As Jesus left this world, leaving his followers to be the church that takes the good news to the world, it was with a promise that he would return one day. That day is still to come, but when it does come it will bring the era of eternity.
When Jesus returns, he will come in order to judge and to complete his salvation. Everyone who has died will be raised to life to answer to God for the way that they have lived their lives. Of our own efforts, we come up short on the standards to which we should have lived. Because of our rejection of God, we all deserve to spend eternity cut off from God and all his goodness while enduring his wrath in our continuing separation from him.
But for every person who has received Jesus’ forgiveness by trusting in him in this lifetime, there is a different story in eternity. Based on Jesus’ death in their place, they are declared as not guilty because of the undeserved kindness of God. For such a person, they are welcomed into a renewed and joined heaven and earth where God lives with his people.
As much as our world now is broken with sin, suffering and sorrow, in this new world, everything broken will be fixed. The curse brought about by our first ancestors will be removed so that death is no longer the experience that hangs over us. It’s a place of endless opportunity to enjoy and explore, to create and connect, to imagine, celebrate and receive.
Though our world is currently made up of imperfect people who fail each other, in our eternal home, those imperfections will be fully removed. Now, although we are no longer under the penalty of sin, we still continue to sin, yet in that time we will no longer have the presence of sin among us.
Several times in the Bible, it describes us in that time as being clothed in white. Far from being a fashion statement, this reflects that we are fully covered with a perfection that isn’t even ours, but is Jesus’. We will then be permanently marked by purity that cannot be corrupted.
In that time we will see the glory of God and the wonder of what he has accomplished even more fully than we do now. As much as these things move us to worship him now, by seeing them in an even fuller picture, we’ll be moved to even more perfect worship.
In Revelation, there is a picture of those who gather round the throne, gathered in the great worship gathering of eternity, and the songs are focused on one person – a lion-lamb who looks as if he’s been killed. As he is seen, so his worth is declared and he is praised. All because he died to save a people for himself, bringing him glory.
But, what’s to stop this perfect place with perfect people enjoying the perfect worship of God, from being ruined again? For one it’s because our sin has truly been dealt with by the cross and taken away in eternity. But also it’s because the great tempter, the Devil, who tempted our first ancestors is finally fully dealt with. As much as he is crushed in the head at the cross, so in eternity he is cast into the eternal fire and darkness of hell, and bound there for all eternity, never to be released. He is therefore unable to tempt again.
And so, we may live forever with God in his eternal home, enjoying him forever, with the security of knowing that this perfection never ceases and Jesus gets all the glory.