“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
The end God has in mind regarding our sufferings is not just our personal conformity to Christ, but also the conformity of the whole church to Christ, so that all of God’s people will be fit to enjoy fellowship with God forever. It is one thing to be entitled to eternal life; it is another thing to be fit for it. We therefore suffer for the sake of the church (those who are already in it, as well as those who will someday be in it). We die that others may live; but if they live, we live too, in the sense that we all become fit to enjoy the presence of a holy God. Holiness is pleasant only for those who are fit to bear it; otherwise, it is a consuming fire. There will be degrees of nearness to God in heaven, depending on our holiness. All the redeemed will be there, but some will be nearer to God than others. We will all be perfectly happy in heaven, but the joy of some will be greater than others. They have wept more profusely, therefore they will rejoice more exceedingly.
(Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash)
The saddest words I have ever read are found in Ecclesiastes ch. 12, “To the making of books there is no end, and too much reading is a weariness of the flesh.” But then I realise that this is also good news: books won’t end, therefore they’re eternal. There will be books in heaven. The reading life does not end! (John Piper) And the good news is: in heaven there will be no weariness of the flesh because we will be reading with our glorified bodies, glorified eyes, and glorified minds. I’m looking forward to heaven!
Interestingly, many of the books in heaven will be law books and biographies. According to Revelation many of the books there will be filled with accounts of everything people have done, and according to their deeds they will be judged, which means I think that these books will also cite the laws which people have either kept or broken. I’ll be reading about your lives and your deeds, and you’ll be reading about my life and my deeds! Now that is frightening.
Maybe that’s the reason why the Bible says that at the last day there will be tears in our eyes – because all the things that we’ve done will be uncovered and publicly revealed. But these tears of shame and sorrow for all the sins we’ve committed God will wipe away – all of them. In the presence of all creatures, angelic or otherwise, he will confirm the fact that we are justified from all things, cleansed from every sin, by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But I digress. Going back to books and reading, even in heaven, Virginia Woolf once wrote, St Peter who stands watch at Heaven’s gate will say, upon seeing people coming in, carrying their books with them – he will say with a note of envy in his voice, “Look, we have nothing to give them here. They have loved books.”
Heaven is a library where reading will never end.