If you read the blog for any length of time, or if you stand near me for at least 5 minutes, you’ll know how much I admire John Piper. I don’t think he’s supernatural or the fourth piece of the Holy Quad-rinity (add 1 to the Trinity). But the man is godly, passionate, steadfast, and influential. He’s helped shape much of my thinking via his faithful exposition and communication of scripture, both in books and sermons (all available at www.desiringgod.org). Above is a picture of Piper and me from a conference in California. I was giddy…
In a conference message he said the following and later wrote it in a book by the same title, God is the Gospel:
“The critical question for our generation – and for every generation – is this: If you could have Heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with Heaven, if Christ was not there?”
So what’s your answer? If you could have all that heaven promises to be, but there were no Jesus, would that be okay with you? There are only two answers. Those who would answer ‘yes’ are at the very least, honest. Those who would answer ‘no’ had better be sure they aren’t simply engaging in self-flattery. Your answer depends on how much you treasure Jesus Christ in this life, on this earth. If Jesus is your greatest joy, treasure, and identity, then you would absolutely NOT be satisfied with the heaven Piper describes.
Unfortunately, I think the majority of believers, whether they admit it or not, would take heaven even without Jesus. Why do I think that? Because I’m a judgmental jerk. No, actually because of the evidence. Because their lives (and often mine) display nothing that would suggest Jesus is the preeminent joy or treasure of life.
Heaven will not be what it is intended to be if, on this earth, Jesus is not our greatest treasure and our most prized pursuit. Sure, it will still be a wonderful place. But we aren’t saved from hell as much as we’re saved to eternity with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I say all that to say this: eternal life begins now. How’s it going so far?