re·form: (r-fôrm) v. re·formed, re·form·ing, re·forms v. tr. 1. To improve by alteration, correction of error, or removal of defects; put into a better form or condition. 2. To cause (a person) to give up harmful or immoral practices; persuade to adopt a better way of life.
ma·ma or mam·ma also mom·ma: n. (also m-mä) Informal. Mother.

5.11.2007

Heaven: Why Christians Can Rejoice Even Knowing Loved Ones Won't Be There.

Challies recently included a quote from John Piper's book, God is the Gospel, that said:

The critical question for our generation--and for every generation--is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever say, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

Good question, I thought. I recently was involved in a discussion about Christians rejoicing about the prospect of Heaven. Non-Christians said that we were cruel and heartless for wanting to go to Heaven when, according to our belief system, we knew that others would be doomed to an eternity of Hell.

First, it struck me as interesting that those who do not even believe in Heaven or Hell would be so concerned as to my thoughts about the afterlife. I mean, if what I believe is a fairy tale, then why should they be concerned. That's beside the point though.

Getting to the heart of the issue; I think the quote at the beginning of this post by Piper sums it up quite nicely. Christ is what makes Heaven -- not physical or emotional pleasure.

Follow along for a minute...

Here on Earth we have our sinful hearts still to deal with. We can be a Christian and know and love Christ and want to serve Him and want Him to be our all in all, but ultimately, as long as we have our sinful hearts, that is an impossibility.

Our sinful hearts make us not put Him first. Our sinful hearts prohibit Him from being our *true* everything. By that I mean that Christ cannot be enough while we have our sinful hearts. Our flesh battles too much and rather than letting Christ ultimately comfort us, we deal with grief, pain anxiety, etc... Christ is not the center of our world. He is not what makes our world go 'round -- in a manner of speaking.

While on Earth, we are being sanctified and our hearts are drawing nearer to Him, but the flesh is still a formidable foe.

However, when we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! We will gain glorified bodies. The sanctification process will be complete. God will finally be more than enough to comfort us. We will finally be able to sit at His feet with our alabaster boxes and worship with all of our hearts and not be divided in spirit and flesh. Any sorrow or pain that we may have had will be instantaneously washed away by the mere presence of the Lord.

Sure, we can experience Christ's presence to some extent now, but not like it will be in Heaven.

The thought of going to Heaven without my friends and family grieves me like nothing else. However, as strange as it sounds to me, I will be unable to grieve for them when Christ's presence. He will be all I need. His presence will erase all of my sorrows -- even those associated with those I dearly love here on Earth.

See, Heaven is not about me getting to have a pain-free life (though that certainly is an added benefit); it is about being in the presence of the Lord without interruption from my sinful flesh.

I believe Heaven is a literal place and that it will look as John described in the Revelation. What will make it glorious though will be the eternal presence of the Lord.

Similarly, I believe Hell is a literal place and that it is as described in Scripture -- a place of fire and sorrow and pain and gnashing of teeth. However, the absence of the Lord will far outweigh any pain one might feel while in Hell.

With that I say pray for those who are not Christians. Grieve for them while here, but anticipate Heaven. Anticipate basking in the glory of the Lord - finally and forever. Looking forward to those things does not make you hateful or selfish -- it's part of the hope that comes with being a follower of Christ.

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