Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Heaven

Heaven: Priceless Encouragements on the Way to Our Eternal Home. J.C. Ryle. 92 pages. [Source: Bought]

A short truth-filled, gospel-rich book on the glories of heaven. It has nine chapters:

Chapter 1 - Many Mansions (John 14:1-3)
Chapter 2 – Shall we know one another (Revelation 21:4)
Chapter 3 – Our company (Matthew 8:11)
Chapter 4 – The Great Gathering (2 Thessalonians 2:1)
Chapter 5 - The Whole Family (Ephesians 3:15)
Chapter 6 - Our Home (Psalm 90:1)
Chapter 7 – Eternity (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Chapter 8 – Suppose an Unholy Man went to Heaven (1 John 3:3)
Chapter 9 – Heaven – (Hebrews 4:9)

Each chapter is a sermon. The book is a collection of sermons; these sermons have a common theme, eternity, and they cover both heaven and hell to a certain degree. In these sermons, Ryle urges readers to contemplate the biggest question, to contemplate eternity. Do they know where they will go when they die? Do they know for a certainty they are bound for heaven? Or could they be in danger of hell?

I love J.C. Ryle. I do. This is a great read!

Favorite quotes:
Faith in the Lord Jesus is the only sure medicine for troubled hearts. To believe more thoroughly, trust more entirely, rest more unreservedly, lay hold more firmly, lean back more completely--this is the prescription which our Master urges on the attention of all His disciples.
Heaven is "a Father's house,"--the house of that God of whom Jesus says, "I go to my Father, and your Father." It is, in a word, HOME--the home of Christ and Christians. This is a sweet and touching expression. Home, as we all know, is the place where we are generally loved for our own sakes, and not for our gifts or possessions; the place where we are loved to the end, never forgotten, and always welcome. This is one idea of heaven. Believers are in a strange land, and at school, in this life. In the life to come they will be at home.
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people--a place which we shall find Christ Himself has made ready for true Christians. He has prepared it by procuring a right for every sinner who believes to enter in. None can stop us, and say we have no business there. He has prepared it by going before us as our Head and Representative, and taking possession of it for all the members of His mystical body. As our Forerunner He has marched in, leading captivity captive, and has planted His banner in the land of glory. He has prepared it by carrying our names with Him as our High Priest into the holy of holies, and making angels ready to receive us. Those who enter heaven will find they are neither unknown nor unexpected.
Suffice it to say, that heaven is the eternal presence of everything that can make a saint happy, and the eternal absence of everything that can cause sorrow.
Heaven will be no strange place to us when we get there. We shall feel at home. We shall see all of whom we have read in Scripture, and know them all, and mark the peculiar graces of each one.
There sits at the right hand of God One who is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him, and One who is as willing to save as he is able. The Lord Jesus Christ has died for us on the cross, and paid our mighty debt with his own blood. He is sitting at God's right hand, to be the Advocate and Friend of all who desire to be saved. He is waiting at this moment to be gracious. Surely, if we do not get to heaven the fault will be all our own.
You are not going to a foreign country; you are going home. You are not going to dwell amongst strangers, but amongst friends.
Will any be saved who are not born again, washed in Christ's blood, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit? Will any be saved who have not repented of sin, believed on the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, and been made holy in heart? None, none, certainly none. If men and women can be saved without repentance, faith and holiness—we may as well throw the Bible away, and give up Christianity altogether!
It is one of the heaviest trials of a true Christian upon earth—that he meets so few people who are entirely of one mind with him about religion. How often in society he finds himself obliged to hold his tongue and say nothing, and to hear and see many things which make his heart ache, and send him back to his own home heavy and depressed! It is a rare privilege to meet two or three occasionally to whom he can open his heart, and with whom he can speak freely, without fear of giving offence or being misunderstood. But there will be an end of this state of things, in the kingdom of heaven. Those who are saved will find none there—who have not been led by the same Spirit, and gone through the same experience as themselves.
Too many, far too many Christians, seem quite content to go to heaven alone, and to care nothing about bringing others into the kingdom of God.
Family affection lies at the root of a well-ordered society. It is one of the few good things which has survived the fall, and prevent men and women from being mere devils. It is the secret oil on the wheels of our social system which keeps the whole machine going, and without which the power of the machine is useless.
Never, never let it be forgotten, that our tastes on earth are a sure evidence of the state of our hearts; and the state of our hearts here is a sure indication of our eternal destiny. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
We are all pilgrims and strangers on the earth, and we have no place to dwell. "Lord, You are our home."
In the midst of a dying, changing, disappointing world, a true Christian always has something which no power on earth can take away. Morning, noon, and night, he has near him a living Refuge--a living home for his soul. You may rob him of life, and liberty, and money; you may take from him health, and lands, and house, and friends; but, do what you will, you cannot rob him of his home. Like those humblest of God's creatures which carry their shells on their backs, wherever they are, so the Christian, wherever he goes, carries his home.
But once in Christ, we will never be out of Christ. Once let our name be placed in the Lamb's book of life, and we belong to a home which will continue forevermore.
The subject is one, which we must never approach without the Bible in our hands. The moment we depart from "God's written Word," in considering eternity and the future state of man, we are then likely to fall into error. In examining points like these we must have nothing to do with preconceived notions as to what God's character is like, and what we think God ought to be, or ought to do with man after death. We only have to find out what is written. What does the Scripture say? What does the Lord say? It is foolish to tell us that we ought to have "noble thoughts about God," independent of, and over and above, Scripture. The noblest thoughts about God, which we have a right to hold, are the thoughts that He has been pleased to reveal to us in His "written Word."
"There is nothing that Satan desires more than that we should believe that he does not exist, and that there is no such a place as hell, and no such things as eternal torments. He whispers all this into our ears, and he rejoices when he hears a layman, and much more when he hears a clergyman, deny these things, for then he hopes to make them and others his victims." - Wordsworth's Sermons on Future Rewards and Punishments, p. 36.
What was the use of God's Son becoming incarnate, agonizing in Gethsemane, and dying on the cross to make atonement, if men can ultimately be saved without believing on Him? Where is the slightest proof that saving faith in Christ's blood can ever be achieved after death? Where is the need of the Holy Spirit, if sinners are can enter heaven without conversion and renewal of heart? Where can we find the smallest evidence that after a person dies in an unregenerate state, that later he can still be born again, and have a new heart? If a man, without faith in Christ or sanctification of the Spirit, can escape eternal punishment, then sin is no longer an infinite evil and there was no need for Christ making atonement.

Men sometimes talk exclusively about God's mercy and love and compassion, as if He had no other attributes, and leave out His holiness and His purity, His justice and His unchangeableness, and His hatred of sin. Let us beware of falling into this delusion. It is a growing evil in these last days.
The reason why the eternal Son of God came into the world can never be declared too fully, or proclaimed too loudly. He came to give us hope and peace while we live among the "temporary things which are seen," and glory and blessedness when we go to the "eternal things, which are unseen." He came to bring "life and immortality to light," and to "free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:15) He saw our lost and bankrupt condition, and had compassion on us. And now, blessed be His name, a mortal man may pass through "temporary things" with comfort, and look forward to "eternal things" without fear.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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