We began part one with the observation that we human beings can’t escape knowing that death lies somewhere ahead for each of us. But we try to remain upbeat, and not think about the time that “our number comes up”. But we also discussed the truth claims of the Bible, that it is possible not only to know about what comes after death in general, but to be prepared personally for facing departure from this earthly realm.
Those who are unprepared can only expect eternal torment, darkness, and shame: Hell. Knowing how to be prepared for death and instead enjoy eternal joy, light, and glory in Heaven begins with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Son of God Who came not as a moralist, not as a martyr, but as a substitutionary sacrifice. Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of Man”. And He said, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
The Son of Man gave His body and blood, His life, to pay the penalty of sin for those who could never pay that penalty themselves. When He rose from the dead, it demonstrated that full satisfaction to Divine justice had been made. A glorious transaction, conceived in the infinitely loving heart of God and by the infinite wisdom of God, could now take place in the lives of the hopelessly doomed. God’s FREE GIFT of salvation works this way:
When a sinner, aware of his guilt, corruption, and lost condition, calls out from his heart for mercy in the name of Jesus the Savior, the full penalty owed by that sinner to Divine justice is payed by Jesus. At the same time, that sinner becomes clothed with the perfect righteousness of Jesus, and indeed CAN stand before a thrice holy, sin avenging God! This glorious reality of the Gospel is called JUSTIFICATION. A justified sinner’s sin WAS avenged upon the Substitute, when He gave His life once for all. And the Substitute’s record of perfect righteousness gets reckoned to the account of the redeemed one. Could a more wonderful, glorious, precious announcement be made to hopeless wretches like this writer, and others who are burdened with a sense of their guilt and shame?
Again, Jesus said, “”Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
The sinner who embraces this Gospel enters the narrow gate (the Divine person and saving work of Jesus Himself). By vital faith united to Jesus and empowered by Jesus (Who Himself is also the Way), that one begins the disciple’s life, which Jesus defined briefly thus: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”
Having entered that narrow but glorious gate, and being found in that difficult but royal way, the former rebel against God and alien to God’s kingdom is on His way to the reward, namely being with Jesus (Who Himself is the destination) forever in HEAVEN.
Are you a sinner redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, clothed with His perfect righteousness, living faithfully in Him? The following Biblical contemplations on HEAVEN offer at best a dim foreshadowing of what is in store for you. The bright reality is beyond anything you could possibly ask or even think…
In Heaven’s bliss, you will spend eternity loving God Triune in return for His incomprehensible, electing, wonderful love for you. Nothing will ever corrupt your love to Him, since your entire resurrected and glorified being then will have been made perfect by His almighty power. As the endless billions of eons roll on, God will continue to love you immeasurably more than your heart will be able to love Him, even though your heart’s capacity to love will be magnificently greater than it is now!
This “wheel of love” will turn ceaselessly. It will perpetually reel and spin with delirious, musical joy – yet according to Infinite Wisdom’s precise orchestration. You will be utterly perfect – yet you will always grow (unhindered and without limit) in knowledge of the immeasurable, unsearchable God. The “new heavens and earth” will be filled with inconceivable peace – yet they will be vibrant with industry: the high and sacred business of worshiping and glorifying the Uncreated One forever.
This will all take place in the fellowship and society of the redeemed of all ages, in a real place the beauty and absolute splendor of which is past the ability of any writer to describe. There you will be able to ask Enoch about the antediluvian (pre-Flood) world, and how it was to be taken up from earth, having never known physical death.
With Noah you will sip a Divine wine finer even than the miraculous vintage of Cana in Galilee, as you contemplate the profound depths of God’s judgments in complete sobriety.
Speaking the one, pure language of Heaven, Babel’s dividing curse forever banished, Abraham and you will rejoice that faith has become lustrous, dazzling sight.
You will laugh uproariously with Isaac, dining on dishes far more sumptuous than any savory stew such as that patriarch loved on earth.
With Jacob you will scale that ladder which soars to the loftiest altitudes of God. The Summit will never be conquered, yet all will tirelessly climb toward it in raptured delight, with no possibility of slipping or falling, ever ascending to more and more rarefied, exhilarating heights.
There you will converse with that noble man who was so cruelly treated by his brethren, in order that those brethren might be well treated by Providence. You will ever dwell in the same household of God with him who was once Pharaoh’s prime minister – Joseph your brother – who is a type of the Great Elder Brother of the redeemed.
Moses, the deliverer from an earthly bondage who prefigured Christ’s redemption of His people from sin, death, and hell even more acutely, will be your fellow servant – where the pure, holy Law of love and liberty is obeyed by all with sheer delight, and never a threat need be uttered.
With Joshua, you will divide everlasting spoils and hold irrevocable title to the true Canaan, for God’s people are more than conquerors through Him Who loves us.
With Samuel, you will be a judge: for do you not know that we shall judge angels?
With Elijah and all the prophets you will proclaim the Divine excellencies without ceasing, to ears that can’t get enough of the pure and fervent truth all will speak.
Like Melchizedek and Aaron you will ever dispense untold blessings to the Father’s great family – that kindred in which all are priests, each mediating God’s countless blessings to the innumerable all, and diversely to each other!
You will be crowned a king forever with David, and you will sit on a throne with David’s Greater Son, Ruler of the universe, and you will enter into the loftiest and most sublime realms of contemplation: studying the eternal word and eternally enduring creation of Him Whose wisdom is greater than Solomon’s.
At Daniel’s side you will worship the Lion of the tribe of Judah, not three times per day toward old, earthly Jerusalem, but at all hours, on a day which has no nightfall.
You will do this in the New Jerusalem, with Ezra and Nehemiah – you will do it in that unshakeable Celestial City, which has no need of temple, sun, or lamp.
You will rejoice with John the friend of the Bridegroom, and be a member of Christ’s Body, His Bride, with the apostles and all the believers who first heard the Gospel. With all these, you will be around the throne with the twenty four elders, all the holy angelic beings, and the glorious martyrs of our dear Lord Jesus.
You will take your place with the majestic saints of God of all ages of the Church, the greatest of whom are perhaps recognized at present only by their heavenly Father – until that Great Day discloses their holy lives, labors, and mighty triumphs. They and you will be eternal monuments of grace and glory, though now uncelebrated by a sleepy, crafty, and antagonistic world.
“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
Press on toward such a glorious HEAVEN, fellow Christian! Others, repent and believe, lest you taste of that second death, which likewise has no end!