There is a great deal of difference between the desires of heaven in a sanctified man and an unsanctified. The believer prizes it above earth, and had rather be with God than here… but to the ungodly there [seems] nothing more desirable than this world; and therefore he only chooses heaven before hell, but not before earth.
This is a life of desire and prayer; but that [heaven] is a life of satisfaction and enjoyment.
Christ is the desire of nations, the joy of angels, the delight of the Father. What solace then must that soul be filled with, that has the possession of Him to all eternity!
Most people hope to go to heaven when they die. This is not surprising, given the generally acknowledged alternatives (either hell or nothingness). However, it is quite revealing to ask people what they hope to do when they get to heaven. Most people anticipate the joys of this world writ large: golf courses with no sand traps or water hazards, heavenly mansions with no worries about mortgage payments. If they could have all of those things without leaving this planet, they would be more than content. Christians, however, long for heaven because they long to be in the nearer presence of the God whom they love with all their hearts, joining in the unstinted, eternal worship of the Lamb.
Because faith makes invisible things real, and visible things unreal, earthly dissatisfaction becomes the road to heavenly satisfaction.
For me, true contentment on earth means asking less of this life because more is coming in the next. Godly contentment is great gain. Heavenly gain. Because God has created the appetites in your heart, it stands to reason that He must be the consummation of that hunger. Yes, heaven will galvanize your heart if you focus your faith not on a place of glittery mansions, but on a Person, Jesus, who makes heaven a home.
We pilgrims walk the tightrope between earth and heaven, feeling trapped in time, yet with eternity beating in our hearts. Our unsatisfied sense of exile is not to be solved or fixed while here on earth. Our pain and longings make sure we will never be content, but that’s good: it is to our benefit that we do not grow comfortable in a world destined for decay.
So God prepares His people by giving them a foretaste of the glory to come, in order that the suffering of this present age might be put into its proper perspective. And He gives them suffering so that the glory to come might be put into its proper perspective as well.
I don’t know about you, but the more I think about the new heaven and the new earth, the more excited I get! It is incredible to think that one day soon we will not only experience the resurrection of our carcasses, but the renewal of the cosmos and the return of the Creator. We will literally have heaven on earth. Eden lost will become Eden restored and a whole lot more! Not only will we experience God’s fellowship as Adam did, but we will see our Savior face to face. God incarnate will live in our midst. And we will never come to the end of exploring the infinite, inexhaustible I AM or the grandeur and glory of his incomparable creation.
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
I would not give one moment of heaven for all the joy and riches of the world, even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years.
If we want to prepare for our final destination, we should begin to worship God here on earth. Our arrival in heaven will only be a continuation of what we have already begun. Praise is the language of heaven and the language of the faithful on earth.
Most North American Christians have things so good right here in this world that they don’t really know what it is to long for heaven. God has blessed us with an abundance of earthly comforts – more than any prior generation in history. There is a danger that we become so comfortable in this life that we forget we are but strangers and pilgrims in this world. Like Abraham, we’re supposed to think of ourselves as vagabonds here on earth, looking for a city with eternal foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10)… I often meet Christians who live as if heaven would be an unwelcome intrusion into their busy schedule – an interruption of career goals or holiday plans.
I know what Eternity is, though I cannot define the word to satisfy a metaphysician. The little child taught by some grandmother Lois, in a cottage, knows what she means when she tells him “you will live forever,” though both scholar and teacher would be puzzled to put it into other words.
Surely it is not wrong for us to think and talk about Heaven. I like to find out all I can about it. I expect to live there through all eternity. If I were going to dwell in any place in this country, if I were going to make it my home, I would inquire about its climate, about the neighbors I would have – about everything, in fact, that I could learn concerning it. If soon you were going to emigrate, that is the way you would feel. Well, we are all going to emigrate in a very little while. We are going to spend eternity in another world… Is it not natural that we should look and listen and try to find out who is already there and what is the route to take?
Hearts on earth may say in the course of a joyful experience, “I don’t want this ever to end.” But invariably it does. The hearts of those in heaven say, “I want this to go on forever.” And it will. There is no better news than this.
True belief in both heaven and hell radically changes the way we live on earth. We are encouraged by the hope of heaven, and we are compelled by the horror of hell. We know that this world is not all that exists. We know that every person on the planet is only here for a brief moment, and an eternity lies ahead of us all – an eternity that is either filled with ever-increasing delight or never-ending damnation.
We Christians often act like heathen. We preach that it is wonderful to be a Christian, that Heaven is to be gained and Hell shunned. Then when one of our loved ones dies, we act as if it were all a lie. Our actions say that this world is better than the next, that death is a tragedy, and we ask querulously in our unbelief, Why? Why? Why?… Shame on us! When we weep and lament at the death of our loved ones [beyond God’s-honoring grief], we often make void our testimony, cast reflection upon the Bible and irreverence on Heaven. For the Christian, death is not a tragedy but a glorious promotion – not the sad end, but the glorious beginning.
This world is only an anteroom of the next. This short life is incidental compared with eternity. This world is not home to the Christian. Here we are only sojourners, temporary dwellers in a foreign land. Our citizenship is in Heaven. Our treasure should be in Heaven. Our thoughts should dwell lovingly and longingly on that sweet home of the departed saints, of our Savior and of our Heavenly Father.
