After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
In heaven, you will serve God as you always wished you could.
“They are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.” (Revelation 7:15)
Every Christian serves Christ, but none of us serves the Lord as we would like to serve Him. All who love Christ worship Him, but none of us worships as we would like to worship. Don’t you find yourself at times asking, “Why is my heart so sluggish? Why is my response to the grace of God so restrained, so calculating?”
Every Christian wants to serve Christ, but we find ourselves in conflict: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). We throw ourselves into serving Christ and into living for Christ, and then we get tired or we become discouraged. We get bogged down in our unsolved problems and our unanswered questions.
But it will not always be so. In heaven, you will serve God as you always wished you could. “Day and night” they serve Him. No tiredness there!
Here, we go through seasons of feeling distant from God, and we want to have a new and fresh experience of God. But in heaven, you will be before His throne. You will be with Him, and you will enjoy Him forever!
In heaven, Christ will lead you into ever-increasing joy.
“The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water.” (Revelation 7:16)
You may think, “Heaven’s going to be a wonderful place where I’m going to discover all kinds of marvelous things.” Yes, it will be a wonderful place, but John is telling us, “It’s better than that.” What’s missing?
Christ is the great Shepherd of His people. He feeds them and that is why they are never hungry (7:16). And He leads them—Christ does this for us on earth, and He will do this for us in heaven, “the Lamb will… guide them to springs of living water!” The great joy of heaven is that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will lead you into ever-increasing delight.
Some of you have found a favorite place to vacation. You keep going back, and over the years, you’ve gotten to know it better and better. And after many years, you know most of what there is to know.
There’s no restaurant you haven’t eaten at, no shop you haven’t bought something at, and no hotel you haven’t stayed in. You will never get to that place in heaven. Heaven will be an infinite world of new discoveries, and Jesus Christ will unfold them to you. Thomas Boston says:
The divine perfections will be an unbounded field, in which the glorified shall walk eternally, seeing more and more of God; since they can never come to the end of the infinite. They may bring their vessels to this ocean every moment, and fill them with new waters.
Donald Macleod, who spent his life teaching in seminary, noticed that some people thought heaven would be filled only with studying book of theology. He points out that life in the new heaven and the new earth will be more than life in the Garden of Eden. He says of the garden:
Paradise was no mere seminary. It offered scope for art, science, and technology as well as theology. The same will doubtless be true of the world to come. Not only the Creator but the creation, too will be an object of wonder to the redeemed. It will; challenge their intellects, fire their imaginations and stimulate their industry. The scenario is a thrilling one: brilliant minds in powerful bodies in a transformed universe.
This joy will go on increasing forever! Think about looking through a photo album: The joys you experience in life remain in your memory so that you continue to derive happiness from them—things that happened ten years ago or twenty years ago.
Jonathan Edwards asks, “Do you think it will be any less in heaven?”
Their knowledge will increase to eternity; and if their knowledge, their holiness; for as they increase in the knowledge of God, they will see more of his excellency (beauty), and the more they see of his excellency (beauty) the more they will love him, and the more they love God, the more delight and happiness they will have in him.
Friends, we are talking about exponentially increasing joy! What will that be like after a million, million ages?
In heaven, all your wounds will finally be healed.
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)
Every tear! Literally, the tears will be wiped “out of their eyes.” This is telling us God removes, not only the tears, but also the source that produces the tears—even their tear ducts!
The baggage you carried—there’s nothing to carry now. It’s gone. The temptations you battled—there are no battles now. The pain you suffered—there’s no suffering now.
John sees the glory of heaven, the presence of Jesus, the glory of the new creation, but then like a drumbeat you have this repeated statement of what will not be there: No death; no mourning. No sins to confess; no temptations to overcome. No sickness to suffer; no pain to endure. No crosses to carry; no fears to face.
All your questions will be answered. All your doubts will be resolved. These people have been crushed, but look at them now! Their longings are fulfilled. Their needs are met. Their joy is complete. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. If you have been washed in the blood of Christ, it will not be long before you are there too.
Longing to Depart, Ready to Stay
Look at what lies ahead of you, and it will help you to face whatever you are facing today. Donald Macleod reminds us that heaven is our Father’s house, and he says:
What a grief it must be to God that so few of His children want to go home! Here we are, in enemy territory, amid the sufferings of the present time, beset by sin and seeing our Father’s name dishonored all around us and yet we want to stay!
He recalls Paul’s longing to depart and be with Christ, which the apostle says is “better by far.” But at the same time, Paul says, “I’ve got to be ready to stay and continue serving the church.”
This surely is the healthy Christian attitude: Willing to stay, for the sake of the work still to be done, but longing to get home.
Serving Christ will be your great delight in heaven, so find joy by serving Him now. Following Christ will lead you to springs of living water in heaven, so find life by following Christ now. Christ will wipe every tear from your eye in heaven, so find comfort by drawing near to Him now.