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Heaven is our Home!

Johann Gerhard

(Translated by Rev. C. W. Heisler, A.M.)

“IN the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt. xxii. 30). Where is the man who can fittingly set forth this blessed state of the redeemed in heaven? What human heart hath ever conceived of the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him (1 Cor. ii. 9)? The elect of God, with bodies glorified at the resurrection, and with no more fear of death, and without a single stain or spot of corruption clinging to them, enjoy the beatific vision of God in heaven. “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Gen. xxxii. 30), exclaimed the godly patriarch Jacob. And if only a momentary vision of God could produce such transports of joy, oh, what will be the eternal vision of God? If only a brief glimpse of God, as He appeared in human form, brought life and salvation to Jacob’s soul, surely when we see God face to face in heaven it will bring eternal life and unending blessedness to our souls. What more could be added to fill up the cup of blessedness in heaven? What more than this beatific vision of God could the redeemed ask or desire? And yet, in addition to all this, they will enjoy the sweet and blessed companionship of the angels of God; and more than this, they themselves shall be like the angels, in the activity of their celestial bodies, in their splendor, and in their immortality. We shall put on with them the same garments of holiness, and standing before the throne of the Lamb, clothed in white robes, we shall sing eternal anthems of praise to the Lord our God (Rev. vii. 9). Crowns of glory like theirs shall adorn our brows, and in the same blessings of that immortal state we too shall rejoice. “We shall surely die, because we have seen God,” exclaimed Manoah (Judges xiii. 22). But there we shall see “thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” (Dan. vii. 10) angels, and we shall live forever and ever.

And if we are to be like the angels in heaven, then we need no longer fear that in that holy place we shall ever by sin make ourselves unlike them. We shall put off the filthy rags of our sinful natures, and be clothed with the garments of salvation, with the white robe of holy innocence (Is. lxi. 10). In that blest abode troubles shall no longer oppress us, angry passions no more distress us, envy and hate no more distract us, foolish desires no more disturb us, and hurtful ambition no more inflame us. This load of sin shall there burden us no more, nor shall we be obliged there to lament the stains of sin with penitential tears, nor live in constant fear of its deadly wounds to our souls. For “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. v. 5) hath conquered sin and Satan, and in His might shall we all prevail.

And if we shall be like the angels, then indeed shall we neither hunger nor thirst any more. God shall be the food of our souls, and in Him we shall be abundantly satisfied, nor shall He ever fail to refresh us with supplies of love and grace. Of the redeemed it is written: “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters (Rev. vii. 16, 17), and from them shall flow rivers of living water (John vii. 38); and there shall be prepared a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees (Is. xxxv. 6). As we shall partake of that heavenly repast we shall shout aloud for very joy of heart. O blessed Lord Jesus, may all these joys that Thou hast promised us be fulfilled in us in spirit and in truth. Of the fruit of the vine shall we drink in Thy Father’s kingdom (Matt. xxvi. 29), but in spirit and in truth. The words which Thou hast spoken unto us they are spirit and they are life (John vi. 63), and so in the language of this world Thou dost set forth the joys that await us in the future world.

And if we are to be like the angels, then surely we shall no longer fear death; “death will be swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. xv. 54); death shall be forever destroyed, and “the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces” (Is. xxv. 8). There, there, will be joy without sorrow, health without pain, life without toil, light without darkness; there our love will never grow cold, our joy never diminish, a groan of pain never be heard, grief never be experienced, no sadness ever be seen, and eternal gladness shall be our unfailing possession; there we shall have certain security, secure tranquility, tranquil delight, delightful happiness, a happy eternity, an eternal blessedness, the blessed Trinity, the Triune unity, the unity of Deity, and the beatific vision of God. Be of good comfort, O my soul, and rise to a higher and higher appreciation of the honor that Christ hath conferred upon thee! We shall join the glorious company of angels and archangels, and be associated with rank on rank of heavenly intelligences, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers (Col. i. 16), and not only so, but we shall be like them also. There we shall come to know our guardian angel of this life, nor shall we be without its holy ministry there, but we shall be made glad by its blessed companionship; we shall no longer need its protecting care, but its society shall be a source of constant joy, and upon its heavenly splendor we shall gaze with clarified vision.

And if we shall be like the angels, then these frail, feeble and mortal bodies of ours shall be changed, and become spiritual bodies, active as the angels, and immortal. They shall shine with the very effulgence of the divine glory, because of their nearness to God, who dwells in a “light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. vi. 16), and “who covereth Himself with light as a garment” (Ps. civ. 2); and they shall be incorruptible, because they are like the angels, nay rather, because they shall be changed into the likeness of the glorified body of Christ (Phil. iii. 21); they are sown here in corruption, they shall be raised in incorruption; they are sown in dishonor, they shall be raised in glory; they are sown in weakness, they shall be raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. xv. 42-44); it shall shine as the brightness of the firmament forever (Dan. xii. 3). Come, O blessed Lord Jesus, O come and make us partakers of Thy heavenly glory.

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