We have been examining God’s vision of shalom through the lens of the four-chapter gospel. Previous posts have discussed God’s original creative vision for shalom in community, how the fall distorted that vision, and how redemption gives us a glimpse of what shalom could or should be. Today, we’ll take a look at shalom in the final chapter of the four-part gospel: restoration.
Restoration—New Heaven, New Earth
In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This profound statement is true of every person that has walked the face of the earth. It is part of the human condition that we all seem to be looking for something more and it always seems just out of our reach.
C.S. Lewis is right; we were made for another world, and until we arrive there, the best that this world has to offer will only be a taste of what we truly seek. Even those of us who have experienced redemption will never be fully satisfied living in this broken world. We were made for something better.
The author of the book of Hebrews, speaking about the heroes of the faith, writes:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb. 11:13-16, ESV)
It is here in this new place, this new city, that we will find what we are looking for—full shalom. It is in this final chapter of the four-chapter gospel that we see the full restoration of shalom. Sin has been eradicated from God’s good creation and everything is the way it is supposed to be.
One of the reasons the four-chapter gospel is so important is that we need to know how this grand story is going to end. Over the last 150 years, too many churches have truncated the four-chapter gospel and only talk about two chapters, fall and redemption. This abridged version excludes God’s original plan for his creation, described in the first chapters of Genesis and characterized by shalom—universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight. It also leaves out God’s future restoration of all things at the end of the age, also characterized by the restoration of full shalom.
Finishing the Story
This incomplete story does not tell us about our true destiny. God’s design and desire for his people culminate in eternity with him where we will live in full shalom. God delights in creation and his children so much that he sent his only son to die for us and to “make all things new” (Rev. 21:5, ESV). God did not make the ultimate sacrifice solely that our earthly lives might be a little better. He did so to reconcile his children to himself, renew the full creation, and spend forever with us, not in some ethereal heaven but in a restored physical world.
Editor’s Note: The new booklet, Reweaving Shalom: Your Work and the Restoration of All Things, from which this article is adapted, is available now from our bookstore!