Sunday, 7 December 2014

Heaven comes near

Heaven is brought near to us at different times. One frequent occasion is during a sermon when the preacher is enabled by God so to describe a spiritual topic that his presence is almost felt in a physical manner. Another occasion is the Lord’s Supper when the presence of Jesus becomes so real that we can sense that he is with us at the Lord’s Table. We would hope that the first type of occasion occurs frequently as we gather under his written Word and focus on what it says. And since he has promised to be with us at the second type, it is a reason for us to have it more frequently.

There is a third occasion when heaven draws near and that is when one of his people is taken there by Jesus at the end of their life. Heaven then comes close and says to us that Jesus has taken that believer to the eternal home, costly and lovingly prepared, and in which the people of God will dwell together forever. This year, as we come to its final month, is a time for us to reflect on among other things the wonderful fact that the Lord has taken home from our midst several of his people who served him here for many years.

There are other ways in which heaven draws near. But they, and the three we have mentioned, all remind us that each of us needs to ensure that we will get to heaven personally. Sometimes we may buy a bus ticket or a train ticket for ourselves and for someone else. We cannot do that as far as getting to heaven is concerned. Each of us has to get our own ticket. Where will we get one? The answer is that we get it by asking God to forgive us and to bring us to heaven.

One of the good things about getting to heaven is that we will get there punctually. Often when we travel by bus or train we look at a timetable and realise that we are not going to arrive on time. With regard to getting to heaven, we don’t need a written timetable to know when we are going to arrive. The fact of the matter is that each person who gets there arrives at the best moment possible for him or her.

A third aspect of reaching heaven is that we will arrive there publicly. On some occasions, when I have been on a train or bus, there has been hardly anyone travelling with me and the station has been empty when we arrive. That will not be the experience of heaven, either in travelling to it or arriving there. We travel there with others and when we get to the door of heaven we will discover that a large crowd is waiting to welcome us. Among the crowd and leading it as it praises God will be the Lord Jesus. And we will discover that heaven has drawn near forever.

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