Heaven – where Jesus is clearly seen
Reading: Song 5:2-
Heaven is all bound up with Jesus Christ. It was the home which he left when he came to earth in order to save his people from their sins and it is the home to which he returned when he had successfully completed the work that his Father had given him to do.
Last week we thought about the fact that it is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who can bring us there, to the place where he is. In making sure that he would save his people and bring them to heaven Jesus redeemed them from sin, prepares them for heavenly living by sanctification and preserves them in the faith enabling them to persevere so that none is lost on the way.
Every born again Christian will be brought safely to heaven where they will be in Jesus’ presence for ever. Gratefulness towards the Lord Jesus and great rejoicing in his completed work will surely mark the entry of every believer into heaven – why so? Because we will see him, no longer with the eye of faith alone, but we will see him clearly as he is!!
But what then? What do heaven’s blessings consist of? How will those wonderful blessings be brought to us and just how will we experience them? While we will be so thankful to Jesus for what he has done in granting us an entry into heaven will we subsequently move on from him so that we might explore and to enjoy all of heaven’s wonders?
These are the matters we are going to consider together this evening.
Jesus Will Be Seen Clearly in Heaven
The moment we become Christians our Christian experience begins. Our experience is real but far from being perfect.
Sadly, we blow hot and we blow cold. Sometimes everything seems to be going so well and we sense the Lord’s closeness, his love and his grace. But then things change and times come when our experience feels so very different. Changes may include:
Our prayers – yes, we pray but we wonder whether our prayers get beyond the ceiling
Our Bible reading, which only recently thrilled us as it throbbed with life, becomes an arid task and even if we don’t give it up entirely we’re tempted to do so
Our love for Christ, which once dominated us as Christians, hasn’t entirely disappeared but we know it not to be as strong as it was and we sense we’re in danger of abandoning our first love.
That is the simple reality of our Christian experience this side of glory – it is imperfect and we long for that to be changed, definitively changed.
In heaven our imperfect experience will be totally transformed and it will be made perfect at last.
The Christ whom we love never having seen will be made accessible to our eyesight. The many other things which we believe which we haven’t seen either, well we will see these things too. What a change will take place when we’re taken to heaven! In heaven the promises that we have known only by faith will become realities for us.
The OT contains some glimpses of what lies ahead for the believer:
Job, knowing that his redeemer lived, looked forward to the day when he would "see God" Job 19:26.
Isaiah looked ahead to the time when the King would be seen in his beauty Is.33:17.
In the NT too there are hints that what lies ahead will far exceed the blessings of present faith:
Paul could write: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." 1Cor.12:13.
The apostle John put it like this: "Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is."1Jn.3:2.
To see Jesus in his glory must be an absolutely amazing and awe inspiring sight. John knew what Jesus looked like on earth – he was so close to Jesus in fact that he was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved. John knew too what Jesus looked like on earth when his glory briefly shone through on the Mount of Transfiguration. And yet this same John when faced with a glorious vision of Jesus in heaven was overwhelmed. This is how John described his experience: "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead." Rev.1:17.
And it is to just such an experience that every Christian believer is called. When we are in heaven we have a far better appreciation of the seemingly extravagant language employed in different passages of Scripture. Take these for example:
Song 5:10, 16 "My beloved is radiant and ruddy distinguished among ten thousand... and he is altogether desirable."
Ps.45:2 "You are the most handsome of the sons of men;"
John Bunyan put the following words into the mouth of Mr Standfast, one of his characters in Pilgrim’s Progress. Mr Standfast was on the verge of death and said:
"I see myself now at the end of my journey; my toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that head which was crowned with thorns, and that face which was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith, but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him in whose company I delight myself.
I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of his shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot too. His name to me has been as a civet-
Jesus – The Heart Of Heaven’s Blessings
From time to time we hear stories about how a person has been rescued or delivered from from a disastrous situation by someone else that they don’t know at all. The anonymous saviour just happened to arrive on the scene at the right moment to pull the drowning man from the water or perhaps to intervene with some life-
The one who had been in such danger has been saved but has no relationship at all with the one who delivered him from the peril he had been in.
Sadly, it is possible for us to think about Jesus’ work for us in a similar manner, we can try to enjoy the benefits of salvation without developing a deepening relationship with our Saviour. But we would be wrong to do so.
Let me explain why.
God had a wonderful plan of salvation to populate heaven with human beings. But how was this to be brought about?
It maybe sounds a bit strange but it does help us to understand just how God relates to the human race he has created.
Adam was not simply the first human being to be created he was also treated by God as the representative of all those humans who would subsequently come from him. (This is why his fall into sin was so calamitous. It wasn’t the mere sin of an individual it was the sin of the Head of the entire human race – and that explains why we all come into the world in need of being saved, quite simply we are born into Adam’s camp whether we like it or not.)
Adam was the first man -
You see, when God sent his Son to be a personal Saviour, he was setting him forth as an entirely new representative head for the human race. No longer was Adam the only representative head from now on there were two heads: Adam the failed, sinful head and there was Christ, the spotless, sinless head.
The puritan writer Thomas Goodwin illustrated this by comparing Adam and Christ to two giants. Each giant wears an enormous leather belt that has millions of little hooks on it. All of us are hanging from one of these hooks – we’re either hanging from Adam’s belt or the belt of Christ. There is no third option.
Now God deals with us only through Adam or through Christ:
If you are hanging from Adam’s belt, you share in the experience of sinful, fallen Adam, and your entire relationship with God is through him.
If, on the other hand, you are hanging at Christ’s belt, all God’s dealings with you are through Christ. When you received Jesus as your Saviour, you were involved in a massive and momentous transfer. The Almighty himself unhooked you from Adam’s belt and hooked you on to Christ’s. So you now have a different Head, a different Mediator, a new Representative. You have passed from Adam into Christ, and whereas God formerly dealt with you only through Adam, he now deals with you only through his Son. You are in Christ unchangeably and for ever.
Do you get the picture?
Jesus did not come merely to be the purveyor of salvation benefits, however great those benefits might be, he was and is far greater than that!
Are you a Christian? If you are then you need to know that this new union that you have with Christ will never come to an end. It won’t be broken in this life and neither will it be broken in the ages to come. Just as all the spiritual blessings we enjoy now are due to our union with Christ so will it be in heaven. We will never be separated from Christ, we will never be unhooked from the belt of this most magnificent of "giants"!
That being the case do you see that you will never advance beyond Christ in heaven? You can’t advance beyond him for there is no blessing in heaven to be enjoyed apart from him, or which is not mediated through him. And this is just what Paul taught the Ephesians when he wrote to them:
Eph.1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,"
How heaven is bound up with Christ!
Jesus is the One who takes us to heaven and he does so because we have been united to him. All that we will enjoy in heaven is because of him and comes to us by virtue of our union with him. We will remain in heaven too because of him and by virtue of our union with him.
We depend upon Jesus Christ now for our salvation and in heaven we will depend no less upon him. Indeed as we come to appreciate more and more just how great that dependence is and how wonderfully beneficial our union with him is he will become more and more precious to us.
Heaven will never fade and we will never become bored of tired of our Saviour. Well did the hymn-
Through all eternity to Thee
a joyful song I’ll raise;
but O! eternity’s too short
to utter all Thy praise!