In the Fall and subsequent redemption of man by the blood of Jesus Christ, the glory of God is maximized, in that His Son now takes center stage to a watching universe. But redemption is in response to our sin, and because God hates sin, it must be expunged from us. The Roman Catholic Church teaches the concept of Purgatory, a place after death and before heaven in which one’s sins are purged before entering eternity. The concept of purging our sins seems biblical but the time and place for this is extra-biblical. The time and place for the purging of our sins is not after death and in Purgatory but now and on earth.
Our fallen world is the best of all possible worlds, not to maximize human happiness, but to purge us of our sins. Recall Revelation 22:11: “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” Something important is permanently fixed in us at the time of our death. If this does not strike terror in us, then we have not understood.
If this is the God-ordained purpose for our lives on earth, the question then is, am I taking full advantage of it? Do I have the same sense of urgency and single-mindedness about the purgation of my sins as I do for—well, you fill in the blank? Only the Holy Spirit can kill my sin, but He does so for the obedient, who consciously strive to practice a life of love, obedience, and self-denial for the sake of Christ.
On earth our exhortation is to exult in tribulations and consider it all joy when encountering various trials. We do so because by faith we know that this is how God purges us of our sins, replacing them with the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
I write these things with shame because I know how poorly I suffer. One of the important functions of fellowship is comfort, encouragement, and exhortation when a brother or sister suffers. We must be loving, humble, and teachable enough to give and receive this.
To summarize, this is the best of all possible worlds for the redemption of sinful and rebellious humans. Heaven is the best of all possible worlds for fully redeemed people. And the purpose of both worlds is the maximal glory of God. Any alternative is the worst of all possible worlds.
There is a city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. That city is the best of all possible worlds for the simultaneous glory of God and the maximization of human flourishing and happiness. And it awaits those who have utilized our present perfectly imperfect world to prepare for it. May God grant each of us the strength, courage, endurance, and good sense to do so.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”