The Goodness of Heaven (1)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6.19-21
What’s so good about it?
Since Christians have been created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2.10), and we are to be a people zealous, ready for, and maintaining all manner of good works (Tit. 2.14; 3.8, 14), it behooves us to understand as much as we can about good works and how we may perform them. We long to see God’s goodness in the land of the living, and God intends much of that goodness to come to light through us, His people.
We began this study by looking at God Himself, and we saw that His goodness consists, among many other things, of the unity, holiness, and harmony He enjoys within Himself, and in the order, creativity, and love He expresses toward and within created things. We have seen examples of God’s goodness in creation and culture, the Law of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. In all this quest to understand God’s goodness, we have been guided by the Word of God, and our goal has been to learn how we may bring more of God’s goodness to light in the land of the living, and thus fulfill the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 14.12).
We are thus eager to learn about God’s goodness from as many sources as the Scriptures present. One of these is surely the vision of heaven which we may discover in the Bible. Granted, we see only glimpses of the glory and goodness to be discovered there; but Jesus explained that these glimpses witness to a treasure which should command the devotion of our heart. Surely, that sounds like something good?
But I wonder. On occasion, I have asked groups of believers to raise their hand if they want to go to heaven. Of course, everyone does. Then I’ve asked them to raise their hand if they want to go to heaven today. The number of raised hands typically diminishes. Now I understand that there may be many good and selfless reasons why people do not want to go to heaven right now. But I think it’s possible, if not likely, that our vision of heaven is such that we see it as the better of two alternatives, that is, compared to hell, rather than as the best thing we could realize prior to the new heavens and new earth.
The simple fact is that Jesus said there are treasures in heaven, and treasures are good. We should try to understand what Jesus had in mind. What might those treasures in heaven be?
Because we are to treasure them, they must have some form we can observe or measure, something we can delight and invest in which appeals to the longings of our heart. Treasures on earth we can count, spend, invest, accumulate, and put to various uses; yet such treasures have temporal and temporary value only. The treasures of heaven are eternal, unchanging, undiminished, holy, radiant, majestic, and glorious. Jesus instructs us to bank on these treasures, to find in them our greatest goodness, and a goodness to enrich all our good works in this life.
In heaven, Christ reigns at the right hand of God, in the fullness of His beauty, goodness, and truth, radiant and resplendent in glory, majesty, and power. In heaven, Christ’s Kingdom exists in perfect righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
In heaven, saints and angels gather to worship the Lord in holiness and unbounded joy, with unceasing music, amid sights and sounds and smells of the most majestic and glorious kind.
In heaven, departed saints intercede for us, and add to the overall beauty and splendor of the heavenly court by their individual luster. Among them grace, praise, fellowship, joy, and peace abound. There the great variety of individual gifts and callings, which the Spirit lavishes upon the Church, are fused in perfect unity, holiness, and harmony to celebrate and exalt our King and God.
In heaven a fixed order of glory, praise, and rejoicing continues without interruption or corruption. The boundless creativity of innumerable saints produces a never-ending fountain of beauty and goodness. All present in that glorious heavenly court bask and prosper in the infinite love of God, and they unite in love to love and serve Him without ceasing.
Can you see this? Is this real to you, in your mind and heart? Do you find this vision attractive? Appealing? So desirable that you can say with the apostle Paul, “to die is gain” (Phil. 1.21)? Are you prepared to embrace the thought that you are even now seated there with Christ, and thus invited to participate in the glory and goodness of this eternal realm (Eph. 2.6)?
Can you focus on this, enumerate and enjoy the individual features of glory abounding in this domain? Let these your treasure be, and your heart, delighting in them, will shape your soul for all manner of good pursuits in the here and now.
We have a treasure in heaven! And we can begin making additional deposits into this eternal treasury, by setting our minds on the things that are above, where Christ is seated in heavenly places, and entering into the fellowship of that glorious cloud of witnesses, so that the goodness they know in holy perfection we may experience increasingly, if only imperfectly (Col. 3.1-3; Heb. 12.1).
By entering the goodness of heaven and investing in the treasure the Lord has for us there, we can improve in our calling to good works here and now. We bring heaven’s goodness to earth here and now by depositing attention, devotion, and active participation in that life with Christ that we possess there and then. By discovering and sharing in the goodness of heaven, we become better fitted to realize the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
1. I sometimes get the feeling that Christians think heaven is a kind of boring place. Why do you suppose that’s so? Does such a view of heaven betoken a correct view? Explain.
2. What do you think might be involved in making deposits in our heavenly treasure? Why should we do this?
3. How can Christians encourage one another to live in the there and then, here and now?
Next steps – Preparation: How do you think about heaven? How complete is your vision of this glorious, unseen realm? Talk with a Christian friend about these questions.
T. M. Moore
Heaven is where Jesus is, seated in glory. We can know Him there, and build up our heavenly treasure through meditation, prayer, and imitating what we see in heaven. Our book, To Know Him, can lead you in making those deposits in your heavenly treasure that will find you increasing in the knowledge of Jesus day by day. Order a copy today by clicking here, and we’ll send you a second copy to share with a friend.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.