This book is one year too late. Twelve months ago, I was about to start teaching Eschatology here at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and discovered there was a dearth of books about heaven, especially written from a Reformed perspective. There were lots of books about the millennium, but precious few about heaven. Hardly reflects biblical proportions, does it?
If you had asked me then, “Which Reformed theologian or pastor would you choose to write a book about heaven?” Maurice Roberts would have been in my top three. As a young Christian, I was privileged to live relatively close to Pastor Roberts, and regularly profited from his preaching. However, what I remember most were the fellowships I attended in Pastor Roberts’s manse, first in Ayr and later in Inverness. Pastor Roberts has the wonderful ability to stimulate and lead Christians in discussing theology and its relation to Christian experience. Two subjects were always central in these discussions: the person and work of Christ, and the believer’s happiness in heaven. Many of us experienced unforgettable foretastes of heavenly glory during these memorable evenings.
The Happiness of Heaven comes from the pen of one who has often visited heaven by faith. Pastor Roberts writes of heaven, not as someone who has simply cut-and-pasted from the books and sermons of others, but from hours of personal reflection on Scripture, many years of deep Christian experience, and years of ministering these precious truths to his congregations in Ayr, Inverness, and to Christians throughout the world.
I would not ask Pastor Roberts to analyze contemporary politics, or popular culture or any other transient things of this world. But, if I had a questions about heaven – where it is, how to get there, what it is like, who is there – then I can think of few more knowledgeable or reliable than this heavenly-minded man. In this book, Pastor Roberts gives bible-soaked answers to often-troubling questions such as: “What about children dying in infancy?” “Will we recognize one another in heaven?” “Do people in heaven know what is happening on earth?” “How can heaven be heaven without my loved ones?” Will we remember our sins in heaven?”
Pastor Roberts writes on such profound subjects in a clear, succinct, and simple style. This book is biblical, not speculative; practical, not philosophical; pastoral, not academic; evangelistic, not presumptive; searching, but also comforting. Throughout the book he challenges preachers to fill their pulpits again with the primary things, the ultimate things, the real things, the eternal things.
This book will produce much spiritual fruit in its readers. It will provide pastors with many sermon-provoking ideas. It offers mature Christians new light on old texts. It inspires aging Christians to long more for heaven, and busy Christians to slow down and find time to meditate on these heavenly themes. Young Christians will find their basic questions answered. Worldly Christians will be convicted of their earthly-mindedness and stimulated to live a more heavenly life on earth. Suffering Christians will be assured “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). Theologians will find challenging material to “chew” upon. Unbelievers will be faced with their unfitness for heaven and be directed to the Savior, who alone can fit them for the heavenly mansions.
Randy Alcorn says Reformed theologians have somewhat neglected heaven in their writing. In his own book on heaven, Alcorn notes that Calvin commended meditation on heaven but wrote little about it. William Shedd’s three-volume Dogmatic Theology has eighty-seven pages on hell but only two on heaven. Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology devotes only one page out of 737 to the eternal state of heaven. Pastor Roberts greatly assists the church by righting this theological imbalance with his book.
I have never read any of Pastor Roberts’s books without looking heavenwards with greater longing and desire. This book will quicken your spiritual pulse, put this fading world in perspective, and unite you with Jonathan Edwards in determining to be “Resolved to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can.”
The Happiness of Heaven by Maurice J. Roberts. $7.50 from Reformation Heritage Books