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Heaven Hardcover – October 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
According to Alcorn (The Treasure Principle; Deadline; Safely Home), the subject of heaven rates as one of the least accurately discussed subjects in the whole of Christendom. Even seminarians fail to give appropriate time and attention to heaven as described throughout the Bible because other themes take pre-eminence both chronologically and preferentially. Alcorn is likewise astounded that the majority of Christians who do take time to consider heaven often possess faulty, nonbiblical assumptions, one of the most common being the misconception of heaven as a place of unending church services. The author, who is also the founder of the nonprofit organization Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM), has spent years studying what the Bible says about heaven, and in this compelling and comprehensive resource, he offers every conceivable question about heaven, or the "New Earth," as a Christian believer's ultimate destination. Alcorn answers the expected queries on heavenly life as well as quirkier ones: will Christians drink coffee in heaven? Will there be homeownership, and what about sex? Will our pets be in heaven? Evangelical scholars and laypersons alike will appreciate Alcorn's expansive—though perhaps long-winded—musings on this neglected subject, a real boon in a time when many people are eager to understand what happens after death.
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From the Inside Flap
Have you ever wondered . . .
What is Heaven really going to be like?
What will we look like?
What will we do every day?
Won't Heaven get boring after a while?
We all have questions about what Heaven will be like, and after twenty-five years of extensive research, Dr. Randy Alcorn has the answers.
In the most comprehensive and definitive book on Heaven to date, Randy invites you to picture Heaven the way Scripture describes it-a bright, vibrant, and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering, and death, and brimming with Christ's presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it.
God has put eternity in our hearts. Now, Randy Alcorn brings eternity to light in a way that will surprise you, spark your imagination, and change how you live today.
If you've always thought of Heaven as a realm of disembodied spirits, clouds, and eternal harp strumming, you're in for a wonderful surprise.
This is a book about real people with real bodies enjoying close relationships with God and each other, eating, drinking, working, playing, traveling, worshiping, and discovering on a New Earth. Earth as God created it. Earth as he intended it to be.
And the next time you hear someone say, "We can't begin to imagine what Heaven will be like," you will be able to tell them, ""I can.""
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Alcorn has done his research on this topic, having read 150 books on Heaven. He quotes liberally from many of those books.
He writes that in our seminaries, churches, and families, we have given “little attention to the place where we will live forever with Christ and his people—the New Earth, in the new universe”. The eternal Heaven is the central subject of this book.
Alcorn believes the book will stand up to biblical scrutiny. But right up front, he invites the reader to contact him if they have biblical grounds for disagreeing with anything in this book. He is open to correction and mentions that the revised edition of the book contains a number of changes he made based on input from readers of the first edition.
The book is organized as follows:
Part 1: In “A Theology of Heaven,” he explains the difference between the present Heaven (where Christians go when they die) and the ultimate, eternal Heaven (where God will dwell with his people on the New Earth).
Part 2: In “Questions and Answers about Heaven,” he addresses specific questions about life on the New Earth that arise out of the foundational teachings in Part 1. Part 3: In “Living in Light of Heaven,” he encourages the reader to let the doctrine of Heaven transform us and fill us with joyful anticipation.
He also includes the following:
1. Appendix A: Christoplatonism’s False Assumptions
2. Appendix B: Literal and Figurative Interpretation
3. Selected Bibliography
Alcorn writes that most people do not find their joy in Christ and Heaven. Instead, he states, many people find no joy at all when they think about Heaven. They assume that they will be bored, playing a harp on the clouds all day long. He writes that many Christians who’ve gone to church all their adult lives (especially those under fifty) can’t recall having heard a single sermon on Heaven.
Alcorn states that nearly every notion of Heaven he presents in this book was stimulated and reinforced by biblical texts. As you talk to others about Heaven as you read this book, they will probably ask “Where did he get that?” Alcorn helpfully lists scripture references throughout the book as he teaches about Heaven. He also states that we should ask God’s help to remove the blinders of our preconceived ideas about Heaven so we can understand what Scripture actually teaches about it.
Alcorn writes that when a believer dies, he or she enters into what is referred to in theology as the intermediate state. This is a transitional period between our past lives on Earth and our future resurrection to life on the New Earth. The intermediate or present Heaven is not our final destination. Rather, we will live with Christ and each other forever, not in the intermediate, or present, Heaven, but on the New Earth, where God will be at home with his people. In the book, when referring to the place believers go after death, Alcorn uses terms such as the present Heaven or the intermediate Heaven. He refers to the eternal state as the eternal Heaven or the New Earth.
Alcorn states that the problem is not that the Bible doesn’t tell us much about Heaven. It’s that we don’t pay attention to what it does tell us. He states that we were all made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place.
I found this to be a fascinating book, covering many aspects of Heaven that I had not previously thought of.
At the top of Page 104:
As a result of the Curse, the first Adam could no longer eat from the tree of life, which presumably would have made him live forever in his sinful state (Gen 3:22). Death, though a curse in itself, was also the only way out from under the curse – and that only because God had come up with a way to defeat death and restore mankind’s relationship with him.
Christ came to remove the curse of sin and death (Romans 8:2). He is the second Adam, who will undo the damage wrought by the first Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22, 45; & Romans 5:15-19). In (death) the Cross and the Resurrection, God made a way not only to restore his original design for mankind but also to expand it.
** This helped me understand that death is removal of the curse, not a curse of being alive - and the promised blessing**
However, in the same chapter he deals with the topic of sex in Heaven. I'm not going to try to explain his rationale here, but I am convicted that sex was PRIMARILY purposed for reproduction, and therefore is not a part of what is in Heaven at all (no, I'm not a prude, and yes, I miss it). He DOES go on to say - and I agree - that whatever IS in Heaven (perhaps to REPLACE sex here on earth) will be BETTER than what is here on earth.
Mr. Alcorn clearly extrapolates from the information the Bible directly gives regarding Heaven - in order to address the many questions we all have regarding how it will be; and I understand that is "necessary" in order to ATTEMPT to answer Heaven-oriented questions that are not SPECIFICALLY ADDRESSED. All in all, I think he does a very appropriate and biblcally-responsible job of doing so; and he makes it clear in the beginning of the book that is what he is doing.
It's a very long book, and well worth reading - even if you target chapters that address your immediate concerns (like me) now, and use it as a reference source later.