The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have Heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with Heaven, if Christ was not there? – John Piper, God Is the Gospel
Okay, so when I think about the question, there are three things (supported by Scripture) that come to mind:
Luke 18:19 “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (talking to the rich, young ruler).
I like this passage because we use the term “good” somewhat flippantly in everyday talk. But if we truly believe what the Bible says, we understand that God is goodness itself. He is Yahweh – the Great I Am. He is holy. He is perfect in all of His attributes…including Goodness.
James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
When I think about these things, that God is goodness in its purest form, and everything that is TRUELY good and perfect only comes from Him, I realize that – without God – there really isn’t anything good at all. In the same way, without Christ, we cannot experience goodness or practice goodness because we aren’t good either.
Romans 3:10-11 supports this when it says “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.”
When I think about these things, and I do believe them, I realize that without God, there wouldn’t be anything truly good – lasting, satisfying. And without Christ, I wouldn’t be able to experience anything truly good, lasting, or satisfying that ONLY comes from having a relationship with God through His love.
So it’s easy for us as Christians (hopefully) to say “no” to the question that Piper has asked. We love Christ and see Him as precious. But we have the knowledge (through the Holy Spirit) of what He has done for us. The way the world sees it is a different story.
1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
The Jews thought it was crazy that their long expected Messiah – the Anointed One – their king who was to save them from all of their oppressors – was born in a manger and died on a cross. The Greeks thought it was shameful the way Jesus died and His life could never be that of a God. Just like in Bible days, people today think the gospel is crazy. The gospel is completely radical!!
Jesus said “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside. Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified [!], to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God…” 1 Corinthians 1: ……Just read the whole chapter!
So, the Holy Spirit has given us knowledge of what Christ has done for us, but the world is still confused. There was a song I was listening to earlier this week (I thought it was Lecrae, but couldn’t find it when I tried looking up the lyrics) and the singer said something about as a nonbeliever going to church and not really wanting their “Heaven” but just really scared of Hell. I’ve been thinking about those lyrics because I think a lot of people in the world look at being a Christian as “I get to go to Heaven when I die instead of Hell which will be miserable” and even I, as a Christian, struggle to wrap my mind around the reality that Heaven is going to be better than anything I could experience here. I don’t think we can wrap our minds totally around it. But I do know this: I have experienced Christ in this life… a relationship with Him. So, to be able to experience Him in all of His fullness, every day, without distraction, without growing weary – is just mind blowing to think about. I truly believe that this is what nonbelievers are missing and what we need to share with them! Jesus is IT. There’s nothing else. There’s nothing better.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10: 10-11 (I sort of just realized the significance of the word “good” there)
Jesus makes it clear that He can give us life in its best form. I heard it put by an awesome guy named Zane Black that when God says He came to give us life “more abundantly” that it’s a life lived to its fullest. A life without regrets. I believe that this Life isn’t only experienced in Heaven. We can experience that Life right now…every day if we let ourselves. Heaven is only the name of the place where we get to experience the One Who is Goodness itself and gives us every good and perfect thing – the very Creator and Savior of our souls – in all of His fullness.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13: 44-46
I don’t know exactly what Heaven is going to be like. But I do know Jesus and since He tells me that the KINGDOM of Heaven is so awesome, I should be willing to give up everything – even my own life for it. However, the Kingdom of Heaven starts now… not after we die. Being involved in furthering God’s kingdom brings the most lasting joy… much more than any food, health, activities, beauty, physical pleasures, peace, and even people by themselves. So, to answer Piper’s question: truly, no one would be satisfied.
— Article written by guest author, Tara