The New Heavens and Earth

By Elder David Pyles

Our purpose in this paper is to examine the statement of the Apostle John regarding the new heaven and earth in the following scriptures:

Rev 21:
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Many Bible students agree this is one of the most interesting passages in Bible prophesy. Unfortunately, this interest has resulted in much disagreement about its interpretation, even among Primitive Baptists. These disagreements are not peculiar to our era. History will show that our brethren in every age have had differing individual views, both on this passage and on the book of Revelation in general. However, most have been tolerant of opinions differing from their own, provided these opinions were in accordance with doctrinal essentials. This freedom of interpretation has been afforded because all would readily admit a need for further enlightenment on the subject. We admit the same, and are therefore willing to handle the subject with an open mind, and strongly encourage others to respectfully consider alternate views.

We are always pleased to find believers in grace with an interest in resolving biblical prophesy. The most popular interpretations of prophesy offered by the world today are too crippled by Arminian thinking to walk on their own feet. It seems highly doubtful that an accurate picture of prophesy can be painted on a backdrop of erroneous doctrine. Consequently, we are persuaded that if biblical prophesy is ever to be resolved, then believers in salvation by grace must do it.

It is our hope and expectation that a greater light will be granted on this subject as the end of time approaches. We base this belief on the statement of the Lord to Daniel:

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. - Dan 12:4

While this text likely has reference to modern transportation and technology, it would seem that it must have some reference to prophetic understanding also, since this was the form of knowledge Daniel so earnestly desired at the time. We anxiously await this greater light.

The Literal Sense Makes Sense

It seems that most who write about Revelation introduce their remarks with some defense of their method of interpretation, with some favoring a literal approach and others an allegorical one. Our personal rule is: "If the literal sense makes sense, seek no other sense." We believe the literal sense usually makes sense, but sometimes it does not; therefore, we prefer not to be categorized as a "literalist" or "allegorist." These are common labels, but they tend to be misleading. For example, no reasonable literalist believes Jesus had reference to farm animals when He spoke of His sheep, nor does any reasonable literalist believe the seven-headed, ten-horned beast of Rev 13 will literally walk the earth. Similarly, any reasonable allegorist believes the resurrection and second coming of Jesus to be literal events. Hence, literalists commonly allegorize, and allegorists commonly literalize. However, it seems that once men take such labels unto themselves, there is a human tendency to defend the label even if it doesn't exactly fit, and this tendency drives men to extreme positions. Therefore, we prefer to be identified by the rule of interpretation we have stated above rather than as a literalist or allegorist.

Besides, it is our opinion that such labels prove distracting on the issue of the new heaven and earth, because they of both the literal and allegorical schools agree that we should not assign our own interpretation to a scripture when another scripture has already interpreted it for us. That is, if we have a scripture containing ambiguities on a certain point, but have another scripture which speaks plainly on that same point, then the former scripture should be interpreted in light of the latter. Such would appear to be the case with the issue of the new heaven and earth. We have two New Testament scriptures referring to this same concept. These are Rev 21:1 and 2 Pet 3:13. We agree the former text, by itself, might reasonably admit either an allegorical or literal interpretation, but the latter text contains no such ambiguities. The text along with its context states:

2 Pet 3:
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

Several simple observations can be made from these: First, it is clear that the new heavens and earth of the 13th verse are futuristic, or at least they were things in Peter's future. They were things Peter and those of the apostolic church anticipated. Second, it seems unlikely that the new heavens and earth pertain to the church here in time, because Peter was then a part of the church, yet he awaited the new heavens and earth. Third, these texts indicate the new heavens and earth pertain to nothing else in time, because the context places them at the end of time. Fourth, the new heavens and earth must be things that are literal, because they are represented as the replacements of that which is literal. The context clearly presents them as being replacements for the current heavens and earth, which will one day be dissolved and melted with a fervent heat.

