Love, Holiness and Heaven

Posted by donna on February 2, 2016

Capture.PNG"There is a great deal of difference between the desires of heaven in a sanctified (holy) man, and an unsanctified (unholy). The believer prizes it above earth, and had rather be with God than here (though death, which stands in the way, may possibly have harder thoughts from him). But to the ungodly, nothing seems more desirable than this world; and therefore he only chooses heaven before hell, but not before earth; and therefore shall not have it upon such a choice."

Richard Baxter[1](1652)

For many, the month of February is the coldest and bleakest of the year. Some of us desire to escape the cold and head south. For many, it is a month to be endured; after all spring is only three months away. Depressing isn't it?

Yet, for all the so called misery we Canadians face, we still love this country and this planet. In fact, we may love it too much.

The Puritan, Richard Baxter, in the quote above, is addressing an issue that plagues the church today. He states that true believers prize heaven above all else, while unbelievers only prize heaven above hell.

What is he saying that is so important for the church of Christ to understand? Is he saying that if even unbelievers would choose heaven (if there is one) over hell (if there is one), then, what of modern day believers? Is it perhaps the fact that we love this world so much that we do not prize heaven?  Is our holiness then in question?

Many of the old Negro Spirituals focused on heaven because the world of bondage was something to be escaped.  Today’s prosperity has many of us longing for a longer life on earth rather than looking to heaven.

Paul says in Philippians 1:21 "for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain ... I desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better."

I am not trying to be morbid, but rather realistic. If the church of Jesus in North America is weak, maybe it is because we much prefer heaven to hell, but not yet heaven to this earth. Maybe that is why our priority on evangelism is almost nonexistent. Are we ready for heaven (because of God's grace through Christ) yet, so tied to this earth that we do not see the need for others to gain Christ? Paul says that love constrains him to preach the gospel because he understood that ‘this world is not our home and that we are all passing through.’

Blessings,

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Willem Fietje

[1] 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. 2013 (E. Ritzema & E. Vince, Ed.). Pastorum Series. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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