When Heaven isn’t Heaven

In his writings John Flavel, the Puritan minister, repeats the idea that heaven cannot be heaven to those who do not love God. For heaven is that realm where God is loved supremely and where God is prized above heaven itself. Therefore it must follow that for those who do not love God heaven cannot be heavenly.

It is an important point he makes. For in my experience of having to conduct funerals of those who have little time for God the expectation is that the departed loved one will go to heaven. I’ve never met anyone who even countenanced the idea that a loved one could go to hell. (In much the same way as I have never had anyone convert to atheism on their deathbed!) But would heaven be heavenly for someone who did not love God? I agree with Flavel that it would not. If God is not the delight of our earthly existence, how could He possibly be the delight of our heavenly existence?

In the final analysis, as Romans 2 makes clear, God give us what we have lived for. If we have sought Him He is our reward. If we have not sought Him then God also gives us the desires of our hearts- an eternal future without Him.

The pursuit of heaven really is the serious business of this life. The essence of true Christianity is not fire insurance faith but delight in and a longing for God.

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