Summary: The Scriptures do emphasize the glorious worship we will offer to God in eternity because of the great joy that will be ours, and the everlasting gratitude we will have for the Lamb of God, who died for us.
Two friends were walking along a country road and precisely at the same moment that one saw a
lovely wild flower the other spotted a poisonous snake. When the one had killed the snake and the
other had put the flower in his button hole, they walked on in silence for a while, and then the one
with the flower said, "I wonder which one of us is a realist." The other man thought for a moment,
and then replied, "I suppose I must admit the flower is as real as the snake." The study of heaven is
an emphasis on that very point--the flower is as real as the snake.
There is a popular philosophy aboard that makes people believe they are only being realistic
when they face up to the fact of evil. Snakes are real and only the foolish who want to escape reality
deny their existence. But this kind of thinking leads to the promoting of evil under the guise of
realism. A realistic love story, to the world, demands some immorality, for immorality is real.
Swearing is popular on TV because real people do swear, and so to be realistic we must hear it on
TV. Real people today do everything that real people did in ancient Sodom and Gomorrah, and
since modern people want to be realistic they argue that it not only should be done, but it should be
promoted in movies, music, and literature in order to make our art and culture realistic.
The Christian can have no quarrel with the desire to be realistic, but he does have to disagree
with those who limit the real to the negative. The flower is just as real as the snake. You do not
have to pour forth the poison of hell to be realistic, for the pure and pleasant springs of heaven are
just as real. Those whose vision of the real is so narrow and limited that they must promote what is
evil to be realistic are extremely unrealistic, for true realism takes in the whole picture of reality.
True realism recognizes that evil is real, but also that it is only a temporal reality, and that it is a
reality that has come into existence and will one day cease to exist. The good and the true and the
beautiful, however, are the eternal aspects of reality that will never pass away, but will, in fact, be
forever increasing when evil has ceased to exist. Sorrow is real, but joy is real forever. The true
realist devotes himself to that reality which lasts.
The Christian is one, who, because he has set his affections on things above, knows which aspects
of reality on which to focus his attention. What one sees as reality all depends on which direction he
looks. The poet wrote,
Two men looked out of prison bars
One saw mud, the other stars.
The study of heaven is to help us focus our attention in an upward direction so that no matter how
real the mud is, the stars are the reality that we emphasize. Hell is real but heaven must be more real
to the believer, for the flower is just as real as the snake.
So often heaven is not real to the believer because they get so bogged down in the realities of this
passing life, and they neglect to study the permanent life to come. Cults tend to emphasize heaven
and the glory ahead. They produce beautiful books and films of spectacular color on the Holy City
to be shown in homes. The Mormons are forever writing and preaching on the glories of heaven.
Most offshoots of the main stream of the church use heaven for major appeal. Leaders of cults have
to know what appeals to human nature if they hope to succeed in gaining a following. They have
learned that the hope of heaven is a universal hope, and so they capitalize on it, while the Orthodox
Church often neglects it and loses out as a result.
The hope of heaven is a hope that God built into the heart of man. The ancient Egyptians had an
elaborate theology concerning the afterlife. Others had no details, but they believed in heaven.
Livingstone, in his travels in Africa, had one of the tribesmen tell him: "We live only a few days
here, but we live again after death; we do not know where, or in what condition, or with what
companions, for the dead never return to tell us." Some such hope as this is the hope of men in every
nation, and when there is such a instinct written into the very nature of man, you can be sure there is
a reality corresponding to the desire.
Birds have an instinct that tells them there is a warmer climate in the south even if they have