Commentary by Walter Albritton

May 13, 2007


When We All Get to Heaven We Will Be at Home with God


Revelation 21:1-8

Key Verse: See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them. – Revelation 21:3

Christians in my part of the country love to sing the song, “When We All Get to Heaven.” The main idea of the song is that when we get to heaven, we will see Jesus. Seeing our Savior will make our arrival a day of great rejoicing.

That does make heaven all the more attractive to me and I suppose to most believers. Fanny Crosby, the blind songwriter, looked forward to the day when she would wake within the palace of the King and see her Savior “face to face.” Then she would “tell the story – saved by grace.”  It is truly thrilling to imagine the moment when we shall see the face of the one who died for us on that cruel cross. 

Our earthly home may be a mansion or a little bungalow. Whatever it is, we know it is not permanent. Large or small, it will crumble one day. But by faith we have a home in glory that is “not made with hands” but will last eternally. Fanny Crosby expressed the hope of all our hearts when she wrote about the silver cord breaking:  

Some day my earthly house will fall,
I cannot tell how soon ‘twill be,
But this I know — my All in All
Has now in heaven a place for me,
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story — saved by grace.

       Whatever heaven will be like, God will be there. His presence will be enough to make it home for us. So heaven is being at home with God. In a beautiful sense home is another name for God. If God is home, then that explains why there is a longing in the soul of every human being “to go home.”

          As a pastor I have talked with many residents in nursing homes who wanted to go home. I am convinced now that most of them did not long so much to return to their earthly dwelling as they did simply to go home with God. This longing supports the idea that in every person there is a heart-shaped vacuum that can only be filled by God. Every person is somehow incomplete until the heart is filled with the presence of the Christ.

          My wife and I will soon celebrate our 55th anniversary. When we were married the pastor reminded us that God expected the two of us to become one. We have indeed become one in many beautiful ways (though often I admit we have struggled over the issue of which one).

When I am apart from her I feel a longing to be with her. I feel incomplete when she is not with me. So when I am back with her I feel “at home.” And that feeling has very little to do with the house we may call “home” at any given time. Surely it was for that very reason that Saint Paul used marriage as a symbol of Christ and the Church (Galatians 5).

If heaven is being eternally in the presence of our loving God, then hell is being separated forever from God. The Bible is clear: everybody is not going to heaven. To use the slang expression, some people are to “bust hell wide open.” That is not funny, of course, and I do not mean to make light of the fact that some people are going to hell instead of heaven. We should be ashamed if we do not share the sorrow of God that some of his children will spend eternity in “outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).

Some teach erroneously that since Jesus died for all, that all will be saved eventually. Yet for the idea of universal salvation to be true, Jesus has to be a liar. In what we call the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

John hears Jesus issue this same warning when he declares that some will be with him in heaven while others (who refuse to do the will of God) will find themselves “in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” It is a horrible thought: to be forever away from home rather than in the loving arms of the One who will gently wipe away every tear from our eyes!

At age 75 I realize that I have passed third base on my way home. But I no longer fear dying as I once did. I think that is because I have blessed assurance of salvation and the blessed hope that crossing home plate will be like arriving home. For me death means going home, and the song composed by William Arms Fisher coupled with the soul-stirring music of Antonin Dvorak says it all:

Going home, going home
I’m just going home
Quiet light, some still day
I’m just going home
It’s not far, just close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more
Mother’s there expecting me
Father’s waiting, too
Lots of folk gathered there
All the friends I knew
I’m going home
Nothing’s lost, all’s gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more
Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life begun
There’s no break, there’s no end
Just a living on
Wide awake with a smile
Going on and on
Going home, going home
I’m just going home
It’s not far, just close by
Through an open door
I am going home
I’m just going home
Going home, going home


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