This post is one in a series of posts on a Bible study I am doing titled Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Dave McCleskey. The focus of this study is to get a Biblical view of what heaven is really like.
Worshiping God is a joy for me. I’ve stated before that I wasn’t sure I could get excited about the prospect of a 24/7 church service in Heaven for eternity, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy going to church. Yesterday’s service was awesome – we sang meaningful songs of worship, and the pastor spoke a message (which I will summarize in a post later) that relayed so much truth that it almost hurt. No, I enjoy that kind of worship experience, but I am learning that perhaps Heaven will not only include those kinds of experiences. God has created many things, and He gets joy from watching us take joy in His creations. Today’s study talked about what it will mean to see God face-to-face – it will be a joy and we will no doubt sit in “awestruck wonder” at His majesty, but we will also get to worship Him by enjoying His gifts and giving Him the credit for all the good things He will have given us.
Will We Actually See God?
As I’ve written about in a recent post, many of our desires and our lack of satisfaction with our lives stems from a longing for God. It’s misdiagnosed by most of us most of the time – we go after the things that we think will satisfy that longing, whether that be going after the good things God provides instead of God Himself – like relationships and other things He created – or if that be evil things this world offers, like drugs or sex outside of marriage. So it stands to reason that in Heaven, this longing will be satisfied – we will get to see God. The Bible says that God “lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16), and that “No one has ever seen God…” (John 1:18). So if this is true, can we actually believe that we will get to see God, the Father, in Heaven? I believe so. Revelation 22:3-4 says “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” This passage describes seeing both the Father’s and the Son’s face on the New Earth/New Heaven, and this privilege will be one of the greatest parts about being in Heaven – getting to have our greatest longing satisfied by seeing God face-to-face.
Is Being in God’s Presence All We’ll Do In Heaven?
Alcorn says that getting to see God will be our primary joy. He puts it this way
“In Heaven the barriers between redeemed human beings and God will forever be gone. To look into God’s eyes will be to see what we’ve always longed to see: the One who made us for His own good pleasure. Seeing God will be like seeing everyone else for the first time because we’ll not only see God but He also will be the lens through which we see everything else…”
So seeing God will be the best thing about Heaven. But there will be other joys – we just have to understand that they will be derivative in nature – they will derive from God, and will never take His place. Alcorn uses the example of a friend bringing you a meal when you are sick. Which do you value more – the meal or the friend? The friend of course! You are grateful for the meal, but without it, you would still value your friendship. Therefore, your friend is both your primary pleasure, as well as the source of your secondary pleasure – the meal. The same will be true of the things in Heaven that God will provide, many of which will be the same things that bring us happiness now. Games, sports, books, learning new things, and fellowship with others – all of these things will probably be around in Heaven, but we won’t go after them in an attempt to replace God. We’ll take joy in them as a gift from God, and God will take joy in our joy, as a father takes joy in giving his children gifts.
Some people take to the extreme opposite of this idea – that we should deny ourselves any earthly pleasure, and that any earthly pleasure is explicitly nonspiritual. They take passages like Psalm 73:35, where Asaph says “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Then they think that we shouldn’t enjoy anything that God created for us. But that goes against God’s nature – He “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). And if He provides it, we shouldn’t feel guilty. We have to ensure that we aren’t making God’s creations an idol in our hearts, but as long as we see them as gifts from our Heavenly Father, and we’re thankful to Him for them, we should enjoy them. In Heaven, we won’t be able to idolize these things – we’ll be in the presence of God Himself, so it’ll be impossible to have anything better. I believe we’ll get to enjoy these things then, too.
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.