16 May 2007

Heaven (8): A Place for the Resurrected Lord, His Resurrected People, on His Resurrected Earth

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Christian hope, Church History, Contemporary Ethics, eschatology, Exegesis, Hermeneutics, Jesus, Kingdom
From the earliest days of the history of Christianity there has been a summary of the faith that came to be called The Apostles’ Creed.
No it was not written by the Apostles but it is apostolic in content. With slight variation the wording has been the same basically since the second century though it did not have the title “creed” as of yet.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of Heaven and Earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into Heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of the saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.


This ancient confession has its origins in baptismal ceremonies. A candidate was asked three questions about God, Christ and the Spirit and immersed each time. Thus the Creed stands as a witness to the faith of the early Christians, most of whom never owned a Bible or NT. In fact the NT was not even “together” yet.
Everett Ferguson in his article on the Creed in the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity states that the Creed also took on a polemical nature against the Docetic and Gnostic groups that were arising in the Second Century. Note the stress the Father as Creator of all; the stress on the physical nature of Christ’s suffering and resurrection and finally note the hope that stresses “resurrection of the body.”
I have said previously that the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of believers go hand in hand. The resurrection of bodies and the resurrection of the Earth also go hand in hand. In the history of Christianity this is true. Those who stressed the redemption of the body explicitly connect it with God’s redemption of his creation. Those who reject a literal, physical, bodily resurrection have also rejected the new heavens and new earth. During the second and third centuries those folks had names like Platonists, Gnostics, Ophites and the like.
Wolfhart Pannenberg in his exposition of The Apostles’ Creed calls attention to this very polemical thrust in the Creed. He says,
The contrast to the Greek way of thinking (which was only able to conceive of life beyond death as the continued life of the soul, separated from the body) is expressed by the particular stress of the creed’s formulation when it talks about the resurrection of the body.” (Apostles’ Creed, p. 170, his emphasis)
The stress on the identity of the body in spite of transformation is directed against a certain current understanding that some believers have unwittingly embraced. Pannenberg notes again,
That is why the creed insists on the identity of the matter of ‘the body’ with a rigidity which must have already seemed barbarous to the Hellenistic world” (Ibid, p. 171)

Now the question for some contemporary Christians is this: does God resurrect our dead body and then destroy it? This is clearly not what the early church, nor the historic church, has believed. The Creed links our resurrected body with eternal life. We will spend eternal life in our resurrected body.

Vocabulary of Biblical Theology

This post is not trying to establish our theology from the Creed. Rather the Creed shows us what Christians believed. That belief could be mistaken yet I do not believe it is. The Apostles’ Creed bears witness to profound biblical theology. For example in previous posts we have seen how God is the Creator and Lover of his Creation; he created the world as a place where the divine and human could experience fellowship; he is about redeeming and reclaiming that world through the work of Christ on the Cross.

The last statement is of fundamental importance. What we think about heaven and earth is not some esoteric point. The Creed does not wrangle about instrumental music. No. What we believe about redemption tells a great deal of what we think God did through Jesus when he shed his blood. Did Jesus death undo the work of Satan? That is the question. The early church in fact understood the atonement primarily in terms of Christ’s defeat of the cosmic forces of Satan, not substitutionary as the Reformers did (and most Evangelicals do) This ancient view is known as Christus Victor. Christ has conquered. The Latin fathers exclaim, “Vicit agnus noster; eum sequamur” (Our lamb has conquered; let us follow him.).

Have you ever noticed the vocabulary the Bible uses for “salvation?” We use it all of the time but do we reflect on what the words are actually saying? Here are some words:
These words are the heart of the biblical doctrine of salvation. Each of the words begins with the re-prefix, each suggests a return to an original condition that was lost or ruined. How many times have we heard a preacher say “redemption means to buy back?” Or similar themes on reconciliation and resurrection.
Now if we look in such passages as Matthew 19.28; Acts 3.21; Colossians 1.15-20; and Romans 8.11, 18-25 among many others we are confronted with the question … what is God redeeming? Reconciling? Restoring? Renewing? and Resurrecting. In fact it was these very passages (and more) that are the foundation for understanding the work of Christ … and its effect on God’s creation that he loves comes from.
The Apostles’ Creed understands this rhythm in biblical theology quite clearly. The early Church understood it too. They understood that if a Gnostic denied that Christ did not really redeem creation then Christ won a small victory indeed! Satan was able to poison more than the blood was able to cure! …
Perhaps this is why Polycarp curses those who hold that view and Irenaeus devotes hundreds of pages to the subject in the second century. Yet the early church believed that God redeems humans precisely because through Christ, the new Adam, he redeemed creation.
The early church looked forward to seeing the resurrected Lord; and living with God’s resurrected people; within God’s glorious resurrected Earth.
What is to Come on this Blog

In the next three days I will make three more posts: one on Matthew 19.28 and Acts 3.21 and their wider contexts; one on Romans 8; and one on Colossians 1. The plan is that next week we will take a hard look at 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21 and 22.

