We likely think too little about heaven, and not too much:
So, I was thinking last night… Of course that is as useful as saying ‘I was breathing last night’! I am ALWAYS thinking – especially when I am trying to get to sleep! Like a ping pong ball ricocheting all around, so my thoughts are always on the move, never to be quieted it seems.
So I was thinking about heaven last night – but via a somewhat circuitous route. The acquisition of two new empty bookshelves a week ago has resulted in a lot of rearranging of my library, with well over a thousand books moved here and there.
This has allowed for a bit better organisation of my 7000-volume library. For example, all my Spurgeon books (both by him and about him) which had previously been somewhat scattered about are now all on one 4-foot wide bookshelf at last – all 33 of them. It is a nice feeling to see them all in one place finally.
But then another thought – a sad thought – occurred to me: while I have read some of each one, I likely will never get the time to read them all fully – and that includes many hundreds of Spurgeon’s sermons, etc. Sure, if I bought no new books for a while, and ignored all the others I have, I could eventually get through these 33 volumes.
And then an even sadder thought popped into my head: sometime soon I will be too old or too blind to be able to read anything from my library anymore. Oh no! Of course, some evil book lusterers will rejoice in that day, but nonetheless… And then another thought sprang into mind: perhaps in heaven we will still have books and libraries and learning and so on.
Or, at the very least, we certainly will have all the authors themselves. One day I will be able to have long discussions with Spurgeon, face to face. Sure, the greatest attraction of heaven will entail being with our Lord forever. But it will be neat to also catch up with so many saints of the past.
Just think, you will be able to fellowship and perhaps even have lengthy theological discussions with an Augustine, or an Anselm, or a Luther, or a Whitefield, or a Wesley, or a Chesterton, or a Lloyd-Jones, or a Schaeffer, or a Zacharias. Not to mention all your old friends and family members who have preceded you into the next life.
We believers have so much to look forward to. But how many of us regularly dwell on the next life? How many of us live as if heaven is even more real than this life? Yes, this old saying has a lot of truth to it: ‘Some people are so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good’.
But I suspect far too many Christians are too earthly-minded to be any good for heaven. They much prefer this life to the next. Sure, they may offer lip service to heaven, and sing hymns about it, but they are well and truly comfortable in this world, and act as if they prefer it to the next one.
We need to once again make heaven a topic of our thoughts, our conversations, and our prayers. As D. L. Moody once put it:
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?
There certainly are plenty of other great quotes about heaven that one could offer here. But since I mentioned Spurgeon earlier on, let me finish with some quotes by this great Baptist preacher. As to Christians loving this world more than the next, here are a few gems:
“The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet.”
“Secularism teaches us that we ought to look to this world. Christianity teaches us that the best way to prepare for this world is to be fully prepared for the next. Why it elevates and glorifies the secular duties which otherwise would trail in the mire if our conversation, our citizenship is in Heaven, even while we are on the earth!”
It is also a great comfort to know that heaven awaits us as we endure struggles, suffering and trials in this life:
“The furnace of affliction is a good place for you, Christian; it benefits you; it helps you to become more like Christ, and it is fitting you for heaven.”
“The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth.”
“Heaven is a place of complete victory and glorious triumph. This is the battlefield; there is the triumphal procession. This is the land of the sword and the spear; there is the land of the wreath and the crown. This is the land of the garment rolled in blood and of the dust of the fight; there is the land of the trumpet’s joyful sound, there is the place of the white robe and of the shout of conquest!”
“Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss. And, after death, what cometh? What wonderworld will open upon our astonished sight?”
“In heaven we shall see that we had not one trial too many.”
“The rougher the voyage the more the mariners long for port, and heaven becomes more and more ‘a desired haven,’ as our trials multiply.”
“A little stay on earth will make heaven more heavenly. Nothing makes rest so sweet as toil; nothing renders security so pleasant as exposure to alarms.”
“There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below.”
“Those who expect to find the road to Heaven smooth and unobstructed will discover little in the experience of the ancient saints to support the expectation.”
And some further quotes in a more general nature about what we have to look forward to:
“You need not to know much about Heaven-it is where Christ is, and that is Heaven enough for us.”
“If you have no wish to bring others to heaven, you are not going there yourself.”
“He that is never on his knees on earth shall never stand upon his feet in heaven.”
“An old theologian once said, ‘Who chides a servant for taking away the first course of a feast when the second consists of far greater delicacies?’ Who then can regret that this present world passes away when he sees that an eternal world of joy is coming? The first course is grace, but the second is glory, and that is as much better as the fruit is better than the blossom.”
“If there were no hell, the loss of heaven would be hell.”
“You must either give up your sins or give up all hope of heaven.”
“There cannot be heaven without Christ. He is the sum total of bliss; the fountain from which heaven flows, the element of which heaven is composed. Christ is heaven and heaven is Christ.”
“The essence of hell is sin, and the essence of Heaven is holiness.”
“We do not wish to enter Heaven until our work is done, for it would make us uneasy if there were one single soul left to be saved by our means.”
“He that has long been on the road to heaven finds that there was good reason why it was promised that his shoes should be iron and brass, for the road is rough.”
“When you speak of heaven, let your face light up … When you speak of hell well then, your everyday face will do.”
“Do not be afraid of dying; it does not take any time at all. All that death is, is emancipation, deliverance, heaven’s bliss to a child of God. Never fear it; it will be a singing time. You are afraid of dying, you say, because of the pains of death. No, they are pains of life-of life struggling to continue. Death has no pain; death itself is only one gentle sigh—the chain is broken, and the spirit is set free. 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 for all eternity.”
And one last quote. It seems Spurgeon had similar thoughts to mine about looking forward to catching up with the great saints:
“I reckon on meeting David, whose psalms have so often cheered my soul. I long to meet with Martin Luther and Calvin, and to have the power of seeing such men as Whitefield and Wesley, and walking and talking with them in the golden streets.”