Imagine being miserable in heaven!
Imagine being miserable in heaven!
Not everyone, of course, believes in heaven. Nor in hell. Either there is no after-life at all or we are simply absorbed, at death, into the broader life of the universe.
For many of you, however, heaven is a given. There may be things in the Bible that are not to your liking and impossible to accept. Heaven isn’t among them. You sincerely believe that there is such a place. So too that when you die it’s where you will go. Certainly, at your funeral, it’s where people will say that you have gone – and think you happy there.
Let’s suppose now, for argument’s sake, that heaven were to open its gates to you this very hour. Your life on earth is suddenly at an end; with equal suddenness you find yourself in heaven. Would you be happy there? Or would you in fact be miserable?
I dare say that for believers in heaven to imagine themselves miserable there is to imagine the unimaginable. Aren’t we told in the Bible that there are no tears in heaven? No death or mourning or crying or pain? We are! Look up Revelation 21.4 and read it for yourself. What the Bible calls “the old order of things” has passed away. God has made everything new. What is all this nonsense, then, about being miserable?
In truth, it’s not the nonsense it seems. Suppose, by way of illustration, that every night for the next two months you are required to attend a concert of classical music. If, like me, you are a lover of classical music, the pieces to be heard are all by your favorite composers, and are to be performed by world-class musicians, you might relish the prospect and, in the event, enjoy every single moment.
But what if you loathe classical music? What if your musical tastes are such that to listen, say, to a Beethoven piano concerto, though exquisitely played, is sheer torture? What pleasure can you promise yourself from your sixty upcoming concerts? You are going to be miserable!
With that in mind, let’s return to heaven. There is no question but that its citizens are happy! Even more so when heaven assumes its final form, that of a thoroughly renovated physical world. Everything that the Bible says about their perfect and unending joy is literally true.
But here is why they are happy. They have a taste for heaven’s pleasures and occupations. They love its inhabitants, its laws, and all the things that make it different from the world as it is at the moment. Supremely they love its God and King and delight in his company.
Do you see why many would be miserable in heaven? They love neither God nor holiness. God is not the center of their lives. Spending time with him, talking to him, singing his praise, doing his will, bringing him glory are not their delight. To be deprived of all possibility of ever indulging in any sin whatsoever is repellent. So too the prospect of only ever living with people for whom Jesus is all in all. Heaven for such would be no heaven at all.
What then needs to happen? To make us ready for heaven? So that we will both get there and be happy there? We certainly need our sins forgiven. But we also need what the Bible calls ‘a new heart’ – a heart that delights in God and all that he loves.
How is such a heart to be had? Only God himself can create it. From God, therefore, you must obtain it. Let it encourage you that it is God’s will to freely give it to all who will earnestly seek him for it.
Grace Baptist Church
777 W North Street
Carlisle, PA 17013