John Piper on Why the End of Marriage in Heaven is Good News

Surely God’s purpose for his children in the resurrection is not only that eternal life will replace death, and righteousness replace sin, and health replace sickness, and joy replace sorrow, and pleasure replace pain, but also that unimaginable, unending, ever-increasing ecstasies replace the best of our most intense pleasures in this world.

In other words, the age to come is not only an improvement over the worst of this world, but over the best. I say this for three reasons.

Even Gains Are Loss

First, the apostle Paul did not say, “Whatever loss I had, it turned out to be gain because of Christ.” What he said was, “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). Christ is an improvement over the best, not just the worst.

And I take the word whatever seriously — “Whatever gain I had . . .” He underlines it in the next verse: “Indeed, I count everything [including all “gains” of this world] as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Nor can I imagine that he meant, “Christ is better in this world, but in the next world we will all bemoan the losses.” No. Christ will be better than this world’s best forever.

God Will Improve Our Best Pleasures

Second, the apostle said, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). If an infinite, all-wise, all-powerful Being loves us, and tells us that he has planned experiences for us in the age to come that exceed our ability to imagine, then we may conclude that these experiences will be inconceivably better than our best pleasures in this world for the simple reason that we can indeed imagine these.

Indeed, our imaginations can extrapolate from these even better pleasures than the best that we have. But God says that his planned pleasures will be even better than the best we can imagine.

No Deficits in the Age to Come

Third, the biblical images of the age to come leave no doubt that God intends for us to see those joys not only as better than the worst here, but also better than the best. For example,

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

“Fullness of joy” does not mean less than the joy you knew in this world, but more. This world’s best always leaves us feeling like there is more. I can imagine more. Indeed, there is. And “fullness of joy” is meant to promise it. Literally, the Hebrew for “fullness of joy” is “satiation of joys” — that is, joy beyond which there is no more joy to be had.

They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights. (Psalm 36:8)

If we have tasted this feast, and drunk from this river already in this world, will not the “homecoming” (2 Corinthians 5:8) be the kind of feasting and drinking that made the taste seem scanty?

. . . that in the coming ages [God] might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

This is the purpose God had in raising us from spiritual death (Ephesians 2:4–5). Mark the words: Grace. Riches of grace. Immeasurable riches of grace. Immeasurable riches of grace in kindness. In the coming ages. What can this mean but that God’s purpose is to spend the endless ages of eternity dispensing on us riches of kindness which will take an eternity to spend, because they are literally “immeasurable.” Such language leaves no room for deficits of ecstasy in the age to come.

So, I conclude that heaven is not only an improvement over the worst of this world, but over the best.

Jesus Dispenses with Marriage in the Age to Come

If you are with me so far, we are now in a proper position to hear Jesus dispense with marriage in the age to come.

Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:27–36)

What at first stuns us here is the reason Jesus gave for doing away with marriage in “that age.” Notice the argument: They don’t marry in the resurrection, “because they cannot die anymore.” This sounds at first like the only purpose for marriage is procreation. So, when the need for preserving humanity goes (since no one dies in the resurrection, and the number of the elect is perfect, Romans 11:25), marriage goes.

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SOURCE: Desiring God, John Piper