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Question

Why did God put us on earth instead of taking us immediately to heaven?

why did God put us on earth instead of in heaven
Answer


The Bible says that God created the earth for a purpose, and that purpose is His glory (Psalm 19:1–2; 50:6; Isaiah 6:3; Romans 11:36). The earth is God’s possession (Deuteronomy 10:14; Exodus 9:29; Psalm 24:1; 89:11; 95:4–5; Acts 7:49; Colossians 1:16–17; 1 Corinthians 10:26; Revelation 4:11), and it is the place where He makes Himself known to humankind: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (Romans 1:20, NLT; see also Psalm 33:5; Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 9:24).

God designed humans to live on earth: “The heavens belong to the Lord, but he has given the earth to all humanity” (Psalm 115:16; see also Acts 17:26). The Lord made us as earthly creatures uniquely designed to live in a physical world: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground’” (Genesis 1:28). God planted a garden and placed humankind in it. Everything about our bodies is designed to interact with the physical realm and be sustained by the rich yields of plant life and animals on the earth (Genesis 1:26, 29–30; 8:17).

God places us on this earth for His sovereign good pleasure: “The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths” (Psalm 135:6, NLT). For Him to bypass the earthly experience and take us immediately to heaven, God would have to deny His original design and divine purpose for us to fulfill on earth.

One purpose for this earthly life is that we come to know God through a relationship with Jesus Christ (John 1:12–13; 3:16; 14:23; 17:3; 1 John 4:9; Romans 5:10; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Revelation 21:3) and to glorify Him in this world (2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:7–18; Ephesians 1:12; 2:10; 3:21; 1 Peter 4:14). The apostle Paul wrote, “We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:11–14, NLT). We cannot be “doing good deeds” on earth if He takes us immediately to heaven.

Jesus calls believers to be “salt and light” to a lost world needing to hear about the grace of God (Matthew 5:13–16). God wants us to reach others from our unique places in the world with the good news of the gospel (Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 1:8), and He places us just where He wants us to be. He placed Paul and Silas in jail so a Philippian jailer could hear the gospel (Acts 16); He brought Peter to Caesarea so a Roman centurion could hear the gospel (Acts 10); He drove Philip to the wilderness so an Ethiopian eunuch could hear the gospel (Acts 8).

Another purpose for our lives as believers here on earth is to be transformed into the character of Christ: “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29, NLT; see also 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:2). Part of that spiritual transformation involves sharing in Christ’s suffering (Matthew 10:22; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 4:8–10, 16–18; 5:1–4; 12:9–10; 1 Peter 4:13, 19).

After the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the earth plunged into sin and rebellion against its Creator, and suffering and pain were a consequence. Ultimately, all of human suffering on earth is either the direct or indirect result of sin. However, God took care of the problem of sin and evil and suffering by sending His Son to save us (Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

One day, God will destroy this corrupted earth (Psalm 102:25–26; Isaiah 24:1–6; Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3:10–12). He will create a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1), and the redeemed of the Lord will receive new heavenly bodies designed for living on God’s newly recreated earth eternally.

The apostle Paul struggled with living on earth instead of being in heaven with Jesus. He wrote, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live” (Philippians 1:21–24, NLT). Paul urged fellow believers to keep on living “as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ . . . fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies” (Philippians 1:27–28, NLT).

Our existence on planet Earth has always been part of God’s plan. While this is not our forever home, it is God’s chosen destination for us until the day our death (or the rapture) brings us face-to-face with Jesus.

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This page last updated: January 30, 2024