Heaven: Pleasures Vastly More Ravishing And Exquisite!
I love to think about life in the new heavens and the new earth. Nothing brings me the same degree of joy or fascination as reading the reflections of others on what it will be like to live forever in a glorified body in perfect love and community with other believers in Jesus. Continue reading . . .
I love to think about life in the new heavens and the new earth. Nothing brings me the same degree of joy or fascination as reading the reflections of others on what it will be like to live forever in a glorified body in perfect love and community with other believers in Jesus. I suspect that most of us do little more than project into the age to come a heightened vision of what we currently experience. In other words, we regard heaven as little more than our experience on earth elevated or intensified. But I suspect it will be much more!
In his Miscellany 182, Jonathan Edwards asks us to think of the age to come in decidedly exalted and utterly transformed terms. He writes:
“And without doubt, God can contrive matter so that there shall be other sort of proportions, that may be quite of a different kind, and may raise another sort of pleasure in the sense, and in a manner to us inconceivable, that shall be vastly more ravishing and exquisite” (Yale 13:328).
Edwards’ point is that we must not limit what God can and very likely will do with our bodies and other physical phenomena. He can “contrive matter,” which is to say, he can awaken sensations in the body and expand our capacity to enjoy things heretofore unimaginable that will far exceed anything we might feel on earth. These pleasures, he says, will be “vastly more ravishing and exquisite.” Perhaps we should all pause momentarily and let our imagination run free!
Edwards also believes that all our senses, as well as our mental and moral faculties, “will be exceedingly enlarged, and we shall be able to apprehend, and to take in, more extended and compounded proportions” (Yale 13:329). His point is that because of sin and the resultant corruption of our bodies and the limitations placed upon our minds, we cannot now conceive of what we will see, how we will hear and smell and taste and think and feel once we have entered into the likeness of Jesus himself (see Phil. 3:20-21).
One thing that will be greatly enhanced in heaven is the manner in which human minds and souls commune with each other. Edwards argues that in this present life “the best, most beautiful, and most perfect way that we have of expressing a sweet concord of mind to each other, is by music” (Miscellany 188, Yale 13:331). When Edwards would think of a “society in the highest degree happy” he would envision people “as expressing their love, their joy, and the inward concord and harmony and spiritual beauty of their souls by sweetly singing to each other” (ibid.). What, then, will it be like when we are free of misery and disease and sluggishness? Says Edwards:
“But to me ‘tis probable that the glorified saints, after they have again received their bodies, will have ways of expressing the concord of their minds by some other emanations than sounds, of which we cannot conceive, that will be vastly more proportionate, harmonious and delightful than the nature of sounds is capable of; and the music they will make will be in a medium capable of modulations in an infinitely more nice, exact and fine proportion than our gross air, and with organs as much more adapted to such proportions” (ibid.).
And think for a moment about the experience of love. Here on earth, in our fallen and decaying bodies, we all too often and all too quickly come to an end of our capacity to love and enjoy one another. But it will not be so in the new heavens and new earth:
“And how happy is that love, in which there is an eternal progress in all these things; wherein new beauties are continually discovered, and more and more loveliness, and in which we shall forever increase in beauty ourselves; where we shall be made capable of finding out and giving, and shall receive, more and more endearing expressions of love forever: our union will become more close, and communion more intimate” (Miscellany 198, Yale 13:337).
His point is that in our glorified state we will never cease to grow in beauty. Each moment there will be new things that we discover and enjoy in others. In Miscellany 206 he suggests that “in heaven ‘tis the directly reverse of what ‘tis on earth; for there, by length of time things become more and more youthful, that is, more vigorous, active, tender and beautiful” (Yale 13:341).
Yes, it is all somewhat speculative, but not for that reason improbable.
One more will suffice. Edwards believes that “the glorified spiritual bodies of the saints shall be filled with pleasures of the most exquisite kind that such refined bodies are capable of; not with any pleasures that in the least tend to clog the mind, and divert from mental and spiritual pleasure and the pure joys of holiness” (Miscellany 233; Yale 13:351).
Sadly, in our present condition, the body and the mind often compete with each other and one detracts from the joys of the other. But in heaven “the pleasures of the body shall rather assist those of the mind, and shall put the mind into a sprightly frame, and shall be the effects of a holy exercise of mind, and shall be in proportion to the divine joy of the soul” (ibid.).
But will those bodily and spiritual pleasures in heaven be comparable to what we experience now? And yes, I’m thinking of sexual sensations and satisfaction. I’ll leave it to Edwards to provide an answer:
“The sweetness and pleasure that shall be in the mind, shall put the spirits of the body into such a motion as shall cause a sweet sensation throughout the body, infinitely excelling any sensual pleasure here” (ibid.).
Hmmm! Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus!