“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:6,7).

When Jesus promises that "he who overcomes shall inherit all things," He is not talking about a meager inheritance. Besides their "mansions" in the city the saints will also have country homes which they shall build, and gardens which they shall plant, recalling the idyllic life in the Garden of Eden. “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit… and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:21-23).

All of this speaks of a very real existence. God said, Behold, I make all things new,” not “I make all new things.” This suggests that there is not a completely different order of “things” in the kingdom of God, but that they are made new in a way that takes away every trace of the effects of sin. The popular notion of the saved as being like cherubs floating around on clouds playing harps has as little support in scripture as the notion that eternal life will be a continual “gazing at the beatific vision” or becoming “a note in the eternal heavenly choir.”

The physical, mental, emotional and social as well as the spiritual aspects of man will reach their highest expression. John said, “When He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Jesus after His resurrection had a real physical body and ate real food in the presence of His disciples (Luke 24:36-43). The fact that “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion” (Isaiah 11:6), and “everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree” (Micah 4:4) indicates that the physical creation that delights us now will be even more delightful when it is renewed. Since the “elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands,” it will not be like an endless vacation with nothing to do—fascinating projects will challenge our physical as well as mental abilities.

“The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:9). Secrets of God’s creation and a true understanding of science will keep our minds continually expanding. Even in this life positive emotions such as “love, joy, [and] peace” are “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), but this is only a foretaste of what our emotions will be in the absence of the darker feelings of grief, sorrow, anger and jealousy. “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11). This is no monastic existence; even as the Hebrew meaning of Eden was “pleasure,”[1] so Eden restored will bring the most intense pleasure and delight.

“Many…will sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). This verse shows that both individuality and satisfying social interactions will continue to be a source of pleasure and fulfillment. When the disciples met Jesus after the resurrection they were able to recognize Him by His mannerisms[2] and related to Him as the friend they had known. Likewise, although the redeemed will have new bodies “conformed to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21), we will still retain our personalities and relate to our friends and loved ones, as well as to an eternally expanding “circle of friends.” Best of all, we will interact with others without the suspicions and misunderstandings that mar relationships here.

The redeemed will enjoy the ultimate spiritual experience of being in the immediate presence of God, the source of everything. “The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in [New Jerusalem], and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:3,4). Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as being an internal spring of water—“The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive” (John 4:14, 7:37-39). We experience this internal presence of God through His Spirit in this life (“God has put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” 2 Corinthians 1:22), but our sinful human natures get in the way of our receiving God’s Spirit in its fullness. We find ourselves crying out with the Psalmist, “My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary to see Your power and your glory” (Psalms 63:1,2). In contrast, in the new earth we will be fully satisfied—I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.”

We are actually extremely limited in our ability to comprehend the meaning of the promise, He that overcomes shall inherit all things,” because our priorities and desires are so shaped by our own sinful natures and the sin which permeates our society around us. But the promises given to those that overcome in chapters two and three give an idea of what will be important to us then and there. Jesus promised that we will eat from the tree of life, eat of the hidden manna, have a new name written on a white stone, have the morning star, be clothed in white garments, be a pillar in the temple of God, have the name of God and the holy city written on us, and sit with Jesus on His throne. While these may seem a bit intangible now, they will turn out to be awesome privileges and an unending source of joy.

Continue to next section: 21:8 THE END OF EVIL

[1] Strongs Exhaustive Concordance, World Bible Publishers.

[2] Luke 24:30,31.