How can we enjoy heaven, when we know our loved ones are in hell?
Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Heaven is a place where God personally will wipe away our tears. And when HE wipes them away, they never ever come back. Expelled from the presence of God forever, is death, disease, pain, and sorrow. All who dwell in His presence drink freely from the fountain of life.
A faithful prominent preacher told a story when he was a younger student in seminary. He had attended a sermon by a professor that dishonored and disrespected everything that the student and others holding the Christian faith, viewed as precious. This student walked to the parking lot with a long strided mentor, and the student remarked "if the Protestant Reformers had heard that message, they would have rolled over in their graves."
The mentor turned in mid stride, planted his front foot, pivoted around, looked at the student with a glare and said, "What did you say?!" "Young man, don't you know that nothing could possibly disturb the felicity and joy in heaven that such men are enjoying right now?! You may be disturbed by that sermon, but it is certainly not going to disturb the joy of the faithful ones that have gone before us."
In that place, there is no more death, no more pain, no more tears, no more sorrow.
In another instance, this same young man heard a fellow student ask that common mentor the very title question of this blog, how can I enjoy heaven knowing my loved ones are in hell? The professor said "don't you know that when you are in heaven, you will be so sanctified, that you will be able to see your own mother in hell, and rejoice in that, knowing that God's perfect justice is being carried out."
The fellow student shrunk back in horror and turned white. The other student was shocked at such a statement, and thought it absurd and ridiculous, and he even laughed out loud while his fellow student was in shock.... but it got his attention and he found himself often thinking about it.
Romans 8:22-28 says: "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Here is where we can answer the question and it has to do with glorification.
The end purpose of God in those He justifies is that He glorifies them. In this we do well to learn 3 things, but perhaps we cannot even remotely grasp them here as we should: 1. What it means that God is holy, as it is so far from our experience, that we have no idea on this matter. 2. Sin is such a part and parcel of our experience, we take much for granted, not knowing what we really are. 3. We do not grasp what it will be to glorified. Death is gone, tears gone, sorrow gone, no temple, no sun, nor artificial lights, because God and the lamb will illumine all. But in that glorified state, the most conspicuous thing absent, is sin.
We cannot imagine such a place. God is glorified in that place, Jesus is glorified, but the final chapter of our redemption is that we too shall be glorified. Not in the sense of deity, but the consummation and completion of the work begun down here, and is ongoing in our sanctification. But then, then, it is perfected and done.
Today there is gap, a chasm, that separates the righteousness of Christ and the best man on earth, whether justified by faith or not. Positionally the believer is all he can ever be now, in Christ.... but practically speaking the difference between himself (the believer) as of yet unglorified... and Christ....is immeasurable. Jesus is sinless, and until the believer is glorified his sympathies and concerns rest much more with fellow wicked human beings than they do for the glory of God and of Christ.
How then can we be happy in heaven, knowing our loved ones are in hell? The mentor up yonder who spoke so bluntly, might tell us that once we are glorified in unmixed affection, that our compassion and love and concern will be much more for the vindication of God's holiness, than for a corrupt fallen fellow human being, even one very close to us now. Why? because we will have been glorified.
This is hard for us to imagine because we cannot understand being free of sin's presence.
But the day is coming, and we shall be changed, and we shall see much more clearly and that is because of God's glorification....of us. And to be changed into his likeness will allow us to bear without sorrow and tears - common to us today - such matters as weighty as these, because of the surprassing greatness of our "change".
adapted from a message online by RCS