Setting our minds on Heaven is a discipline we have to learn. Pastors and church leaders should train themselves to be Heaven-minded. This means teaching and preaching about Heaven as our future Home. It means presenting a biblical theology that can shape and transform people’s lives, liberating them from the hopelessness of life centered on fallen and failing world.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I daily reflect on my own mortality?
- Do I daily realize there are only two destinations -Heaven or Hell - and that I and every person I know will go to one or the other?
- Do I daily remind myself that this world is not my home and that everything in it will burn, leaving behind only what is eternal?
- Do I daily recognize that my choices and actions have a direct influence on the world to come?
- Do I daily realize that my life is being examined by God, the Audience of One, and that the only appraisal of my life that will ultimately matter, is His?
This is a large book, with much to love. It is a thorough study of everything that Bible has to say about Heaven. The format is also a big plus. The table of contents is detailed, allowing a reader to quickly find the specific area they are most interested in. What will our bodies be like? Page 281. What does the Bible say about whether there will be animals on the New Earth? Alcorn covers it on pages 373. That’s not to say you will agree with all his conclusions. But in each case he gives you a lot to ponder.
Alcorn is a self-described four-point Calvinist (he disputes limited atonement) so while the book is more “conservative evangelical” than specifically Reformed, there are quite a number of quotations in it from Reformed folk like John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and Francis Schaeffer.
What might be perceived as the weakness of the book is how often Alcorn makes use of the word “perhaps.” Alcorn takes quite a number of speculative leaps, wondering, for example, whether we might take on space exploration in the next life. However, while some of his thoughts are quite imaginative, Alcorn is always very open about when he is guessing and when what he is saying has much clearer biblical roots. That clarity makes him a reliable guide.
My only critique is one I share with Rev. Johan Tangelder, who first reviewed this book for RP nine years ago. He wrote:
I suggest that Alcorn thinks about Heaven too much from an egocentric viewpoint – focusing in on what interests us the most. With all the discussions of what we may do in Heaven, we easily forget that Heaven is the place of habitation of the Triune God.
But lest that dampen your enthusiasm for the book, let me end with some effusive praise - I haven’t run across anyone who has read this and not enjoyed it and found it encouraging. Randy Alcorn will have you anticipating the next life. Or, as Rev. Tangelder concluded his own review:
...my critical observations don’t take away the appreciation I have for Alcorn’s work. He gives new insights, and makes you think about the best that is yet to come for God’s people.To order it at Amazon.com click here.