This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on October 4 2016. The series of posts ‘Diagnosing Spiritual Health’ is drawn from Donald Whitney’s book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (Navpress, 2001).
The 19th century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “You may judge a man by what he groans after.” Christians are people with the expectation of being in the direct presence of Christ after their deaths. But it is worth considering two things in this: 1. How strongly do you desire it? and 2. What motivates this desire?
The book I have been reading by Donald Whitney has presented some very important questions such as these. A faith that is no more than an insurance ticket to escape from hell and get into heaven is not a faith that will carry you there. Such a faith is self-serving and no more spiritual than a snake fleeing a scrubfire (cf. Luke 3:7-8). The kind of faith that saves is one which is characterised by an eager desire to see Jesus and to be with him (cf. Heb. 9:28; Titus 2:13). Does your faith produce such longing? Or is it rather sleepy, content with the pursuit of the things God has blessed us with in the here and now? Our desires may be content with or fixed on earthly things – so we must continually point ourselves and each other to heaven, where Christ is.
We must also consider the motivations for heaven. Desiring the rest and respite of heaven when you are nearing life’s end or suffering through hardship is not wrong, but it is not a mark of spiritual growth. A holy desire is the desire to see his face and to be with him and to be free from sin (cf. 1 Jn. 3:2-3). If we are to yearn for heaven, let it be for who we will meet there.