From the Preacher’s Pen…
Worship is about honoring our God, remembering His promises until our Savior comes again, teaching and encouraging one another. We see that principle in our singing, in the Lord’s Supper, in our prayers and in our reading and study of God’s word.
Because of this purposeful service to our God and our fellow Christians, we remind and encourage each other to be faithful as long as we live. That goal ought to be clearly remembered in the Lord’s Supper, in prayer, in Bible study, and in song.
Let’s consider for a moment the importance of singing the lesson and encouragement of heaven.
I Can Sing About Heaven
Yes, heaven is our goal! Heaven is much more than just a reward or treat for being good. Heaven is often compared to the Promised Land, and rightly so. It is home for the weary homeless, it is the ultimate safe place that is free from danger and worry. But above all else, it is the home to share with our Heavenly Father and Savior.
So what do we know about heaven? Well, as we so often remind ourselves, it is a prepared place for a prepared people. Okay, but what is it really like? And it is here that both language and our knowledge fail us completely.
One thing that God clearly tells us about heaven is that there will be singing! John speaks of the singing in heaven, especially of the joy of the “New Song” (cf. Revelation 5:9; 14:3; 15:3). The songs tell of our Savior, the Lamb of God that was slain, and the praise for all the works of the Lord.
There’s an old earthly song that begins with these words:
- There’s a promised land untouched by man
- Prepared for the saved and the blessed
- A city built four square far away somewhere
- As a home for the saints to rest
- So many have tried but they couldn’t describe
- All the beauties on that bright shore
- For it’s never entered in to the hearts of men
- What the Father has in store
Wait! I’ve read chapters 21 and 22 of the book of Revelation and I know exactly what heaven looks like and what it will be like!
The only problem is that we are depending on a mortal man seeing an eternal city prepared by our eternal God (cf. John 14:2)… and we are mortal with no understanding of what we will be like! John says it like this: Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)
Yes, we have many passages telling us of a robe and crown, of being changed, of being just like Jesus… but nothing in our vocabulary can describe what that really is, and certainly not what all it means and implies!
Consider a simple illustration: Imagine that you have a friend who was born blind and has never seen anything at all. They don’t know what the world around LOOKS like because all they have to go on for looks are their other senses. Now, describe to them color. Describe a rainbow or a field of tulips in a multitude of colors. Describe the spectacular view of autumn leaves as they are ablaze with color.
See the problem? Without a common frame of reference, you simply cannot describe something that is completely outside their understanding.
Another example: Take someone out of a stone-age culture, say one of the isolated tribes from the Amazon. Remember that they have never seen anything of technology and they think only birds can fly.
Now, describe for them a modern jetliner. Tell them how it works, how they and dozens of other people can safely fly inside of it. Do you see the problem?
One final example: Remember that song? The chorus goes on to say:
- I could sing about Heaven for a million years
- and never get the story told
- Of the jasper walls and the gates of pearl
- and the streets made of pure gold
- Even John the Revelator in a heavenly vision
- could never really say what he saw
- I could sing about heaven for a million years
- and still, I could never tell it all
You see, John is not really telling us what Heaven is really like. He is simply telling us some words that we as backward, ignorant, temporal beings can understand from our experience.
Look at those songs about Heaven that we sing. They all remind us of its beauty, it’s eternalness, it’s appropriateness for our God and His now transformed eternal family to live in for all eternity. In 2 Corinthians 12:4 Paul confesses that he couldn’t even share the words he heard! John was commanded to write what he saw much like Ezekiel and still, we can never tell it all!
Because of our Savior, His love, His sacrifice, His mercy, and His grace all freely shared with us… we can not only sing about heaven but look forward to being there for all eternity.
— Lester P. Bagley