2 Cor.5:6-8 – Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord– for we walk by faith, not by sight– but we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Heaven is hard for the non-renewed mind to even begin to comprehend. How could there be a man at the center of heaven who is more than a man but is actually God Himself? This person has always been God but has not always been a man, He became a man when He was born from the womb of a virgin. This man who is also known as the Son of God will be the very center of our attention when we step over into eternity for ourselves. This is why Paul said it was better to be absent from the body because then he would be present with the Lord. Again, this is unthinkable, present with God. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this in his famous sermon preached at David Brainerd’s funeral.

“Their beatifical vision of God is in Christ, who is that brightness or effulgence of God’s glory, by which his glory shines forth in heaven, to the view of saints and angels there, as well as here on earth. This is the Sun of righteousness, that is not only the light of this world, but is also the sun that enlightens the heavenly Jerusalem; by whose bright beams it is that the glory of God shines forth there, to the enlightening and making happy all the glorious inhabitants. The Lamb is the light thereof; and so the glory of God doth lighten it. None sees God the Father immediately, who is the King eternal, immortal, invisible; Christ is the image of that invisible God, by which he is seen by all elect creatures.“

It seems that most all of us do our best to never die. It also seems that death is the final enemy that all of us avoid at all costs. Could that change when we see Christ for ourselves? Absolutely. Could it be that when we get close enough to death that we actually begin to sense the reality of heaven for ourselves? Apparently for Christians that is true. That’s the conflict Paul was describing in this passage, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. That’s why Paul said he wanted to go on to heaven but for the sake of the church he had to stay on here a little longer. He must have seen something most of us had never seen.

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