Rejoice that as John Bunyan memorably put it, “Death is but a portal out of a prison into a palace.” And what a palace! Details of the celestial city certainly present a palatial picture, with each of its gates “made of a single pearl,” its street of “pure gold, transparent as glass” (Rev. 21:21), and “its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:11). However, these material features are interpreted, they contribute to the Old Testament description of heaven as being “the perfection of beauty” (Ps. 50:2). Two glorious expressions of this should encourage believers to die well.
The first is that “God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). We are sadly familiar with all of these in this life, especially as we approach “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4), but they will be unknown in the life to come. As Packer stated: “One day we shall see that nothing—literally nothing—which could have increased our eternal happiness has been denied us, and that nothing—literally nothing—that could have reduced that happiness has been left with us. What higher assurance do we want than that?”
The second is showcased in the five most amazing words in Scripture (no disagreement accepted!). Writing of our glorified Savior, the Apostle assures us that “We shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). Let each word soak into your psyche!
“We shall be like him.” Born “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3), and, even at our best, continuing to “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), we cannot imagine or understand that in the life to come we will be like our glorified Savior—yet it is true!
“We shall be like him.” We would be amazed if John had said that being like our Savior was a possibility for something like exceptionally godly living or outstanding Christian service. But he goes infinitely farther and confirms Scripture’s testimony that all believers, without exception, are “predestined to be conformed to the image of [God’s] Son” (Rom. 8:29).
“We shall be like him.” In the life to come, Jesus will “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21), which means that we will no longer be subject to wear and tear, injury, illness, disease, or any kind of deterioration. Instead, we will be imperishably perfect.
“We shall be like him.” Our physical transformation will be shared with breathtaking spiritual transformation. The Apostle John says of our glorified Savior that He is “pure” (1 John 3:3), that in Him “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5), and that He is “righteous” (1 John 3:7)—and we shall be like Him! No words can expound the unimaginable reality that we shall be as pure, sinless, and righteous then as He is now. As “fellow heirs with Christ” we will be “glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17). We will not be His equal, but neither will we feel out of place in His presence!
One result of his passionate mission to “spread scriptural holiness over the land” enabled John Wesley to claim, “Our people die well.”
I want to do the same; don’t you?