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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What Makes Heaven Our Destination of Choice?

Another great quote from the introduction to John Piper's latest book God Is The Gospel that I blogged about earlier:
Would You Be Happy In Heaven if Christ Were Not There?

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 activites you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisifed with heaven, if Christ was not there? (emphasis mine)
This quote reminded me of a sermon I preached a couple of months ago from Philippians 1:20-21. These are some reflections from my meditations on the passage at the time:
“To die is gain” states in the simplest terms how Paul thinks about death (and eternity): being with Christ. So many appeals and presentations of the gospel today are anything but Christ-centered. More often, they are self-centered (“Do you want peace in your life?”) or even hell-centered (“Do you want to avoid hell, which is a really unpleasant place?”). Worse yet, our references to eternal life are primarily “anti-death.” But Paul gets it right: the only reason one would want to have eternal life is because of Christ! Death is gain, because death brings us finally and forever to be with the one after whom we have longed for (or should) while on earth: our glorious and beautiful and merciful Savior!

References to hell as a Christ-less eternity often fail to convey the real implications of a Christ-less eternity: that Christ himself is the source of all that is good, all that is love, all that is happiness.

Heaven is not merely a “new and improved” version of earth. Earth is a poor copy of heaven in all its glories. We do not see clearly here, only to get a shinier version there. Rather, we see “dimly as through a glass.” There, we shall see that this was but a dream, blurry and undefined. And Christ, above all, shall be seen in unmitigated and unparalleled beauty and glory. And He indeed is heaven’s Sun, all else is a reflection of Him (we don’t see objects, we see light).

John Owen put it very descriptively and nailed it exactly when he wrote in The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded:
The glory of heaven which the gospel prepares us for, which faith leads and conducts us unto, which the souls of believers long after, as that which will give full rest, satisfaction, and complacency, is the full, open, perfect manifestation of the glory of the wisdom, goodness, and love of God in Christ. (emphasis mine)