Heaven’s gain

When a believer dies, it is not unusual to hear a response something like, “Our loss is heaven’s gain.”

I have always taken such a sentiment to subtly suggest that in some manner, heaven has been deficient until this person has arrived, and that now because of their inherent abilities and worth, heaven has “gotten better.”  Such a sentiment is obviously false.  With heaven created and inhabited by an infinitely righteous God, it can never be “improved” by the arrival of redeemed men.

And yet, as Albert Martin has demonstrated in his very good book, Grieving, Hope, and Solace, there is a sense of “gain” in heaven when a believer dies.  Christ gains a member of His bride, a soul for whom He died to redeem to Himself:

Whatever we lose in the death of dearly loved ones, remember this. We did not leave the privileges, the glories, and the joys of heaven itself in order to save our loved ones from eternal damnation. We did not undergo the agony of Gethsemane with its bloody sweat, nor did we endure the spit-drenched face, the buffeting, the scourge-shredded back, the torturous act of crucifixion, the darkened face of God the Father, or the pain of hell itself, vicariously endured. Jesus has much more claim on our loved ones than we do. Let us dare not entertain secret thoughts—manifestations of unmortified self-will—that God is unfair in taking them from us. Instead, when our loved one had become our loss, we must consciously and deliberately direct our thoughts to the joy that has become Jesus’ gain. Remember this clear and stirring declaration: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).

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