16 May 2007

Heaven (9): A Place for the Resurrected Lord & His Resurrected People – 2

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Christian hope, Church History, Contemporary Ethics, eschatology, Exegesis, Heaven, Hermeneutics, Jesus, Kingdom
God created the world, a temple (see Heaven #4), as a place where deity and creatures could exist in harmonious love and shalom. That was the point. Humanity was created to care for and rule this temple on behalf of God. The trust God placed within humanity was betrayed and the temple, filled with divine presence, was defiled. God’s entire program through out the rest of the biblical narrative is the recovery and restoration of that which was lost. That is why we see those words so much at the heart of the biblical narrative like: reconcile, redeem, restore, recover, return, renew, regenerate, and resurrect. These words, all, point us to the work of God in reclaiming his handiwork from the Evil One.
Insight from a Restoration Father: David Lipscomb
The truth summarized in the previous paragraph was clearly grasped in previous generations among Restorationists. David Lipscomb writes with clarity and power on this theme. He says that the “leading aim and end of Christ’s mission” was to reclaim the Earth … not just human beings as God’s.
“The object of God’s dealing with man, and especially the mission of Christ to earth, was to rescue the world from the rule and dominion of the evil one, from the ruin into which it had fallen through sin, and to rehabilitate it with the dignity and the glory it had when it came from the hand of God; to restore man—spiritually, mentally, and physically—to the likeness of his Maker … to displace the barrenness and desolation of the earth with the verdue and beauty of Eden … to make this earth again a garden of God’s own planting …
The leading aim of and end of Christ’s mission on this earth was not to make man religious.He was religious before Jesus came. The specific object was not to make man moral or honest; this was a secondary and subsidiary concomitant and a means to the great end … The failure to appreciate the leading idea of Christ’s mission—leads to grievous mistakes … The one great purpose of Christ’s mission to earth and the establishment of his kingdom on earth and all of the provisions he has made and the forces he has put in operation to affect man’s course of life, were and are to rescue this world from the rule and dominion of the evil one, to deliver it from the ruin into which it had fallen through man’s sin, and to bring it back to its original and normal relations with God and the universe, that the will of God shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (David Lipscomb, “Ruin and Redemption of the World” in Salvation from Sin, pp. 114-115)
It is clear from previous posts that Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Augustine and Jonathan Edwards would have given a hearty “Amen” to what Lipscomb writes. Of course what Lipscomb writes was written before the war on the Nashville Bible School Tradition and the secularization of the faith by R. L. Whiteside, L.S. White and Foy E. Wallace Jr.
Lipscomb however understood not only the general flow of the biblical narrative but he grasped the significance of all those words in the biblical vocabulary of salvation. Lipscomb could point to such specific passages as Matthew 19. 28 and Acts 3.21.

Matthew 19.28

Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the time of the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (NIV).
Most scholars agree that this is an eschatological passage and it seems fairly obvious from its context that this is the case. The point to be established from this text is what is meant by the “renewal of all things.” Various translations render the Greek as “regeneration” (NASB), “new world” (ESV), “in the world that is to be” (REB); and “new creation” (Anchor Bible), “regeneration of all things” (ASV).
It is important to note just what Jesus says for he ties directly into the “hope of Israel” in this text. He doe not say after the destruction of all things, or the abandonment of all things. This is not a minor semantic point. The very point of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection is to rescue the world and all that is within it from the “ruin” it has fallen.
The Greek term, palingenesia, literally means “new genesis” or “coming back to life” (TDNT 1.686). The term is only used twice in the NT, here in Matthew and in Titus 3.5. Outside of the NT, the Jewish writer, Philo, uses the term three times in the exact same way that Matthew does of “everything” and Paul does of humanity. On the Life of Moses uses the term twice to describe the “new earth” that emerged after the destruction of the flood. And interestingly enough Philo uses the term in On the Creation of the World to describe restored creation after destruction by fire.
What Matthew reports Jesus saying here is that the world will be renewed, recreated, regenerated, or come back to life. W.F. Albright and C.S. Mann in their Anchor Bible commentary suggest that Jesus is promising the “new creation” to his disciples. “All things” the Lord says will be renewed … The Revised English Bible words it well,
Truly, I tell you: in the world that is to be, when the Son of Man is seated on his glorious throne …” Perhaps even better is the Message, “In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously …”

