Thus, Christ will bring about the renewal of this fallen world in what He called the palingenesis of all things (Matt. 19:28—the only occurrence of “regeneration” in the Gospels). No wonder the city of the new Jerusalem is set within the garden of the new Eden (Rev. 22:1–5) and the gates that open into it are never shut by day—and there is no night there.
All this will come about as the result of an apocalyptic cleansing (1 Peter 3:10). For that day, when the true identity of the sons of God will be fully revealed, the whole creation is groaning like a woman in labor. Indeed (as J.B. Phillips brilliantly captures a nuance of Paul’s Greek), “The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own” (Rom. 8:19). What a day that will be.
CHRIST AT THE CENTER
In the state of glory, we shall see our Savior. “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). A face-to-face meeting with the Lord Jesus! Seeing Him as He is! Being made like Him (1 John. 3:2)! Transformed into the final degree of glory (2 Cor. 3:18)!
But precisely because we will be free from sin, we shall not be consumed with interest in our own perfected sanctification. Nor will our first reaction be to admire each other. No. We will have eyes only for One, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lamb slain but now risen and standing in His rightful place at the center of the throne of God (Rev. 5:1–14).
I recall as a young teenager dreaming one night that I had died and was being met “on the other side” by friends coming toward me, arms outstretched in welcome. I saw myself pushing them aside and heard these words from my lips: “Let me get to Jesus! Let me see Jesus!” This is our destiny. For truly,
The bride eyes not her garment,
but her dear bridegroom’s face;
I shall not gaze at glory,
but on my King of grace;
Not at the crown he gifteth,
but on his pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
of Emmanuel’s land.
GOD WILL BE ALL IN ALL
In a remarkable passage, Paul takes us through God’s “order” of the “days” (1 Cor. 15:23) of the inauguration of this state of grace (vv. 20–28):
• The day of Christ’s resurrection, when it all began (vv. 22–23a).
• The day of our resurrection, when its consummation is inaugurated (v. 23b).
• The day of destruction, when all Christ’s enemies and ours will be vanquished (vv. 24–25).
• The day of victory, when even the last enemy, death, will be destroyed (vv. 26–27).
• The day of consummation, when God will be all in all (vv. 24, 28).
On that day of consummation, the second man will bring a restored creation and a redeemed and resurrected people into the presence of His Father. There, as the last Adam, He will present to Him that world, perfected as a result of His obedience unto death and His resurrection to new life. The work that the Father planned and the Son fulfilled in our place by the Spirit will be complete.