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Heaven: A Book Review
Randy Alcorn spent 25 years researching the topic of Heaven for his book called Heaven. His main focus of study was on the scriptural accounts of Heaven, Old and New Testaments, although he studied other writings as well. The end result was an in-depth, comprehensive exploration of Heaven. Sticking faithfully and diligently to the Scriptures, his work dispels common myths about Heaven. Reading this rather lengthy book is worth the time, and is quite frankly, hard to put down. It is a treasure chest of details on Heaven, our eternal home; the place that gives us hope when our lives are crumbling with despair, tragedy, and sorrow. After reading Heaven, in your mind, Heaven will no longer be an ethereal, nebulous, uncertain place. It will come alive for you and and will certainly recharge your hope of the eternal home of Christ and His saints.
In Christendom today, we do not hear a lot spoken about Heaven. We sing songs that mention Heaven a little bit, maybe even rejoice that we will go there some day, and when we share the Gospel with an unbeliever, we may tell them that if they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, they will go to Heaven. Most non-believers don't really know anything about Heaven other than angels and God live there; so the promise of Heaven is not often a great motivator to accept Christ into their lives. Many, believers and non-believers alike, as Randy Alcorn suggests, believe that Heaven will be a boring, monotonous place where all we will do throughout eternity is recline on a cloud, and strum a harp, or experience one eternal worship service. Alcorn points out the lack of biblical study and knowledge regarding the topic of Heaven from Christians and churches of today:
"We Christians who believe God's Word are partly to blame for this. Why? We have failed to explore and explain the Bible's magnificent teachings about Heaven. No wonder a flood of unbiblical thinking has rushed in to fill the vacuum. Because the human heart cries out for answers about the afterlife, our silence on Heaven is particularly striking."
On this same issue, Randy Alcorn reiterates his statement with a quote by CS Lewis: "Most of us find it very difficult to want 'Heaven' at all--except in so far as 'Heaven' means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained; our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognize it." 1
Oh how sad and true they are.
Alcorn's primary focus in the book is on the New Earth, the New Jerusalem, as the Revelation passage above talks about. There are brief looks into the present Heaven (also referred to as the intermediate Heaven), but because the present Heaven is not our permanent home, he spends most of his time focusing on the New Earth, which comes down out of heaven, and will be our eternal home. In the chapter, What Is the Nature of Heaven?, Alcorn gives us the biblical account of the New Heaven and the New Earth:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God." ~ Revelation21:1-3
As you can see, this passage is rife with information on the New Heaven and the New Earth - what it is, when it is, and why it is.
An inaccurate understanding of heaven
Randy Alcorn's Books and Workbook on Heaven
Before I read this book, I had no idea the Bible provided so many details about Heaven. Following is look at a few of the topics Alcorn speaks on in his book called Heaven, all based on scriptural evidence:
- Is Heaven beyond our imagination?
- Is Heaven our default destination...or Is Hell?
- What is the nature of the present Heaven?
- Is the present Heaven a physical place?
- What is life like in the present Heaven?
- Why is Earth's redemption essential to God's plan?
- Anticipating resurrection.
- The Restoration of the Earth.
- Will the old Earth be destroyed...or renewed?
- Will we actually rule With Christ?
Part Two of the book is a Q & A section which is very comprehensive and answers finely detailed questions we have always been curious about.
Part Three covers Living in Light of Heaven.
Alcorn does a phenomenal job of answering long, often pondered questions people have on Heaven. No stone is left unturned. The book is captivating, and as truth about Heaven is revealed, one ends up asking, "How did I not know this before?"
Also in this book is a section on Hell. Alcorn brings up Hell because he does not want readers to think that Heaven is the default destination of every human being. Not everyone goes to Heaven, he reminds us. But most people in the world today believe they are. He reminds us that Christ said "Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matt. 7:14). He wants every reader to know that there is only one way to get to Heaven, and that is by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life
At the back of the book, Alcorn provides a couple of appendices. Appendix A is Christoplatonism's False Assumption. Appendix B discusses literal and figurative interpretation of the Scriptures. Both discussions are enlightening and thought provoking. There are notes for every chapter, a bibliography, scriptual index, name index, subject index, and on the back cover, there is a DVD for small groups. Alcorn also put together a workbook which is sold separately.
Throughout the book, Randy Alcorn encourages us to use our imagination to the fullest as we find out through the Scriptures all the details about Heaven. By imagination, he does not mean to create heaven in your mind based on what you want it to be, or unscriptural man-made descriptions, but to take what we hear described in the Bible and try to imagine what is going to be like. Imagination makes these facts come alive in your mind and heart. Of course we will never come close, but using your imagination fuels the hope, comfort, and anticipation of going there.
After reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn, I anticipate going there with even greater excitement. To think that those who walk with Christ will live there for all eternity with him, brings a hope without limits. I try to take to heart Randy Alcorn's encouragement to use my imagination, but I know when I walk through Heaven's door, I will probably say to myself, "This is beyond my wildest imagination...beyond my wildest expectations... beyond my wildest dreams."
© Lori Colbo 2010. All rights reserved.
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© 2010 Lori Colbo