Since Heaven is so near and since such a cloud if witnesses surrounds us, let us run our race with patience, laying aside the weights and our besetting sin of unbelief. Jesus will give us the soul-winner’s power while Heaven looks on. And one day we shall share with them the soul-winner’s reward and enter more perfectly into the soul-winner’s rejoicing.
We ought to sing song about Heaven, long after its beauties, rejoice because of the certainty that one glad day we shall be there. We ought to welcome the call that may come for us at any moment. We ought truly to be homesick for Heaven and willing to stay here on earth only that we may do the will of Christ and bless others in His name and work.
We [wrongly] feel that heaven is bearable, all right, when one has sucked dry all the pleasures of earth. We feel that, only after old age has come upon us, when life is a burden, when health has failed, when we are in the way and our children don’t want us, then perhaps we should be resigned to go to Heaven. Subconsciously we look upon heaven as a scrapheap for the worn-out and useless, a kind of old people’s home – better than nothing but not as good as this world, with youth, health and prosperity.
A holy man will…endeavor to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will not neglect the business of the life that now is; but the first place in his mind and thoughts will be given to the life to come. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim traveling to his home.
The heart of a true Christian longs for that blessed day when he will see his Master face-to-face and go out no more. He longs to have done with sinning and repenting, and believing, and to begin that endless life when he shall see as he has been seen, and sin no more. He has found it sweet to live by faith, and he feels it will be sweeter still to live by sight. He has found it pleasant to hear of Christ, and talk of Christ, and read of Christ. How much more pleasant will it be to see Christ with his own eyes, and never to leave Him anymore!
Now is the school time – then the eternal holiday. Now is the tossing on the waves of a troublesome world – then the quiet harbor. Now is the scattering – then is the gathering. Now is the time of sowing – then is the harvest period. Now is the working season – then the wages. Now is the cross – then the Crown.
Heaven is the home for those who want to see and experience the greatness of their God in a way their heart has always desired, but has never been able to achieve fully here on earth.
The anticipation of a joyous event in the future can oftentimes be as good as experiencing the actual event itself.
So be encouraged, Christian, that the best is still yet to come. Death is your portal into glory. Lose the false concepts of heaven. If eternity is nothing more than having little wings that can’t support your oversized body as you sit on a cloud playing a harp, you can’t count me out. Even if heaven is only the best this world has to offer, many can easily lose interest. I mean, after all, how long can you play golf, even if the course has no water hazards or sand traps? Rather heaven will be the fulfillment of everything our hearts have been built to desire… Fix your minds on the things above. Set your hearts on the eternal!
Understand the richer blessings of eternal glory, then remember your temporary suffering in this fallen world is beyond comparison (Rom. 8:18). Eternal hell is the ultimate suffering. For the believer in Christ, your lesser suffering will soon end. It is only “for a little while” (1 Pet. 1:6; 5:10). It’s been said, “For the unbeliever, this present world is as good as it gets. Yet for the believer, this present world is as bad as it gets.”
The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. He is like a traveler in an inn, perfectly satisfied with the inn and its accommodation, considering it as an inn, but putting quite out of all consideration the idea of making it his home.
The very happiest persons I have ever met with have been departing believers. The only people for whom I have felt any envy have been dying members of this very church, whose hands I have grasped in their passing away. Almost without exception I have seen in them holy delight and triumph. And in the exceptions to this exceeding joy I have seen deep peace, exhibited in a calm and deliberate readiness to enter into the presence of their God.
My Soul, you shall swim in happiness, you shall dive in seas of inconceivable delight by reason of your union with Christ and your delight in Him and His delight in you! I know no better idea of Heaven than to be eternally content with Christ and Christ to be eternally content with me! And all this will happen within a very little time. Therefore, lay aside your cares, dismiss your fears, murmur no more. Such a destiny awaits you that you may well be content.
The best moment of a Christian’s life is his last one, because it is the one that is nearest heaven. And then it is that he begins to strike the keynote of the song which he shall sing to all eternity.
God limits the happiness and pleasure we have now precisely so we might not become attached to this world or dependent upon it or fearful of leaving it (dying), as well as to stir in our hearts a longing and yearning and holy anticipation for what is yet to come.
Puritan writer Thomas Watson said, “Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset; eternity to the wicked is a night that has no sunrise.” Eternity is the grand climax of all history. It is the age to come when every person will acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Eternity will bring to this world all God intended for us. Sin will have been judged and banished. Rewards will have been presented. Life will continue with new vitality, meaning, and perfection. What an age that will be!
O Lord, I live here as a fish in a vessel of water only enough to keep me alive, but in heaven I shall swim in the ocean. Here I have a little air in me to keep me breathing, but there I shall have sweet and fresh gales. Here I have a beam of sun to lighten my darkness, a warm ray to keep me from freezing; yonder I shall live in light and warmth forever.
This life is like an inn. You spend a couple of nights there, but you never forget where your home is.
It is often ignorantly and frivolously charged against Christian men that it is selfish in them to seek heaven and glory for their own souls; but no man who is truly seeking salvation will be moved by that accusation. When men really begin to seek their salvation, and to turn their faces to the glory of heaven, then it is that all selfish and ignoble desires receive their death-blow. It is not selfish, surely, for the diseased to seek healing, or the hungry food, or the prodigal his father’s house. So far from this being a sign that the heart is selfish, there is no surer sign that it is being sanctified.