If these verses are referring to the same thing as Rev 21:1, then our case should be settled. In proof of our belief that both texts are indeed referring to the same concepts, we offer not only their commonalty in terms, but also the simple transitivity axiom that two texts which refer to the same text must also refer to each other. It seems most reasonable that both texts are referring to Is 65:17-20, which read:

Is 65:
17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

First, Peter says we according to his promise look for a new heavens and earth. We would certainly expect the promise under consideration to be some promise recorded in the scriptures, yet the new heavens and earth are referred to by name only in Is 65:17, Is 66:22, 2 Pet 3:13, and Rev 21:1. Therefore, it should be reasonable to conclude that the promise to which Peter refers is that of Isaiah. As for Rev 21:1, the parallels between Rev 21:1-8 and Is 65:17-20 strongly suggest the former has reference to the latter. In particular, both accounts speak of a new heavens and earth; both speak of the passing of the former heavens and earth; both speak of a new Jerusalem; both speak of no crying, and we think by reasonable interpretation we can also conclude that both speak of eternal life for the righteous, and of the eternal punishment of the wicked.

In light of the above considerations, it appears reasonable to conclude that all scriptures in the Bible explicitly speaking of the new heavens and earth refer to the same thing. In any event, we should at least assume this from the outset, and not depart from this assumption until forced by reason to do so. We concede that our literal interpretation of Rev 21:1 is predicated upon this premise, and if our premise be false, then our interpretation may be false as well. But we see nothing in reason or scriptures which invalidates our premise, and we feel the arguments of the previous paragraph demand it.

Common Misconceptions Corrected

We admit there are some difficulties to a common interpretation of all texts referring to the new heavens and earth. We hope to deal with these shortly, but for the time present, we wish to address certain misconceptions about the new heavens and earth which have proven of even greater difficulty in the minds of some.

The Literal Sense Does Not Overthrow Usual Notions

There are some who seem to think those who advocate a literal new heavens and earth are setting up great revolutionary ideas about the life hereafter. This is not the case. The new heavens and earth do not replace the usual notion that we have a future dwelling in heaven. We believe both expressions refer to the same thing. Nor do we believe new heavens implies a replacement of the place where God dwells. The expression has reference to the natural heavens, or the first and second heavens, but not the third one (1 Cor 12:3). The idea is that this present universe will be replaced with a new existence, which is filled with the presence of God and His perfect righteousness. The fact that the Bible refers to this existence as a new heavens and earth gives us additional insight about it. In particular, it is suggested that this dwelling will contain many of the natural beauties and wonders observed in the present creation. Doubtlessly, they will all be in perfection, and will exceed everything here in beauty and splendor. They will also be new, and will remain new. The eternal dwelling will not be cursed with the present laws of entropy, which cause things to decay, wear our, and die.

Paul described both creations in the first chapter of Hebrews with these words:

Heb 1:
10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The present creation is waxing old in all parts under the curse of sin, but Paul asserts this will be changed. We also note that in the next chapter he writes:

For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. - Heb 2:5

Observe that Paul asserts he had spoken of a world to come. When we examine the preceding context, it becomes clear that he must have reference to his statement in the 11th and 12th verses of the preceding chapter. Hence, the world to come has reference to the changed universe, or the new heavens and earth which shall replace the old ones.

These interpretations of Paul's statements in Hebrews fully accord with what Peter said in the third chapter of Acts:

Acts 3:
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

These texts assert a time of refreshing and restitution of all things. This blessed state is accomplished in a series of steps. First, there is a regeneration of the soul and spirit in man by means of the spiritual birth. Next, there is a regeneration of the body in the resurrection. Finally, there is a regeneration of the material creation resulting in the new heavens and earth. And we would also note that all forms of regeneration are accomplished in exactly the same manner; namely, by the supernatural power of God and without the aid or instrumentality of man.

The Literal Sense Does Not Imply Russellism

The next misconception we wish to address is the idea that a literal interpretation of the new heavens and earth originated with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Only the uninformed would make such claims. The Jehovah's Witnesses did not exist as a body prior to 1872, and they have existed by their present name only since 1931. Many sound Christians held the literal view prior to this time, one being John Gill, who clearly sets forth a literal interpretation in his commentary.

The Jehovah's Witness view is a distortion, for it claims an elite group of 144,000 will dwell in heaven, while others will dwell on a new earth. The Bible speaks of no such separations in the family of God, and if there were such a group of spiritual elitists, then surely the Apostle Peter would be in it, but his personal testimony was that he also looked for the new heavens and earth. The Bible never makes a special connection between the new heavens and earth and the 144,000 of Revelations 7 and 11. If one can draw such conclusions on the basis of the inspired text, then the Bible could be made to mean anything.

