“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)
From the City of Destruction and the carrying of a great and heavy burden to the gates of heaven, this is the scope of the Progress of the Pilgrim. If you have read The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, and read this series of articles, you know that the character known as Christian has made the journey. By grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, he has arrived at the Celestial City. He is finally home.
Greater than any fascination we may have about the geography of Heaven, the Celestial City, is the fact that God will bring followers of Jesus into His presence. Therein is the joy of heaven; to be in the presence of Jesus our Savior and to no longer contend with presence of one’s sin.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3 ESV)
Hope is confident assurance that what God has promised, He will fulfill. This includes the promise and hope of heaven.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3-6 ESV).
Be encouraged that God promised to complete His work in you. This is the work not only of justification and sanctification, but also of glorification (Rom. 8:29-30).
“From the City of Destruction to the gates of heaven, this is the scope of The Pilgrim’s Progress; and Christian has made the journey. But Bunyan closes with a dramatic warning that a person may be near and yet so far from God’s salvation. Ignorance is self-deluded and at the end of the journey he is bound hand and foot and cast into hell—at the very gate of heaven. May this not be true of us,” warns Dr. Warren Wiersbe.
May a word to the wise be sufficient (Matt. 7:21-23). Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!