“All that is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, and commendable in the whole of creation, in heaven and on earth, is gathered up in the future city of God– renewed, re-created, boosted to its highest glory. The substance of the city of God is present in this creation.
Just as the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, as carbon is converted into diamond, as the grain of wheat upon dying in the ground produces other grains of wheat, as all of nature revives in the spring and dresses up in celebrative clothing, as the believing community is formed out of Adam’s fallen race, as the resurrection body is raised from the body that is dead and buried in the earth, so too, by the re-creating power of Christ, the new heaven and the new earth will one day emerge from the fire-purged elements of this world, radiant in enduring glory and forever set free from the ‘bondage to decay’ (Rom. 8:21).
More glorious than this beautiful earth, more glorious than the earthly Jerusalem, more glorious even than paradise will be the glory of the new Jerusalem, whose architect and builder is God Himself. The state of glory will be no mere restoration of the state of nature, but a re-formation that, thanks to the power of Christ, transforms all matter into form, all potency into actuality, and presents the entire creation before the face of God, brilliant in unfading splendor and blossoming in a springtime of eternal youth.
Substantially nothing is lost. Outside, indeed, are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Rev. 22:15). But in the new heaven and new earth, the world as such is restored; in the believing community the human race is saved.
In that community, which Christ has purchased and gathered from all nations, languages, and tongues (Rev. 5:9), all the nations, Israel included, maintain their distinct place and calling (Matt. 8:11; Rom. 11:25; Rev. 21:24; 22:2). And all those nations– each in accordance with its own distinct national character– bring into the new Jerusalem all they have received from God in the way of glory and honor (Rev. 21:24, 26).”
–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4, Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 720.