Imagining a World of Love

If you're anything like me, your mind has been drawn heavenward in recent months as you heard the news about the death of such precious saints as R.C. Sproul and Billy Graham. As I recently conducted the funeral service of a longtime church member and elder of the church where I serve, these thoughts again filled my mind. What a joy and privilege to think that believing men and women who have worshipped here on earth now do so in a much more glorious and enhanced manner now in Heaven. With such deaths as these, our hearts and minds should be rightly set on Heaven.

As I was thinking about such a subject, my mind was drawn to Jonathan Edwards' sermon, “Heaven, a World of Love.” This sermon belongs to a series of sermon that form the content of Edwards' book, Charity and Its Fruits. In that work, Edwards described the nature and effects of love in the life of the believer from 1 Corinthians 13. The final sermon in this work focuses on the topic of Heaven. Taking verses 8-10 of chapter 13 as his primary text for this particular sermon, he narrows in on that phrase, “Love never ends” (vs.8).

With never-ending love as the theme of this final chapter, Edwards described Heaven as a place of perfect and overflowing love. Describing what may be considered to be "the indescribable" with that aspect of love which we know (at least in part) here on earth, Edwards made several points about Heaven in regard to love. Here are a few:

1. The Cause and Fountain of Love in Heaven.

The Apostle tells us that God is love. And therefore, seeing he is an infinite Being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love.”

The greatest blessing of Heaven will be God himself. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), that characteristic of his nature will be that which we experience in Heaven. Since God is infinite, all-sufficient, inexhaustible, unchangeable, and eternal – so too will be His love for us in Heaven. So, love will fill and even overfill Heaven, even as God Himself fills and overfills that place. Edwards wrote, “This glorious fountain (of love) forever flows forth in streams, yea, in rivers of love and delight, and these rivers swell, as it were to an ocean of love, in which the souls of the ransomed may bathe with the sweetest enjoyment, and their hearts, as it were, be deluged with love!” We will be the objects of such a deep because the same love in which God loved his only-begotten Son will be poured out upon those for whom Christ has purchased with His blood and righteousness. Heaven is a world of love because we are loved by, and because of, the love in the Beloved.

2. The Manner in which All will Love in Heaven.

“Every soul goes out in love to each other; and among all the blessed inhabitants, love is mutual, and full, and eternal.”

On earth we love because God first loved us, so it follows that in Heaven, since we will be freed from sin and earthly hindrance, we will love with an overabundance of love. Edwards gives ten ways in which this love shall be exercised and expressed by the inhabitants of heaven. Love will be shown by all with a love that is mutual, unjealous, and unhindered; in perfect expression, enjoyment, and unity; delighting always in each other, their prosperity, and advantage; and doing so forever and ever. Edwards noted, “Such will be the sweet and perfect harmony among the heavenly saints, and such the perfect love reigning in every heart toward each other, without limit or alloy, or interruption; and no envy, or malice, or revenge, or contempt, or selfishness shall ever enter there, but all such feelings shall be kept as far away as sin is from holiness, and as hell is from heaven.”

3. The Effects of Such Love in Heaven.

“Every saint in heaven is as a flower in that garden of God, and holy love is the fragrance and the sweet scent that they all send forth, and with which they fill the bowers of that paradise above. Every soul there, is as a sweet note in some concert of delightful music, that sweetly harmonizes with every other note, and all together blend in the most rapturous strains in praising God and the Lamb forever.”

If God is the source of an infinite, overflowing love, and all the inhabitants of Heaven love with an overabundance of love all the time, then what will the total effects be? Edwards gave two: first, Heaven will be perfect. Since love is the sum of all principles, then all thoughts, words, and actions will be perfect…”holy and divine in matter, and form, and spirit, and purpose.” Second, Heaven will be perfectly peaceful and joyous. No disturbance inwardly or outwardly; only a place of sweetness, happiness, and rest. Edwards explained, “And oh! what joy will there be, springing up in the hearts of saints, after they have passed through their wearisome pilgrimage, to be brought to such a paradise as this!”

In this sermon, JE brings heaven down to earth in rich, biblical language and imagery. You cannot help but read Edward’s description of Heaven and think, “Can this really be true?” “It seems too good and too wonderful!” But as Edwards himself explained in this sermon, words and descriptions fall far short of the actual reality of heaven. Since these things are true, and better than we can ever describe them, Edward ends by charging us to earnestly seek after Heaven by: 1) not chasing after the things of this world, 2) keeping our meditation on heaven, 3) being willing to pass through the difficulties of earth to get there, 4) keeping our eyes fixed upon Jesus, seated in the Heavenly places, and 5) loving God and man now in our present, yet imperfect state.

"Heaven, a World of Love," will leave your mind over-flowing, your heart bursting, and your will desiring the God of Heaven, who dwells there with a fullness of love for all the saints.

1. Edwards, Jonathan, and Tryon Edwards. Charity and Its Fruits: Christian Love as Manifested in the Heart and Life. Banner of Truth Trust, 1969.

Christward Collective is a conversation of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Christward Collective and the mission of the Alliance.