Monday, July 11, 2022

A Look at Heaven (Revelation 21)

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall he His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).

When we contemplate heaven, we often wonder “What will I look like?” “What age will I be?” “Will I know anyone?” “Will I remember my life on earth?” We may think we are being heavenly minded in considering such things, but we are only translating our worldly thinking into the heavenly sphere. If these are the questions you dwell on when you consider heaven, you will be gravely disappointed, not only in your failure to answer such speculative questions to any degree of satisfaction, but in your neglect of the one thing that is most important: seeing God.

Jonathan Edwards once wrote that the ultimate glory in heaven is seeing God Himself (the beatific vision). It is not seeing friends, or walking through palisades of gold, but it is tasting the ecstasy of the perfect vision of God. Edwards explained that this vision is not one with the physical eyes, but an apprehension of God in our souls—an intellectual-spiritual vision. The saints in heaven “shall see everything in God that tends to excite and inflame love.… The effects of this vision … are, that the souls shall be inflamed with love, and satisfied with pleasure.” Edwards wrote a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:8–10 called “Heaven, a World of Love.” He writes that the fullness of love will be experienced in heaven like nothing else. When we gaze upon the resurrected Christ with our bodily eyes, we will see God in such excellency and glory that we will praise Him forever for His wisdom and mercy in redemption. In our souls, we will experience the beatific vision of being filled with the love and peace of God.

“In heaven there shall be no remaining enmity, or distaste, or coldness, or deadness of heart towards God and Christ,” Edwards wrote. “All the members of that blessed society shall rejoice in each other’s happiness, for the love of benevolence is perfect in them all.… As the saints will love God with an inconceivable ardency of heart, and to the utmost of their capacity, so they will know that He has loved them from all eternity, and still loves them, and will continue to love them forever.” Such is the hope of all Christians, which gives us the strength to endure the sufferings of this life, which will one day pass into glory.

Has this study changed your understanding of heaven? Read 1 Corinthians 7:29–31. Your knowledge and hope of heaven should affect your life today. If you are to love God and one another for eternity, what should your attitude toward God and others be in this life? Ask God to give you more grace to love Him and others.