Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Fellowship of the Saints (Ephesians 2:11-22)

"In [Jesus Christ] the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (Eph. 2:21).

For the rest of the month we will explore the nature of heaven. As with our study of hell, we will pull our material from the teaching of Jonathan Edwards, who, contrary to the opinions of those who think he preached exclusively on hell, preached extensively on the glories of heaven.

Heaven in all its splendor is as much beyond our imagination as the miseries of hell. The intimacy with God that we receive through the person and work of Christ exceeds our comprehension. As a teenager, Edwards struggled with the ineffable quality of heaven: “to pretend to describe the excellence, the greatness or duration of the happiness of heaven by the most artful composition of words would be but to darken and cloud it, to talk of raptures and ecstasies, joy and singing, is but to set forth very low shadows of the reality, and all we can say by our best rhetoric is really and truly, vastly below what is but the bare and naked truth, and if St. Paul who had seen them, thought it but in vain to endeavor to utter it much less shall we pretend to do it, and the Scriptures have gone as high in the descriptions of it as we are able to keep pace with it in our imaginations and conception.…”

Scripture portrays heaven as a wedding banquet, a victory celebration, a holy assembly in eternal communion with God—and not only with God, but with one another. In hell, the fellowship of the damned only adds to their misery, but in heaven, the fellowship of the saints is a source of great delight. This may be difficult to imagine with the bickering that goes on among Christians, but in heaven, the saints will truly love one another.

But the greatest delight will be God Himself. The saints will experience an intimacy with God through their union with Christ that is beyond their imagination. The infinite distance between God and man is removed by the blood of Christ, the God-man. “The distance between the two natures—divine and human—is overcome by the one who combines both in His one person,” Gerstner wrote. In Christ, love is restored—love between God and man. A love that is perfected in Christ and revealed in the saints as they live forever in holy fellowship with one another and with God.

If the church of Christ is eternal, what should your attitude toward your spiritual brothers and sisters be in this life? Set a date this week with someone from your church. Have a family over for dinner or get together with someone for lunch or even breakfast. Get to know others in your local church.