Death Is the Suburbs of Heaven

Heaven has been on my mind a lot this week, as our church experienced two losses. But though we grieve, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Instead, hope in Christ fuels enduring joy. Therefore, the timeliness of today’s reading from Refreshment for the Soul was especially fitting. It is Richard Sibbes’s reflection on John 14:3.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Heaven is not heaven without Christ. It is better to be in any place with Christ than to be in heaven itself without him. Paul loved to see Christ, to embrace him, and enjoy him that had done so much and suffered so much for his soul. To be with Christ is to be at the springhead of all happiness. Every creature thinks itself best in its own element, that is the place it thrives in, and enjoys its happiness in; now Christ is the element of a Christian. Again, it is far better, because to be with Christ is to have the marriage consummated. Is not marriage better than the contract? Is not home better than absence? To be with Christ is to be at home. Is not triumph better than to be in conflict? But to be with Christ is to triumph over all enemies, to be out of Satan’s reach. Is not perfection better than imperfection? Here all is but imperfect, in heaven there is perfection. Here the grace in a man is with combat of flesh and spirit, but in heaven there is pure peace, pure joy, pure grace. Grace indeed is glory here, but it is glory with conflict. Is it not much far better to die, that we may be with Christ, than to live a conflicting life here? Death is but a grim sergeant that lets us into a glorious palace, that takes off our rags, that we may be clothed with better robes, that ends all our misery, and is the beginning of all our happiness. Why should we be afraid of death? It is but a departure to a better condition. It is but as Jordan to the children of Israel, by which they passed to Canaan. Of itself it is an enemy indeed, but now it is harmless, nay, now it has become a friend. It is one part of the church’s journey. It ends all our misery and sin; and it is the suburbs of heaven. It is a shame for Christians to be afraid of that which Paul makes the object of his desire (Phil. 1:23).

*Refreshment for the Soul: A Year of Daily Readings from the “Heavenly Doctor” is a collection of readings from the Puritan pastor, Richard Sibbes, and is published by the Banner of Truth Trust.

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