Enjoying Eternity: What Will God’s People Be Doing Forever?


Cloud surfing? Harp strumming? Singing in an everlasting worship service? Melting into nothing in the celestial light of God? Is this how we will be enjoying eternity?

Some guesses about our eternal activities are nebulous, and others cross the border into the ridiculous. None of these pictures inspires me to anticipate eternity with joy. George Orwell observed,

The Christian Heaven, as usually portrayed, would attract nobody. Almost all Christian writers dealing with Heaven either say frankly that it is indescribable or conjure up a vague picture of gold, precious stones, and the endless singing of hymns.1

If you are not excited about the prospect of eternity with God, maybe you’ve got the wrong picture in your mind. What will God’s people be doing in eternity?

Enjoying Food

We are going to eat in eternity. At the very least, we will eat from the tree of life. God promises believers: “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). The tree of life grows in the New Jerusalem in the new earth where believers will live forever (Revelation 21:2).

In His glorified body, Jesus ate and drank (Luke 24:42–43). Since our glorified bodies are like His, we too will be able to eat and drink in eternity. Furthermore, just before the Second Coming of Christ, we will sit and eat with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb as He foretold at the Last Supper (Revelation 19:6–9; Luke 22:15–18). We will not enter a tasteless eternity. Fruit and feasts await us in the new earth.

Enjoying Homes and Land

According to Matthew 19:28–30, Jesus promises that those who give up houses and lands in this life will inherit them in eternity. If you like having a garden or growing your own food, you can do it in the new earth.2 With the curse removed, think of how easy and fruitful your efforts will be!

Enjoying Relationships

Also, in Matthew 19:28–30, Jesus promises close family relationships in eternity. We will see our saved relatives again (1 Thessalonians 4:13–14). Those without saved relatives or who in this life lacked healthy family relationships will experience them in eternity. Biblical accounts indicate that we will recognize those we knew from this life just as Jesus’ friends recognized Him after His resurrection. The new earth will include perfect community and society as God originally intended.

Enjoying International Differences

Surprisingly, in the new earth, God will not abolish ethnic and national differences (Revelation 21:24, 26; 22:3). Yes, in Jesus Christ, we are all equal regardless of ethnicity, gender, or social status (Galatians 3:28). However, both the prophets of old as well as the book of Revelation speak of the nations in eternity. Revelation 21:24 describes “the nations of those who are saved” and “the kings of the earth” existing in the new earth and offering gifts to Jesus Christ in the New Jerusalem. Scholars, like Michael Vlach, argue that the “glory and the honor of the nations” that these international rulers bring to the New Jerusalem refer to the cultural contributions of distinct people groups.3 These differences enrich the society of the new earth rather than create the conflict and competition that we see in the fallen world today.

So, can we look forward to a glorified Chinese buffet without MSG? Mexican bean burritos without discomfort? Japanese sushi without fear of cross-contamination? Maybe we won’t be eating meat since there is no death, but whatever replaces it will be so much better than an impossible burger. Furthermore, the creativity of the different cultures will continue, not disappear. We do not lose what is truly good in the new earth. Instead, we experience it at its best, as God meant it to be.

Enjoying Jesus’ Light

Revelation 21–22 describes the new earth in very concrete terms with cities, gates, and a street of gold. Genuine physical light from Jesus replaces the need for a sun and moon, and His people walk in this light (Revelation 21:23; 22:5). Yet, a spiritual aspect of light also applies (1 John 1:5). The new earth contains no impurity or blemish of any kind (Revelation 21:8, 27). All relationships, speech, and actions are genuinely pure as God’s people walk with Him in His light (Revelation 21:24).

Enjoying Rule Over God’s Creation

God made humans to have dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:26). Sin only delayed God’s design. In the new earth, humankind will rule under the King of Kings (Revelation 22:5). God has work for us to do as we serve Him by ruling over His creation.

In Eden, this rule did not just involve people but also agriculture and animals. We know that the new earth includes plants like the tree of life. Could the new earth also involve animals? It would seem likely. Maybe we would even live in harmony alongside extinct species like dinosaurs, saber-tooth tigers, and dodo birds.

Enjoying Life in God’s Presence

Beyond all the blessings mentioned thus far, God’s people will enjoy the presence of God forever (Revelation 21:3). God Himself will live among us. Psalm 16:11 emphasizes this joy: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” We will walk with God in an Eden-like, “very good” environment as God intended (Genesis 1:31).

Enjoying Eternity

Are you longing for eternity now? The Bible’s revelation of the new earth provides enough concrete details to excite our imaginations.4 What God describes far exceeds pictures of floating cherubs, feathery wings, or encompassing light.

Eternal life is truly life—overflowing with new experiences, inner fulfillment, and guiltless enjoyment. We do not lose anything good that we have now: we gain so much more. We will not look back wishing for what we once had. No, in eternity, we will launch forward into a new existence beyond anything we have experienced before.

C. S. Lewis illustrated this truth well in the final paragraph of his Chronicles of Narnia:

And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.5


1 George Orwell, All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008), 205. Quoted material from the essay, “Can Socialists Be Happy?”

2 Yes, this implies that there will be time in the new earth as does the reference to the tree of life producing every month in Revelation 22:2.

3 Michael Vlach, The New Creation Model: A Paradigm for Discovering God’s Restoration Purposes from Creation to New Creation (Cary, NC: Theological Studies Press, 2023), 27. A very thought-provoking book that was released earlier this year. It is well worth reading!

