Far Better

Strange as it may seem, I’ve been struggling with regret that I will die and go to Heaven. It’s irrational, of course, and it’s unrelated to anything temporal; it isn’t because I’ll miss some physical or relational aspect of my life here on Earth.

The dilemma is that I haven’t been able to imagine how I could possibly have more access to God than I already have. Now, I can be as close to Him as I like, closer than my own breath. I can talk to Him any time, commune with Him whenever I like, as much as I want. (2Co 13:14) No one else can separate me from Him (Ro 8:39), or have any claim on Him that might constrain my access to Him; nothing ever interferes or limits His availability to me.

Yet, as Christ was in an earthly body, bound by time and space, He could only personally converse with one person at a time; only one disciple at a time could lean on Jesus’ bosom (Jn 13:23); He could only hold one or two children in His arms at a time. There’s something about the physicality of Heaven that seems intrinsically to break down the omnipresence of God to me: once I see Him, I will then also see the millions of others who clamor for His attention, and I cannot understand how I could possibly have the same unfiltered, unbroken, unrestrained access to Him there that I have here and now.

This uncertainty has been causing me to hesitate about Heaven; my fellowship with Him is the most precious thing to me, and I cannot let the smallest particle of it go without feeling a sense of immense loss. As the disciples could not possibly understand why it was expedient for Christ to depart from this world so the Comforter would come (Jn 16:5-7), I’ve been feeling similarly. How could it possibly be good for me to die and go to Heaven, where both Father and Son will appear so very far away, surrounded by millions of saints, from whom I’m essentially indistinguishable?

How it could be better I cannot actually fathom yet, but God says it is not just better, but far better to depart this world to be with Christ. (Php 1:23) To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2Co 5:8), and it is, in fact, evidently the kind of presence that makes what I have now much more like absence (2Co 5:6), more like blindness than sight. (2Co 5:7)

If from the vantage of Heaven I will consider what I had on Earth an absence from Jesus Christ, a blindness compared to how I am finally seeing, then this heavenly state must indeed be infinitely and indescribably precious. Now, I can align with Paul, and know a passion to depart this life to be so much more with God than I am now!

Meanwhile, it’s like I’m straining to see Him through darkly colored windows, but soon it will be face to face. (1Co 13:12) This hope I have as an anchor of my soul, both sure and steadfast, entering within the veil, the holiest place in the universe, where Jesus Christ abides (He 6:19-20), and I in Him.

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Few Find It

Christian Universalism is the teaching that all people will eventually be saved and enter Heaven. It sounds nice, the typical fairy tale happy ending to eternity, but is it true?

All people certainly would be saved if everyone earnestly sought salvation from God (1Ti 2:3-4), but even though all are invited to do so (Re 22:17), very few are willing to come, and none on their own initiative, apart from the drawing of God. (Jn 6:44)

Christ tells us to strive to enter Heaven, that many will seek to enter their own way but won’t be able to (Lk 13:24), that the way to Heaven is narrow, obscure, hidden, and that very few will find it. (Mt 7:14)

Further, Christ teaches that there are certain types and degrees of sin that are never forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. (Mt 12:32)

Since God is eternally merciful to those who repent and yield to Him (Is 55:7), it would appear that the problem with universalism isn’t that God is unloving or holds grudges, but that Man refuses to repent, even from the flames of Hell. If God waited for men to repent on their own accord, He’d wait forever. (Ps 81:15)

Man is incapable of transforming himself (Je 13:23), and no amount of external punishment or torment will make any difference in the end. (Pr 27:22) The only hope any of us have is the irresistible grace of God; God is able to work in the human heart according to His will (Php 2:13), moving in us to seek Him and obey Him.

It is perhaps a mystery why God does not choose us all; one must look to God’s purpose in Creation to find the answer. (Ro 9:22-23) Evidently, God will be the most glorified in the way He chooses (Ps 46:10), and this is enough for me.

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