Today it’s really common to say that someone is “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” Their heads are so far in the clouds that they’re not capable of being of any practical use in the here and now. Yet, when we look at the Scriptures, we frequently find the New Testament authors telling us to keep our focus on heaven. Indeed, as we come to the final book of the Bible and this amazing picture of the new heavens and the new earth (Rev 21), it seems that the whole point is to tell us to be heavenly minded—because with our focus on the coming kingdom, we will be of the utmost earthly good.
Charles Spurgeon understood this well. He preached dozens of sermons on heaven that (though difficult to find) remain a great source of inspiration. Bestselling author Randy Alcorn also understands this. His book Heaven has, arguably, become the go-to text on the subject for many. So it’s only fitting Alcorn’s new book, We Shall See God, would combine the best of both men, featuring lightly edited excerpts from a number of Spurgeon’s sermons on heaven and Alcorn’s own insightful commentary.
We Shall See God covers a lot of ground in its 50 chapters, addressing everything from a real, physical resurrection body and seeing Christ face-to-face to friendships, the horrors of hell and pretty much everything in between. Each day’s reading gives the reader a great deal with which to wrestle. One example that I found particularly challenging comes from Day 46, “Sinners Could Never Love Heaven.” Spurgeon, speaking to the nonbeliever says:
You live in a world where everything has been made by the great Lord and yet you do not perceive his hand, so great is your blindness. Shall blind men grope through the streets of New Jerusalem? You are unacquainted with the simplest elements of spiritual things, for they can only be spiritually discerned and you have no spiritual faculty.
You are blind and deaf, dead to God and heavenly things. You know you are. Well, then, of what benefit would it be that you should enter the spiritual realm? For if you were admitted into a place called Heaven, you would not be a partaker of the state of Heaven. And it is the state of mind and character which is, after all, the essence of the joy. To be in a heavenly place and not in a heavenly condition would be worse than Hell, if anything can be. (pp. 264-265)
These are strong words that force us to confront, not necessarily the question of whether or not our profession of faith is genuine, but whether or not our lives and attitudes reflect what might best be called a functional universalism. With these words, Spurgeon utterly decimates the idea that anyone who doesn’t have a heart inclined to Christ would even be capable of finding peace in heaven. Should this reality not, then, spur us to more consistent evangelism?
Equally challenging are Alcorn’s insights in Day 47′s reading, “Responding to Heaven’s Invitation.” He writes:
Throughout the ages, countless people have been too busy to respond to Christ’s invitation to his wedding banquet. Many assume that the good they’ve done—perhaps attending church, being baptized, singing in the choir, or helping in a soup kitchen—will be enough to gain entry to Heaven. But people who do not respond to Christ’s invitation to forgive their sins are people whose names aren’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. To be denied entrance into Heaven’s wedding banquet will mean being cast outside, into Hell, forever. (pp. 274-275)
These words, particularly the warning against assuming our good works are good enough to get us into Heaven, should certainly force us to examine ourselves perhaps a little more deeply. Are our motives for what we do so that we get into heaven or are our deeds motivated by our longing to be with the One who redeemed us?
With 50 days of devotional thoughts, We Shall See God is sure to offer readers a great deal of encouragement even as it hopefully spurs some challenging self-examination. I trust you will find it beneficial as you read and look forward to the day when we see Christ.
Title: We Shall See God: Charles Spurgeon’s Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven
Author: Randy Alcorn
Publisher: Tyndale (2011)
A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes by the publisher