I have heard often how wonderful it will be to see our families and friends, or those loved ones we’ve lost, once again in heaven.
And while I believe we will see them, and that would surely be a wondrous occasion, especially after grieving the loss of them here, is that really what heaven is about? Are they on whom our eyes should mainly be focused when considering the joys of heaven?
Puritan Thomas Manton discusses the true joy and satisfaction of the saints in heaven — seeing their loved One — the Lord Christ Jesus — instead of by faith alone, now by sight, forever, and being like Him!
From his sermons upon 1 John iii, sermon iii, which you can read here:
But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. – 1 John iii. 2
Thirdly, The third thing is satisfaction, not mentioned in the text, but implied and supplied from a parallel place; for we having the sight and presence of God, must needs be ravished with it: Ps. xvi. 11, ‘In thy presence,’ or face, ‘is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.’ The fruition of God’s immediate presence must needs exceed all the joy which the heart of man is capable of. If this breedeth not true contentment and felicity, what will?
So our admission into the everlasting estate is called ‘an entering into the joy of our Lord,’ Mat. xxv. 41. There must needs arise an incredible delectation from the vision of God, as also from our fruition of him, or being like unto him, and our possession of the whole estate of happiness thence resulting. Our great business will be to love what we see, and our great happiness to have what we love. This will be a full, perpetual, and never-failing delight to us. The vision hath an influence upon this joy. If the light of the sun be pleasant, how comfortable will it be to see the Sun of righteousness shining forth in all his glory?
Now, when the mind is a little raised in the thoughts of God, what a delightful thing is it! Ps. civ. 34, ‘My meditation of him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord.’ Yet how tasteless to our souls are thoughts of God now in comparison of what they will be then? There is something in us [now] which carrieth us off from God, which liketh not to retain God in our knowledge. Now, when our hearts are more suited and prepared for that sight, our thoughts must needs be glorious and ravishing.
Again, this likeness conduceth to this satisfaction. Take it for holiness, God himself is ‘glorious in holiness,’ Exod. xv. 11. Now to have the beauty of our God upon us is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon us. When there was a debate in Ahasuerus’s court, ‘What should be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Esther vi. 8, it was resolved, ‘Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head.’ Or take it for glory and immortality: 1 Peter iv. 13, ‘That when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad with exceeding joy.’
This is the soul’s rest in God, as satisfied with the full and perfect demonstration of his love; it is the best estate we can be in, for we are not capable of a better. It is the end [purpose] of our faith, and hope, and labours. Of our faith, 1 Peter i. 5 ; the end of our hope, Acts xxvi. 7. Now when a man hath obtained his end, then he is satisfied, as being in his perfect estate.
2. It is the utmost period of perfection men can be advanced unto, to enjoy God and be like him. Beyond God and above God nothing can be enjoyed ; with God nothing can make us miserable, and without God nothing can make us happy. If a man should enjoy all the world, there is something without [external to] him and above him that can make him miserable; if the world smileth and God frowneth, what will you do? Ps. xxxix. 11, ‘When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity.’ None can obstruct God’s vengeance, or stop his wrath; as when the sun is gone, all the candles and torches in the world cannot make it day.
3. If a glimpse of God’s love be so precious to the saints, what will the sight of his face be? Ps. iv. 6, 7, ‘Who will show us any good ? Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us: thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased.’ If imperfect holiness be so precious, what will complete holiness be?
If you are currently grieving, I am truly sorry for your loss. But I do hope you’ll consider the words above, in this concern with your walk with the Lord.
May Christ be our all now and forever, may our true joy in this life be in seeing Him as He is revealed in Scripture, His loveliness and beauty (in who He is and what He did), and may we desire to be like Him now and in eternity!