For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Why are you excited about heaven? Is heaven merely a place to be free from sin? A place to be reunited with family and friends who have gone one before us? A place of beauty and majesty with golden streets and lush fruits and sprawling gardens? A place absence of tears and sadness? Or is something more?
John Piper, the most influential theologian in the past 40 years, said this that has never left my mind,
The critical question for our generation—and for every generation— is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?”
If you could answer yes than you are missing the highest, the best, the greatest good of the gospel and may not even have salvation. Paul says the end goal of salvation is that we would be able to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The greatest good of the gospel is not is myriad of blessings, but that we get to see the glory of God in Christ Jesus our Savior.
Piper explains how all the blessings of salvation are connected to seeing the glory of God in Jesus Christ. He profoundly writes,
This is the highest and best and final good that makes all the other good things promised in the gospel good. Justification is good news because it makes us stand accepted by the one whose glory we want to see and savor above all things. Forgiveness is good news because it cancels all the sins that keep me from seeing and enjoying the glory of Christ who is the image of God. Removal of wrath and salvation from hell are good news because now in my escape from eternal misery I find eternal pleasure beholding the glory of God in the face of Christ. Eternal life is good news because this is eternal life, Jesus said, that they know me and him who sent me. And freedom from pain and sickness and conflict are good news because, in my freedom from pain, I am no longer distracted from the fullest enjoyment of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.
This world wants to blind us from seeing the glory of Christ. We all were once blind to his glory. Our sin veiled his glory. And now, thanks be to God, we have been given the light to see his glory, not by works done in righteousness, but according to his mercy. Beloved, let us fight to see his glory. Let us labor to learn more of his love. Let us strive to gaze upon his beauty. Let us discipline ourselves for the highest form of godliness, savoring and rejoicing in the glory of Jesus Christ, our Savior!
When you think about heaven, think about all the blessings we will receive there: friends, family, beauty, and peace, but never stop there. As our dear brother Olin has reminded these past several months, what a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, When I look upon his face the one who saved me by his grace…What a glorious day that will be. It will be glorious because we will see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.