A friend recently asked me about the oft-quoted verse about Heaven…that is not actually about Heaven. Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” has been misapplied by many of us to describe the glories of Heaven which await the saints. I really don’t wish to be a spoiler or bust our groove, but this verse is not talking about the celestial residence of the departed people of God. Paul is not talking about streets of gold, jasper walls or pearly gates. Paul is actually quoting Isaiah who said the following somewhere around 700 years earlier,
“Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence – as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil – to make Your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things that we did not look for, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides You, who acts for those who wait for Him.” – Isaiah 64:4
Neither the Old Testament prophet Isaiah nor the New Testament Apostle Paul was speaking of life after death. Both of these men of God were addressing the mind-blowing, indescribable, inexplicable, lavish, fully-flowing, astoundingly benevolent goodness of God. Isaiah’s words frame up a plea on behalf of ancient Israel for God to pour out upon them undeserved kindness and intervening rescue. The whole 64th chapter of Isaiah carries the air of confessed unworthiness by man, mingled with the risky and bold request for God to take care of them anyway. It might be summarized in a paraphrase that reads, “Yes, God, we have certainly behaved badly, but is not Your infinite goodness able to eclipse our finite badness?” Isaiah is fighting to stand in the very grace concerning which the Apostle Paul would eventually write down the details. Isaiah sensed it while Paul explained it. These two men of faith saw the goodness of God against the fallible, sinful and woeful struggles of the human race. Paul uses Isaiah’s words to show the foolishness of man contrasted with the stunning wisdom and ways of God. My personal belief is that neither man was thinking of Heaven when they said that we haven’t even begun to fathom what God has prepared for us. They were not referring to our ignorance of His awaiting goodness… they were highlighting our failure to understand how good He is RIGHT NOW.
Today you and I must discipline our hearts, minds and spirits to recognize that the greatness of God is not dependent on the personal level of our presumed “worthiness”. If it is, then your ship is sunken and mine has already preceded yours to the bottom of the sea. We should endeavor not to focus our hearts on how pleasantly things will be set up for us once we arrive safely in Heaven; no, friends, we do well to determine to seek His help in believing how good God is right now – this very moment – today! Teach yourself that the nature of God is that of perfect, unblemished goodness. Because He is good right now then, we can also conclude that He is being good to us -right now! Be careful here: your mind will seek to tabulate all that is not exactly comfortable in your life and your inner-protester will appear to debate God’s absolute goodness. Suspicion of His goodness quickly arises when we do the selfish-scan of our current circumstances and conclude that all is not as we would like it to be. Remember with me…His goodness is not dependent on anything outside of God Himself, including how well you are performing in the Kingdom or what kind of grade you might be giving yourself in all things holy. Isaiah appealed to God along these lines in chapter 64 when He confessed repeatedly the unworthiness of himself and his countrymen. Yet Isaiah still had the holy audacity to ask God to pour out that goodness upon them. In 1 Corinthians 2:6-14, Paul took the same thought and highlighted the spiritual dullness of those who reject Christ, and then he proceeded to offer a doxology about how willing God is to impart wisdom to those who, left on their own, would despise His ways to the point of silencing Him. Paul concludes with a helpful statement that Isaiah did not share with us. Paul says concerning the teaching about God and His glorious goodness,
“And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:13-14
You see, if you believe what I am writing then you also must give God the glory. Why? Because even to believe in His goodness is itself the result of this great and glorious God opening your eyes by His Spirit. This keeps you from ever becoming a proud Christian. You believe what you believe about Him because He has made it known to you through a process which defies logic. He took your natural disposition to doubt, skepticism and unbelief and swallowed that up with the dawning of spiritual wisdom in your soul. Now you are convinced that this God is good. This is God’s goodness revealed in God’s grace to you.
So you see it everywhere around you. And you are not mistaken. God is, indeed, good. Right now. Today. Forevermore.