By Nate Garn
As a Pastor one of the most rewarding yet challenging aspects of my call is to do funerals. Over the last two weeks I’ve done four completely different funerals for people who have recently stepped into eternity. Naturally, with this come lots of questions about eternity and specifically heaven. There are a lot of good questions as well as more odd or interesting questions about heaven. What I do know is the Bible doesn’t have a ton of information on what exactly eternity will look like. It got me wondering why this seems to be the case. However, I think God is telling us quite a bit about heaven when we simply look at the church. How is this the case? When we gather with fellow believers we are peering over the threshold into eternity. We have in the church a taste or shadow of things to come.
The church reflects heaven through corporate worship
One thing that is clear about heaven is that it will be a gathering of followers of Jesus and angels centered on worshiping Jesus. Revelation 5:11-12 pictures this well.
“Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered-to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”
When we gather as believers together and sing, pray and simply worship Jesus we are having a “dress-rehearsal” for heaven. It’s an imperfect picture of the most spectacular future that we long for in the church.
The church reflects heaven through baptisms
Notice what Revelation 5:11-12 picture? We are worshiping Jesus! However, we are worshipping and singing to the Lamb that was “slaughtered”. Can you make the connection with baptisms? Baptism is a celebration of what Jesus did on the cross. When we dip people into the water we are identifying them with what Jesus did on the cross. As a person is laid down into the water they are saying they are “with” jesus who was crucified, buried and resurrected (as baptisms symbolize”. What a wonderful picture!
As a side note there is no other more exciting time in our church body then when people are baptized. Everything about it screams “let’s celebrate’. People clap, cheer, cry and scream for joy when one of the dear saints is brought up out of the water.
The church reflects heaven through the Lord’s Supper
At Redeemer Church we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 11:26 “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” The Lord’s supper is a deep hunger for company with Christ. It’s a meal to celebrate the ultimate meal we well have with Christ in heaven. This is called the marriage supper of the lamb. In Revelation 19:7-9 give us a description of a feast we will celebrate with Jesus as the center of our meal. So, every time we worship though the Lord’s Supper we are eating the “appetizers” for the greater meal. John says “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feat of the Lamb”. We should long for desperately this day of uniting with Jesus. A day that all of history is pointing towards.