The Literal Sense Does Not Imply Premillennialism

But the greatest misconception we wish to address is the idea that premillennialism is implied by a literal interpretation of the new heavens and earth. This is not the case. The new heavens and earth of Rev 21 and the thousand year reign of Rev 20 are not the same, not even in the premillennial system. But some amillennial brethren have rejected a literal new heavens and earth simply because premillennialists believe in such notions. We cannot understand this. Apart from the fact this is obviously an invalid way to interpret scriptures, it would seem that if one's objective were to destroy premillennialism, then a literal new heavens and earth would be one of the most formidable weapons at their disposal.

There are numerous texts in the scriptures which describe a utopian state of life in a setting similar to this earth. The premillennialists are quick to conclude that such scriptures will be fulfilled in a thousand year reign on this earth, and they adduce these scriptures as proof that such a reign will occur. But if the eternal state also has characteristics similar to this earth, so that it can be described as a new heavens and earth, then the texts in question might very well be describing the eternal state, and not a thousand year reign.

We will not belabor this point, because it is merely peripheral to our primary theme. However, we will offer the following examples:

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. - Mt 5:5

Rev 5:
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

What earth shall the meek inherit? Upon what earth will the redeemed of God reign? Many premillennialists will say it is this earth during a thousand year reign, but it seems far more reasonable to us that these texts speak of another existence. They speak of the new heavens and earth.

Similar texts can be adduced from the Old Testament also, especially from the book of Isaiah. Such verses would include: Is 3:2-4, Is 25:6-9, Is 35:1-10, and Is 65:17-25. These verses are commonly applied to the thousand year reign, but they would seem to fit the new heavens and earth at least as well. We are not insisting upon this interpretation of these texts. Our point is simply that a literal new heavens and earth should not be considered as a premillennial doctrine. In many ways, it is an alternative to this doctrine.

Difficulties Considered

Our contention is that all scriptural references to the new heavens and earth are equal and literal. This interpretation is confronted by certain difficulties. We think these difficulties are less formidable than those facing other interpretations, and we think the difficulties facing our interpretation can be reasonably resolved. This is what we now undertake to do.

Is 65:17-25

The difficulty with the literal interpretation of verse 17 is that the subsequent texts would then seem to imply the untenable propositions that there will be death, human reproduction, and agriculture in the eternal state. We offer the following commentary to show these things are not implied under close inspection.

Is 65:
17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

Observe that every detail in these verses is matched in John's account in Rev 21:1-4. Therefore, we should be very disinclined to adopt an interpretation which makes these two accounts refer to different phenomena.

20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

Premillennialists often apply this and the following texts to the thousand year reign. They speculate that death will not be eliminated in this reign, but lifespans will be extended to what they had been in the antediluvian earth (around 900 years), so that a person of 100 years age could be counted as a mere child. While we can respect their views on certain points, we are always astounded with this interpretation, because the context clearly places the text in the new heavens and earth - not a thousand year reign. Furthermore, there has never been an age of the earth in which a 100 year old person would be reckoned as a child.

A comparison of the four verses just considered with the first four verses of Rev 21 resolves the issue in our opinion. Both accounts use almost identical terms when speaking of the new heavens and earth, the passing of the former heavens and earth, the new Jerusalem, and the elimination of sorrow. As of the fourth verse, there is a divergence in terms, but not in meaning. In the place of Isaiah's lengthy 20th verse, John simply states, there shall be no more death. Again using the rule that an ambiguous text should be interpreted in the light of a plain one, we conclude that Isaiah's 20th verse imports the idea of immortality. There is no problem with applying this interpretation to there shall be no more thence an infant of days. This simply says that infants do not die in the new heavens and earth. As for the remainder of the text, we offer a complex but reasonable explanation.

We believe Isaiah is describing eternal life in terms of its implications for this life. Therefore, he is looking at both the present and the future, but is viewing the future in terms of its implications for the present (We are thankful to Elder Sonny Pyles for showing us this possibility). In this life infants often die, and it is always a great tragedy when they do. But when this tragedy is viewed from the perspective of the new heavens and earth, it is all the same as though the child had died at 100 years of age. On the other hand, people sometimes live to be 100 years old in this life, and such longevity is generally considered a blessing, but if such a person dies in their sins, then their case is infinitely worse than that of the dying child. Any finite span of time, whether it be an hour or 100 years, is reduced to a meaningless infinitesimal point when compared to eternity.

