Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Contemplate Heaven with Me for a Minute: Edward's "Heaven Is a World of Love", Pt. 1

This sermon is an absolute masterpiece. Unfortunately, most Christians have not and never will encounter it. I encourage you to read this section and to check out the sermon. You'll see why if you read it.

The Reality of God’s Unending Love for His People--"As the saints will love God with an inconceivable ardency of heart, and to the utmost of their capacity, so they will know that he has loved them from all eternity, and still loves them, and will continue to love them forever. And God will then gloriously manifest himself to them, and they shall know that all that happiness and glory which they are possessed of, are the fruits of his love. And with the same ardor and fervency will the saints love the Lord Jesus Christ; and their love will be accepted; and they shall know that he has loved them with a faithful, yea, even with a dying love. They shall then be more sensible than now they are, what great love it manifested in Christ that he should lay down his life for them; and then will Christ open to their view the great fountain of love in his heart for them, beyond all that they ever saw before. Hereby the love of the saints to God and Christ is seen to he reciprocated, and that declaration fulfilled, "I love them that love me;" and though the love of God to them cannot properly be called the return of love, because he loved them first, yet the sight of his love will, on that very account, the more fill them with joy and admiration, and love to him."

--From "Heaven Is a World of Love," The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards

I recently taught on this at a local church in the Chicago area and was absolutely transported by Edwards's words. The central point of this passage is that God's love in heaven is something like a rushing force that unstoppably flows into the hearts and souls of His people. Like a sea churning with fury, God's love pours into the hearts of His people such that they are so full, so satiated with God's love, that there is no room for any other emotion or feeling. I do not know, of course, is this is the way heaven is, exactly, but I do commend Edwards for taking a stab at comprehending the reality of an uninhibited divine love. How often do you and I honestly stop to consider what it is like to experience the rushing, surging, overwhelming force of God's love as mediated through Christ in heaven? How much do we struggle to sense flickers of Christ's love while on earth, so cold and sinful are our hearts? Heaven, I am confident, will be very different, and whether it is just like Edwards pictures it in this sermon or not, it is clear from the biblical text that Christians have a great rushing sea of love in which to swim in the next life. Edwards lifts our gazes to think about this coming reality, and it will be worth reflecting on these next few days in order that we might train ourselves to allow our doctrine of heaven to transcend mere abstraction, mere intellectual exercise, and to warm our hearts as the Bible so clearly intends it to.

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Blogger Al said...

Very Good. I have the following verse to speak on, probably in a week: (ESV) You are my friends if you do what I command you. (Joh 15:14)

You statement from Edwards goes along with this very well.


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