Acts 3.21

What we have just said about Matthew 19.28 is in harmony with numerous passages in the Hebrew Bible and totally consistent with Colossians 1, Romans 8 and Revelation 21-22.
It is the language of those prophetic passages and Jesus’ words that lie in the background of Acts 3.21. Peter stood up before the crowd and said,
“[Jesus] must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (NIV).
Surely Peter recalled something of his Master’s lesson. Again it is helpful to read this text in various translations as they try to convey the meaning of the Greek into English. The NEB, REB, NAB and NRSV read “until the universal restoration.” The ESV reads “until the time for restoring all things …” Today’s English Version reads “until the time comes for all things to be made new.” The CEV reads “until God makes all things new” And the first English translation ever (though of Latin rather than Greek) that of John Wycliff reads “until the restitution of all things” … not a bad rendering. Eugene Peterson renders the text in The Message as “until everything is restored to order again just the way God said it would be.”
The Greek term here is apokatastasis. The verb form of this word occurs 8x in the NT but the noun occurs only here in Acts 3. The word has a rich history, interestingly enough, in the LXX translation of prophetic texts that Peter says he is testifying too. It used for example by Jeremiah in 16.15; 23.8; 24.6 (LXX). Ezekiel uses the term in his poignant allegory of Israel in ch. 16.55 referring to being restored. The LXX uses the term in Daniel 4.33f and in 1 Maccabees 15.3.
Thus when Peter chose this particular word there is already a rich history (and we have not explored all of it) to it. Link in his article on the term in the third volume of Dictionary of New Testament Theology he notes “The apokatastasis panton does not mean the conversion of all of mankind, but the restoration of all things and circumstances which the OT prophets proclaimed, i.e. the universal renewal of the earth” (p. 148).
Peter explicitly roots this universal renewal of all things in the hope of the Hebrew Bible. Jesus is remaining in heaven until God brings about what the Prophets said he would do. Peter did not invent the renewal of the world … it has a long history in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish literature of the time. Thus what Jesus said would happen in Matthew 19 and what Peter says will happen in Acts 3 is what Paul says will happen in Romans 8 and it is what we see happening in Revelation 21-22. All of these things are in accordance with the hope of Israel. The hope that Peter says lay at the heart of the prophetic message … God is restoring everything to order again.
God has never given up on his dream for creation, if Jesus and Peter are to be believed. David Lipscomb seems to have been on target about the mission of Christ. The mission of Christ is to renew all of God’s creation to bring it back into the glory it had when he declared it to be very good. That place is the resurrected earth. That place is heaven. Thus we, as believers stand with the early Christians, when we long to see the Resurrected Lord, to live with his Resurrected Saints, on his renewed, restored and Resurrected Earth. A place where God will dwell with humanity … just as he did in Eden. I cannot wait.
Bobby Valentine

21 Responses to “Heaven (9): A Place for the Resurrected Lord & His Resurrected People – 2”

  1. ben overby Says:

    Powerful, Bobby, and clearly articulated.

    I think it’s interesting that the Hebrews pre-Jesus thought of eschatology in terms of God renewing Israel. When God acted Israel would explode with creation, producing so much excess that food and wine would flow for all to enjoy. Those throughout the rest of the world would rush to Israel to learn Torah and participate in the freshly created and God-filled Israel.

    Their self-centered eschatology had a lot to do with their behavior, which ended with a Messiah strung out on the cross.

