When we come face to face with Christ in heaven, there will still be much that has to happen. We will still need to have faith in the outworking of a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will dwell. We will still need to hope in the glorious finale when everything is restored, in Christ, to how it originally was, all of creation and every living creature united in perfection, to the glory of God the Father.
Although perfection exists in heaven, there is unfinished business to be completed in the cosmos. Heaven is not about OUR hopes, for we are focused on God, concentrating on him and how he will eventually achieve his cosmic righteousness in his creation, through Christ. Our praise and service will still be employed by him, for his glory. We know not what work we will be assigned in heaven towards that end, or for how long. After all, God has a track-record of not being hasty with anything he does. Since when has God been in a rush to do anything?
Just this morning I alighted on this old hymn, and as I sang the verses (in solitary confinement in my home, for I would not inflict my piano-playing-cum-singing on innocent hearers) the combination of faith, hope and love was eloquently expressed by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-85) to the tune Charity (by John Stainer, 1840-1901). Bear with me as I recite all six verses, for I see in them the distinct division between our hopes and faith here on earth, and the ultimate supremacy of love in heaven once all is all in God:
Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost – taught by Thee, we covet most of Thy
gifts at Pentecost, holy, heavenly love.
Faith that mountains could remove, tongues of earth or heaven above,
knowledge, all things, empty prove without heavenly love.
Though I as a martyr bleed, give my goods the poor to feed, all is
vain if love I need; therefore, give me love.
Love is kind and suffers long, love is meek and thinks no wrong, love
than death itself more strong; therefore, give us love.
Prophecy will fade away, melting in the light of day, love will ever
with us stay; therefore, give us love.
Faith, and hope and love we see, joining hand in hand, agree; but the
greatest of the three, and the best, is love.
When Philippians 2:9-11 has been fulfilled, then (I suggest) love will remain supreme, but until that distant day is reached, our heavenly estate will still call for faith and hope as the creation of a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell will be worked out. Our getting to heaven won’t be the finale. This will be the finale:
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
I suggest that, even when we get to heaven, there’s a way to go before that ultimate climax, when "that which is perfect" has arrived (Romans 13:10).