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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

 

5 - In Heaven They Observe Us on Earth With Complete Knowledge and Eager Interest    

     After my mother died, one evening my sister and I sat out in the moonlight on the stone doorstep of Aunt Nannie's home and looked up at the stars.  We talked about mother - did she look down upon us?  Did she care?  Did she still love us?  We wondered, while looking at the bright stars, and the pale yet brilliant moon, whether our mother was happy with the Lord.

    No doubt the same questions, too deep for childish minds to put into words, have raised themselves in millions of hearts.

    Do our loved ones in Heaven know what goes on on the earth?  I can say with assurance and prove by the Word of God that they do know, that they do care!

    Some thoughtless one will ask, "How could a mother in Heaven be happy if she knew her son on earth went on in sin, rejecting Christ, and perhaps knew that he died unconverted and went to Hell?  How could people in Heaven be happy if they knew all the sadness and wickedness, all the disease, crime and failure, all the war, divorce, and sin of this poor, wicked world?"

    But another question will answer this one:  How can the Lord Jesus in Heaven be happy?  Surely He knows all the things here.  He looked into Hell and heard the cries of the rich man tormented in flame.  And He, with God the Father, knows the fall of every sparrow and numbers every hair on every head.  He looks at the heart of every unrepentant sinner and grieves at the mistakes and failures of every Christian.  Can Jesus be happy in Heaven?

    The Scripture answers:  "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied" (Isa. 53:11).  We know that Jesus on earth looked forward to the joy in Heaven, for we are told: "Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2).  Yes, Jesus, knowing all the wickedness of this world, is happy in Heaven.  So are the saints in Heaven.

    The trouble with all these doubters is simply that they are measuring saints in Heaven by the standards of poor, carnal, earth-minded Christians.  I am burdened for sinners to be saved, yet the joy of the Lord sometimes fills my soul even here on earth.  So much more will it be so when I shall awake in His likeness!

    Dear Christian, you may be sure that when you get to Heaven you will be perfectly satisfied and happy with every thing the Lord Jesus does.

    And when, at the Last Judgment, He sends sinners away forever to the lake of fire, unrepentant sinners, sinners who would have nothing to do with Jesus, sinners who rejected the pleading of the Spirit, sinners who trampled under their feet the blood, then every mother will say "Amen" to the just condemnation of her boy.  Then every wife will be comforted concerning her husband who would not be saved.  God Himself shall wipe away all tears, and there will be no more crying or sighing or pain, "for the former things are passed away."

    Certainly in Heaven they know what goes on here on earth.  That is made clear by many scriptural illustrations.

    There is the case of Samuel who died.  King Saul, backslidden and out of the will of God, went to the witch of Endor and asked that Samuel might be brought back to advise him.  Since witchcraft and spiritualism were forbidden of God, I do not know why God allowed Samuel to appear in person to Saul, but He did.  Perhaps God worked it all together to suit Himself without the witch.  Certainly she seemed startled when she saw Samuel.  Returning Samuel, who had already gone to Heaven, knew just what was happening on earth.  In fact, he knew more: he knew what would happen on the morrow.  First Samuel 28:16-19 tells us what Samuel said to Saul:  
    "Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David: Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day. Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines."
     Samuel knew what went on on earth, and knew why.  He knew the sin of Saul, knew the purposes of God, knew what would happen on the morrow.  Surely, this is evidence that saints in Glory know what goes on on the earth.

    The rich man in Hell looked with the deepest concern upon the affairs of the earth and said, "I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come to this place of torment." He knew that his brethren had not repented.  Abraham in Heaven knew more about it than the rich man did and said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."

    How strange that both Heaven and Hell look on with such intense concern for the conversion of the wicked here on earth while we who have an opportunity to warn them do so little about it!

    When Moses and Elijah met Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, what do you suppose they talked about?  Did Jesus speak with longing concerning the glories of Heaven for which He was homesick?  Did Moses tell Him of sweet conversations in Heaven?  Did Elijah report on the songs they sang and their praises?

    No.  these saints from Glory "spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:31).  The saints in Heaven knew what Jesus was doing on earth, knew the course of events that led straight to the cross.  Eagerly they talked with the Lord about His death that He would "accomplish" (not a death that would overcome Him unwillingly) in Jerusalem.

    Can't you see that in Heaven they know what goes on on earth?
    "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." - Rev. 6:9-11

     Here John saw the souls in Heaven, the souls of those that had been slain because of their Christian testimony.  They had not yet received resurrection bodies; but gathered below the altar of the temple in Heaven, they cried out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"

    When saints in Heaven see the war, the persecution of Christians, the injustice, the wickedness on every hand, their poor hearts cry out that sin be punished and that saints be avenged by the hand of God.

    Those in Heaven look on with great concern and see the course of events in this world.  But, thank God, they are not left in ignorance nor in grief.  "And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them;,that they should rest for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Rev. 6:11).

    God tenderly explains to the saints in Glory how things will turn out here on earth.  Heavenly instructors show them that they need not grieve, that in the end sin will be punished, right will be rewarded and Christ will reign!

    Let us praise God that the souls of the saints in Heaven look down upon us here on earth with the deepest concern.  As Abraham and Lazarus knew about the rich man in Hell, and as the souls in Heaven knew about the course of events on earth, so our beloved dead who are alive in Christ know what we do here day by day.

