Wheaton: Crossway, 2013
A biblical treatment of heaven, angels, and eternal life, The Glory of Heaven is written by well-known pastor and seminary president, John MacArthur. I admire MacArthur because he contends strongly for the biblical faith. In fact, when I think of him I am reminded of what Jude wrote in verse three of his short epistle, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
MacArthur has the courage to call out false doctrine when he sees it. In the first part of this book, as well as in the appendices, he points out the false teachings of a number of recent books on heaven, e.g. Embraced by the Light by Betty J. Eadie, Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin Malarkey, and To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Account of her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again by Mary C. Neal.
Nonetheless, the great majority of the book is positive, biblical teaching. The pages are full of hundreds of Scripture references. The author firmly believes that the Bible is the only infallible source of instruction as to what heaven is really like, and he reminds us that what we find in God’s Word is so much better than any description of heaven in the popular books he refutes.
In the ESV the word “heaven” appears 493 times in 464 verses, but it should not simply be studied in an academic way. “We are commanded to contemplate heaven, to pursuit it in the way Abraham sought the city of God, to fix our attention there. … It means looking away from the mundane and temporal and fixing our eyes steadily on him who is the glory and the centerpiece of heaven.”
The greatest thing about heaven will be meeting our Lord and Savior face to face. The second greatest thing for me personally will be to finally lose all traces of the fall. I will be delivered forever from sin and temptation! I identify strongly with the Apostle Paul in Romans 7, who after his realistic account of battling the flesh, asks a question and answers it in verses 24 and 25: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
In recent years as a chaplain I’ve grown to love the joyous and Christ-centered hymns of nineteenth-century songwriter Fanny Crosby. In her hymn “My Savior First of All” she expresses the hope of every believer. What makes these words even more meaningful is that Crosby was blind from infancy, so literally the first person she ever saw was Jesus Christ as she entered heaven. Contemplate her lyrics: Thru the gates of that city in a robe of spotless white, He will lead me where no tears will ever fall; In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight, But I long to meet my Savior first of all.