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  "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark 16:15 

 

Bible Facts About Heaven

Dr. John R. RiceBy Dr. John R. Rice
1895-1980

 

6 - Christian, "To Die Is Gain"; We Should Long for Heaven    

     We Christians often act like heathen.  We preach that it is wonderful to be a Christian, that Heaven is to be gained and Hell shunned.  Then when one of our loved ones dies, we act as if it were all a lie.  Our actions say that this world is better than the next, that death is a tragedy, and we ask querulously in our unbelief, Why? Why? Why?

    We feel that Heaven is bearable, all right, when one has sucked dry all the pleasures of earth.  We feel that, only after old age has come upon us, when life is a burden, when health has failed, when we are in the way and our children don't want us, then perhaps we should be resigned to go to Heaven.  Subconsciously we look upon Heaven as a scrapheap for the worn-out and useless, a kind of old people's home - better than nothing but not as good as this world, with youth, health, and prosperity. 

    Shame on us!  When we weep and lament at the death of our loved ones, we often make void our testimony, cast reflection upon the Bible and irreverence on Heaven.

    For the Christian, death is not a tragedy but a glorious promotion - not the sad end, but the glorious beginning.

    Sometimes we hear people say how sad it is that one should die so young.  But that is a deception of Satan.  If a young Christian dies, it is not sad but glorious.  Many of the fairest buds that ever grew on earth have blossomed in Heaven.  However much we miss our loved ones when they fall asleep, let us remember that our mourning is selfish.  There is rejoicing in Heaven.  Not one in that blessed land would, if he could, return to the decaying form he left, to live out the life he had planned, to see the happiest future he could imagine on this earth.  Death for a sinner is horrible, but never to a child of God.  "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13).  Blessed and happy are the Christian dead! 

     "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better" - Phil. 1:21-23.

    To die is gain. "Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better," Paul said.  It is gain, always gain, for a Christian to die.  It is better, far better, to depart and be with Christ.  Thus happy or fortunate or blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

    Then Christians should eagerly look forward to Heaven.  For Jesus to come today and take away His saints, His bride, would be glorious.  But if Jesus does not come today, then blessed and happy are those who die in Christ.

    We ought to sing songs about Heaven, long after its beauties, rejoice because of the certainty that one glad day we shall be there.  We ought to welcome the call that may come for us at any moment.  We ought to be homesick for Heaven and willing to stay here on earth only that we may do the will of Christ and bless others in His name and work.

    Let us consider the great gain of one who dies and goes to Heaven. 

    1. The Christian gains the presence of Christ at death.  Paul said, "Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better."  He longed to see Jesus; so should we.  He spoke of being "absent from the body, and - present with the Lord."  Where Jesus is 'tis Heaven. 

    It is the desire of His dear heart that we who love Him should be with Him.  He is now preparing a place and will come for us.  "Where I am, there ye may be also."

    I can never quite realize how He loves me.  I know He does, for His Word tells me so, and He shows it with a multitude of mercies day by day.  His Holy Spirit tells me so in my heart.  Yet how sweet it will be when I can see him in person!  Then hope will change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.  Then I can put my finger on the nail prints and my hand in His side.  Then I can hold His feet as did Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, or lean upon his bosom as did John.  It will be Heaven enough to be with Jesus.  If we love Him now, having never seen Him, how we must love Him when we see Him face to face!

    2. Heaven will be glorious because we will see our loved ones again.  My heart often sings the words of the old song, "I have a mother over yonder" and "I have a father over yonder." I have now many in Heaven who long to see me.

    When our boys came home from the First World War, what bedlam in an Army camp when the Armistice was signed, when the nations laid down their arms and when everybody prepared to go home again to wife and mother and sweetheart and babies!  I can never forget it.  Surely that is only a faint picture of the joy when a saint goes Home and meets all his loved ones again.  My mother committed her motherless children into the tender hands of God, unafraid and without fret, then turned her face beautifully toward Heaven. 

