. How? By not imputing our guilt to us. That which we deserved has been imputed to another, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God has taken our sin and laid it upon the Son, and in Hs death all those who come to know Him are looked upon as having the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christ rose from the dead, we how share in that newness of life. The risen Christ sends for His Holy Spirit and breathes life into those who were dead.

The challenge is how do I know whether I am a Christian, a new creation? Paul highlights just two evidences:

  1. This change has brought about in Paul a great change of attitude (2 Corinthians 5:12). Paul is obsessed by God, “For the love of Christ compels us.” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Now he has come to true soundness of mind and understanding. He is compelled by the love Christ has for him, a love beyond explanation, to proclaim the gospel. Does your love of God compel you to share the good news?
  2. Paul is compelled to live his whole life for Christ (v.15). Paul challenges us to consider where our first priority lies. Too many people today live for things which will ultimately destroy them. What is your first priority – work, family, possessions? These are all important but if we are living for them, then there is something wrong. We are called to live for Christ. Ever seek to maintain to put Christ first. Be like Paul who lived sacrificially.

As believers we have a change of attitude to the person of Christ and others. Paul says his view of Christ has changed (v.16). There’s a change in Paul’s thinking. How do you see Christ – just as a teacher, a moral person? Or do you see Christ in an altogether different light – as a God-Man, eternal God, the only hope for lost sinners, whose unfathomable love led Him to die so you have reconciliation with God?

Has there been a change not only to how you see the Saviour but to others? How do you see people? Do you see by nationality, skin colour or gender? Paul now views people according to this new light – those in Christ or out of Christ, those who were a new creation or those who were lost.

As you go out and stand in a queue, in a crowd, people watching, do you now look at people and think, “I wonder are they Christians or lost and need the gospel?” Paul became an ambassador for Christ, his greatest desire. Is that our desire – to be ambassadors, to proclaim the gospel? If we are those who know this wonderful change, may Paul’s experience challenge us.

Sunday 17th January 2016 – Morning Service


Our guest speaker on Sunday was Aaron Whitfield Davies of Calvary Church, Haverfordwest. He continued the study of Philippians, preaching from the first five verses of chapter 2.

He reminded us that Paul was encouraging the believers in how the Gospel had powerfully worked in their lives and how they needed to stand for the marvellous  good news and ultimately how they were to live by this good news.

Paul wants us to live out the Gospel, this amazing good news about Jesus. Let our life look more and more like Jesus. Christianity, in the true Biblical way, is a Christ of knowledge, a Christ of experience and a Christ of evidence. Christianity has to be known, felt and seen. It must be experienced in our hearts. We have minds to know the truth, it must be seen. We must know the truths, experience the truths and live the truths out. Romans 12.

Jesus said people will know we are His disciples by the love we have for others, the evidence of a changed life, the evidence that has changed the sinner into a child of God. It is not easy, it’s challenging. The unity of the trinity is described here. Our God is the mystery of three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is unity in the Godhead, a perfect love, one for another. If there wasn’t unity in the Godhead we wouldn’t have Salvation. The love is so rich, so perfect, a marvellous mystery. This is the example we follow. He is the highest, the greatest, most glorious. Because there is the glorious unity in the Godhead we need to be like-minded, of one accord, of one mind. The true church is united. As God’s people we must put aside our differences. If we do not find it easy to love someone we must ask God’s help. We are all sinners saved by Grace. The very beginning of the church came in unity, The Holy Spirit always comes in unity; unity in truth, unity in Christ.

True Christianity is the whole man. It changes us into a new creation in Christ Jesus. It is born by the Spirit of God, changed on the inside and seen as different on the outside. God changes our hearts and minds. We can’t do this ourselves.

The life of love is a miracle of new birth. God works in us (v.13). It is the veins of the church.

Jesus was love itself. He is the altogether Holy One. No-one could have lived such a pure, glorious life, full of love, unless they were God. His life outshines all. Because His life was the perfect life He was the only one who could cover our unworthy life. His righteousness is the only righteousness. Jesus was absolutely perfect.