Bobby Valentine

24 Responses to “Heaven (8): A Place for the Resurrected Lord, His Resurrected People, on His Resurrected Earth”

  1. Laymond Says:

    Bobby if you find time you might write a few words on this answer Jesus gave.

    Mat 22:28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
    Mat 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
    Mat 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

  2. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Laymond, I will be glad to write on Matthew 22.28-30.

    First, a question: In what way does Jesus’ words in this text contradict or undermine in any way the belief in the resurrection of the body or the new earth? Your reply would be helpful to me.

    As I understand this verse and its context Jesus is plainly affirming the resurrection of the body and chastising the Sadducees for their lack of faith in such a resurrection.

    Jesus has nothing to do with the immortality of the soul. Jesus said the Sadducees did not believe the very thing Jesus says is real: resurrection. They did not know “scripture” nor did the know the “power” of God.

    Laymond there is nothing in this text that remotely gives difficulty to the new heaven and new earth.

    Please note that Jesus does not even say there will not be “male or female” in heaven. He simply says there will be no marrying. We are to be like the angels but this does not mean we are androgynous beings. The word translated “like” means “equal to” … Jesus’ point is that we, like the angels, will not die in the resurrection.

    But most assuredly it is not our “souls” that are saved but “we” ourselves are saved. God is the God of Abraham … a man and yet remains Abraham.

    The issue of sexuality (what goes on in marriage) and the need it fulfills in marriage is fulfilled in heaven. The Rabbis AND the Church Fathers were not far from the mark in their understanding of the Song of Songs on this count.

    Blessings beloved brother,
    Bobby Valentine

  3. Bob Bliss Says:

    Bobby, I was raised in the Episcopal church. We recited the Apostles’ Creed regularly. Unfortunately there are many today in the Episcopal church (and other churches) that do not even remotely believe in the resurrection of Jesus much less the resurrection of believers. They see it as a spiritual reality but not a physical reality. There is no doubt in my mind that when Jesus comes back again we will see him as he was in his resurrected and glorified human state and we will be transformed into conformity with that state (Php.3:0-21). We will indeed have a bodily state in eternity. When eternity comes we will discover what that state is like. One of my teachers believed that even after the resurrection we humans will still be able to search and learn. I’m hoping that is true. It would be cool to be able to understand God’s creation better without darkness in the world clouding our thinking.

  4. Greg Says:

    I recently preached 12 lessons on this topic and basically preached much of what you have written in this series (though I preached my sermons before you did this series, so no stealing on my part, you understand?!), so what you write must be true!!

  5. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Bob I surely appreciate you reading and contributing to my blog.

    There probably is some good things to be said for reciting the Apostles’ Creed. How many Christians can really “summarize” their faith in a sound manner?

    The Episcopal Church is like an interesting bunch. Like most mainline denominations their heirarchy tend to be more theologically liberal than the rank and file. But even among the clergy I have among my personal friends some that are quite Evangelical in their theology (i.e. conservative). N.T. Wright is Anglican (the British parent of Episcopal) and he is not liberal. On the other hand there is Richard Shelby Spong who is basically a heretic.

    I think we have an example in scripture of what a “resurrection” body is like: that of Jesus. I am convinced (could be wrong) that what God did with Jesus’ body will be done to “our” bodies. Jesus’ lived and worked and ate and drank and did what a human does for 40 days after his resurrection. His body had been set free from corruption so it was “better” than our fallen and corrupt one … but he still was Jesus.

    I also agree with your teacher that we will “learn” and “grow” in heaven. This is part of the historic doctrine. Augustine in his “City of God” devotes some space to this as does Jonathan Edwards (since I recently devoted two posts to him).

    Greg there was a hacker that tried to get into my study notes … are you confessing that it was you? 🙂

    Bobby Valentine

  6. Laymond Says:

    Bobby you said we will not be spirit like the angels. We will only be equal to angels, I don’t know what you mean by equal if not in body.
    Mat 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
    (Lets take a look at what you say we will be equal to.)
    Psa 104:4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
    Psa 104:30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
    (Bobby I do believe this refers to the renewed earth after the flood.)
    Mat 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
    (I don’t know any other way to read this except, that resurrected children will be angels always in the presents of God.)
    Mat 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
    Hbr 1:7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
    Hbr 2:16 For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham. ( I believe this tells us angels don’t have the physical body that we have)
    2Pe 2:11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. (well you know what this tells us) angels are different from humans, and we will be changed also.

