Happiness cannot be contained by this world. It is not to be forced into certain contexts or expected to spring out of little cartridges. Happiness does not belong in these things — at least not in its fullest, soul-satisfying form.
Happiness, instead, is a heaven-thing that flits about down here, appearing in little wisps for brief moments to give a hint of what we must seek heaven to find. The whole design in happiness and our desire for it is to get us disengaged from the all-consuming, life-impacting policies of this world and reengaged with the claims of a heavenly paradise that boasts its claims all around us.
Now you may be saying, “But since when does heaven hold out happiness; I’ve only seen where hell can do that!” Well, first of all, I’m so glad you asked, because that is a most crucial question. One of the biggest things we have to decide in this life is what to believe about the next one. Based on what we believe about heaven and hell’s opposing parties, we will choose the one we want to be apart of.
Second, I would like to contrast the supposed advantages of each. I will begin with hell. Since the Fall when mankind committed its initial act of rebellion against God, Paradise — as it is referred to in John Milton’s classic poetic masterpiece — has been Lost. Not only has our world been corrupted by the literal death-grip of our sin, but hell has laid claim to every one of us under its power.
You see, the tales you have been hearing about the freedom and favorability of hell are lies made palatable to you while you are at odds with God. Heaven is so pleasing to our bodies and imagination — even after these things have been corrupted by evil — that Satan has to do everything in his power to keep us from ever seeing it accurately.
This does not mean that he always denies that heaven exists or that it is wonderful. Sometimes all that he needs to do is keep us content with vague ideas of how to get there. If we don’t know that we are ineligible by our own merits, then there is no danger that we will go — even if we spend our whole lives in an attempt to “make it.”
In this way it is not necessary for Satan to make us perfect miniatures of himself for us to be destined for hell. All that he has to do is prevent us from realizing that our good is not good enough. For we do not stump him by diligently following the course of all our religious strategies, we destroy his hold over us by abandoning them for his sworn enemy. Christ is our Savior because He is Satan’s victorious opposition.
Therefore, if heaven is Christ’s home, how can it be ours unless we forsake Satan’s home (hell)? Heaven is the reward of the Christ-like. It is possible for every person to image-God (as I mentioned in an earlier post), but only we who have received Christ as our righteousness can image-forth that likeness.
I don’t know about you, but if I created heaven to be a place of glory and perfection, I wouldn’t be welcoming in anyone who wasn’t. Especially not if I had already put forth an open invitation to the world on the condition that anyone who would come should believe in the power of my death rather than the power of their own lives.
Why do we expect God to accept us on our own terms when He has already made it possible for us to gain acceptance on His terms? Jesus Christ is the Door to heaven and we will not find ourselves on the other side unless we walk through Him.