Heaven by Randy Alcorn

December 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Books and Movies, Eschatology, Theology | 1 Comment

Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  I have been reading this book all year long and wanted to get a review in by the end of the year.  I don’t know exactly how to rate this book without dividing the theological content from the way it is presented.  For content, I would give this book an A+, but for style, I wasn’t impressed with the excessive wordiness and length, a C at best.  The former made this book impossible to quit reading, the latter made it hard to finish, and that’s why it has taken me most all year to work through it.

Let’s begin with an example of the negative.  Alcorn takes 9 chapters and 90 pages to explain that our eternal home is this earth restored what God intended it to be.  He makes his case well with scripture and historical perspective but seems to go on and on beyond both necessity and interest.  I believe he could have said the same thing in two or three chapters.

However, on the theological content side, you don’t want to miss what’s in this book; it is instructive, interesting and even exciting.  After setting it aside, sometimes for weeks, I always had to pick it up and continue, because, in spite of the unnecessary length, what I’d read always came back to excite me.  The ideas presented made it the most thought provoking, inspiring book of the year.

Alcorn’s study of heaven separates the temporal dwelling of those who have died in Christ from the eternal home we will inherit.  This is a division some studies of heaven ignore, and though we use the word “heaven” for both, they are dramatically different.  After a brief discussion of the intermediate heaven, Alcorn describes the eternal home of believers.  They will be resurrected and then will inherit the earth, remade to be what God originally intended it to be.

Christians in North America often have a mistaken idea that heaven is some ethereal place that is not physical, only spiritual, but this idea is totally foreign to the scriptures.  We think heaven is our existing as disembodied spirits floating on clouds and playing harps for all eternity, and, as Alcorn points out, it’s no wonder we don’t’ get very excited about it.  Instead, heaven is the fulfillment of all our righteous longings, right here on this earth, recreated  in God’s perfection, and Jesus will be right here with us, graciously granting us those desires.

Alcorn’s heaven is one of physical beauty, complete with plants, rivers, animals, pets, arts, culture, and a variety of joyful activities, all without sin and all perfectly given to the glory of God.  That’s a heaven I can get excited about!

If this concept of heaven doesn’t sit well with you, then you may be more influenced by North American media than by scripture and the historical understanding of it.  This book would be good for you to read.  If you’re one who can’t get too excited about living in light of eternity, then this book can give you some of that missing excitement.  Take the time to read it; it will dramatically change your perspective.

On a side note, those who hold a dispensational theology will not like Randy Alcorn’s interpretations of some biblical passages, because what he applies to the eternal kingdom, they have often applied to the millennial kingdom.  But, ironically, Alcorn’s interpretation is the more literal of such passages.

“The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.”  Psalm 37:29

“This is my Father’s world; the battle is not done; Jesus who died will be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.”

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  1. In spite of so many years spent in church pews, the subject of Heaven has been difficult to grasp.

    These are two of my favorite passages:

    “3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ ” Revelations 21:3-4 ESV

    “1 Then the angel[a] showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life[b] with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants[c] will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelations 22:1-4

    I was reading once and came across this:

    22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness ofShur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came toMarah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah.[b] 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log,[c] and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. Exodus 15:22-25 ESV

    I found myself wondering if that foreshadowed Revelation 22:1-3. What do you think?

    I would love it if you could share your thoughts.

    Blessings,

    Theresa


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