It was on 25th June 1997 that my son Andrew collapsed and died during an A level PE lesson at school. Amidst all the unreality my solid rock was the fact that he had trusted in the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross, accepted Him as his Saviour and was in heaven with the One he had loved without seeing for those few short years. Because he had faced God in true repentance I knew with complete certainty that his soul was secure for all eternity. And so my thoughts turned towards heaven. I wanted to find out more about the place where Andy was and where I would meet him one day.
Of course our human minds will never be able to grasp the loveliness, beauty and richness of heaven, which is why John in the book of Revelation has given us a list of negatives. There will be no more sorrow, tears, pain or death, no more curse or evil, no hunger and no more night. But surely by searching the Bible there must be a positive side to find.
First of all I began to think about who would be there and of course the greatest joy will be to see Christ. "In Thy Presence is fulness of joy", Psa.16. In heaven we shall commune with Him and adore Him in a way we cannot do down here and see Him ‘in His divine beauty, altogether lovely, fairer than the children of men, with grace poured into His lips; all His garments white and glistening, smelling of myrrh and aloes and cassia; His face shining as the sun in its strength and His voice as the sound of many waters’ (see Psa.45, Matt.17, Rev.1)
We shall converse with the saints of whom we have read in the pages of our Bible. Just think for a while of who you are longing to meet. Perhaps it is Mary of Bethany. Perhaps it is John, so conscious of the love of the Lord. Perhaps it is to hear from Enoch of his long, close walk with God. Perhaps the impetuous Peter, Joseph the skilled carpenter or the brave, loyal Daniel.
We shall see the angels and join with them in praising the Lord. "And I beheld and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne ... and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands", Rev.5.
We shall be reunited with all our loved ones who also have known the Lord Jesus as their King and will most certainly recognise them. Just one reading of Luke 16v22-31 clearly shows that when the body dies the memory doesn’t die with it. The rich man can see, talk, feel, hear, reason, entreat and remember. He has a heightened awareness and perception. Luke 13v28 tells us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob keep their identities and will be recognised. As one star differs from another so shall we be distinct one from another. God designed us to be physical and spiritual and clearly like Christ’s resurrected body. The Lord after His resurrection was known by His voice, His ways, His features. Mary recognised His well-loved voice through the tears in her eyes. The Emmaus disciples recognised His hands as He broke the bread. John recognised Him for the miracle He performed and the disciples knew Him for the nail prints.
People often wonder what we shall do in heaven. At last we will be holy and enjoy endless communion with God. We will serve Him and will reign with Christ for ever (Rev.22). We shall sing and praise God. "Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways ... who shall not ... glorify Thy name? For Thou only art holy", Rev.15. We shall remember all the way which the Lord has led us (Deut.8) and things which we don’t understand just now, trials we have had to face seemingly without reason will be explained. "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter", John 13v7. We shall become enriched and shall advance in knowledge. At last we shall study and understand the Scriptures as never before. "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus", Eph.2. We shall live in the place prepared for us by Christ Himself and will "eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God", Rev.2.
So heaven is a place, a prepared place, a reality. "A city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God", Heb.11v10. Rev.21v18-21 describes the jasper wall, the foundations of precious stones and the street of gold. It is important to remember that had there been no Calvary then there would be no admission through the gates of pearl into the scenes of Glory. We can never thank the Lord enough for His great sacrifice of love at such a cost to Himself.
The more we think about heaven the more we will love it and value it. The anticipation of heaven should be our guiding star; should dictate the pattern of our daily walk. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also", Matt.6v21. Well might we say with Solomon ‘He brought me to His banqueting house and His banner over me was love’.
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him", 1Cor.2v9. May we try to tell others of the One who gave His life and offers salvation to all who accept Him so that they too will be brought into His treasure house.
This article is abridged from the booklet 'A Foretaste of Heaven - notes by Cilla'.
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