Reformed Reflections

The Reality of Heaven-Study

The Wonder of It All.
No 15

Several people have asked me: "How on earth can you write a series of articles on heaven? Are you not merely indulging in speculations?"

I am not reveling in imaginations. The abundance of glimpses of heaven Scripture provides lead to the adoration of the wonders of God's grace. Many books have been written about heaven. A good theological library will contain 1,000 page anthologies from the nineteenth century of poetic and prose imaginings of what heaven will be like. And whoever reads such books as Dr. K.Schilder's Wat is de Hemel? (What is Heaven?), Dr.K.Dyk's Tussen Sterven en Opstanding (Between Death and Resurrection), Dr.G.C. Van Niftrik's De Hemel (Heaven) and Joni Eareckson Tada's Heaven. Your Real Home, will soon conclude that much can be said about heaven from a Scriptural basis. But a discussion of precise details of our life in heaven is fruitless. The Bible does not give us enough information for fanciful musings. Nobody knows precisely the exact nature of heaven. The descriptions of eternal life after death are restrained and discreet. Heaven is beyond all human experience, imagination and thought. The glory of eternal life is completely new, unsuspected, beyond our understanding and unspeakable: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (Cor.2: 9). Many questions remain. What does it mean to reign with Christ in heaven? Why does Christ need the assistance of the saints? Who are the ones who sit with Jesus on the throne? What language do the saints speak in heaven? We can go on and on with asking such questions, but the Bible does not give an answer. Legend tells us of two medieval monks who talk constantly about death and the future state. They hit upon the idea that whoever died first would appear to the other the next night. In answer to the question "how is it?" he would answer either "as we thought" or "other than we thought." When one did in a fact die, he came back for a moment the next night and being asked with eager expectation "How is it?", he answered "totally other." After God had honoured the apostle Paul by taking him to heaven, and then sending him back to earth again, Paul was overcome by what he had seen. He found it "totally other." So wonderful was his experience that he was not quite sure whether God had taken him bodily to heaven, or whether his spirit had left his body. While in heaven he heard inexpressible things, "things that man is not permitted to tell" ( 2 Cor. 12:1-6). This marvelous vision of heaven sustained Paul throughout his dangerous journeys, his illnesses, his imprisonments and his ministry. The glimpses of heaven are more than enough to comfort us in life and in death.