PMT 2014-144 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I want to start a practice of asking Facebook friends and PostmillennialismToday readers for some questions about eschatology that they might have. This is my first effort at that. Be aware: I usually upload blog articles several weeks in advance. So your question might come slowly, rather than what you might expect: “the time is near.” Send your questions to me at: KennethGentry@cs.com
Daniel Jansky asks: “Colossians 1 says Christ is redeeming all of earth and the heavens to Himself. Is it possible that we will colonize other planets before the Lord comes back?”
I do not see any Scripture that demands that specific conclusion. That is, I do not see any express statement in the Bible informing us that we will one day take the gospel to other planets. The Bible has a distinctly this-world focus — though it is very much aware of the larger Universe and accounts for it as God’s creation. It seems to me that the geo-centric focus of Scripture — both in its creation account and it redemptive story —suggests that the earth is the only place with intelligent life.
The Climax of the Book of Revelation (Rev 19-22)
Six lectures on six DVDs that introduce Revelation as a whole,
then focuses on its glorious conclusion.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
But I would say that by implication we might surmise the exploration of other planets under the banner of Christ. That is, while the Lord delays his coming, we may well advance in our technology so that we will go to other planets and colonize them. I certainly do not see any biblical prohibition of such an endeavor.
And if this does come to pass, the postmillennial system requires that ultimately this exploration — which will be by men created in the image of God — would involve the gospel. By that I mean, the men who do the exploring and settling would be (at least ultimately) objects of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, they would eventually come under the sway of his redemptive rule.
It seems that we are not too far off from at least getting to Mars. From some reports I have read, we may send explorers to Mars before too long. According to the Mars-One.com website: “Mars One will settle men on Mars in 2023.”
That MarsOne report reads: “Today Mars One announced its plan to establish a human settlement on Mars in 2023. Every two years after that a new crew will join the settlement. Mars One has contacted established aerospace suppliers from around the world that can supply all the mission components, and received letters of interest from these companies. Mars One will involve mankind as the mission’s audience, creating a worldwide media event around the first manned flight to and settlement on Mars.”
Read more at: MarsOne
However, the verse to which you are referring is Col 1:20 which reads: “1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” I do not think this verse implies what you think it does.
Obviously God created all things in heaven and in earth (Gen 1:1; Isa 42:5; Col 1:16; Rev 4:11). And just as obviously we believe that Christ’s redemption will ultimately rid the Universe of sin and corruption, as we see in the verse before us (Col 1:20). God will not forever endure sin actively permeating the Universe. I believe this final ridding of sin from the Universe occurs in the consummate new heavens and new earth — not the spiritual forerunner to them, new creation redemption (see my article PMT 2014-020). We read about this consummate new creation order in 2 Pet 3.
Paul instructs us that the creation order is laboring under the affliction of sin, longing for its release from bondage: Rom 8:19 –22 reads: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”
And 2 Pet 3:10–13 reads in this regard: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” (See my articles: PMT 2014-132 and 133)
And in the Col 1:20 cited above, Paul is referring to the final reconciliation which the Universe will enjoy. This reconciliation of “all things” is not a redemptive salvation of Satan, fallen angels, and every last man ever born (as per Origen, Commentary on John 1:35). Rather, this reconciliation of which Paul speaks comes through a two-fold victory: (1) salvific redemption of the elect, as well as (2) the involuntary conquering and eternal judging of sin at the last day. At that time the unredeemed rebels will be banished forever to hell, swept away from presence within and influence over the creation. They will have been permanently subdued to the will of God in final judgment.