21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

Again, Isaiah is viewing the future in terms of its implications for the present. When we examine this life alone, it oftentimes appears that our labors in the Lord are in vain. In this life, the best of people often receive the worst, and the worst of people often receive the best, so that it does not necessarily appear that what we sow of the Spirit shall be reaped of the same. Accordingly, there are cases where the good sown by God's people is perverted and exploited by the wicked, whose purpose is to harvest to their own carnality. Such cases can prevail upon the minds of God's people to the extent that even great men of the Bible have been temporarily deceived by the illusion that service to God is vanity (Ps 73, Jer 12:1-4, Hab 1). But the illusion is destroyed when the reality of future eternal bliss is brought into view. From this perspective, it is plain that our labors in the Lord are not in vain (1 Cor 15:58).

As for the days of a tree are the days of my people, this is not intended to say lifespans will be limited to that of trees. Rather, the statement alludes to the previous clause, which asserts that God's children shall eat of the fruit of their labors. The context suggests these figurative trees were planted by God's people. The idea is that these people will not be outlived by the fruit of their labors.

23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

The text does not assert there will be human reproduction in the eternal state (Mt 22:30). The logic is structured the same as before. In this life people commonly bear children, and notwithstanding all the parental love which seeks their welfare, every parent will discover it is not within their power to deliver their own offspring from the burden of the world's curse. However, in that life, both the parents and their offspring are the children of God, and He will have that same parental love for His children as we would have for ours, but God will have the power to meet their every need.

25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

This implies there is no carnivorous behavior in the eternal state, nor any hurt or destruction of any kind.

Is 66:22-24

Is 66:
22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

The objection to the literal interpretation of the new heavens and earth in verse 22 will be that the subsequent verses would then imply the eternal state will possess sabbaths, lunar months, and the visibility of carcasses and possibly of eternal punishment. However, we do not think the 23rd and 24th verses refer to the new heavens and earth of verse 22. The new heavens and earth are used merely as a comparative reference in the 22ond verse. This being the case, there is no complication to interpreting them literally, regardless of the proper interpretation of verses 23 and 24.

[We believe verses 23 and 24 either refer back to verses 15 and 16, or else they refer back to verse 5. In the first case, the carcasses under consideration would likely be of those slain in a latter day destruction of the enemies of Israel (Ezek 39:11-16). In the second case, the carcasses and their eternal punishment would pertain to certain Jews themselves, who persecuted their own brethren in the name of religion and for the pretended purpose of glorifying the Lord. Such persecutors include the Pharisees in the times of Christ and their predecessors, all of whom are set forth as undeniable cases of eternally condemned people who shall not escape the damnation of hell (Mt 23:33), and who are held in contempt by people in all nations of the world. While neither the carcasses of these persecutors nor their eternal punishment is literally observed with the natural eye, it is nonetheless seen in the imaginations of those who know the pronunciations of the Lord Jesus against them.]

Rev 21 & 22:

Nearly all will agree that the entire contents of these two chapters refer to the same subject; however, there are two prevalent opinions as to what this subject is. Some think these chapters describe the eternal state, while others think they are an allegorical description of the timely church. Those of the eternal view may also use some degree of allegory, but not nearly so much as those preferring the timely one. The timely view therefore has to its advantage the flexibility inherent to allegorical interpretation; however, it is also more susceptible to the usual ambiguities of allegory.

Most would agree the direction one takes with these two chapters is dictated by the very first verse. If one takes this to refer to the eternal state, they, as a general rule, will be logically committed to do the same for the remainder of Revelation. Similarly, if one takes the first verse to be an allegorical reference to the timely church, they become obligated to this approach for all subsequent texts. Since the first verse is about the new heaven and earth, one can readily see the importance of our subject. Two entire chapters in Revelation tend to hinge upon it.

We believe many have dismissed the literal interpretation of the new heaven and earth because of Rev 21 and 22. This is because they are persuaded that the contents of these two chapters cannot be entirely applied to the eternal state. They apparently feel compelled to part with the plain implications of 2 Pet 3:10-14 because of these difficulties. However, it is our opinion that the problems appearing to be rectified by the allegorical approach are far outweighed by the problems it creates. Not only is one placed in an awkward posture with respect to other scriptural teachings about the new heaven and earth, they are also placed in an awkward posture with respect to Rev 21 and 22 themselves, because the entire tenor of these chapters is of final and eternal glory.

We believe the difficulties with the eternal application of these two chapters can be reconciled, and this is what we now undertake to do. Space limits us from considering all verses, but we will attempt to deal with the most difficult verses.

