The Final Goal of the Grand Story
Worshippers from every nation.
Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels ...”
– Matthew 25:41
But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9
But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
– 2 Peter 3:13
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
– Revelation 5:9–10
“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”
– Revelation 15:4
And so it has been from that time to this very day. Whenever a person turns in faith to Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God and the risen Lord of all, their sins are forgiven, and the Spirit of God comes into them, bringing eternal life.
Those who have decided to follow Jesus have grown in number to include hundreds of millions of people. And according to God’s story, the time will come when His followers will include people from every tribe and nation under Heaven. Then, Jesus will return, just as He promised.
Those who have rejected Jesus throughout the ages will be forever separated from God in the place that was prepared for Satan and his followers. Those who have trusted Jesus will know life as it was meant to be, with God…forever.
– The HOPE, Chapter 12
Observe & Consider
There is not a subject more unpleasant to discuss than hell. But if hell is real, nothing is more unloving than to avoid speaking of the reality. Hundreds of passages in the Bible deal with the subject of hell. Jesus spoke more about hell than all the other writers of scripture. Hell is real, and Jesus clearly wanted to warn people so that people might avoid spending eternity there.
Concerning this subject we should be aware that: 1) Hell was created not for man, but for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41), 2) it is not so much that Jesus sends people to hell as that they choose to go there by rejecting God’s salvation through Jesus (John 12:48).
The truth is that every person ever born would go to hell had Jesus not paid the penalty for their sin and they not accepted God’s invitation to receive what Jesus did on their behalf. Or to look at it another way, Jesus is what heaven is all about, so if a person rejects Jesus, he is in effect rejecting heaven.
The distance and contrast between eternity with Jesus and eternity apart from Jesus could not be greater. Nothing compares. From 1 Corinthians 2:9, we know that what God has prepared for those who love Him is too wonderful for us to even comprehend. But from the other verses above (and many more in the Bible) we can trust that those who love Him will be prepared to dwell in a new heaven and a new earth where they will reign with Him (Revelation 22:5) and glorify Him (Psalm 86:12) forever!
In the beginning of our study, we learned that the Bible is the meta-narrative, the grand story which explains every other story.1 The Bible puts all of human history into context. And as we near the conclusion of our study, we see that the purpose of it all is to bless man so that God might be blessed and glorified forever. The goal of the grand story is His glory. As theologian John Piper puts it, “The final goal of all things is that God might be worshipped with white–hot affection by a redeemed company of countless persons from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”2 Is that your goal?
Ask & Reflect
Some people want to go to heaven because they see it as a place where their deepest longings will finally be fulfilled. They imagine that they will be happy forever. But if John Piper has correctly summed up God’s goal in this world, then heaven has an eternal purpose, and it is not to provide what we somehow missed during our earthly existence. Yes, in heaven our deepest longings will be fulfilled, and we will be happy, but not necessarily according to what we think will make us happy in this world. Every citizen of heaven will somehow be fulfilled by giving themselves to the purpose of glorifying God forever! Ask yourself:
- Is God’s glory what I long for?
- Is God who I long for?
- If not, then why not? What, if not Him, do I long for? Who, if not Him, is the object of my desire?
Decide & Do
We are very near the end of our study together. If you are not certain of your eternal destination, but you want to be, then go immediately to the Knowing God section at the end of this study and read and consider it carefully. Don’t put it off. Eternity may be closer than you think.
If you do know Him, but you want to know more about heaven, then consider a study in one of the resources listed at the bottom of this page. You don’t have to wait to learn about eternity.
For Further Study
- Randy Alcorn, In Light of Eternity. Waterbrook Press, 1999. The author challenges us to live our lives in light of eternity, and helps us realize that what we really crave is found there.
- Randy Alcorn, Heaven. Tyndale House Publishers, 2004. This book provides us with a thoroughly researched biblical description of heaven. Many of us have serious questions about heaven, and also some not–so–serious questions. Alcorn addresses these issues and helps us to develop a greater understanding and deeper longing for our eternal destination.
- Ted Dekker, The Slumber of Christianity: Awakening a Passion for Heaven on Earth. Nelson Books, 2005. The author challenges believers, asking us to wake up from our bored slumber and remember our central hope. His goal is to ignite our passion for the exotic and pleasurable eternal inheritance that God has planned for those of us who will inherit His kingdom in heaven.
- Dr. Bill Gillham, False Notions. (© Lifetime Guarantee Ministries, 1997–2006. This article originally appeared in the October, 2000 issue of Discipleship Journal). Retrieved December 8, 2006.
1Review Lesson 5.
2John Piper, There Is No Greater Satisfaction! (© Desiring God, 1990). (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/there-is-no-greater-satisfaction). Retrieved August 20, 2013.