Shouldn’t every Christian feel homesick for heaven? Derek Thomas’s inquiry into the Bible’s teaching on this subject stirs up in the believer a deep longing to be with the Lord.
The early chapters cover death and the intermediate state. They show that the soul will remain alive and conscious, and suggest that it will have some element of physicality even before the final resurrection.
But the book takes off and soars as it describes the final glorious state, when body and soul are reunited. It dispels misconceptions of heaven as an ethereal place of fluffy clouds. Thomas helps the reader visualise a real, physical new earth, ‘Like this! But renewed and more glorious’ (p.70). He expects to see cities, lakes, trees and animals in and around the beautiful New Jerusalem where God will dwell with his people. Life there will include food, art, science, exploration, discovery and dominion, but all free from sin and the effects of the curse.
A study of 1 Corinthians 15 finds that Christians’ resurrection bodies will have some correspondence to their current bodies. But they will be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit in a way which ‘will make our current bodies appear almost lifeless’ (p.107).
Will we recognise one another? What age will our bodies be? Will our current family relationships continue? There is healthy speculation alongside a humble recognition of the limits of what is revealed in Scripture. The Christian reader should catch some of the author’s sense of excitement: ‘I can hardly wait! It is going to be an adventure’ (p.108).