    And what is the chief concern of the saints in Heaven?  Is it hard for you to know?  We may be sure their interest is just the same as the Saviour's.  His concern is chiefly for souls to be saved.  Remember that Jesus said, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15:7).

    And again He said, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (vs 10).

    Who is in the presence of the angels?  The Lord Jesus and He rejoices over souls saved.  But remember that there, too, are the saints.  They are with Christ.  The angels are their ministering spirits.  It was the angels who carried them there to Heaven.  And I think that Jesus meant that redeemed saints in Glory shout with rejoicing and praise God over every sinner who repents on earth!

    In Hebrews, chapter 11, God gives us an honor roll of the heroes of faith: "By faith Abel...," "By faith Enoch...," "By faith Noah...," "By faith Abraham...," etc., with Isaac and Jacob and Sara and Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jepthae and unnamed martyrs of the faith of whom the world was not worthy!  Then the wonderful climax of the passage is found in Hebrews 12:1,2:

     "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;"

     The word WITNESSES here might mean that these are martyrs who testify to us.  But in view of the fact that they are said to compass us about, and in view of the many other Scriptures that teach on this point, we may be sure that all the saints and heroes of God cluster around the banisters of Heaven and gaze with the deepest concern upon us who are left here to run our race!  And the force of the argument is that, since the grandstand of Glory is filled with so many eager observers, we should lay aside every sin and the besetting sin of unbelief and look to Jesus to complete (finish) our faith, and we should run our race with patience.

    These sainted millions have run their race; they have fought their fight; they have finished their course.  Now they watch on the sidelines as we take their places.  O Christians, in view of this multitude who compass us about and watch us, let us run a good race!

    Heavenly saints know what goes on here on earth.  They know us as Jesus knows.  They see, not through a glass darkly, but face to face.  God has no secrets from His beloved who are entered into His presence and rejoice in His courts.

    My thoughts recur again and again to my mother.  I never knew until I was a grown man that she had wanted me to be a preacher.  One day in Amarillo, Texas in the home of my dear Aunt Essie, mother's sister, we were looking through an old book, and a letter fell out.  I recognized the handwriting at once, for I had seen her maidenhood's love letters to my father.  The handwriting was that of my mother, written when I was four years old, a year or two before her death.

    She wrote, as mothers will, about husband and children.  Her baby (who soon preceded her to Heaven) was doing better, she thought.  Gertrude, the older girl, was good to help mama in drying dishes and minding the baby, she said.  Ruth, with her blond curls, was very quiet and sweet; George, my younger brother, was into mischief from morning to night!  Then she said, "And my little preacher boy is just getting along fine.  The other day he said...."

    Startled, I looked up at my aunt.  She had named everybody else but me!  I was her "preacher boy"! "Did she call me that?" I asked.  Aunt Essie answered, "She never called you anything else!"

    When I saw my father a little later, I mentioned the incident.  Very gravely he said, "Yes, when you were born we gave you to God and prayed that He would make you a preacher."  I remembered then that when I was four I had been taught to answer, when people asked me my name, "I am John the Baptist preacher!"

    "Why didn't you tell me, Dad?" I asked.  He replied, "We wanted the Lord to tell you!"  The Lord did tell me, and I know now that to this end was I born.

    The burdens of the ministry are heavy enough sometimes, God knows.  There is more to be done than any one man can do.  And any true preacher must lose friends for the sake of the bold, plain message that he preaches.  There are tasks too heavy for any mortal.  Then there is, or ought to be, the unceasing pain in the heart which Paul felt for his brethren, the Jews, willing to be accursed from Christ, and which we must feel for the unsaved multitudes, unthinking, unheeding, but for whom Christ died.

    Yet there are joys and recompenses so that the work is easy and the burden is light.  When human power fails, there is the power of the Holy Ghost.  When others forsake, there is the very real presence of Christ even to the end of the age.  And there is a payday coming, more certain than Saturday night.  And not the least of a Christian's joy is that joy which takes place in Heaven over a sinner saved.

    Many a time I stand and plead with sinners to come to Christ, and they do, thank God, through the power of His Gospel and of the Spirit.  When they come - sometimes with glad, uplifted faces, sometimes in tears - I feel that in Heaven they make way for my mother, and she gets a front seat in the grandstand of Glory.  I think I can almost hear her rejoicing as she sees her prayers being answered and her boy preaching the Gospel!  Then "there is joy in heaven"!

    Since Heaven is no near and since such a cloud of witnesses surrounds us, let us run our race with patience, laying aside the weights and our besetting sin of unbelief.  Jesus will give us the soul winner's faith, the soul winner's power while Heaven looks on.  And one day we shall share with them the soul winner's reward and enter more perfectly into the soul winner's rejoicing.

    It is a solemn, yet most comforting, fact that in Heaven they know what we do here on earth.  Heavenly witnesses watch our every step!  We are dear to them; they understand our hearts; they anxiously look for us to come Home.

    If you want to cause people in Heaven to rejoice, then today trust Christ Jesus to forgive you and save you.  Then all Heaven will be glad! 

 



Contents                                                                                                                                Chapter 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







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