Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
The Final Judgment of the Righteous – Part 2
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2NKJ
Question 90 of the Larger Catechism, asks, "What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?" It gives the answer, "At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment." Last week we looked at the first half of the Catechism's answer, leaving off with what we would NOT experience in heaven: sin and misery. This week we consider those blessings that we will have, from Judgment Day to all eternity.
Although the Scriptures do not give us many details about heaven, as far as what our daily experience will be like, we are told all that we need to know in order to trust God and wait patiently and longingly for that perfect place, which is thrice referred to as "Paradise" (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7). First, heaven is the place where every believer will be filled with inconceivable joys. As we saw with the punishments of hell, the Bible clearly teaches that there will be degrees of rewards in heaven (Matt. 16:27; 1 Cor. 3:8; Rev. 22:12). Each one will receive what is their due "according to what he has done whether good or bad," (2 Cor. 5:10). Some will receive "a prophet's reward" and some will receive "a righteous man's reward," for even the slightest good work done out of faith in Christ and love for our brother will receive its reward (Matt 10:41-42). Here, we must be quick to add that we do not earn anything from God, as if we could make God our debtor, but God in His magnanimity carefully rewards the works of His own sovereign grace. Some will receive great rewards, some will receive small ones. Two will even be brought to sit on Christ's right and left hand (Mark 10:37-44), but every saint in heaven will be filled with joy. No one will experience longing for more or jealousy over those who have more, for each one will be perfectly filled with the joy of God. It will be like a house full of many different sized vessels. Some will be like large cauldrons and some will be like tiny tea cups, but every vessel will be completely full of all of the joy it can contain!
Thus, every believer will be perfectly holy and happy in both body and soul. Our bodies will be perfect in that we will have no blemishes, no weaknesses, no pulled muscles, broken bones, sicknesses, rashes, etc., ever again. So also our souls will be perfected. You will never again feel restless, bored, inadequate, disappointed, sad, sorrowful, fearful, discontent, etc., etc. You will be perfectly holy, perfectly obeying God's law from the heart and mind every moment, and perfectly happy. You will completely love obedience and perfectly hate the idea of every sin. Furthermore, unlike hell where humans will experience none of the blessedness of God's good creation, in heaven we will see all things made perfect, and most especially this includes men and angels. Thus, you will see and know fellow Christians that you knew on earth. In fact, you will be with and know believing family members and friends far better than you do now, for there will be no sin to corrupt your knowledge or lead you to act out of ignorance or to make mistakes of judgment, etc.
However, as great as it will be to see family and friends, and even the holy angels, with whom we will converse and fellowship as we would our oldest and most intimate friends, all of these things will pale in comparison to seeing God face to face! What will it mean to have "the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit" and for all eternity? I do not know! But I am convinced that to whatever capacity a human being can know and experience God in all of His majestic wonder and power and beauty and glory, we will. We will see Him, we will know Him, and we will be satisfied!