Ticket to Heaven

When you're packing for vacation this summer, I recommend you take along: A Travel Guide to Heaven by Anthony DeStefano. It is a solidly orthodox, fast- paced, and fun-to-read book. Now, I was skeptical about this little book when it first came out, and I said as much on "BreakPoint." I was afraid it would pander to our inborn narcissism. But then I went back and looked at it again and realized that I was wrong. The book is solid, and DeStefano builds his case for the wonders of heaven, relying only on biblical passages and church tradition. Life on earth, as we know, has been marred by sin, but it is not the end of the story. And while most Christians acknowledge heaven, they have only a perfunctory or vague understanding of it. When many think of heaven, they have visions of ethereal spirits dancing in their heads-spirits existing without anything to do but float in heaven. But the reality will be much different. When we die, our bodies and spirits separate, but when Jesus returns, our bodies will be resurrected, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth-what we refer to simply as "heaven." So DeStefano explains, "Heaven is, at its core, not only spiritual, but material as well." It is important to note that other religions and cults promote dualism which devalues the body. Christianity, on the contrary, teaches that body and soul are equally important and that together they make us whole people. DeStefano writes, "[T]he very term, human being, illustrates the material and spiritual makeup of our identity." We can get a glimpse of what our transformation will be like from the Gospel accounts of Jesus after His resurrection. Jesus was not constrained by earth's physical laws: Without opening a door, He suddenly disappeared (Mark 16:12 and Luke 24:16, 31). Like Christ, our bodies will be the same yet different. The difference is that in heaven, says DeStefano, "Our bodies suddenly become totally subservient to our wills." Just as it has been on earth, part of our worship of God will be to continue to work and create. DeStefano reminds us that work is good because God, the first worker, "programmed" us with the "need" to work. Work will be different from what we experience now because we'll be free from the effects of the Fall. Some of us will have to find a different kind of work than we do today because there will be no more crime, sickness, or want. And when heaven and earth are made new, we'll spend time doing the things we like, such as hiking, painting, or singing. The earth will be transformed. Lambs will lie down with lions; orcas will cavort with seals. The things we had created on earth, but that now lie in ancient ruins, will be fully restored in heaven. DeStefano reminds us that the Bible says we are complete in God because He "is beauty, power, truth, and life." Our complete happiness will come from abiding in Him throughout eternity. Through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the goodness of things on earth won't vanish, but will be made whole. All of this, of course, is a long way from the cartoonist version of heaven -- that is, someone sitting on a cloud playing a harp. A Travel Guide to Heaven is an inspiring description of the real thing: the thrilling life that is to come in a new heaven and new earth.


Chuck Colson


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