“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot, the famous missionary, wrote those words in his journal on October 28, 1949. Just six years later they became a profound epitaph of his own life.
In 1952, Elliot abandoned the affluence of western civilization for the remote jungles of Ecuador. By 1956, he had been martyred at the hands of the people he went to evangelize. Elliot probably didn’t expect to die so young (he was only twenty-eight), but he knew the dangers were real. When most of his peers opted for safety and comfort, Jim Elliot chose to take the gospel where it had not yet been preached. Elliot owned an eternal perspective on life that all believers should embrace. As Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19–20).
Yet for many Christians, there remains a yawning chasm between believing Christ’s words and living up to them. The promises on the pages of Scripture tend to take a back seat to the tangible comforts of Western affluence that we experience every day. And it isn’t easily overcome. To that end, John MacArthur’s sermon “Desiring Heaven Above All Else” is a powerful corrective for our lack of heavenly-mindedness.
But there is a kind of misdirected heavenly-mindedness—one that is not grounded on Scripture. Fanciful accounts by those claiming to have visited heaven captivate the hearts and minds of millions of people. John warns against these heavenly tourism bestsellers that have found their way into Christian bookstores:
We’ve been barraged with these books on people who went to heaven and came back. Let me just clear the air: none of it ever happened. None of them ever went to heaven and came back—none of them. And even if you don’t take my word for it, all you have to do is read all the people who went to heaven and came back, and notice that they all describe it differently. If they all actually went to heaven and came back, they would describe it the same. Their stories are self-cancelling. . . .
If we are to know anything about heaven, it has got to come from the One who is there, and that’s God. He’s the only one. “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). You die once; you don’t come back. . . . The only person who has ever come down from heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ. And He has revealed through the Holy Spirit in Scripture what heaven is like. The only place you can turn to understand heaven is the Bible.
We don’t need the empty musings of would-be heavenly tour guides. “Desiring Heaven Above All Else” is a message that explores what God has already revealed on the subject of heaven.
To be sure, Scripture doesn’t unveil the entirety of eternal glory, nor can any of us fully comprehend the truths that are revealed. But God has provided more than enough in His Word to provoke deep heavenly longings among His people.
Don’t be deceived by the pop culture perceptions of clouds, harps, and floating spirits. Heaven is a real, tangible, and endless experience. In his sermon, John MacArthur considers what it will be like to inhabit heaven, the reality of our resurrection bodies, and the ultimate treasure of being in God’s glorious presence forever.
Heaven is the true and ultimate home all Christians should long for. We should share the same passion as the Old Testament saints who “desire[d] a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). John’s message reminds us that God’s eternal rewards infinitely surpass anything this earth has to offer, and outweigh every temporal hardship that we could possibly experience.