The Biblical View
The new heavens and new earth are spoken of in the Old Testament and New Testament. It's the final home for those who choose to serve and love God, of all the redeemed, a happy home, a place with no troubles.
The many amazing blessings that premillennialists claim will occur in the 1,000 year earthly millennium will actually occur in the new heavens and new earth.
Three factors cause Christians to miss the significance of the new heavens and new earth...
There's so much detailed information in the Bible about the new heavens and new earth (as I detail in this article).
The new heavens and new earth will be just like the present world with a few differences. Key features...
The power of death is merely the power to influence the workings of the universe to bring harm. In the new heavens and new earth there will be no more death because Satan and the wicked spirit creatures will no longer be able to influence the workings of the universe.
There will be space and time in the new heavens and new earth. I mention this because the contrary is often claimed by Christians.
Certain aspects of the physical world will be different, specifically...
Marriage requires a physical body — disembodied souls cannot be married, nor can they get married.
I should note: some claim the Bible opposes this view based on one passage (and only one passage) that seemingly refutes it. It's when the Sadducees mockingly ask Jesus: after death, who is the husband of a woman who had several (since you can have only one)? Here's a brief analysis...
Major events for the redeemed...
It is common for fundamentalist evangelical Protestants to ask someone "if you die today will you go to heaven?" Certainly the souls of the redeemed will remain in the spiritual realm when they die, either in purgatory or in heaven. What is often ignored is that our souls already reside in the spiritual realm, in a realm closely associated with the earth. This realm is also populated by the good spirits (angels) as well as the wicked spirits; these are engaged in mortal combat in a great spiritual war. Our souls are influenced by both kinds of spirits.
At death the fate of each human soul varies...
The new heavens and new earth will finally bring utopia to the redeemed. Human bodily life will become what God planned it to be.
Infants will not die soon after birth; people will not die prematurely. At the end of a normal lifespan (100 years) the unredeemed in hell will not be saved from their misery by death (as they are in this world) and the redeemed will still be receiving blessings (and will continue to do so forever).
There will be a literal temple in Jerusalem with animal sacrifices, priests, rituals and rites. However, animals will not be killed; Jesus' sacrifice on the cross will be the sacrifice they offer just as during the Eucharist.
There will be a nation of Israel in the new heavens and new earth and it will possess the promises given to Abraham. This nation will have a temple and a priesthood. The resurrected David will be their king.
There will be marriage, procreation, conjugal relations, childbirth, and childrearing.
In the new heavens and new earth we will still be a soul inhabiting a body (a resurrected body). The souls will still have appetites, however these appetites will not be sinful. Just as an infant has appetites (hunger, urge to breathe, need for touch and to be loved and cared for) but does not sin, in like manner we will continue to have appetites.
The Protestant Reformers believed that we are born totally depraved and that we all sin hundreds of times per minute in our thoughts and deeds. I reject this view. Infants do not sin (even though they may hurt someone; but they do not intend to do this). It takes the development of the sense of morality which only develops years later before we can sin.
Just as there is conflict, tension, and suspense in a good story; so also we will experience these in the new heavens and new earth. As an example, as the population of a certain planet increases, the inhabitants will have to decide to explore another part of the universe and to settle there. Some will stay and some will leave and both groups will miss each other.
Children will be born and will mature into adulthood. The parents will have the challenging task of educating the child and of providing proper spiritual direction. While sin will be absent, there will still be various distractions and challenges. Out of their love for their children, parents will discuss and consider how to best assist their children so that they can achieve their full potential.
People will adopt careers that suit them. Some will be farmers. Even though there is no need for people to eat, it will be enjoyable and many will continue to prepare food and eat. There is no need for farmers to provide food since people can materialize it at will, but humans were designed to enjoy simple activities such as farming, building things, designing things, improving things, etc. Receiving food from a farmer will be a blessing for both parties.
Relationships will be a joy. People will enjoy each others' company and will tell stories, laugh, sing, and spend time together.
Everybody will be very involved in worship and devotional activities. God's presence will be felt by everyone. People will take pilgrimages to various special sites. Jerusalem will be a popular pilgrimage site as will the New Jerusalem; the 1,500 mile square city that will float somewhere in the sky.
