Mark Driscoll tells the Washington Post about heaven

Mark Driscoll, pastor at Mars Hills Church, has written a guest editorial in today’s Washington Post about heaven:

Everyone believes in a heaven.

The next time you are standing in line at a store, take a moment to look at the covers of the magazines on the rack. Each cover presents a picture of some sort of heavenly life. There is vacation heaven, fishing heaven, hunting heaven, pet heaven, entertainment heaven, sex heaven, bridal heaven, nicely organized home heaven, baby heaven, and so on. The articles in the magazines speak of life in hellish terms but offer functional saviors to take us from our hellish life to our heavenly one if we just obey the steps and buy the products.

The question persists, however, why? Why do we live for the endless pursuit of heavenly perfection on earth, and spend our hard-earned money relentlessly pursuing that perfect place, perfect thing, perfect person, or that perfect day? Perhaps all of our toys, hobbies, home improvement projects, festivals, parties, toys, joys, and vacations are simply our way of looking for paradise and practicing for heaven.

But practice does not make perfect because we are not able to reach that ideal, no matter how hard we try.

According to the Bible, God kicked us out of paradise because of our rebellion, much like we would do to a roommate who declared war on us in our own home. Subsequently, ever since then we have all been booking airline flights, gassing up our cars, hiking in the woods, buying junk, logging on, and walking on the beach searching for paradise. Deep down we all feel homeless and restless.

Our pernicious problem is that paradise is lost. No matter how close we get to that perfect day in that perfect place, we are continually disappointed because sin is there too and things are not as perfect as we had hoped. Subsequently, we get sunburned, food poisoning, seasick, or bumped off our flight home from the search for paradise and are left to wander through the airport, which is perhaps the best illustration of hell that earth has to offer.

As we progress toward Easter, we should think about what heaven is and how we may be trying to recreate it here on earth. Whatever we think is good about this life, heaven is much better. Of course we are eager to leave behind the pains and disappointments of this world, but we need to look into our hearts and ask if we are treasuring the things we love more than heaven.

Good news on heaven: There’s plenty to look forward to

Because we are small-minded, big-headed and have a too-small view of God, there is an idea that people sometimes hold that heaven will be boring. Think about it, that feeling that you’ve been there, seen it all and now are looking for the next big thing. Only, the problem is that there is no next thing because heaven is it. Somehow, there are people who are willing to risk an eternity in hell because they believe that heaven will somehow be unsatisfying.

After all, doesn’t Paul say in I Corinthians 13:12: “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known”? Yes, but we shouldn’t assume that just because we will be made perfect we will know everything there is about God. John Piper, as part of an article at the Desiring God blog, gives an explanation, based on other passages:

What Paul means [in I Cor. 13:12] is not that I will know exhaustively the way God knows me, but rather I will know accurately the way God knows me. The point is not that I won’t have limits to what I know, but rather I won’t have mistakes in what I know.

God is infinite and therefore inexhaustible in the complexity of his glory. His created universe, as the Hubble telescope shows, is big. His thoughts toward us are countless. And his ways are beyond finding out.

Part of what makes “eternal life” satisfying (and not boring) forever is that it will take an eternity for perfect, finite creatures like us to know God fully. He is perfect and infinite. We will be perfect and finite. He will enjoy increasing revelation of himself, and we will enjoy increasing jubilation in him—forever.

So, this idea that eternity in heaven can’t match up to a lifetime of sin and an eternity of punishment in hell doesn’t cut it.