Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Would You Be Happy in Heaven if Christ Were Not There?

The critical question for our generation—and for every generation— is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

And the question for Christian leaders is: Do we preach and teach and lead in such a way that people are prepared to hear that question and answer with a resounding No? How do we understand the gospel and the love of God? Have we shifted with the world from God’s love as the gift of himself to God’s love as the gift of a mirror in which we like what we see? Have we presented the gospel in such a way that the gift of the glory of God in the face of Christ is marginal rather than central and ultimate? If so, I pray that this book might be one way God wakens us to see the supreme value and importance of “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” I pray that our ministries would have the same focal point as the ministry of John Owen, the great Puritan writer of the seventeenth century. Richard Daniels said of him:

There is one motif so important to John Owen, so often and so broadly cited by him, that the writer would go so far as to call it the focal point of Owen’s theology... namely, the doctrine that in the gospel we behold, by the Christ-given Holy Spirit, the glory of God “in the face of Christ” and are thereby changed into his image.

Can we really say that our people are being prepared for heaven where Christ himself, not his gifts, will be the supreme pleasure?

From, God is the Gospel by John Piper, 15.