Holiness Fits For Heaven
It is exceedingly popular to talk of going to heaven. Multitudes express their desire for heaven and talk of meeting their friends there, who act as if there were no such place. If a man is expecting to go to another country he acts as if there were such a country. But we hear certain people, in this Christian land, talk of heaven, whose conduct belies their assertions. We mean by heaven, not the heaven of Mohammedanism or any other sect, but the heaven of the Bible.
Many people’s notion of heaven is not much different from the heaven of the Mohammedans. If they really expected to go to the heaven of the Bible, they would seek to be fitted for it.
It is the law of the universe that everything or person must be in harmony with their surroundings. Otherwise they cannot exist. For instance, God has given the fish scales, fins and gills that they may live in the water. He has given the birds downy plumage, and hollow bones that they may float in the air. If we were transported to the planet Jupiter, we should die for lack of oxygen. He has wrapped this earth in a robe of oxygen fifty miles deep and given us lungs to breathe it in to keep our blood pure. We are adapted thus to it. We could not live beneath the waters as do the fish. And if we get to heaven, we must be adapted to it. The atmosphere of heaven is holiness and we cannot live there unless we are holy. As we are now by nature, we are fitted for hell, the headquarters of Satan. We may well ask ourselves what good expectation we have of heaven, unless we have heaven in our souls, for heaven is a state of heart as well as a place. If we go to heaven, it must first come to us.
A clergyman riding beside a profane coachman, who discharged volley after volley of oaths, fixing his eyes upon him, said, “I cannot imagine what you will do in heaven! There are no horses, nor coaches, nor saddles, nor bridles, nor public houses in heaven. There will be no one to swear at, or to whom you can use bad language. I cannot imagine what you will do in heaven.” Years after, the same clergyman was called to see a dying man, who told him he was saved by his rebuke, “I cannot imagine what you will do in heaven.”
Some confusion of thought exists among some good people on the subject of the fitness for heaven. Entire sanctification is the fitness for heaven. This is not the same as justification. We get our title to heaven when justified, but not our fitness. A king’s son might have a title to the kingdom, but he has to be educated and cultured to be fit to rule. Those people who object to entire sanctification, declaring that they got their fitness for heaven when converted, are both unscriptural and unphilosophical. Every day we can see the difference between a title and a fitness for an estate. The common law of our land makes this distinction. A child is an heir of his father’s property, but he is not fitted to take possession until he comes to the age of twenty-one years. And then if he is an imbecile he is put under trustees. Thus the common law of the land distinguishes between a title and fitness. St. Paul makes the same distinction saying to the Galatians, “Now the heir as long as he is a child differeth nothing from a servant, but is put under tutors and governors until the time appointed by his father.”
Justification is the pardon of our sins. But that is not enough. It is like a man in prison condemned to die. He contracts deadly disease. He is therefore twice dead. If he escapes the hangman, the disease will kill him. The governor or president may pardon him, but he will die just the same. He needs the care of the physician just as much as the pardon of the governor. We, by nature, have the deadly disease of sin. It breaks out in evil thoughts, words and acts. We must have not only pardon for the thoughts, words and acts, but we must be cured of the disease of sin in order to enter heaven, for heaven is quarantined against sin. Ordinary morality will keep us out of the penitentiary, but it will take holiness to keep us out of hell.
Heaven is the palace of the King of kings and Lord of lords and we must be suitably conditioned to enter it. The man in the parable failed to have on the wedding garment and was cast out into outer darkness. The wedding garment is “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” And is not this reasonable? There is no harmony or real comfort in the intercourse of those who are not of the same affinity. The wicked, if in heaven, would be uncomfortable in the presence of the good of all ages, and their presence would mar the heavenly enjoyment of the good. A clergyman once visited a hardened criminal, condemned to be hanged. After trying in vain to arouse the man’s mind to serious things, he portrayed heaven, the home of God and the good of all ages. When he spoke of being in their society forever, the criminal said, “‘Then I do not want to go there.”
Christianity differs from all other religions in that it requires an ethical life or right living. Other religions have no connection with morals. In fact the other religions are so debasing that a man is a better man, who has nothing to do with them. The Christian religion has for its object not merely to save men from hell but to fit them for heaven. This being the case, it is in harmony with common sense that we should be holy in this life, for holiness is only the state of being right. Therefore from whatever angle we view the subject, it is in harmony with the highest reason that we should be holy in the present life, so that “sudden death would be sudden glory.”