There will be a resurrection of the saved — sometimes called “the general resurrection” — and heaven will come down, merge with the earth, and God will live among his people. Rev 21-22 will all come true, just as prophesied in Isa 65-66.
(1 Cor 15:51–53 ESV) 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
We will exist in resurrected bodies. That is, the resurrection is clearly taught as a bodily resurrection. Our bodies will be transformed to be like the body Jesus had after his resurrection. Indeed, his resurrection is a preview of the general resurrection.
(Phi 3:20-21 ESV) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Now, we don’t know a lot about Jesus’ resurrection body. We know he could walk through locked doors. We know he could cook and eat and drink. We know he could choose to be unrecognizable to his closest friends. We know he could ascend to heaven.
The Gospel writers are oddly matter of fact about Jesus’ body. They just state the facts and offer nothing in the way of explanation. It’s as though they know that some things are simply incomprehensible by mortal minds.
So we’ll have bodies — but marvelously transformed bodies. We won’t be incorporeal spirits floating in the ether. But that leaves much to be imagined or dreamed of. And that’s okay.
Now, there’s a practical point for today. We must rid ourselves of the notion that “it’s all going to burn” and so we live on a disposable planet with disposable people.
All that’s in rebellion against God will burn. The futility and brokenness of this world will be consumed by God’s wrath. But God made a very good Creation, and he plans on keeping it around forever.
And for those of us who are faithful to his purposes, in Jesus, he’ll keep us around forever, too. We’ll inherit the earth — but better: a transformed, refreshed, renewed, perfected earth. And we’ll be transformed, refreshed, renewed, and perfected, too.
Therefore, the church is not a holding tank for storing saved souls until God calls them home. We’re home already. Rather, we’re the beachhead. We’re the first troops into enemy territory, fighting to recapture God’s land from the Enemy.
And just as was true on D-Day, once the landing was made, the outcome was inevitable. Hitler could not stand up against the combined forces of the Allies. But he could — and did — go down fighting, killing many good people as they fought all the way to Berlin
The resurrection of Jesus is our beachhead. We know that the victory is certain. We’ve already gained the most important piece of ground. But there are many tough, painful battles yet to be fought to end the war. But God will win the war, and we’ll be more than conquerors.