by Frans Bakker
Whom have I in heaven but thee? —Psalm 73:25
Try to imagine that there is no heaven or hell. Would there still be people who would serve God? The science of this world says, “Remove reward and punishment from religion, and there will be no religion left.” Would that really be true? If there were no salvation and certainly, if there were no damnation, then for sure many would say farewell to religion. That is to say, the religion of those who serve God for reward and who only want to escape the eternal punishment of sin would vanish. But that is not the service of the true God. That type of service is a pagan religion. In true religion God is served out of love.
The psalmist writes, “Whom have I in heaven but thee?” To him, heaven is only a fringe benefit. For him heaven would not be heaven if God would not be there. It is simply the dwelling place of God. The realization of this will be a great shock for those whose religion consists only of seeking after heaven.
This text is a rich encouragement for those who have learned to seek after God. Those who seek after heaven have much that really is nothing, because they lack love to God. Those who seek after God are genuine. They have love to the Lord. Love longs and yearns, and cannot accept not having what it yearns for. Give these people all that the world can offer. Give them all that heaven can provide. That will not satisfy them. They did not ask for heaven. They asked for God. Regardless if they are great or small in grace, these people all have the same desire: they long for God.
How did Asaph, the psalmist, learn to give this testimony? His testimony was gained by losing everything in his life that was not rooted in God. He longed for the prosperity of the wicked and no longer valued God. Asaph longed for earth’s prosperity and blessing. He could not understand the seeming injustice toward the godly. Often things went badly for the godly and worked out well for the ungodly. He longed for the blessings the world seemed to offer.
All these thoughts continued for Asaph until the Lord brought him into the sanctuary. There he realized how wicked and ungodly he had been before the Lord. He now learned to be content in God. His afflictions were not removed, but he now learned to see that in all his losses he still had his God. Then God’s love was restored in his soul. God became everything to him again, regardless of all the matters of life that were decaying.
That is how it is with every child of God. The one has a more painful way than the other, but everyone must learn to see that all things outside of God will lose their value. In this way they will only have God left. The issue is not what God gives, but who and what He is.
That is why adversities, including every loss, are of God. The Lord takes away so that we only have Him left. Then heaven is already experienced upon earth. That is what God does for His people in Christ. Is this also your experience?
From The Everlasting Word by Frans Bakker, compiled and translated by Gerald R. Procee. Reformation Heritage Books and Free Reformed Publications, 2007. Used by permission. For further information, click here.