  7. Laymond Says:

    Bobby I have one more question then I will leave this to others. what happens to all those angels that are in heaven with God, will they live here on the renewed earth or will God abandon them for us.?

  8. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Laymond I have answered your question. But let me pursue this further.

    What controversy did Jesus have with the Sadducees if he really did agree with them? The Gospel writer (both Matt and Lk) that the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection but that Jesus did. If a person does not have a “body” in what sense are they resurrected? It seems to me that what you are saying is the same thing that the Sadducees are saying … no bodies.

    To have the rank of an angel does not mean that we have the same bodily make up. My wife is “equal” to me … yet she is female and I am male.

    Bobby Valentine

  9. Laymond Says:

    Well if you believe what Paul said she is not, you are the head of her.

    and you didn’t tell me where the angels will reside.

  10. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:


    I do not think Psalm 104 speaks of the new earth. It does however demonstrate God’s great love and deep involvement in caring for this physical world. The entire Psalm reveals the Purposes of Creation. It begins with praise of God FOR his good creation. God tends to this planet like a good gardener … like Adam was supposed to do.

    Beginning in v. 24 we learn of God’s wisdom and creativity that is hidden in creation.

    Verses 27 to 30 are a structural unit (paragraph). The “these” of v. 27 are the animal creatures mentioned in vv.25 and 26. “These” creatures are fed by God and they are terrified when God “hides his face” (v.29). Verse 30 tells us that these animals, like all life on this planet, is derived from non other than Yahweh himself, “When you send your Spirit, THEY are created and you renew the face of the earth.” This does not speak of Noah’s flood … I see nothing that even hints of that in the context. Rather it speaks of God’s simply creating the animals and sustaining them with his Spirit. This is done throughout history.

    The Psalm ends as it begins … praise. Psalm 104 shows that God is Passionate about HIS creation. He has invested himself in it. The creation is full of his glory. Creation is spiritual because it reflects the One who made it an animates it through his Spirit.

    It is a great and awesome Psalm. One that contributes to our belief that God literally loves his handiwork.

    Bobby Valentine

  11. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Well I believe what Paul said and I believe scripture teaches ever so plainly that my wife is “equal” to me.

    She equally “images” God which is the key component of being human. Males do not reflect the image of God alone … though I did have a male argue that point with me once. But the Scripture says

    “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them [note plural]; MALE and FEMALE he created them” (Gen 1.27)

    This passage on page 2 of the Bible proves beyond doubt that all women, my wife include, are “equal” with all men, including me.

    Again Jesus is not commenting on sexuality in his debate with the Sadducees. But I am still wondering how your view can be called a “resurrection.” How is that? How is a “spirit” without a “body” said to be 1) human and 2) resurrected? Can you explain that one to me?

    Bobby Valentine

  12. TREY MORGAN Says:

    Looking forward to the study and the comments.


  13. Laymond Says:

    Bobby it is strange how two people can read the same words and get totally different meaning. You say 104 is all about how God loved his creation. I read it to tell about God’s glory and power.
    I don’t see how one could read the following two verses in context with the total Psalm, and say there was no mention of the flood.
    Psa 104:6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as [with] a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
    Psa 104:7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

    I read this to tell of the power, God spoke and the earth was covered with water, God spoke and the waters fled before God’s rebuke.

    Psa 104:30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
    I believe this is still telling of God’s power, all things made new again.
    I am open to be convinced, tell me just what these three verses (in context) really mean.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Very interesting… since we last talked I’ve continued to study and ponder the subject of these posts. I’m eager to read your post about 2 Peter 3 and Rev 21-22.
    —J.L. Pappas

  15. Frank Bellizzi Says:

    I’ve enjoyed these posts, Bobby. And I agree that the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus give us the best clues regarding what we ourselves will eventually be like. The resurrected Christ could suddenly appear and, seemingly, pass through walls. He could also eat broiled fish. There’s a difference but also a connection between the two states (like acorn and oak, seed and plant)

    I’m thankful for what seems to be a recovery of good and glorious images of the consummation. Hank Jr. sang for a lot of people: “If heaven ain’t a lot like Dixie, I don’t wanna go.” I wonder how many people (I’m one of them) have been put off by the idea that heaven will be a step down from the experiences that we so love, and rightly so. I say that heaven’s gonna be a lot like Dixie (in all that’s good about it) and then some. It’s not carnal to think that way. It’s biblical. Like imagining heaven as a great, beautiful city.

  16. Laymond Says:

    Frank, I believe I agree with you, about the composition of the ressurected body, but as for heaven being like “Dixie” don’t the bible say the other place is the HOT one?

