I am in the middle of reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It's excellent. Since I have dear family and friends who've recently passed away I feel more compelled to explore the topic. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. I haven't done a lot of reading about heaven, but Alcorn has made the Biblical study of heaven his lifework. He uses scripture to back up everything he states definitively about what heaven will be like. And when he suggests something about heaven that isn't covered by scripture he makes it very clear that it's based in his own imaginings and understanding of God's character...
In particular I appreciate his assertion that Christians (saints) who've passed away are waiting in an intermediate heaven (not a waiting room where you're trying to earn your way into heaven- it's only Jesus' blood that gets you into heaven- they are waiting there with God for His plan to be fulfilled and Jesus to return to Earth) also that they are aware of what's going on here on earth.... that they pray (just talk) to God for those of us here. (he reminds the reader that we are NOT to pray to those departed saints, because why on earth would you go to a secondary source when you can go directly to the one in charge?!) I'm not going to quote scripture here, but after reading what he has to say and how he works with scripture I agree with him.
He also asserts that when we all get to be with Jesus on the New Earth (when heaven comes down here and the New Earth becomes what God had intended from the beginning) that we will be surrounded by animals and perfect nature- that we see glimpses or shadows of what God intended the earth to be like all around us. He even goes so far as to say that he believes that pets who've passed away may be waiting for us there... I don't know. Even he's not saying this is definitely-for sure true. He just says it would fit with his understanding of heaven and the place God is planning for those of us who love and obey Him.
Anyway, there are very few books that I get really enthusiastic about every Christian reading. I can think of only two or three right off the top of my head: What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey, The Wounded Spirit by Frank Peretti.... I'm sure there are a couple more if I could think of 'em. Heaven is one of them. I think it's a don't miss book.
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