Christianity affirms the material order. In creation God made the physical world (Gen. 1) and man with a tangible body (Gen. 2:7). In redemption God effects the incarnation of Christ (Heb. 2:14) and his physical resurrection (Luke 24:39). We should not be surprised, then, that even in the consummation we will once again inhabit physical bodies (John 5:28-29) in a material environment (2 Peter 3:13). God has created us as men, not angels. As redeemed vessels of mercy we will inherit a glorious, perfect, physical realm when God refashions the world in the new heavens and new earth.
We find the fullest explanation of the glory of the consummate new creation in Revelation 21-22. But we cannot simply leap to the closing chapters of the Bible and expect to understand it properly. Revelation is the capstone of prophecy, not the foundation stone. Without adequate preparation for interpreting it, it can become a stumbling stone. Continue reading