What is heaven - God's Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.
Historical study — reading the New Testament in its own world — thus brings surprises that can have an impact on modern Christianity, too.
Perhaps the most important is a new, or rather very old, way of seeing the Christian mission.
If the only point is to save souls from the wreck of the world, so they can leave and go to heaven, why bother to make this world a better place?
But if God is going to do for the whole creation what he did for Jesus in his resurrection — to bring them back, here on earth — then, those who have been rescued by the gospel are called to play a part, right now, in the advance renewal of the world.
God will put the whole world right, this worldview says, and in “justification” he puts people right, by the gospel, to be part of his putting-right project for the world.
Christian mission includes bringing real advance signs of new creation into the present world: in healing, in justice, in beauty, in celebrating the new creation and lamenting the continuing pain of the old.
The scriptures always promised that when the life of heaven came to earth through the work of Israel’s Messiah, the weak and the vulnerable would receive special care and protection, and the desert would blossom like the rose.
Care for the poor and the planet then becomes central, not peripheral, for those who intend to live in faith and hope, by the Spirit, between the resurrection of Jesus and the coming renewal of all things.
Let's look forward to seeing more people come to faith in Christ, ready to play our part in bringing God's Kingdom to earth.