The problem with physical bodies is that they don’t belong in the spiritual realm, for the spiritual realm is for spirits. So if Paul truly believed that Christians would be taking on new imperishable bodies raised in glory and power (1 Corinthians 15), then how did he expect this to all work out on paper?
As we start to take in the wider story the Bible presents us with, we begin to realize that Heaven isn’t always “out there” somewhere. Yes, there is an intermediate state of going to be with God in Heaven—but Biblically, God’s Kingdom actually seems to be established right here on the earth. Revelation makes this clear. In the end, the point isn’t about letting Earth go to Hell in a hand basket, it’s about restoring it so that we can live here with God (Rev 21:1-4, 22-27).
Revelation sees things in a light we rarely hear preached. One day, we will be resurrected into new imperishable bodies like Jesus’ so that we might live with Him in a new Heaven and new Earth. It will be like the planet we once knew, but also different and new. “We shall still be able to recognise our old enemy, friend, playfellow and foster-mother,” says C.S. Lewis, “so perfected as to be not less, but more, herself. And that will be a merry meeting.” (Lewis, C.S. “Miracles.” The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics. New York, HarperOne, 2002, p. 359.)
There in the resurrection things will be quite different. It will be a world so different that there will be no more sea—a powerful metaphor for the Bible writers to envision as the ancient world viewed the sea as an unpredictable, untamable place of dread. (See Heiser, Michael S. The Unseen Realm. p. 382.)
And that’s just a taste of the radical world of the resurrection. Not only will there be no more sea (or at least the chaos it represents), but there will be no more marriage or sex; mourning or crying; pain or death. How is there no death? Because it no longer has a sting; for we live on with imperishable bodies that cannot die.
This is the resurrection life ahead of us and the Holy Spirit is crucial in bringing it all to fruition. The same Spirit that raised Jesus will raise us. The same Spirit that played a part in the creation of the earth will likely play a part in creating the new world as Revelation comes full circle to Genesis. The shekinah will come in its fullest form and the glory will light up the world so much that there will never be night. We will be back in the presence of God as we were in the sacred space of Eden. The resurrection will be everything God ever envisioned humanity to be.
And we are calling all of this into account right here, right now; for Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). Yes, a consistent piece of our prayer life is to call the Kingdom of Heaven down here and beckon in the end times where we will live with God forevermore. Likewise, in praying that prayer we are to recognize how the Kingdom of Heaven must enter this world through the way we live; for “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philip 3:20). Every time we walk in the power of the Spirit, we are bringing the Kingdom on people. Jesus made this clear when talking about the Spirit’s power to drive out demons, saying, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12:28).
If you want the Kingdom of Heaven to come, then the Spirit of God must work through you. If you want to make the Kingdom of Heaven a consistent part of your prayer life, then you need to be willing to let God put the Kingdom of Heaven into play around you—not just supernaturally, but also naturally; for both the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles (not to mention Jesus) expected people to bring God’s Kingdom into the world in natural ways (Mt 25:34-40).
Heaven is coming one way or another. God will have His way. And in the end, the form it shall all come in is resurrection: A new Heaven with a new Earth with new imperishable, glorious, powerful bodies that death cannot touch.