    There is coming a glad time when all the saved who ever sang, "God be with you till we meet again," will meet at Jesus' feet.  The saints will "gather at the river."  They will come in from the East, West, North, South and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God.  Oh, it will be glorious to meet our loved ones in Heaven!

    3. Christians will be done with sin.  It was about his own sins and sinful nature that Paul cried out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24).  Then they that hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.  Then the pure in heart shall see God.  There will be no more tears for the loved ones who died in the Lord and thus who have gone to be with Him. 

    4. There will be no more grief over sinful companions.  Lot vexed his righteous soul with the unlawful deeds of the men of Sodom.  With broken heart, Samuel cried to the Lord all night because of the sins of Saul and because God rejected Saul from being king.  Jeremiah had a fire in his bones.  Paul had unceasing pain for his brethren according to the flesh who rejected Paul's Savior, and went on their way to Hell.

    Christians in this world sadly need the admonition, "Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity" (Ps. 37:1).  Praise God, in Heaven there will be no sin about us, no bad companions, no persecutors!  No liquor ads on restaurant menus, no taverns to pass by.  None of that, for the drunkards shall not enter the kingdom of God.  Here men take God's name in vain, but in Heaven the cherubim cry, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty."  So the Christian will gain in Heaven complete freedom from the sorrows of surrounding sin.  How blessed to die in the Lord!

    5.  Our tears will be dried and sorrowing hearts will be comforted.  Abraham said to the rich man in Hell, about Lazarus, "Now he is COMFORTED, and thou art tormented" (Luke 16:25). 

    The Saviour said, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4).  Much of this comfort we will never receive until we get to Heaven.  Truly, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Ps. 30:5)

     When the Christian dies, he loses his sorrows.  If one glistening tear can stain the pure face of a saint in Glory, then God Himself will wipe it away and comfort with His own endearments all His own who have sorrowed!  Pain will be forgotten.  Poverty will turn to riches!

There's no disappointment in Heaven
    No weariness, sorrow or pain;
No hearts that are bleeding and broken,
    No song with a minor refrain.
The clouds of our earthly horizon
    Will never appear in the sky,
For all will be sunshine and gladness,
    With never a sob nor a sigh.
We'll never pay rent on our mansion,
    The taxes will never come due;
Our garments will never grow threadbare,
    But always be fadeless and new;
We'll never be hungry nor thirsty,
    Nor languish in poverty there,
For all the rich bounties of Heaven
    His sanctified children will share.
There'll never be crepe on the doorknob,
    No funeral train in the sky;
No graves on the hillsides of Glory,
    For there we shall never more die.
The old will be young there forever,
    Transformed in a moment of time;
Immortal we'll stand in His likeness,
    The stars and the sun to outshine.
I'm bound for that beautiful city
    My Lord has prepared for His own;
Where all the redeemed of all ages
    Sing "Glory" around the white throne;
Sometimes I grow homesick for Heaven,
    And the glories I there shall behold:
What a joy that will be when my Saviour
    I see, In that beautiful city of gold!
(With grateful acknowledgement
   to the author, F M. Lehman)
    6. A Christian who dies gains rest. Let us not complain if here we labor.  We are commanded, "Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Gal. 6:9).  The Lord Jesus said, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4).  Paul declared that he was a greater apostle in that he was "in labours more abundant" (II Cor. 11:23).  He labored "night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31) as he warned men both publicly and from house to house.  Paul literally nearly killed himself with overwork (II Cor. 1:8).

    It is shameful for a Christian worker, a preacher or soul winner, to be lazy.  The harvest is white now, and we must work.  But there comes a time of rest.  For a Christian death means sweet rest!

    This is part of the blessedness which the Scriptures promise to those who die in the Lord: "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may REST from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13).  Rest!