4 The final chapter of my missions devotional, Daring Devotion: A 31-Day Journey with those who Lived God’s Promises, highlights the hope and anticipation for the new heaven and new earth.

5 C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: HarperTrophy, 1956), 228.

MR Conrad Bio

Dr. Conrad serves in urban Asia. He, his wife, and their four children squeeze into a 700 square-foot apartment where he seizes rare moments of quiet to write amidst homeschooling, a cacophony of musical instruments, and the steady stream of visitors they so enjoy having in their home. He enjoys birding, board games, and basketball. He is the author of, so far, two books.


I am not sure this is true

"Those without saved relatives or who in this life lacked healthy family relationships will experience them in eternity."

I don't think Scripture is clear here. I also don't believe we will be living with the burden that one of our children who was unsaved in this life is now spending eternity in Hell. I also am not sure we will recognize each other. The author of this article said that people identified the risen Savior, but that is not entirely true. He was hidden to everyone until He revealed Himself. His disciples had to see His hands even though they spent 3 years with him and He was standing right in front of them.

What do you think Jesus meant in Matt 19:29, then?

It seems to point toward family relationships in eternity.

The phenomenon of people recognizing and not recognizing Jesus after resurrection has always fascinated me. Paul refers to a “spiritual body” (in 1 Cor 15, if memory serves). So, it’s a body, but what does it mean for a body to be “spiritual”? Jesus goes out of His way to eat food with the disciples (John 21, Luke 24:40-42), to help them understand that He is not a mere spirit.

So there is evidence that the appearance of the post-resurrection body is, at times, unusual. He either looks like an ordinary man, and they don’t recognize Him, or they recognize Him but think He’s a ghost.

Road to Emmaus… He seems to just be a random dude.

I don’t know what we can infer from all this (and more), other than recognition of one another post-resurrection seems to be complicated. But in the examples we have, it’s only complicated for “not yet resurrected” people looking at a resurrected person. We don’t know there is any difficulty in post-resurrection people recognizing each other.

So I lean toward the simpler take on Matt 19:29. We’ll know each other. (But it’s certainly possible that He means non-family people will be your family… Mark 3:34)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

I don't think Matt. 19:29 indicates family relationships. It just says that you will receive hundredfold. We know that God's view of rewards is very different than ours. Families are something we need on earth, but may not exist in heaven. We know that marriage doesn't exist in heaven.

My take is that our family in heaven will be our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that it will be a spiritual family, not a 1:1 imprint of our life on earth. I think there is a lot of complications on bringing that model to heaven. If we had 6 children and 3 were saved and 3 were not. Would we enjoy eternity with 3 kids, but be in despair over the other 3 that we loved deeply, but are now in torment? How could we have no pain or sorrow in heaven with that reality still embedded in our memory? What would children who were died days after birth, look like in heaven? I find that much of how we view heaven is too much imprinted with what how we view earth. Just as the Kingdom of Heaven was very divergent with the views of Biblical scholars during Jesus' life, so will heaven be when we are there. That is my view at least.

I find that much of how we view heaven is too much imprinted with what how we view earth. Just as the Kingdom of Heaven was very divergent with the views of Biblical scholars during Jesus' life, so will heaven be when we are there. That is my view at least.

I think that one of the reasons we view heaven with an imprint of earth is that some of the descriptions we are given in Rev 21-22 are very understandable in earthly terms. We have a description of a street of gold. Are we to take that literally and actually believe that there is a street of gold in heaven, or is that meant to be taken figuratively and really mean something different? We have actual measurements for the length and width of the New Jerusalem. Then the passage says that the city is the same height as the length and width, and that makes me think that perhaps there is something more metaphorical about the dimensions than a literal reading would indicate, though the actual measurements wouldn't be an impossibility with God. The passage talks about the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God. Does God actually need a throne, or is that mainly a representation of rulership that is understandable to us humans? I do tend to look at these descriptions as literal, but I'm very willing to acknowledge that these might just be pictures to describe a place that is otherwise indescribable.

@dgszweda, your view seems plausible to me.

On this..

I find that much of how we view heaven is too much imprinted with what how we view earth. Just as the Kingdom of Heaven was very divergent with the views of Biblical scholars during Jesus’ life, so will heaven be when we are there. That is my view at least.

I tend to think it’s some of both. That is, I think the eternal state will more ‘normal earth life-like’ than we think in many ways, but at the same time unlike what we think in other ways. As Kevin noted, there is definitely some language in Rev. (and maybe the Isaiah, etc., depending on how much continuity you see betwee millennium and eternity) that encourages us to see aspects of ‘forever’ as ‘a lot like now.’ But only some aspects.

One of these days I’d like to read Randy Alcorn’s book on the topic. I know he believes in a lot of continuity with ‘life as we know it,’ except for all the broken parts.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

I think if you look at Scripture and then see how stuff is fulfilled, it is more times than not different from expectations. The Jews thought the Messiah (based on their studies of the OT) to be one thing, and it was something different. Then when he is cornered, He flips the view. Classic one is marriage. There is no concept of marriage in heaven, yet it is the very imprint of Christ's relationship with the Church, portrayed in the first institution created by God at Creation.

While I can't be dogmatic on it, most of Scripture points to the fact that our expectations fall short of God's reality.