Some highlights of Lewis and Randy Alcorn about “C.S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth: God’s Eternal Remedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering”
1. Many of us committed to faith in Christ and the Bible know firsthand and all too well the bitter and embarrassing experience of what Alcorn speaks below.
“Young people go to college unprepared intellectually for what they’ll face. Let’s feed them C.S. Lewis on evil and suffering before they hear the rants of atheist and agnostic college professors, most of them intellectual pygmies compared to Lewis. Let’s not leave it to the world to ask the hard questions — the Bible raises these very questions and answers them better than any other worldview. It was Lewis who first showed me that.”
2. All too true with words of wisdom Alcorn introduces another quote from Lewis dealing with the PROBLEM OF PAIN, “Many Christians see God from a prosperity-theology perspective. When suffering comes, they believe God has failed them. But God’s love and goodness do not mean life will go as we want! Have you noticed that? Lewis did. The Problem of Pain is certainly not naïve. Lewis said,
‘God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as He leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call “our own life” remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make “our own life” less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible sources of false happiness? (The Problem of Pain, 96–97)’
3. How painful the best will be for us.
Suffering can be the road to transforming grace. Lewis walked that road. When Joy’s cancer was taking its toll, Lewis wrote to a friend, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us. We are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be” (Letters of C. S. Lewis [Harcourt, 1966], 477).
4. Heaven: God’s Answer to Suffering
Paul captured the eternal remedy to evil and suffering in Romans 8:18: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” After citing Romans 8:18 in The Problem of Pain, Lewis says that “a book on suffering which says nothing of heaven, is leaving out almost the whole of one side of the account. Scripture and tradition habitually put the joys of heaven into the scale against the sufferings of earth, and no solution of the problem of pain which does not do so can be called a Christian one” (The Problem of Pain, 144).
5. Ironically, in a day when people edit theology to fit their desires, we ignore biblical truths about eternity that are far more desirable than what we falsely believe. Shouldn’t we embrace the true biblical teaching of the resurrection and the new earth and let ourselves and our children be excited about them? (Alcorn)
Look at Romans 8.
6. Our Resurrection: Key to Creation’s Redemption
God never gave up his plans for us and for the earth. Not only will our bodies rise, but earth itself will be reborn and become all God intended it to be.
How far will redemption reach? Isaac Watts, a great hymn writer and an accomplished theologian, nailed it in Joy to the World: “Far as the curse is found.” God’s redemptive plan includes all the groaning creation — people and animals. God will not abandon his creation; he will redeem it. He doesn’t give up on the earth any more than he gives up on us. Righteous humanity will indeed rule the earth to the glory of God — forever.
7. Second Peter 3:13 says, “According to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” Even if we weren’t told about the new earth, we would have to deduce it, because physically resurrected bodies need somewhere physical to live. A new car is still a car. A new body is still a body. A new earth is still an earth. “New” is the adjective, “earth” the noun. The noun is the thing. God wouldn’t call it the new earth if it were not a real earth.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children and grandchildren is to teach them the doctrines of the resurrection and the new earth. They need to know they are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place — not a ghostly place but God’s central dwelling place, which he promises to relocate to the new earth.
8. Here’s a question: How long will it take living with God on the new earth before you say, “At last, all that suffering was worth it”? Five seconds? Five minutes? Five years? Maybe you’re a pessimist, and you think, “It would take five hundred years before it would be worth it.” Well, fine, Eeyore, or perhaps I should say Puddleglum; after five hundred years you’ll have an eternity of unending, God- centered happiness in front of you, paid for by the shed blood of God. Can you think of anything better?
9. A Closer Look at Lewis and the New Earth
There is much to look forward to about being with Christ in the present heaven. As Paul put it, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Lewis wrote to a believing American woman who thought she was dying:
Can you not see death as a friend and deliverer? . . . What is there to be afraid of? . . .Your sins are confessed. . . . Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. . . . Our Lord says to you, “Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. I will catch you.” (Letters to an American Lady [Eerdmans, 1967], 117)
The Eternal Kingdom of God
10. Colossians 3 commands us to think about the present heaven, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. But Scripture is also clear that the heaven that should most dominate our thinking is the eternal kingdom of God, the climactic culmination of God’s unfolding drama of redemption.
“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13 NIV). But how can we look forward to it if we don’t think about it? And how can we think about it unless we are taught about it from God’s Word? Suppose a trip awaits you, and you will be flying from Miami to Santa Barbara, with a layover in Dallas. Dallas is not your final destination. You say, “I’m headed to Santa Barbara.” Or at most you say, “I’m headed to Santa Barbara by way of Dallas.” According to Scripture, the new earth is our final destination. The present heaven will be a stop along the way toward resurrection. (It’ll be a wonderful layover. In Philippians 1:23 Paul calls it “far better” than our present existence; infinitely better than the Dallas airport.)
Randy Alcorn is a bestselling author of many books and the director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.
11. Some Bible facts about the Forever Kingdom of God from Alcorn and Lewis.
(1). Our Place on the New Earth.
“We normally think of our going up to heaven to live with God in his place. That is indeed what happens when we die. But the ultimate promise is that God will come down to live with us in our place, on the new earth. The ultimate heaven will not be “us with God” but God with us (Revelation 21:3).”
(2). Tributes to the King of Kings.
Isaiah 60 and 65 along with Revelation 21 and 22 say about the new earth that the kings of the earth will bring their glory into the New Jerusalem, and its gates will never be shut. They will bring into it the splendors and the honor of the nations (see Isaiah 60:3; Revelation 21:21–25). What splendors? Tributes to the King of kings.
(3). Things that we have not thought about?
There is nothing more solid, more earthly, and less ghostly than city walls made of rocks and precious stones. If there will be redeemed architecture, music, and art, why not science, technology, play, writing, reading, and exploration — all done to the glory of God? We’re told, “His servants will worship him” (Revelation 22:3). We’ll have meaningful work serving our King. And we will enjoy rest and relaxation (Hebrews 4:1–11; Revelation 14:13).
(4). Eat and drink on the new earth.
Will we eat and drink in the resurrection? Scripture couldn’t be more emphatic (Matthew 8:11; Revelation 2:7; 19:9). Jesus said, “People will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29). Isaiah 25:6 says, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine.” How good a meal will that be? My compliments to the chef — the Lord God.
(5). New and better opportunities.
We do not pass our peaks in this life. The best is yet to come. Missed opportunities will be replaced by billions of new and better opportunities — some graciously granted us by God as rewards for our faithfulness now. Don’t wait until you die to believe that. Believing it now will change how you think, how you view the people around you, and what you do with your time and money, which are really God’s.
I am convinced that the typical view of heaven — eternity in a disembodied state — is not only completely contrary to the Bible but obscures the far richer truth: that God promises us eternal life as totally healthy, embodied people more capable of worship, friendship, love, discovery, work, and play than we have ever been.
Final NOTE: Enjoy the full article from Alcorn and Lewis at https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/c-s-lewis-on-heaven-and-the-new-earth-god-s-eternal-remedy-to-the-problem-of-evil-and-suffering .
the video of this seasonal Bible scholar on aspects of the forever kingdom.