Christians from the past can teach us to be more heavenly-minded. The more they considered heaven the more they were motivated to serve and glorify Christ on the earth. They did more earthly good than those who fail to dwell upon heaven in their hearts.
It is difficult to speak in much detail about the glories of heaven. There is much that is not disclosed to us. In any case, it is difficult for us to conceive of something so different from our ordinary experience. The Larger Catechism gives an attractive summary of biblical teaching on heaven.
The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls.
Andrew Gray develops with sanctified imagination the experience of passing into glory. He considers what thoughts the believer may have at this time. He is not dogmatic about this or over-speculative. He imagines the believer asking questions in their astonishment. Some might think that the order of these questions ought to be different. For instance, that Christ might be the first consideration of a believer made perfectly holy. The order of the questions is not the main matter, however.
Thinking about this helps us to consider something of the wonder of the immediate presence of our God and Saviour. It is helpful to know that Andrew Gray spoke these words in an address to those who were about to partake in the Lord’s Supper. They were seated at the Lord’s Table in the parish church of Kirkliston near Edinburgh.
Without encroaching too far on the mysteries of heaven, I think there are six questions that a Christian are likely to ask when they first go there.
1. “Is it I? Is it I?”
“Cursed I, that has lain among the pots? And now I am made like the wings of a dove that are covered with silver, whose feathers are of yellow gold? (see Psalm 68:13)”
O you who look forward to heaven! Comfort yourselves with this, the day is coming when you will not recognise yourselves! O what a day that will be which brings this question: “Is it I? Is it I?”
2. “Is it He? Is it He? Is it that exalted He?”
The first sight of Christ will make them say: “Is it He whom I saw in prayer and sacraments? Is it He, whom I saw in preaching?”
O what will your thoughts be when you first get that blessed One in your arms? You will cry out: “Now I am rich! Now I am full! Now I am eternally complete!” You will then be forced to cry out to Christ to hold His hand because you can hold no more.
3. “Is this the communion that I had when I was below?”
“Is this the bread indeed, that blessed bread that is above? It is bread of a different grain and a different taste”.
Suppose angels were to come down from heaven to this church and speak to us about the taste of that “bread” above. They would close by saying with Hebrews 11:32: “What shall we say more? for time would fail us”.
4. “Is it they? Is it they?”
Suppose two sitting here who know one another well were transported up to heaven. Their first question might be: “Is it she, or he that I was sitting with? Is it he that trampled under foot the blood of the Lamb?”
I think that some of the Christian’s time in heaven will be spent in questions between Christ and themselves. “When I feasted you at such a communion, did I not do well? And when I withdrew my felt presence from you, did I not do well? When I humbled you, did I not do well? When I lifted you up, did I not do well? When I sent you to such a place of my world, did I not do well? Thus, you will be forced to cry out and commend Him: “O precious Christ has done all things well”.
5. “Is this the blessedness of the saints? Is this the blessedness of the saints?”
I know none that go to heaven who do not receive some mysterious disclosures of it before they go there. But, O what an ample sight that will be, when Christ will come to the gate and shall say: “Welcome friends!” What fervour and joy there will be, when Christ will take you in His arms! O, the raptures of love that there will be! Have you never heard of the reward and reception that this city provides?
6. “Will it always be like this? Will it always be like this?”
What do you think of eternity friends? Did you never call Time cruel? “O cruel Time, that does not quicken your pace that long eternity might approach?” Did you never think to have shortened your hour-glass? That if it had been in your power you would have given it a touch to make it go in faster?
I think that love is not skilled in arithmetic. Love cannot count a jot. Love counts every moment’s absence as eternity. Is that not bad arithmetic? Love counts a thousand years in his presence as but a day. Is that not bad arithmetic?