    If we don’t get the eschatology right on this, if we don’t understand that God is and always has been working to restore all things, then our behavior will not reflect God’s glory and we will fail–like Israel–in our glorious vocation.

    Thanks, for sharing Lipscomb’s insights with us. I didn’t know he was so fully freed up from Enlightenment concepts about eternity.


  2. preacherman Says:

    I believe Christianity is about having a deep personal, intimate relationship with God. Not knowing about Jesus and God His father but Knowing Jesus Christ. I believe when it comes down to it….I believe that heaven is going to be a place where God is and I want to be where GOd is because of that relationship. I want to be in the described in Rev. no more sorrow, tear, pain..Sound good to me. I do care if my dog oreo is there or not. I don’t care if my fish sushi is there or not. The only thing I care about is if I’m there, my wife, and kids are there with me and that I am with God. Because I have spent my time on earth building on that relationship that will last a lifetime.
    Great series.
    It has been very interesting.
    Just my thoughts though.
    God bless you brother.
    I hope you are liking your new ministry.
    You have been in my prayers.

  3. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Ben thanks for reading and sharing your insights. You are correct that eschatology has a direct bearing on how we both think and act in this present age. Eschatology is essential but it is, sadly, essentially ignored in Churches of Christ.

    But such has not always been the case. Eschatology was critical in the thought of Stone, Campbell, Lipscomb and Harding … and of course Boll. Sadly today many simply define eschatology as “last things” when it is far more than that.

    I am glad that Lipscomb caught your eye here. Some folks have been bewildered at “why” Lipscomb (and Harding) have become so important to me … partly because they have heard only garbage about these men (from both the liberals and the legalists).

    Without trying to sound self serving here — you can learn a great deal of Lipscomb’s and Harding’s anything but Enlightenment theology in my book with John Mark Hicks, Kingdom Come. The book has a chapter specifically on their renewed earth theology. But the book as a whole explores the dynamics of DL/JAH incredible views of the kingdom of God … this was the heart and soul of these men. I disagree on some specifics with guys here and there but the core that made them tick is among the most refreshing thing I have ever read. At anyrate I invite you to read the book, not because I wrote it, but because it explores stuff that I believe is very important to the Christian life in this world.

    Bobby Valentine

  4. Falantedios Says:

    Christianity IS about developing a deep and abiding relationship with the God who reveals himself in Jesus the Christ.

    However, the life that bursts forth from that relationship depends very heavily on what you believe that God’s purposes are. So much of what constitutes holy living is reduced to mere law if bodies don’t matter, if creation doesn’t matter.

    If the material creation will be annihilated, Jesus would have told all the lepers and blind men not to worry, because they’d escape their suffering soon enough.

    Mankind’s mission has not changed. Conserving and gardening are still God’s first commands to us, and they make absolutely no sense if God is planning on nuking the whole business.

    If we don’t understand what God is doing (not necessarily HOW he is doing it, but WHAT his purpose is) however will we understand what we are supposed to be doing?

    in HIS love,

  5. ben overby Says:


    I hate to admit it, but I’ve allowed Kingdom Come to occupy my desk or shelf for 9 months while here in Rochester without making the time to read it. Actually, I’ve pulled it out in order to read and review it, and have constantly allowed other priorities to crowd it out. So it’s gone back and forth from my desk to my bookshelf. I’m grabbing it as I type this, sticking it on the front burner, and will eat it over the next few days. You’ve got my attention with Lipscomb’s eschatology, and I’m beginning to understand that your affection for some of the men from out tradition has not only to do with restoration history, but the fact that they were actually very competent theologians. One wonders how in the world the Lipscombs and Hardings were sort of lost in the white noise and rhetoric of the F. E. Wallace’s, etc., and how different things would be if that weren’t the case.


    Thanks, brother!

  6. Gallagher Says:


    (1) Thanks for stopping by my website.

    (2) Do you have these posts on Heaven in one file? If so, I would enjoy having a copy to read while on the porch drinking the morning coffee.

