2001-10-03 - Heaven
Revelation 4:1, "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.'"
I have been reading a book by Archibald Alexander titled the Log College. It shows the development of a college started in a log house, born into the College of New Jersey, and then Princeton. In it there is an account of William Tennent Jr. (1705-1777) who had what he called the experience of John in heaven when he was early in his ministry. John's experience is found in the book of Revelation beginning with Chapter 1, verse 9.
I found this account very profound. As I read it, I could not sit in the seat I usually use to read. I had to walk and pace and I found my heart beating harder than normal. As I read the words, I longed for the place where Tennent Jr. went when he was at his real home. And yet there was a true struggle that I have rarely felt, that I wanted to stay here and seek to serve the Lord as long as he would give me life and breath. But I must say, that this account of Heaven produced in me a most profound desire to depart and be with Christ, as I may have never felt before in my life. (Philippians 1:23)
Tennent, Jr. was a pastor in his early 30's who grew very ill. While conversing with his brother, also a pastor, he fainted and died. He was laid out on a board, as was the custom of the time, and those who knew him were invited to attend his funeral the next day. His physician, who was also a dear friend, took the death hard. He was told by one of the people who laid out Tennent on the board, that he had felt a slight tremor under his arm as he moved him. The physician visited the body and put his hand under the arm and felt some warmth, which was unexpected because the body was cold and stiff, the eyes had sunk, and the lips were discolored.
The physician prevailed upon the family to delay the funeral for three days, saying he expected Tennent to make a full recovery. The family, even his brother, felt it was absurd to expect a dead man to live again. Three days later, everyone had gathered for the funeral and they prevailed upon the physician to allow them to proceed. Tennent then "opened his eyes, gave a dreadful groan and sunk again into apparent death." He continued to do this several times over a few hours. Eventually it became clear that he was alive. His recovery took over a year, but he lived about forty years after this incidence.
Tennent says of his days in this state, "I found myself, in an instant, in another state of existence, under the direction of a superior being, who ordered me to follow him. I was accordingly wafted along, I know not how, till I beheld at a distance an ineffable glory, the impression of which on my mind it is impossible to communicate to mortal man. I immediately reflected on my happy change and thought, 'well, blessed be God! I am safe at last, notwithstanding all my fears.' I saw an innumerable host of happy beings surrounding the inexpressible glory, in acts of adoration and joyous worship; but I did not see any bodily shape or representation in the glorious appearance."
"I heard things unutterable. I heard their songs and hallelujahs of thanksgiving and praise with unspeakable rapture. I felt joy unutterable and full of glory. I then applied to my conductor, and requested leave to join the happy throng; on which he tapped me on the shoulder, and said, 'You must return to the Earth.' This seemed like a sword through my heart. In an instant, I recollect to have seen my brother standing before me, disputing with the doctor. The three days during which I had appeared lifeless seemed to me not more than ten or twenty minutes. The idea of returning to this world of sorrow and trouble gave me such a shock, that I fainted repeatedly."
Christian, this is our destination and our true home. What happy thoughts this should give to our hearts. How much should this encourage us to use all our time remaining to God's glory, knowing our future is to be such a blessed existence. Not only has Christ redeemed His children from sin, and death and Hell, but we have this great glorious future that awaits us. "I go to prepare a place for you." John 14:2 These thoughts of such a wonderful place should encourage us and lead us to seek to live all the more for Christ and His glory.
Soli Deo Gloria,