Life on this Earth matters. What we do here touches strings that reverberate for all eternity.
Scripture teaches that we [Christians] need each other and should not withdraw from each other’s fellowship, instruction, or accountability. It’s unbiblical to imagine that we can successfully seek God on our own (Hebrews 10.25). Because we will be part of a community of saints that constitutes the bride of Christ for eternity, and because we will worship and serve Him together, to prepare properly for Heaven we must be part of a church now.
I took a brief break in posting in the first two weeks of August, so this post is a little delayed but no less important.
Commenting on Revelation 5.9-10 which tells of people from every tribe, language, people and nation:
“Christ died for our sins of racism. His work on the cross put racism to death. The redemption of mankind and the earth will include the redemption of human relationships and the uniting of different people groups in Christ. Racist groups that purport to be Christian are the opposite of Christian. There will be no racial prejudice in Heaven. There will be no illusions of racial or national superiority, no disputes over borders.
“Peace on Earth will be accomplished not by the abolition of our differences but by a unifying loyalty to the King, a loyalty that transcends differences — and is enriched by them. The kings and leaders of nations will be united because they share the King’s righteousness, and they, with him, will rejoice in their differences as a tribute to his creativity and multifaceted character.”
The world needs to see true followers of Jesus, not people whose only difference is church attendance.
Nothing is more often misdiagnosed than our homesickness for Heaven. We think that we what want is sex, drugs, alcohol, a new job, a raise, a doctorate, a spouse, a large-screen television, a new car, a cabin in the woods, a condo in Hawaii. What we really want is the person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven. Nothing less can satisfy us. C. S. Lewis said, “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God.”
Service is a reward, not a punishment. This idea is foreign to people who dislike their work and only put up with it until retirement. We think that faithful work should be rewarded by a vacation for the rest of our lives. But God offers us something very different: more work, more responsibilities, increased opportunities, along with greater abilities, resources, wisdom, and empowerment. We will have sharp minds, strong bodies, clear purpose, and unabated joy. The more we serve Christ now, the greater our capacity will be to serve Him in Heaven.
The idea of entering into the Master’s joy is a telling picture of Heaven. It’s not simply that being with the Master produces joy in us, though certainly it will. Rather, it’s that our Master himself is joyful. He takes joy in himself, in his children, and in his creation. His joy is contagious. Once we’re liberated from the sin that blocks us from God’s joy and our own, we’ll enter into his joy. Joy will be the very air we breathe. The Lord is inexhaustible — therefore his joy is inexhaustible.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63.1). We may imagine we want a thousand different things, but God is the one we really long for. His presence brings satisfaction; his absence brings thirst and longing. Our longing for heaven is a long for God — a longing that involves not only our inner beings, but our bodies as well. Being with God is the heart and soul of Heaven. Every other heavenly pleasure will derive from and be secondary to his presence. God’s greatest gift to us is, and always will be, himself.
Commenting on the fine linen worn by believers in Revelation 19.8:
It’s only because of the Bridegroom’s work that the chosen princess, the church, can enter the presence of her Lord. Yet her wedding dress is woven through her many acts of faithfulness while away from her Bridegroom on the fallen Earth. The picture is compelling. Each prayer, each gift, each hour of fasting, each kindness to the needy, all of these are the threads that have been woven together into this wedding dress. Her works have been empowered by the Spirit, and she has spent her life on Earth sewing her wedding dress for the day when she will be joined to her beloved Bridegroom.
Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2004), 199-200.