In 2016 we lost a family member, a sister, to Cancer. She was only in her 40’s.
And now, a sister in Christ who we’ve known for a very long time, recently became suddenly ill.
It made me think about heaven, where the redeemed dwell.
This very real place called heaven.
The following phrase of Scripture came to mind as I meditated …
“the spirits of just men made perfect”
Here’s some interesting commentary on that verse…
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
MacLaren Bible Commentary:
Faith carries us while living to the society of the living dead.
Immediately on the thought of God arising in the writer’s mind, there rises also the blessed thought of the blessed company in the centre of whom He lives and reigns.
We can say little about that subject, and perhaps the less we say the more we shall understand, and the more deeply we shall feel.
We get glimpses but no clear vision, as when a flock of birds turn in their rapid flight, and for a moment the sun glances on their white wings; and then, with another turn, they drift away, spots of blackness in the blue.
So we see but for a moment as the light falls, and then lose the momentary glory, but we may at least reverently note the exalted words here.
‘the spirits of… men made perfect’
That is to say, they dwell freed from the incubus and limitations, and absolved from the activities, of a bodily organization.
We cannot understand such a condition.
To us it may seem to mean passivity or almost unconsciousness, but we know, as another New Testament writer has told us, that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord; and that in some deep, and to us now undiscoverable, fashion, that which the corporeal frame does for men here, immersed in the material world, there the encircling Christ in whom they rest does for them.
We know little more, but we have a glimpse of a land of deep peace in which repose is not passivity nor unconsciousness; any more than service is weariness. And there we have to leave it, knowing only this, that it is possible for a man to exist and to be, in a relative sense, perfected without a body.
Here … we pass within the palace gates, and the writer tells us what we find there.
This interweaving of the presence of God with that of the creatures that live in His love witnesses to the great truth that our God dwells in no isolated supremacy, but in the midst of a blessed society; …
and that the solitary souls who find their way into His presence have a welcome, not only from Him, but from all their brethren of His great family.
… it suggests to us the close and indissoluble connection between God Himself and all those who, in every place, whether the place above or the place beneath, call upon the name of Him who is both their God and ours.
Oh, if we could rend the veil as death will rend it, and see the things which are, as faith will help us to see them – for it thins, if it does not tear, the envious curtain between – would it be possible that we should live the low, mean, selfish, earthly, sinful lives, devoured by anxieties, defaced by stains, depressed by trivial sorrows, which, alas! so many of us do live?
And so the souls beneath the altar, clothed in white, and rapt in felicity, do yet wait ‘for the adoption, even the redemption of the body.’
men who have been redeemed, who being unjust, have been made just, and have had experience of restoration and of the misery of departure,
But the more important consideration is the real unity between poor souls here who are knit to Jesus Christ, and the spirits of the just made perfect who stand so close to the judgment seat.
Ah, brethren! we have to alter the meaning of the words ‘present’ and ‘absent’ when we come to speak of spiritual realities. The gross localized conceptions that are appropriate to material space, and to transitory time, have nothing to do with that higher religion. It is no mere piece of rhetoric or sentiment to say that where our treasure is, there are our hearts, and where our hearts are there are we.
Love has no localities. It knits together two between whom oceans wide roll; it knits together saints on earth and saints in heaven.
To talk of place is irrelevant in reference to such a union; for if our love, our aims, our hopes be the same, we are together.
And if they on the upper side, and we on the lower, grasp each the outstretched hand of the same God, then we are one in Him, and the same life will tingle through our earthly frames and through their perfected spirits.
He is the centre of the great wheel whose spokes are light and blessedness; and all who stand around Him are brought into unity by their common relation to the centre.
Our sorrows would be less sorrowful, our loss less utter, if we truly believed that while apart we are still together.
Our courage and our hope would rise if we came closer in loving contemplation and believing thought to the present blessedness of those once our fellow-travelers, who, weak as we, have entered into rest.
Heaven itself would gain some touch of true attractiveness if we more clearly saw, and more thankfully felt, that there is ‘the Judge of all,’ and there also ‘the spirit of just men made perfect.’
But howsoever great may be the encouragement, the consolation, the quieting that come from them, let us turn away our eyes from the surrounding and lower seats to fix them on the central throne.
Let us ever realise that we are ever in our great Judge’s eye.
Let us spread out our hearts for His scrutiny and decision, for His discipline if need be.
Let us commit to Him our cause, and, in the peace that comes therefrom, we may understand why it was that psalmists of old called upon earth to rejoice and the hills to be glad because He ‘cometh to judge the earth, to judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.’
And church of the first-born – these all, from the beginning to the end of the world, forming one Church to which every believer is already come.
Which are written in heaven – they were not, as the church at Sinai, of an earthly enrollment, registered here to know their families and descent, whether right Jews and priests or no, whose genealogy was preserved to that end, … but had their register in heaven, were written in the Lamb’s book of life, to be of heavenly descent, born of God, partakers of the Divine nature, and who had a right and title by faith in Christ to the heavenly inheritance, and were free denizens of it, and have all heavenly privileges derived to them. How obliging, influencing, and promoting are these privileges of every Christian’s pursuit of holiness!
Revelation 21:4 -5 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.
What must I do to be… saved ?