Jonathan Edwards is often referred to as one of the greatest minds America has ever produced. He was a theologian and philosopher, yes. But most of all, he was pastor. His writing and and speaking and ministry did not happen in a classroom or an ivory tower. His sermons prove this.
He is most famous for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” But Edwards didn’t only preach on God’s anger. Far from it. He talked more about God’s glory, the beauty of Christ, and love. One of the better Edwards’ sermons I have read is “Heaven, a World of Love.”
What comes to mind when you think of heaven? Harps? Clouds? Singing? Standing around doing nothing for eternity?
Does love make the cut? Have you ever considered that heaven is a world of love?
That’s Edwards’s main point. Heaven is the perfect society we were made for and long for, even if we don’t know it. Edwards makes several profound statements about what heaven will be like and they shatter our (pop)cultural expectations
In heaven, love casts away fear:
“No inhabitants of that blessed world will ever be grieved with the thought that they are slighted by those that they love, or that their love is not fully and fondly returned.”
In heaven, love is perfectly enjoyed:
“Heaven itself, the place of habitation, is a garden of pleasures, a heavenly paradise, fitted in all respects for an abode of heavenly love; a place where they may have sweet society and perfect enjoyment of each other’s love.”
In heaven, love is pure and genuine:
“Every expression of love shall come from the bottom of the heart, and all that is professed shall be really and truly felt.”
In heaven, love means everyone’s satisfaction will be in the holiness of others:
“Those that are highest in glory, are those that are highest in holiness, and therefore are those that are most beloved by all the saints; for they most love those that are most holy, and so they will all rejoice in their being the most happy. And it will not be a grief to any of the saints to see those that are higher than themselves in holiness and likeness to God, more loved also than themselves, for all shall have as much love as they desire, and as great manifestations of love as they can bear; and so all shall be fully satisfied; and where there is perfect satisfaction, there can be no reason for envy.”
While I am not an expert on Edwards, I can’t help but wonder if he is not at his pastoral best in this sermon. Why? Because the sermon creates a longing in the soul of the hearer (or reader in our case!) for heaven. Edwards shows us that the dissatisfactions and longings we feel in this world are little reminders that we were made for another one. A world of divine love!
But we do not long for heaven simply because it’s great real estate (i.e. not hell), but because it’s the only place where we can experience perfect relationship with God and others. I’m not very old and I have suffered little compared to most people. Yet with each passing month and year, I’m finding myself longing for heaven more and more.
What about you?