Sunday, June 29, 2008

The greatest thing about heaven

I have been thinking much on hell lately because of the recent Resolved conference. But it’s not only the Resolved conference that has sparked my thinking on the all too true reality of hell. I have been thinking on hell and God’s judgment much in recent months because of a startling realization of the lack of teaching on hell and God’s judgment that has swept across churches around the globe. I am almost done with two books and then I’m eager to get to my next book (which I literally am excited [can I use that word with this kind of topic] about reading the book by Jonathan Edwards, The Torments of Hell: Jonathan Edwards on Eternal Damnation). I pray that this will spark many conversations on my bus rides to and from seminary.

At any rate, this morning after singing our last song in our worship service I prayed a prayer that focused on another place where people will spend eternity, namely, heaven. We finished our music set by singing Shout to the Lord. The last line of the chorus is: “nothing compares with the promise I have in you.” We repeated that last line a few times and then I closed with prayer. As I prayed I found myself saying this:

The greatest thing about heaven will not be the fact that we are absent from this sinful, pain-stricken, prone-to-do-evil body, as glorious as that will be. Nor will the greatest thing about heaven be the reality of serving God night and day in a perfect new city for all eternity, as glorious as that will be. Yes, it is encouraging that I will see Elizabeth and others whom I love in heaven and be able to worship the Lamb with them, but that’s still not the greatest thing about heaven. In fact, these things will all pale in comparison with the greatest thing in heaven. The greatest thing in heaven will be the reality that we will be eternally and perfectly happy because we will be with our Savior.

I would venture to say that this must be (yes I use that word “must” deliberately) the true passion of every genuine believer. I dare say that many want to go to heaven to be delivered from the toils and pains of this life; to see parents or a spouse who is already there; to have a nice “mansion,” or to be delivered from some kind of malady – though these will become reality for true born-again believers, yet for the person who wants to go to heaven and who has the unhindered, unrivaled, and awesome presence of Jesus as the backburner of the joyful bliss that they expect to partake of, I fear that they will never enter into heaven. Not because the want or desire isn’t there; it is. Not because they didn’t prophecy (or preach) in God’s name; they did. But there are many religious people who do religious things (in the name of God) who will be fiercefully cast into eternal hell. It’s not enough to want heaven. It’s not enough to want eternal happiness, bliss, and joy. But what Jesus Christ did on the cross almost 2,000 years ago is enough. The person who repents of his sin, recognizes his violation of the perfect holiness of God thereby incurring the anger, wrath, and fury of the Almighty, and he who believes in Jesus Christ and his substitutionary death on the cross followed by a lifelong commitment to love, serve, honor, and magnify the Savior will be saved. This is the person who lives life to savor the Savior. He lives life with a heavenward focus. This is the man who lives to bring honor to Jesus Christ longing for that day when he will be in the presence of the Savior for all eternity.

With that said, what is the greatest thing about heaven to you? Will you be there?

60 comments:

St. Louis Mom said...

I love that phrase...."savor the Savior". Did you make that up? It could be a book title or at least a sermon title! You are the best and I am totally unbiased. : )
Love, Mom

geoffrey kirkland said...

Oh no -- that's not original. It is from John Piper -- so he's the best.

Anonymous said...

We're not on a pleasure cruise to Heaven, but on a battleship at the gates of hell. We don't want anyone to come near that place.
By the way, what kind of friend would you or I be if we had friends dying and going to hell, and we didn't warn them about the eternal judgment that awaits them?

geoffrey kirkland said...

Yes, you understand it! The MOST loving thing that we CAN do is tell people about the horrors and torments of hell and immediately follow that up with the loving grace and forgiveness of God only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Great point, brother.

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