Lately, I’ve been contemplating the reality of heaven. We often have skewed views of what heaven truly is. Is it unending golf? Is it a paradise with 10,000 virgins? Is it streets of gold and a glassy sea? What makes heaven heaven? Heaven is Christ! He is our prize!
Paul writes in Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ is our prize. He is our goal. He is heaven. Yet, often, I believe we as Christians commit the sin of idolatry by elevating the gifts of salvation above the Giver. We want forgiveness of sins because we don’t want a guilty conscience.
We take Jesus as rescuer from hell because we don’t particularly like the idea of burning in eternal torment. We take Jesus as prosperity giver because we selfishly want to be wealthy and “blessed”. We take Jesus as healer because we want to be disease free. We want Jesus on our terms and if we’re honest with ourselves, we want His gifts, not HIM!!
1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” Salvation is ultimately a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate end of our salvation. But often times, we treat Him as a means to salvation. We want Jesus as a means to eternal happiness, or health, wealth, and prosperity, but we don’t see Him as the ultimate Treasure to be valued above all other things this world has to offer.
We often use terminology in our evangelical sub-culture that is not even found in Scripture that downplays this vital union with Christ in salvation. We use terms like “ask Jesus into your heart”, but we don’t tell people to repent of their sins and embrace Christ as their all in all as absolute Lord over their lives. We tell people to “accept Jesus” as if we are the final arbiters of God’s approval on our lives. We should be more concerned about if Jesus will accept us as sinners.
My grave concern for many that claim the name of Christ is that we have taken just enough of Jesus to assuage our guilty consciences, but have not surrendered everything to Him as Savior, Lord and Treasure. There is no fruit in many people’s lives. There is no evidence of true conversion whereby the Holy Spirit has brought about the new birth. There are no new desires, affections, and lifestyle changes in many who profess Christ. They’ve gotten their “free ticket out of hell card”, but they have not truly been transformed by the saving grace of Christ as their personal Lord and Treasure.
John Piper has said this, “If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauty you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if CHRIST WAS NOT THERE?” (from God is the Gospel, page 15)
1 Corinthians 13:12 states, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” We long for heaven and our view of it is misty and hazy at times, but the glorious truth is that all who are truly saved will one day see Jesus face to face.
What an amazing reality to die and go to heaven and realize that the ultimate end, the ultimate prize, the ultimate destination is Christ Himself! I pray that you all embrace Him as Savior, Lord, and Treasure and receive Him as supremely more valuable than all this world has to offer.