Author Stephen J. Nichols uses the teachings of America’s premier theologian, Jonathan Edwards, as the springboard for a discussion of how it is our duty as Christians “to live on earth in light of heaven.”
Nichols does an excellent job of showing a side of Jonathan Edwards that many might be surprised to see. Edwards is best known for what is considered by many to be the most famous sermon in the English language, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” If that was one’s only exposure to Edwards, one may walk away with the notion that Edwards was merely a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher. To have such an understanding of Edwards would be incomplete.
Although Edwards, in true Puritan form, was one not to back down from preaching on hell, he also had a passionate heart for heaven. Nichols does a great job in reminding us of this fact by highlighting in his book Edward’s teaching on living here with our eyes on heaven. Some Christians views the Christian life as simply a way to make life better here on earth. Others fall into the extreme of being “so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good.” Each extreme is out of balance. What Nichols does very well is help the twenty-first century Christian, by way of Edward’s teaching, be balanced in their view of heaven.
Nichols takes a special emphasis on Edward’s sermon “Heaven is a World of Love,” which is the final sermon in Edward’s classic series of sermons that many know as “Charity and its Fruits.” In fact, Nichols includes an abridged version of this sermon in the appendix. Great stuff.
At times, Nichols comments so much on Edward’s sermons, the reader (at least this reviewer) might be tempted to think, “Just let me read Edward’s sermon, already.” Of course, this may very well be Nichol’s intention. If so, then this isn’t a negative comment at all. Unfortunately, he only includes in this book the aforementioned “Heaven is a World of Love,” leaving the reader to have to dig up the other ones on his own. Again, this actually may be a good thing.
It is amazing how many of our Puritan forefathers have remained so timeless. Nichols once again reminds us of this very thing: that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to learning just how we are to live here on earth with an eye toward heaven; all we have to do is the mine the depths of biblical insight of a man like Jonathan Edwards. Of course, Nichols does a nice job himself at contributing his own study on the subject juxtaposed to Edwards teaching. – Todd Burgett, Christian Book Previews.com
Heaven isn’t only about the future. It has everything to do with life on earth—life “in between.” Jonathan Edwards understood this well. His writings are full of his thoughts on heaven and how those thoughts should make a difference in our lives.
This book focuses on key sermons by Edwards, showing readers how his insights can be applied to the challenges of living the Christian life in the twenty-first century. Edwards reminds us of our duty to live on earth in light of heaven and to endeavor to bring the realities and the beauty of heaven to earth—even if only in miniature. This book is for all believers wondering how to live on earth with a view of heaven, and those familiar with Edwards’s works will have a special appreciation for this study.