I’m reading Bruce Milne’s The Message of Heaven and Hell in preparation for my next MMTC lecture, personal eschatology. Eschatology is like making sense of a good crime novel, we don’t get it right unless we understand what happened in the beginning, so Milne begins our understanding of heaven and hell with the fall:
Being responsible, we are able to choose to side with God, and hence enter into that life in its fullness for which we were created. The pricks of conscience are the lures of God’s love. The bliss that Adam and Eve knew in the Garden before sin’s intrusion is the bliss to which God calls us in the command to be good and to obey him.
In the final glory of his love when we refused his loving summons he did not abandon us. At infinite cost to himself, he made it possible for us to hear his voice once more and to follow him, back to the Garden of his embrace, and there taste again the bliss of being like him in the surpassing joys and fulfilments of endless, holy love.
Having heard Milne preach at the EMA, his preaching style comes across in his writing; expansive, rich and focused on the wonders of God in Christ.
I can’t resist the urge to tweak the last sentence of the first paragraph which is based on the covenant of works. Regular readers of this blog will know that if the garden covenant is focused on the promises annexed to the trees rather than centring on the prohibition alone, then it becomes a covenant of grace, such that:
Adam and Eve knew in the Garden before sin’s intrusion is the bliss to which God calls us in the command to trust his word of promise, to be good and to obey him.