In this final article Roger Pomeroy looks upwards to consider
Our future prospects
One Saturday morning in April 2007, I went to visit my good friend John Dart, who had served the Lord long and well both at home and abroad. John’s mind was not as clear as it once had been, but his heart was warm and his desire was all-consuming to know Christ more. He looked for the day when the Lord would call him home to glory.
We spent time reflecting on our future prospects in heaven and I read from the Scriptures: ‘We do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
After prayer we bade each other farewell. About six hours later there was a phone message to say that John was in glory. He had gone for a walk and been killed as he crossed the road on the way home.
For John it was sudden death, sudden glory! I thought of our time earlier in the day and knew that John was now beholding the Lord whom he loved so sincerely and had served so faithfully.
Four days later I visited a hospital to see another great saint, our friend Dorothy Jones, who had been a missionary in China and Thailand for many years. Dorothy was dying of cancer. I spoke briefly to her and as we bade each other farewell, I left her with the promise that we would indeed meet again. The next day, Dorothy whispered her last words: ‘I’m going to see the King!’
These great saints had spiritual priorities that kept them focused on the Lord Jesus – with a deep desire to see him and be with him in glory. Whatever our life-work may be, as Christians we need priorities that bring us into the vestibule of heaven.
One of the blessings of our return to Britain has been access to more of my books. I have been digging into the works of John Owen, specially his final work called The glory of Christ. In the preface, Owen – facing his own death – prepares himself and his readers for the inevitable departure from this present life.
He writes, ‘There are a few things required of us [so] that we may be able to encounter death cheerfully, constantly and victoriously. For lack of these things I have known gracious souls who have lived in a kind of bondage for fear of death all their days.
‘We do not know how God will manage any of our minds and souls in that season, for he acts towards us in a way of sovereignty … but there are things that he requires of us by way of duty’.
Owen writes of the need for acts of faith as we launch out into eternity, to commit our souls into the hand of God who is able to keep and preserve them in a state of rest and blessedness. He urges us to be ready and willing to depart from the flesh.
There is a unique and intimate union in man of body and soul. Because death ruptures this union, our whole nature has an aversion to the coming dissolution. So John Owen goes on to indicate the secret of victory in the face of death.
‘[Victory arises] from a view … of Christ and his glory, by which the soul is satisfied that to be with him is incomparably better than [to remain] in its present state and condition’. Owen then proceeds to unfold how this vision of the glory of Christ can be attained by faith.
The glory of Christ
Let this great man of God, in his dying testimony, point us towards our own future prospects.
‘There are two ways of beholding the glory of Christ. One is by faith, in this world, and the other is by sight in eternity … No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter who does not in some measure behold it by faith here in this world. Grace is a necessary preparation for glory and faith for sight.
‘The sight of the glory which we have in this world by faith, is dark … in part … weak … transient, imperfect, partial. Sometimes it is as the sun when it is under a cloud. Wherever we turn and to whatever duties we apply ourselves, we can obtain no distinct view of his glory.
‘Yet on the other hand, it is sometimes as the sun when it shines in its brightness and we cannot bear the rays of it … We find our souls overcome with his love when at any time he is pleased to make any discoveries of his glory to us!
‘Let us consider the vision which we shall have of the same glory in heaven … It will be immediate, direct, intuitive and therefore steady, even and constant. This will be both because of the objective glory of Christ before us and because of the faculty with which we shall then be endued. In the immediate beholding of the person of Christ, we shall see a glory a thousand times above what here we can conceive’.
To be with Christ
Thus the basis of our blessedness is that ‘we shall ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
There are times, even as Christians, when we are tempted to live for the things of this present world. There are also dangers of making the goals and objectives of Christian ministry our supreme objective.
It is also true, especially as the shadows of our earthly life lengthen, that we may begin to fear the future. The prospects of death and beyond hang heavy upon us. May the future prospects of the glory of Christ increasingly become our daily priority, so that when the day of our departure actually arrives we will, like John Dart and Dorothy Jones, be ready to see the King and enter fully into enjoying him for ever.