I’m convinced that for many Christians, their idea of redemption lines up more with ancient Greek philosophers than with what the Bible says. The ancient Greeks taught that it meant being rescued from the physical and the material, especially from our bodies. But God’s idea is the rescue of the material, not rescue from the material. He’s going to transform this present world into the world to come, so that voices in heaven shout, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15). Likewise in the Lord’s Prayer we see that God’s ultimate goal is for earth to become like heaven—“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). His mission is to bring the culture of heaven to earth.
When it comes to this world’s future, God will follow the same pattern he engineered in Noah’s day, when he washed earth’s surface clean of everything perverse and wicked but did not obliterate the planet. God isn’t going to annihilate the world; instead, he’s going to renew, redeem, and resurrect it through Christ.
That’s why Christianity ultimately is not about isolated individuals “going to heaven,” contrary to what many believe. That’s not the Bible’s primary storyline. God is up to some- thing much bigger and much more tangible than that. He uses Christians to bring heaven into this world, transforming this broken world and making things right. God cares about the cre- ated order. Environmentalists make the mistake of turning the environment into a god, while Christians often make the mistake of thinking God doesn’t care about the environment. Both per- spectives miss the mark.
In Jesus, God is at work regaining, restoring, and extend- ing all that Adam ruined and forfeited by his disobedience. Christianity is about Christ making everything sad come untrue, straightening out everything that’s crooked, and correcting every injustice. As the second Adam achieves for us no less than what the first Adam enjoyed, and much more. He came to succeed where the first Adam failed. We won’t simply go back to the perfect garden; we’ll enjoy a whole new incorruptible world.
– Tullian Tchividjian, Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, 131, 132