    (3) My Comments: Relationships are vital to everything we do, but especially vital in the aspect of spiritual life leading to heaven. While we have great relationships with our brothers and sisters here, the thoughts of heaven bring our relationships to new levels of spirituality.

    The joyous relationship in heaven is one I long for each day. When the struggles and frustrations of the world can get me down, I begin to think of the times in heaven when I will be with my Father.

    I am not so much concerned with the things in heaven: golden streets, crystal sea or even the pearly gates. I long to be with God in an eternal relationship!

    Just mt two cents

  7. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:


    Thanks for entering the conversation. I am with you all the way that God has called us to deep and intimate relationship. I am not opposed to the language of “personal” as long as we realize that we have a “personal” relationship with God ONLY in the midst of community. God has never called us to be “me and God” but rather to “US and God.”

    I think you recognize that as you speak of your wife and kids and loved ones. But God loves and cares for your loved ones precisely because he created them for himself.

    I too pray all is well for you as you continue to recover.


    Good words. Too bad I am such a pitiful gardner. Everytime I try my hand at keeping a plant I end up killing it!! I don’t know what I do wrong. And of course you are correct … we need to care about what God cares about. Our values need to reflect divine values.


    we explore the reasons why DL and JAH’s view fell by the wayside in the Churches of Christ. And yes, I think Lipscomb and Harding had a profound grasp on biblical theology. Their views led them, like other theologians, from time to time to act in certain ways that we may not always agree with. My major problem with these guys is a concept that might be called “positive law” but this was not theirs alone. It is part the inherited Reformed tradition and it has caused much problems.

    Be prepared to be surprised with Lipscomb and Harding. But the book moves beyond mere history to spiritual formation. At least that is the intent … only you can decide if we accomplished that move or not.

    Bobby Valentine

  8. cwinwc Says:

    Rick Atchley taught a similar class on Heaven at Pepperdine.

    He said someone asked him if there will be animals in Heaven. He said he replied, “Yes, there will be dogs in Heaven but no cats.”

    Half of the Smothers Auditorium cheered and the other half (probably the cat owners) jeered.

  9. Royce Ogle Says:

    When the curse of sin is finally lifted, the whole of creation will be restored to it’s pre-fall condition.

    Isn’t this wonderful?

    Praise to God and His Christ.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  10. laymond Says:

    Me to gallagher; “I am not so much concerned with the things in heaven: golden streets, crystal sea or even the pearly gates. I long to be with God in an eternal relationship!”
    If we can believe anything in the bible it is that Jesus’ mission was to heal the spiritual relationship between God and his people. his choosen beople to begin with (the jewish people) God’s grace and redemption spread to include all people. thanks to God and his messenger we are free at last.

  11. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Cecil I did not get to hear Rick but I am glad he spoke on the subject. I do know that he spoke with John Mark about some sources to read and to reflect upon. And I do believe at least some animals will be in the New heavens and new earth. They are part of creation and it is being redeemed and scripture makes is very clear that God loves his animals.


    Wonderful to have you come by and read my musings. I do have these articles in a file and I can email them to you if you like. Just let me know were to send them. My personal email address is



    I am not worried about gold streets either. But the gold, like the gold in the temple of the Hebrew bible, is not for US … it is for God. Representative of his glory and holiness.

    Good discussion brothers.

    Bobby Valentine

  12. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:


    According to Jesus himself his mission went quite a bit beyond what most post-Enlightenment westerners would call “spiritual.”

    The mission is this: God, in Christ, has come to redeem.

    The mission is manifested in multiple ways. According to Jesus himself … who explicitly defined his mission against the Hebrew Bible’s theology of Jubilee … the Sabbath of Sabbaths. What did that look like. It looks like:

    preach[ing] good news to the poor. Setting prisoners free.
    Giving sight to the blind
    Releasing the oppressed
    Proclaiming the year of Jubilee.

