Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: Heaven and the Afterlife

Heaven and the Afterlife. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2016. Moody Publishers. 480 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Heaven and the Afterlife: The Truth About Tomorrow And What It Means For Today by Erwin Lutzer is an omnibus edition of three previously published books. It includes: How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God, One Minute After You Die, and Your Eternal Reward. Of the three titles, my particular favorite--one that I've read three or four times now--is How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God.

How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity With God is a great book, perhaps even a life-changing book, for some readers. It explores the truth claims of the Bible, of Christianity, clearly presents the gospel--what it is, what it isn't--and proclaims assurance of salvation for any who truly believe. It may come across as confrontational to some readers. For example, if you have a fuzzy notion of heaven, disregard the concept of hell, and can't quite put into words what the gospel is and why you need saving in the first place, this book is a wake-up call perhaps. This book isn't just for unbelievers or the unchurched. This book is for everyone. It is clear, straight-forward, intentional: hear the good news, be delivered from your sins, and BELIEVE in Jesus Christ.

One Minute After You Die is another great title by Lutzer. This one focuses specifically on heaven and hell. Every person--sooner or later--will die and 'one minute after you die' you will either be in heaven or hell. No exceptions. It explores what we know about heaven, what we know about hell, and how can we know what we know about either. (The answer to the last being trust only what has been revealed in the Word of God.) Lutzer argues that you can know now where you will spend eternity. He urges readers not to put off thinking about eternity.

Your Eternal Reward is the third title. Of the three titles, it is probably my least favorite. The other two books have focused on the gospel, on grace, on God, on worship here on earth and on heaven. This book, on the other hand, focuses on rewards and punishments. One can easily twist it out of context perhaps and conclude that grace isn't that amazing after all. I don't want to twist it out of context. And. Because I generally do trust that Lutzer knows what he's talking about, I'll just say that this one is beyond me in rightly understanding it. Essentially his message is that heaven is not the same for everyone; that some believers will not have any rewards and will not be participants of much of anything in heaven; that you should decide to live every day focused on earning rewards for yourself in heaven. This what-can-I-do-to-add-to-my-rewards-today focus rubbed me the wrong way. It's not that I don't believe in sanctification and that I support reckless, careless living. It's just I think our eyes should be on God and not focused on what-is-in-it-for-me.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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