is an inkling, a whisper of greater joy.”
--Randy Alcorn, Heaven, page 241
All in all, it has been a transformative study for us. Relying primarily on the Bible itself but also introducing the thoughts of dozens of theologians, Alcorn has greatly expanded our thinking about our eternal destination. And I think it’s safe to say that we’re almost all more excited than ever about heading Home once and for all.
Among this fine book’s many important points:
- We can know today that we’re going to spend eternity in heaven. “We need never fear that God will find a skeleton in our closet and say, ‘If I’d known you did that, I wouldn’t have let you into Heaven.’ Every sin is washed away by the blood of Christ. Moreover, God is all-knowing. He has seen us at our worst and still loves us. No sin is bigger than the Savior.” (page 35)
- Eternity will be just as physical as our world is today, minus the corruption. “Will the Eden we long for return? Will it be occupied by familiar, tangible, physical features and fully embodied people? The Bible clearly answers yes.” (page 81)
- We’re homesick now—but one glorious day, that will end. “We have never known a world without sin, suffering and death. Yet we yearn for such a life and such a world. When we see a roaring waterfall, beautiful flowers, a wild animal in its native habitat, or the joy in the eyes of our pets when they see us, we sense that this world is—or at least was meant to be—our home.” (page 81)
- We keep trying, and failing, to cure this homesickness with earthly remedies. “Nothing is more often misdiagnosed than our homesickness for Heaven. We think that what we want is sex, drugs, alcohol, a new job, a raise, a doctorate, a spouse, a large-screen television, a new car, a cabin in the woods, a condo in Hawaii. What we really want is the person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven. Nothing less can satisfy us.” (page 166)
- Our relationships will continue. “God doesn’t abandon His purposes; He extends and fulfills them. Friendships begun on Earth will continue in Heaven, getting richer than ever.” (page 357)
- Animals—quite possibly including our pets—will join us there. “Something better remains after death for these poor creatures,” said 18th century theologian and evangelist John Wesley. “[T]hese, likewise, shall one day be delivered from this bondage of corruption, and shall then receive ample amends for all their present sufferings.” (page 400)
- Heaven will never be boring. “There will always be more to see when we look at God, because His infinite character can never be exhausted. We could—and will—spend countless millennia exploring the depths of God’s being and be no closer to seeing it all than when we first started. This is the magnificence of God and the wonder of Heaven.” (page 179)
- It’s all made possible for us by receiving God's free gift of eternal life. “Make the conscious decision to accept Christ’s sacrificial death on your behalf. When you choose to accept Christ and surrender control of your life to him, you can be certain that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (page 36)
I think my favorite quote in this meaty, quote-laden book is this one, from 19th century Burman missionary Adoniram Judson: “When Christ calls me Home,” Judson said, “I shall go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school.”
Do you remember the bliss of being dismissed from a grade-school classroom on the last day of the school year, with a whole summer stretching out endlessly before you? I sure do. It was quite possibly the greatest joy I have ever experienced, being free of all the fears and anxieties and other problems that begin to haunt us as we enter our teens.
And I think Judson was absolutely correct: This is precisely what it’s going to feel like when we get that final divine summons.
Only this time, summer will never end.