Just over 15 years ago I had an older gentleman in my church in Honduras ask me: "Pastor, why is it that no one preaches on heaven anymore? Everything seems to be focused on the here and now." He was right then, and his words only more so now. Heaven is not a common sermon topic anymore -- and the lack of it is seen in the lack of life in many churches. Without an eternal perspective, our priorities as Christians become stunted, get twisted, and can even become unchristian.
Thus, in honor of him (who left these earthly shores a few years back) I offer you these selections from Randy Alcorn's book, "Eternal Perspectives -- A Collection of Quotations on Heaven, the New Earth, and Life After Death." It is a massive collection of quotes on that topic from Christian's throughout the ages. I trust the one's I've selected (read and meditated upon, two or three a day) will increase your hunger to know more and cause you to see the benefit of such a renewed focus. Enjoy.
"Christians are living too much in the "present now" -- and [therefore] the anticipation of better things to come has almost died out in the Church of Christ. We find ourselves so well-situated now, that we don't really need any of tomorrow's heaven. We don't need to hope -- we have everything well enough now."
A. W. Tozer
"All beauty in the world is either a memory of Paradise, or a prophecy of the coming transfigured world."
"O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without You, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have you still, it would be a heaven to me, for You are all the heaven I need."
A mere glimpse of heaven would be enough to re-energize us and give us renewed strength to persevere till the end. "In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island, determined to swim to the shore of mainland California. She'd already been the first woman to swim the English channel both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for fifteen hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside her, told her she was close and could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn't until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than a half mile away. At a news conference the next day she said: "All I could see was the fog... I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it."
C. J. Mahaney
"On a tombstone in Indiana that dates back more than one hundred years is written:
"Pause, stranger, when you pass me by;
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you will be.
So prepare for death and follow me.
An unknown passerby scratched these additional words on the tombstone:
"To follow you I'm not content,
Until I know which way you went."
"Only the pure in heart will see God, because only the pure in heart want to see God. Heaven would not be heaven to those who detest holiness here. Those who seek not God's presence now, would never be happy to dwell in it for all eternity then. And God is just, He will never give the Christ-rejecting unbeliever then, what they don't want now."
"He who hopes to be gathered with saints in heaven, while he only loves the gathering of sinners on earth, is deceiving himself."
J. C. Ryle
"God loves us enough to tell us the truth. There are two eternal destinations, not one, and we must choose the right path if we are to go to heaven. All roads do not lead to heaven. Only one does -- Jesus Christ... As human beings, we have a terminal disease called mortality. The current death rate is 100 percent. Unless Christ returns soon, we're all going to die. We don't like to think about death, yet worldwide, 3 people die every second, 180 every minute, and nearly 11,000 every hour. If the Bible is right about what happens to us after death, that means that 250,000 people every day go either to heaven or to hell."
"More important than all the physical beauty of the heavenly city; more important than the fellowship we will enjoy eternally with all God's people from all nations and all periods of history; more important than our freedom from pain and sorrow and physical suffering... more important by far than any of these will be the fact that we will be in the presence of God and enjoying unhindered fellowship with Him."
"Some of you while sitting here today (in worship) have been trying to lift up your minds to heavenly contemplation, but you cannot. The business has gone so wrong this week; the children have vexed you so much; sickness has been in the house so sorely; you yourself feel in your body quite out of order for devotion -- these enemies break your peace... [But remember] life is but a moment. In short time you will appear in eternity. And though impatience counts it long, yet faith corrects her and reminds her that one hour with God will make the longest life seem but a point in time, a mere nothing, a watch in the night, a thing that was and was not, that has come and gone."
"The reason why we have no ease of heart or soul [is that] we are seeking our rest in things which can never satisfy, and not seeking to know God, almighty, all-wise, all-good... We shall never cease wanting and longing until we possess Him in fullness and joy. Then we shall have no further wants. Meanwhile, His will is that we go on knowing and loving until we are perfected in heaven... The more clearly the soul sees His Blessed face, by grace and love, the more it longs to see it in all its fullness."
Julian of Norwich
"When the Bible defines eternal life, it is not in terms of location or duration, but in terms of relationship with God: 'This is eternal life,' says Jesus, 'that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent' (John 17:3)."
May your contemplation of eternity move you to live more fully in the present, and resolve once-and-for-all where you shall spend it. Alcorn is right when he says, "not all roads lead to heaven." That is what the Bible clearly teaches, along with the twin truth, that, "Only one road leads there -- Jesus Christ."
That others may know Him, Pastor Jeff