Rev 21:
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Some will say these texts express too much conditionality on human obedience to pertain to eternal life. However, such objectors fail to understand or appreciate the fact that God's elect shall surely overcome by the work of regeneration and the blood of Christ (Jn 6:37-39, 1 Jn 4:4, Rev 12:10-11), whereas they that are without electing grace do not overcome, nor do they have any desire to do so (Jn 6:44-45, Rev 20:15). See our comments on Rev 22:14 below.

Rev 21:
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

These texts have reference to New Jerusalem, which is to be situated in the new heaven and earth (vs 2). They do not necessarily teach God's family will be partitioned into nations there, or that God's people will be under kings there apart from God Himself. We believe they teach what are separate nations here will walk in the common light, and under the common authority, of the New Jerusalem there. Accordingly, those who are kings here will relinquish their honor and glory to the Lord there, and to the New Jerusalem. Some kings will do this willingly; others unwillingly.

Rev 22:
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

The objection will be that an eternal application of this text would make eternal salvation contingent upon works. However, we do not think the eternal application implies this. Even those who advance such objections will make an eternal application of numerous other texts which associate works and salvation. Such texts might include: Mt 7:15-23, Mt 10:14-15, Mt 12:33-35, Mt 12:41-42, Mt 16:27, Mt 24:10-13, Mt 25:14-30, Mt 25:34-46, Mk 8:34-38, Mk 16:15-16, Lk 13:24-28, Lk 18:29-30, Jn 3:18-21, Jn 3:36, Jn 5:28-29, Gal 6:8, 2 Thes 1:7-8, 1 Jn 3:8-15. These texts do not teach salvation by works; rather, they teach the reverse - works by salvation. The doctrines of grace do not disassociate works and salvation; rather, they reverse the order of causality from that implied by the law. Obedience to the commandments of Christ are the evidences of salvation because they are the effects of salvation (Mt 12:33-35, Jn 1:11-13, Jn 6:37, Jn 8:43-47, Jn 10:25-29, Jn 15:16-19, Acts 9:15, Acts 11:18, Acts 13:48, Acts 15:14, Acts 16:14, Acts 18:9-10, Rom 8:29-30, 1 Cor 1:22-24, 1 Cor 1:30-31, Gal 5:22-24, Eph 1:4-5, Eph 2:10, 1 Thes 1:4-5, 2 Thes 2:13-14, Tit 3:3-5, 1 Pet 2:9). It is by such obedience that one obtains an assurance of salvation, of right to the tree of life, and of admission through the gates of the Holy City.

Rev 22:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

It will be objected that an eternal application of this text violates the doctrine of preservation. However, we believe this objection derives from a misconception of the book of life. It is generally believed that this book was designed to enroll the names of the elect, and therefore, that the book logically follows election. This formulation is confronted by the fact that certain scriptures express the possibility of being removed from the book (Ex 32:33, Ps 69:28, Rev 3:5, Rev 22:19). We believe the elect, and only the elect, are now written in the book; however, we do not believe the book logically follows election. We believe the book logically precedes election; that it is a book which enrolls the names of all men possessing endless life; that all mankind, in effect, fell from the book because of sin, and that Jesus restored the elect to the book. Therefore, it is indeed a book from which men fall because of their rebellion against God, but those whose transgressions have been blotted by the blood of Christ have been restored to the book never to fall again.

Observe that two books are mentioned in Rev 20:12-15. The first book is a record of sin, and the second is the book of life. We believe these books are mutually exclusive and mutually exhaustive. That is, every man is recorded in one of the two books but cannot be recorded in both. Therefore, if there is a logical sense in which the elect were in the book of sin, then in that same sense they were not in the book of life. But Jesus blotted them from the book of sin (Ps 51:9, Jer 18:23, Col 2:14), by which action they were simultaneously and permanently restored to the book of life.

Conclusions

We humbly offer these explanations for your prayerful consideration. We could not insist upon our views while being in a state of uncertainty about other aspects of prophecy. However, we believe a literal intepretation of the new heaven and earth is supported by very strong scriptural evidence. We fail to see where this interpretation logically commits one to any of the amillennial, premillennial, or postmillennial models. The literal interpretation of the new heaven and earth is therefore exempt from the uncertainties associated with these eschatological schemes. May God bless the reader to understand the prophesy, and we are confident that all who endeaver to do such will experience the blessed promise:

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. - Rev 21:3

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