“We can go to the Celestial City even now, and more and more, as we spiritually fellowship with Christ while bearing our crosses for Him. Remember that our lives are already hidden in heaven with Christ, and we may fellowship with Him there upon directing our thoughts upward (Colossians 3:1-3).”
We have much to meditate on when we consider what our Lord Jesus said to the thief next to Him on the cross: “Truly, truly I say to you…Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
In union with Christ by faith, we will go immediately to a blissful place upon our death. We will leave this world of sin and misery behind us, and enter into a more glorious communion with Christ, face-to-face with our blessed Redeemer.
But, beloved, we can go to the Celestial City even now, and more and more, as we spiritually fellowship with Christ while bearing our crosses for Him. Remember that our lives are already hidden in heaven with Christ, and we may fellowship with Him there upon directing our thoughts upward (Colossians 3:1-3).
Let Psalm 16:11, where David contemplates our resurrection in Christ, further motivate us to celebrate the benefit of our first resurrection (Revelation 20:5-6): “ … in Your presence is fullness of joy …”. This verse revels in the thought of partaking of the everlasting joy of the LORD that we will have more directly when we leave this earth and enter paradise – God’s most direct, comfortable presence. Yet such worship on earth in the Kingdom of God tastes of heaven’s first fruits.
This immediate fellowship with God is why Paul, who actually got an unusual glimpse of paradise first hand (2 Corinthians 12:4) could not wait to go back there: “… having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (Philippians 1:23).
To be with Christ in the presence of the Holy Father, even waiting for our resurrected bodies on the Last Day, is far better than being here, beloved. To be next to Christ in His flesh, is far better than slowly dying here in our own corrupted corpses. In God’s presence is fullness of joy, and the closer we get to His glory, the better off we are. I think of what one of my daughters spontaneously proclaimed in family worship one evening around the dinner table as we talked about what heaven would be like: “I can’t wait to go to heaven!” Amen, sister, says Paul. But let us keep visiting our eternal home while Jesus continues to prepare it for us.
Let us consider God’s attributes to excite our expectation for Paradise on the Hill of the Lord as we wait upon Him here below. The Westminster Confession, chapter 2, and the Shorter Catechism Question and Answer 4, guide us in contemplating what God is like to help us look forward to being closer to Him in heaven, and even now: God is: Glorious. A Spirit. Living. Perfect. Pure. Invisible. Immense. Almighty. Free. Gracious. Merciful. Long-suffering. Abundant. Forgiving. Transcendent. Blessed. Sovereign. Autonomously self-existing. Wise. Powerful. Holy. Just. Good. True. And God is all of His attributes infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably! As well, God is all of His attributes absolutely: all at once. He has and always will be all these things, and more.