People will have hobbies such as mountain climbing (no ropes required); playing and composing songs and music; surfing; knitting; playing games; collecting things; dancing; travelling to places on earth (planes and cars are not needed), under the ocean, on other planets, even to the center of stars.
Many people have had utopian ideals which they attempted to implement with varying degrees of success. The new heavens and new earth will finally be the utopia everyone craves.
I long for eternal life in the new heavens and new earth. The presence of the blessed Trinity will be felt continuously. There will be no more urgings to sin; no more weakness of character.
All my heart's desires will be fulfilled. I will play music and surf. I will explore the universe.
The difficulties of this world will no longer exist. People will not exploit one another but will seek each others' good.
The resurrected body only exists in this physical universe. When Jesus ascended into heaven he shed his resurrected body. When he returns at the second coming he will again take on his resurrected body.
Everyone also has a spiritual body. This is the body we experience in our dreams.
Do infants or fetuses have spiritual bodies? I think they do. The spiritual body directs the development of the physical body; it is a template for what the physical body should look like.
Our memories of the time spent on this earth will all be available to us in the new heavens and new earth, but they will be purified in purgatory. We will no longer have the painful memories of the effects of sin — rather, we will remember the events in the way God views these events. We will remember what God saw. God is free from sin; he doesn't see sin; he doesn't know about sin, and neither will we.
I doubt if we will remember people who end up in hell. There is no reason to remember them. The eternal state for the redeemed is all about life.
In considering why we recall memories: I notice I am continuously bombarded with unsolicited memories and sometimes exhausted by it all. Ideally, we should live for the moment and only remember the past to celebrate it with others.
There will be no sin in the New Heavens and New Earth, nor will there be the effects of sin. Our rejection and repentance of sin while in this present world has, in a way, prepared us for spending eternity with God but the sin itself had nothing to do with it. Thus, sin itself is not redemptive — it is our response to sin which is redemptive.
There will be no pain and suffering in the new heavens and new earth. We will still have to work towards fulfilling our goals and desires, but the process will be joyous, not burdensome. The process will be similar to the enjoyable challenges we face in the present world and the fun of conquering them.
We will strive and persevere to accomplish things, but it will be truly enjoyable.
Even though we will have a physical body, it will be invincible and will not experience pain or be harmed in any way. Our bodies will be a delight and we will enjoy using them as they were designed by God to be used.
We will not need food and there will certainly not be eating disorders or obesity. We will eat food as a way to worship God and to celebrate our human fellowship. We will enjoy food just as we enjoy all aspects of our body.
Jesus ate fish after his resurrection. He didn't kill this fish but merely materialized its body; there was never a living fish soul, just a fish body. This is the same kind of thing that occurred with the multiplication of loaves and fishes.
I believe the Catholic doctrine that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was without sin from her conception. Based on this, her time here on this earth was much like it will be for us all in the new heavens and new earth. The main differences...
In the new heavens and new earth the body will limit us as it does now. Our conscious experience will forever be limited by the capacity of the brain to create neural networks.
For example, if I want to learn a new classical guitar piece I will have to practice diligently for hours and day and months. Finally the goal will arrive. Then, if I wish to retain this skill, I must practice it every day.
But then I want to take up painting, so I practice it over time to achieve mastery. The brain is perfectly malleable and can be molded into learning any number of new skills. But in learning to paint I will have less time to play guitar; I must choose one thing over another.
The same for having children; you can have as many as you want — billions upon trillions. You will raise each of them for decades, but one day, finally, they will move on and you must send them on their way with a blessing. There is only a limited amount of time in a day and you must choose how to fill it.
There will be ample opportunity to worship God in community and you will have to choose to do this instead of tending to your garden or organizing your books or visiting friends or playing with your dogs. Worshipping of God this way will always be a priority.
Angels have no body to limit them. They are limited in a different way; by being forever subservient to God's commands similar to how Charismatics follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit from moment to moment.
How can there be growth forever without filling up the earth and universe? I'm speculating there will be parallel universes used for the overflow. Anytime you want you can move to another earth having fewer people. And what about the billions of children that will accumulate; won't you miss them when they leave? After all, you can only have a small number of people in your life at one time. Yes, parting will be times of sadness as you pray for each other's well being.