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Appreciation of Heaven

Appreciation of heaven is frequently highest among those nearing death. Suffering both increases our desire for heaven and prepares us for it. John Bradford (1510-1555), less than five months before his fiery departure from life for preaching the gospel in violent times, wrote to a friend of the glories of heaven he anticipated:

I am assured that though I want here, I have riches there; though I hunger here, I shall have fullness there; though I faint here, I shall be refreshed there; and though I be accounted here as a dead man, I shall there live in perpetual glory.

That is the city promised to the captives whom Christ shall make free; that is the kingdom assured to them whom Christ shall crown; there is the light that shall never go out; there is the health that shall never be impaired; there is the glory that shall never be defaced; there is the life that shall taste no death; and there is the portion that passes all the world’s preferment. There is the world that shall never wax worse; there is every want supplied freely without money; there is not danger, but happiness, and honour, and singing, and praise and thanksgiving unto the heavenly Jehovah, “to him that sits on the throne,” “to the lamb” that here was led to the slaughter, that now “reigns” with whom I “shall reign” after I have run this comfortless race through this miserable earthly vale.

John Gilmore, Probing Heaven, Key Questions on the Hereafter, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989, pp. 26-27.

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