    A dear preacher friend of mine who was suddenly killed had started to drive more than 900 miles in half a night and a day, to begin a new series of revival services.  Though a young man, he was burdened with many duties, but he bore them with great joy because, he wanted to make full proof of his ministry.  He preached the Word, being instant in season and out of season.  He endured hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  But now he will never need to hurry anymore.  He is resting from his labors, and his works do follow him.

    How sweet it must be for a saint in Heaven to lay aside all the cares and burdens and know that his works go on!

    Youth feels sometimes it will never grow tired.  Youth longs for the fight, for the toil, for the challenge to strength and endurance.  But after a while one begins to grow weary, not tired OF the work, but tired IN it.

    Many a preacher sometimes thinks of the time when he will sit under green trees or paddle in cool waters or meditate amid the grandeur of the mountains or by the seashore or perhaps simply rest at home with wife and children.  Yet for multitudes of preachers and other Christians as well, that time never comes.  The vacation is postponed; the honeymoon trip is never taken; there is no time for the little outing or the visit to the children or the quiet rest for study and refreshment.

    But all such men should look forward to the glad day when weary hands may fold themselves.  I think for tired Christians it will surely be wonderful to sit on the bank of the river of life, in the shade of trees that bear twelve manner of fruits and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations! "Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours"!

    Dad can never lay down the burden of making a living.  There are clothes to buy, rent to pay, mouths to feed, tuition to pay.  Many a mother has an unceasing round of duties - no forty-hour week for her.  She has no office hours - no time to be sick, no time for vacation, no time for study, no time to rest.  Often enough a dear mother feels that she hardly has time to pray!

    Let every tired and overburdened Christian rejoice in the comforting fact that one day he shall rest from his labors while his work goes on.  Rest is part of the wonderful gain of one who dies in the Lord.

    Hard labor is part of the curse put on mankind because of sin.  The thorns and briars in the field, the travail and sorrow of motherhood, all the bread which mankind must eat in the sweat of his face and by unceasing labor are the fruit of sin.  When God reaches down and takes one of His children out of this world of sin, then he is done with toil and finds rest from his labor.

    Many a Christian has found joy in the words of the song by Herbert Buffum:
Here so many are taking vacations,
    To the mountains, the lakes or the sea;
Where they rest from their cares and their worries -
    What a wonderful time that must be!
But it seems not my lot to be like them,
    I must toil through the heat and the cold
Seeking out the lost sheep on the mountains,
    Bringing wanderers back to the fold.
Chorus
When I take my vacation in Heaven,
    What a wonderful time that will be!
Hearing concerts by the heavenly chorus,
    And the face of my Saviour I'll see.
Sitting down on the banks of the river,
    'Neath the shade of the Evergreen Tree
I shall rest from my burdens forever
    Won't you spend your vacation with me?
There is rest, sweet rest, in Heaven.

Of the souls under the altar in Heaven John says, "White robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest" (Rev. 6:11).

7. To die in Christ is to gain eternal rewards.  One reason it is so blessed to die in the Lord is that then one enters into the fruit of all his labor and begins to enjoy all the treasure laid up in Heaven.  No doubt this thought put the ring of glory in Paul's last cry of exultation when he wrote to Timothy:
     "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." - II Tim. 4:6-8
     Part of the Christian's reward will be reigning with Christ when He comes in glory and when the bodies of the saints are raised.  Then the twelve apostles shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  Then to one Christ will say, "Thou has been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities" (Luke 19:17).  But Paul knew that when he departed to be with Christ he would have the inexpressible joy of seeing souls whom he had won come home to God.  His works would follow him!

    The Prophet Daniel foresaw that "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan. 12:3).  Surely a part of that eternal glory and reward begins when a Christian enters Heaven.

    How great gain has one who leaves earth for Heaven!  Truly the Christian can say, "To die is gain," and that "to depart, and to be with Christ...is far better" (Phil. 1:21,23).






Contents                                                                                                                                Chapter 7

 

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