As you can obviously see, I have decided to launch a new website called “The Suburbs of Heaven.” This title comes from one of my favorite quotes by the Scottish Puritan Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), which is as follows:
Live in Christ, and you are in the suburbs of heaven; there is but a thin wall between you and the Land of Praises; you are within an hour’s sailing of the shore of the new Canaan. When death digs a little hole in the wall, and takes down the sails, you have no more ado [to do] but set your foot down in the fairest of created Paradises. (updated for spelling)
The phrase “suburbs of heaven” is one that Rutherford uses on several occasions in his writings. Each time it refers to being as close to heaven as possible without actually being in it.
The reason I find the quote so appealing is that it tells us that, while we can never in this life experience the fullness of bliss that will only be ours in heaven, we can, nevertheless, get very close to it experientially. We can be “within an hour’s sailing” with nothing “but a thin wall” separating us from “the Land of Praises.” The Christian life is, therefore, not one in which we are consigned to a humdrum experience, relegated to live out our days in doom and gloom. We can, in a very real sense, according to Rutherford, sample the joys of heaven here and now, even while enduring difficult and painful circumstances. Rutherford’s quote reminds me that Christianity is about more than knowing the truth. It’s about experiencing that truth or, as John Owen used to say, it’s about knowing the power of the truth by knowing the One who is Truth Himself.
My desire—both for myself and for everyone else I come into contact with—is that we would all find ourselves enjoying the suburbs of heaven, until death calls us to leave the suburbs for the heavenly city. That is the reason for this website and, as such, it will be the motivating influence driving the content. To borrow Rutherford’s words once again, I want us all to enjoy a communion with Jesus Christ that is a foretaste of heaven itself.
To get us started in that direction, I am reposting an article that I originally wrote for Tabletalk Magazine. It was published as “Does Heaven Have Suburbs?” on their website on April, 2 2018. You can find the full article here and also at tabletalkmagazine.com.
It answers the question, What does it mean to live in the suburbs of heaven?”