    Laymond great deal of this is “physical.” In fact this activity of Jesus brings “salvation” in a much wider sense than what most post-Englightenment Christians are comfortable with. But Luke says that Jesus “saved” the Centurion’s servant (7.3), the demon possessed man was “saved” (8.36), the dead little girl was “saved” (8.50). Zacchaeus shows the wider emphasis of Luke … indeed Zacchaeus is the picture of what “salvation” means. Jesus said “today salvation has come to this house” (19.9)

    It is interesting to me that in the Gospels that fully one fourth of all of Jesus’ miracles of healing are described in Greek with the word “saved.” Salvation is a restoration of wholeness, healing and forgiveness.

    Jesus’ mission is not, according to himself, simply to the “spirit” of humanity. It is was simply to humanity … in body and spirit.

    Thus feeding the literally hungry is spiritual in the very best sense of the word. Healing the sick is spiritual in the very best sense of the word. It is spiritual because it is what God does.

    This is Grace. This is Jubilee. The year for canceling debt in whatever form it may be found.

    Love you brother,
    Bobby Valentine

  13. laymond Says:

    Bobby since you saw fit to give me special attention; I stand ready to be edified. did Jesus know his missinm when he spoke these words?

    Mat 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

  14. laymond Says:

    I cannot spell today, and I haven’t had a drop to drink except Coca Cola. (mission) yea did it.

  15. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Laymond I do believe Jesus knew his mission. My comments to you were largely based upon Luke 4.18-19 and other passages in Luke. However Matthew summarizes Jesus’ mission with a quotation from Isaiah 42.1-4 in 12.18-21. Jesus’ ministry of healing is explicitly rooted by Matthew in that Servant Song … which like Luke’s quotation of Is 61 has significant Year of Jubilee overtones.:

    Here is my servant …
    I will put my Spirit on him …
    he will proclaim justice …
    a bruised reed he will not break ..
    he leads justice to victory …

    Again there is a lot of “physical” in this “spiritual” mission of Jesus.

    Bobby Valentine

  16. laymond Says:

    Bobby I believe what you have quoted is more about Jesus’ physical nature than his mission. If we were natured more like him our spiritual mission would be much easier.

  17. Matt Says:

    Bobby, Off topic but I wanted to let you know about something I am trying out. I have started a new blog where we can put Bible study helps for scriptures to help people in their study. It can be exegetical on backgrounds, word studies, etc. I really appreciate your insights on things and thought you and your readers may want to have a look or even contribute. Here is the link.


  18. Gallagher Says:


    I will shoot you an email privately, even though I think you call me Brian. Even thought I am utterly crushed you would associate me with the Blog Prophet I will forgive. (ha ha)

    Regarding the Purpose of Christ:
    Could Christ;s purpose be simply stated in Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.”

    He came to seek and save all, even to the jews first but they rejected him by nailing him to the wooden cross from the trees he created (John 1.1-3). The grace extends to all men willing to follow the Savior.

  19. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    How foolish of me to call you Brian. Yes, Please forgive me, 🙂

    Luke 19.10 is a wonderful mission statement but it is not programmatic of the entire Gospel. Scholars are fairly unanimous that Lk 4 is the “theme” statement for Luke/Acts but there are already the themes of that synagogue speech in Mary’s song in Lk 1. At any rate Lk 19 flows out of the Jubilee motif that undergirds Lukes presentation of Jesus.

    A word of caution. Not all the Jews rejected Jesus. After all the early church was essentially Jewish and was for quite some time. We all had a hand on the hammer that dropped on the Christ.

    Bobby Valentine

  20. Gallagher Says:


    You are forgiven.

    Regarding the Jews, my statement was a general statement in the universal sense. I agree with you.

    Sorry to miscommunicate

  21. sonny Says:

    bobby, when you get a chance take a look at the book proof of heaven. if nothing else, i enjoyed the description of heaven with both people and animals and a God who is not confined by our construction. sm

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