If we perceive heaven as simply that which brings about the greatest satisfaction through perfected creation, we’ve missed the point. Christ Himself is what makes heaven great, not all the gifts. Yes, the gifts should be gloried and reveled in, but is this the final end of what Christ has purchased for us on the cross by His blood? no, rather the best gift of what we’ve been given in the cross is that we get God Himself for all eternity. The blessings that come along with heaven are only meant to serve and increase our desire and love for Christ forever. A quote from John Piper should be deeply pondered and considered, knowing that through faith alone in Christ alone, we have been justified by His blood:
“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation— is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?”
– John Piper, Introduction, God is the Gospel
If you answer Yes to this question, you have totally missed the point of heaven as revealed in God’s Word. And for many of you, I would have to say that if you answered Yes to this question (though I can’t know), you may not not be truly converted, because to be converted is to have Christ as your ultimate treasure and you want to go to heaven because that is where Christ resides. If you could have heaven with all of its perfected majesties; but if Christ is why heaven is great, why would you want to go? There’s nothing there for your enjoyment if you do not have a love and desire for Jesus. Saving faith knows nothing of who God is apart from the merits and work of Christ in His life, death, and resurrection to bring us to Himself. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
All the gifts of the Gospel are to be treasured. Piper is not minimizing this in the least. He is pointing us to the greatest treasure and gift of the Gospel, Christ Himself. In America, where materialism runs rampant, especially, to its demise, within the church, this is a truth that must be proclaimed loud and clear, because I’m afraid many are being deceived into thinking of heaven and being saved as being made much of and being satisfied by things other than God, which amounts to idolatry. As believers, we have been predestined, called, justified, sanctified, glorified, propitiated, rescued from hell, adopted into His Kingdom, will obtain resurrected bodies on the last day, will be guests at the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and so many more gifts. These are just a few of the many gifts of the Gospel. But if we simply love what God has done for us so that we get these gifts (the gifts being the final and greatest satisfaction we aim for) without enjoying the ultimate gift, namely the great Giver Himself, how offensive must that be to His honor and glory? They are only amazing gifts precisely because they are employed in the service of pointing our hearts to the final good, and greatest gift of the Gospel: namely, God Himself, revealed in the face of Christ. There is no satisfaction greater than to have Christ Himself forever. “May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’” (Ps. 70:4). ‘Not mainly, “Salvation is great,” but “God is great!'” (Piper, Intro, God is the Gospel)
God is the Gospel, in my opinion, is one of Piper’s greatest, most important books and should be read by every believer. Not at all a hard book to read. It refocuses our hearts back on the supreme gift of God in the Gospel: the satisfaction of seeing and savoring the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, knowing and loving Him personally. This is in fact what Christ Himself said in His great High Priestly prayer to the Father before His crucifixion, concerning what eternal life actually is: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). And this knowing of God is not merely knowing facts about Him, but loving Him, being enthralled with His glory and beauty, forever captivated by His love and power and being, demonstrated in the work of the cross. Heaven is where we get to know the one true God and Jesus Christ who was sent so that we could know and love Him for all eternity. There is no greater gift than to have the Creator forever.
Book Review by Sam Storms