  17. Anonymous Says:

    “and you didn’t tell me where the angels will reside.” I don’t think you answered this question?
    You do this often.

  18. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Laymond I am not trying to be dogmatic about Ps 104. I have six commentaries that contain Ps 104 and not one understands anything in the Psalm, including verses 6 and 7 as referring to Noah’s flood.

    That opening part of the Psalm is at times seen as a poetic version of Genesis 1. Either way it appears that Psalm 104 in these verses is speaking of the initial creation. Water did cover the earth as Genesis says. God did rebuke the water (or chaos). We find similar imagery in Ps 77.16 and other places. In its ancient context Psalm 104 has many points of similarity with the Egyptian Hymn to the Sun.

    The commentaries I checked include:
    Tony Ash & Clyde Miller’s; James Luther Mays; Claus Westermann’s; Leslie G. Allen; Mitchell Dahood’s; and Derek Kidner’s.

    Blessings brother,
    Bobby Valentine

  19. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Joshua Pappas, what an honor to have you actually reading my blog. Your comments and insights are welcome. I will attempt to do justice to Peter and Revelation.

    Trey thanks for stopping by.

    Frank I think that Jesus’ resurrected body is our model. The very image of “first fruits” seems to demand some continuity between his resurrection and our own. Wheat is NOT a “first fruit” for grapes … for Jesus to be the “first fruits” of the resurrection he must be like the stuff that follows.

    And Paul says we will be “transform” our “lowly bodies” to be “like his glorious body” (Phil 3.21). Jesus still has a “body” – it has been glorified in that it has been set free from the effects of the curse.

    Anon, angels will be most likely everywhere. They seem to have no problem being with God nor in our our world of the present. The picture of Revelation is that heaven comes to earth and God will “dwell” with humanity. If this is true then the angels will be there to.

    Bobby Valentine

  20. Laymond Says:

    Bobby it is the old theory if you repete a thing and others repete it
    often enough it is taken for truth.
    Don’t make it so.

    If you go back to Genesis you will find God created the earth in the water, then uncovered it.
    If you look closely at Ps 104 you see the earth was already created then God covered it. and then uncovered it.

    Look at Ps 104:30 what does the word (re-newest) mean. you seem to make a big deal out of words that begin with (re) except those you do not wish to acknowledge.

    BTW-I was not the anon that re-asked the question about the angel’s residence.

  21. cwinwc Says:

    Ah, I knew I’d find a “Creed” if I looked hard enough.

    Just kidding. Thanks for the perspective.

  22. Laymond Says:

    Bobby; we can break down the whole Psalm if you wish, but it does speak of the flood. And the renewed earth. Many moons before the end of time.
    Ps:104:6: Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
    Gen:6:17: And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
    Ps:104:9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
    ( if Ps 104 was speaking of the original creation, they told a fib)
    Gen:9:11: And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

    Do you see any similarity? My final point on Ps:104 but I wait on your answer. May god bless

  23. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Laymond, I am not going to argue over Psalm 104. I do not see Noah’s flood mentioned, implied or even hinted at in the passage. Now brother, this is not so just because I say so, as I am sometimes accused of. I could be way off base and totally wrong. I checked every commentary available to me and they seem to suggest that I am not wrong in my understanding. But they could be wrong too.

    The Psalm, however, has relevance to our discussion because it shows that God is passionate about what he makes. God, even through the curse, has NOT abandoned his creation … even his non-human creation. He is the consummate Artist and creation is his canvas. He loves his world, he loves the creatures he has placed in this world. This is plainly evident in the Psalm.

    What is not evident is Noah’s flood. If you or anyone else out in cyberspace knows of any commentary that relates this passage to Gen 6-9 I will be obliged to know about it.

    Now beloved brother I have tried to dialogue with you on Matt 22 and Ps 104 … several times now. But you still have not answered my own question to you. In what way was Jesus’ understanding different from the Sadducees? How is your own different from them? How can a spiritual existence be called a “resurrection?” If it can be what is the meaning of the word “resurrection?”

    Bobby Valentine

  24. Laymond Says:

    Bobby I have no problem at all with Frank Bellizzi’s description of our resurected body, like Jesus’ like that of the angels. but you have said when we are resurected we will need this earth in order to survive, you said Jesus said we would be equal to the angels (I believe Jesus said we will have a body like that of the angels) you have said the angels have no problem living in heaven and on earth. If we are equal to the angels I don’t understand why our eternal life depends on “new heavens and a new earth” I do not restrict God’s power to this earth, I don’t restrict God’s power to have us live on the sun if he so desired.I believe resurected means raised from the dead, not necessarly in the same form.

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