Heaven: Your Real Home. By Joni Eareckson Tada. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 215 pp. Cloth, $13.95.
According to many authors, believers will spend eternity doing little more than singing all the time. This is not the picture presented by Joni Eareckson Tada (hereafter referred to as Joni).
Joni says that believers “will be busier than they ever were on earth. No idling away eternity strolling streets of gold. No passing away time while plucking harps by the glassy sea. We will have jobs to do…We will serve God through worship and work—exciting work of which we will never grow tired” (p. 66).
These are exceptional insights. Most Christians seem to have little interest in eternity. It seems boring to them. The reason it may seem boring is that they don’t understand what the Scriptures say about eternity future.
There’s more. Joni also recognizes the biblical doctrine of eternal rewards: “The more trustworthy you’ve been [in this life], the greater your service in eternity” (p. 67). She even gives a good answer to the charge that it is self-serving and mercenary to focus on gaining rewards (pp. 90-91).
Unfortunately, Joni doesn’t develop the doctrine. She leaves many questions unanswered, saying: “Whew, I’m glad theologians study such things” (p. 70). This is an overall problem with the whole book. It lacks any detailed discussion of biblical themes or passages.
In spite of the lack of depth, Joni’s book is worth reading because it makes several important assertions. For example it shows that believers will meaningfully serve God forever and that how believers live now will impact the quality of their experience in God’s kingdom. Joni has a clear picture of the fact that this life is at best a sketch of what is to come. An additional value of this book is that Joni gives us an inspirational glimpse into her prayer life.
Two cautions. First, in the epilogue Joni gives an evangelistic appeal which does not clearly explain the Gospel. She invites the reader to pray the following prayer: “Lord Jesus, I realize I have lived my life far from You and I see now how my sin has separated me from You. Please come into my life—my heart, mind, and spirit—and make me the person You want me to be. Forgive me for living away from You all these years and help me to turn from my old ways. I invite You to be Lord of my life and thank You for the difference You will make. Amen” (pp. 209-10). There is no mention of trusting Christ for eternal life there. Instead, the emphasis is on turning from sins and on commitment of life.
Second, Joni advances a popular misconception: that believers will spend eternity in heaven (cf. pp. 70, 73-91). However, Revelation 21-22 clearly identifies the new earth as the home of believers in eternity. While we may well visit the new heaven in eternity, we will live on the new earth with the King of kings, who will rule from His throne in the New Jerusalem (compare Rev 3:21; 21:10ff.; and 22:1ff.). God’s purpose for mankind and for earth will not be thwarted. He will ultimately establish His reign over men on earth—first on this earth in the millennium, and then on the new earth thereafter.
Joni may not be a theologian. However, concerning the eternal state of believers, she sees some things which many theologians have missed. I recommend this book.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society