This book in my series of ‘Books About God’ may seem to be less about God Himself than about something He has made, but what He has made — especially Heaven — tells us a lot about His character.
One of Scripture’s comforting teachings is that the sting of death is reduced by believing God’s many promises to us about Heaven (1 Cor. 15). Contrast that with John Lennon’s most popular song, which begins: “Imagine there’s no Heaven...”. That may be a beautiful song, but it’s also a destructive lie.
The father of lies was banished from Heaven and has been lying about Heaven ever since. Satan can’t go there, and he hates that we can, so he says that Heaven is boring (just harps and clouds), that it doesn’t exist, or that – with lots of cool stuff – we can make a paradise right here where we live on earth. Defeating Satan’s lies about Heaven is critical, and that’s one reason to read this book.
Randy Alcorn is an Oregon pastor/writer who wrote Heaven to increase our longing for our true home. His lengthy scripture index shows that his book is not mere conjecture, but firmly anchored in the Word.
Just before His execution, Jesus said: “I am going to prepare a place for you... to take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). He prayed, “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am...” (John 17:24). And Paul says “Christ died for us so that... we may live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10). And then, in what sounds like the dénouement, the grand crescendo of the entire Bible, God shouts from His throne, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself with be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).
These verses speak about God and us together in a place. Jesus eagerly anticipated this, Alcorn says, and so should we. The giants of faith in Hebrews 11 were “longing for a better country – a heavenly one,” and so should we.
We must remember that the Bible is primarily about a relationship between God and His people, but it’s also about a journey to a real place, the New Heaven and the New Earth (Rev. 21:1). If we want people to go with us, we’d better know where we’re going and how to get there. Only a fool joins a traveler without a destination, but many Christians seem to know little of the Bible’s teachings about Heaven or why we should want to go there. Many assume it’s not really a place – just some sort of ethereal atmosphere with disembodied righteous souls floating among the clouds.
In this delightful book, Alcorn addresses some crucial questions:
- Who is going to Heaven?
- Who to Hell?
- Can we really know where we’re going?
- What is in Heaven – gardens? Animals? Buildings?
- What will we do there – worship, sure, but work? Play? Eat?
- What kinds of bodies and relationships will we have?
- Will we miss those who aren’t there?
- Should what we know about Heaven and the New Earth affect us here and now?
Fundamentally, Alcorn’s book speaks of hope and longing:
“The right kind of longing for Heaven is a longing for God, and longing for God is longing for Heaven. If we understand what Heaven is (God’s dwelling place) and who God is, we will see no conflict between the two... Those who love God should think more often of Heaven, not less.” (Heaven, Ch. 19)
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. (Heb. 10:35)
(Heaven has been made available for check-out from the ABEFC library, along with other titles in The Bookshelf.)