The Resurrection and the New Creation
The resurrection is not only an apologetics tool—a way to prove that Christianity is real and the teachings of Jesus have all been validated—it is also the beginning of what Scripture calls the “new creation.” Let me show you what I mean.
The New Testament teaches us that Jesus’s resurrection means he is the “firstborn” from among the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). This means that Jesus was the first one to rise from the dead never to die again. Christ being the first implies there will be many more who experience the same resurrection, never to die again.
Not only is Jesus the firstborn, but we also see that he is the “new Adam” for the new creation. Just as Adam was the original representative of all mankind, so Jesus has now taken that place. Romans 5:12-21 teaches us that Christ has undone the curse that came through Adam, and his victory over Satan’s temptations in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11) shows us that he has succeeded where Adam failed.
We also learn from Scripture that we will spend eternity on this earth, not some place far away in the clouds. In Revelation 21, John writes, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:1-2) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the end, he will re-create them. He will make them new. You will find this same language of a "new earth" in places like Isaiah 65:17 & 66:22, as well as 2 Peter 3:13. And do not forget Jesus's promise to the meek in the beatitudes: they will inherit the earth.
This doctrine of the new earth is important because the New Testament also teaches that our current creation will not be totally destroyed with fire—as so many Christians assume—but will be renewed or purified by it. For example, take 2 Peter 3:
“For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:5-7)
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:10)
Notice how Peter teaches that God will bring fire upon the earth in much the same way that he used water to make it "perish" in Noah’s day. But it did not perish completely. Rather, it was purged or purified of evil. The same will be true in the end, only then with fire instead of water. In 2 Peter 3:10 above, it says “the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." Notice the similarities between this passage, and Paul's words in 1 Cor. 3:13-14:
“each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.” (1 Cor. 3:13-14)
The fire of judgment day will be a revealing, purging, and purifying fire, burning away all that is temporary and destined for destruction. But, do you see how there will be work that survives this fire into eternity? Therefore, we must not think that everything we do in this life doesn’t matter because the earth will be destroyed in the end anyway. No. Some things will remain. Good and lasting things done in faith with the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit himself.
Jesus’s resurrection was the dawn of a new creation. Now, creation itself waits eagerly for its deliverance. Paul writes, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:20-21) It does not say creation is waiting to be destroyed. No, it is waiting to be set free from corruption!
And so are we. If you are in Christ, you are a “new creation” here and now, and yet you are waiting to be fully set free from the corruption of sin. Jesus’s resurrection is like a guarantee that one day we will experience that freedom. It is a down-payment from God on his promise in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new.”