There will be no earthly marriage in heaven cf. How much greater will heaven be? John described heaven as the jewel-studded, golden-paved city of God Rev. This veritable cornucopia of aesthetic delight is literally beyond description. The present world is laden with layers of evil; even the apostle Paul considered himself the chief of sinners 1 Tim. Heaven is a place of ultimate and complete sanctification. Ever since the Fall, life has been filled with toil Gen.
On earth, we are the church militant; in heaven, we will be the church at rest.
By grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.
Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man … was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
Listen to him! I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Of the many who have declared this vision of God, Thomas Aquinas spoke repeatedly of the glory of this ultimate experience;13 Benedict XII r.
There are several important characteristics and consequences of the Beatific Vision that we can derive from Scripture and reason. Paul said our present knowledge of God is indirect 1 Cor. However, in heaven we will see and know fully 1 John ; what is now dim for us will become bright; what we now know indirectly we will know directly.
All we know now about the infinite God is known through finite images, which is why our knowledge is analogous.
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This ultimate knowledge of God will be perfect 1 Cor. Whatever we can know about God, we will know, and we will know it perfectly. This does not mean we will know God infinitely. Because we will always be finite, so will our knowledge be finite. Only God has an infinite knowledge of the infinite;15 even in heaven our knowledge will be finite.
We will perfectly apprehend God, but will never completely comprehend Him. God will always be ineffable. This kind of love is never fully attained in this life, but it will be in the next:. We are told that our final destiny consists in beholding God immediately, face to face, and as He really is … even as He knows Himself; that it [the Beatific Vision] consists also in loving Him even as He loves Himself. Garrigou-LaGrange, P, Hence, the Beatific Vision makes sin impossible.
Heaven and Hell, a New Perspective
Just as seeing absolute beauty will spoil one forever from longing for anything ugly, likewise, beholding the absolutely holy will overpower any attraction to or desire for the unholy. Though heaven makes sin impossible, it does not destroy but instead fulfills our freedom. Heaven completes our freedom to completely love God, just as analogously marriage here on earth frees us to love the one to whom we belong.
True freedom is not the freedom to do evil, but the freedom to do good. The best freedom is the freedom to do the best; beholding and loving the absolute best which makes sin impossible is the best thing we can ever do. It is important to note that the Beatific Vision is not forced on anyone against his will: Only those who seek God will see God Heb. It is those who choose to fall in love that are overwhelmed by it; no one can be forced to love another.
Once again, as C. Lewis aptly stated:. He cannot ravish.
He can only woo. SL, Just as God is changeless perfection,22 even so the perfection of beatified saints will be changeless. Salvation from the presence of sin glorification will save us from the damage and distortion that sin wreaks in our lives. Our present growth in perfection cf. One no longer needs to be changed into what he has ultimately achieved; heaven and the Beatific Vision it brings will make permanent by glorification what is only in process in this life through sanctification. Being in an immutable state of perfection in heaven is not to be confused with being in a static state.
God is immutable but not immobile;25 likewise, in heaven we will be immutably though finitely perfect without being immobile static. In fact, as Pure Actuality,27 He is the most active being in the universe He is Pure Actuality, having no potentiality. God is active in sustaining everything in existence,28 in His sovereignty governance over the entire world,29 through His providence in the world,30 and by His miraculous intervention in human affairs.
Likewise, when we reach the most godlike state of absolute perfection possible via the Beatific Vision , we do not become less active but more active. Nevertheless, our action will not be that of striving but of enjoying, not of seeking but of treasuring what was found.
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Our minds will be active, not in searching for truth but in rejoicing over the infinite truth discovered 1 Cor. Our intellectual and spiritual action in heaven will not be that of desiring God but of delighting in Him. The hymnist said it eloquently:. As with other ultimate truths, when it comes to heaven there are more questions than answers.
Even so, there is nothing to hinder theological speculation, provided it contradicts neither Scripture nor sound reasoning. Probably not. Heaven is a place of maturity and perfection, and babies stunted in their growth, short of maturity, would not reflect a state of perfection. The evidence seems to support a negative answer.
Everyone in heaven will be fully blessed, but not everyone will be equally blessed. We determine in time what our capacity for appreciating God will be in eternity.
By our temporal obedience we determine our reward in eternity cf. No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. The Bible seems to present contradictory motifs: 1 the worship of God, and 2 rewards for us. The answer lies in the nature of the reward: If the reward is the capacity to love and serve God more, then these two elements are not contradictory. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
There is nothing selfish about working for a crown if it is for the privilege of casting it at the feet of Jesus. Luke —40; John The empty tomb, the scars, the physical touching of His body cf. Our resurrection bodies will be like His Phil. Yes,38 but for enjoyment, not for sustenance—for pleasure rather than necessity. Moses and Elijah were recognized when they appeared from heaven on the Mount of Transfiguration Matt.
No, there will be no marriage ceremony or marriage relationship in heaven. This ends at the time of physical death:.
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By law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. Everyone whom God can bring there without violating the free will that He gave them. Augustine speculated that it would be the same percentage as the angels who fell one-third; see Rev. Many believe that only a small fraction of all the people who ever lived will be in heaven, based on passages like Matthew — Enter through the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.