“In Heaven we will enjoy perfect, unbroken fellowship with the Triune God. We will relish the glory of God. We will savor the sweetness of Christ. We will have perfect fellowship with the Holy Spirit…bickering, complaining, and acts of injustice will all have fallen away. Peace and harmony and justice will be the order. We will love God perfectly. We will even love all our brothers and sisters in Christ perfectly. So why not begin now?” (pg. 11).
In Heaven on Earth, Stephen J. Nichols distills a handful of Jonathan Edwards’ sermons to achieve an inspiring description of the Christian life. One might be tempted to believe that words spoken by a Puritan over 200 years ago would cease to be relevant in today’s world. However, Nichols proves that Edwards is relevant and his exhortation is needed in this day when many Christians are infatuated with the things of this world.
It has been said that a believer can be so Heavenly-minded he is of no earthly good. Nichols refutes this idea. Using Edwards’ sermons and example, Nichols convincingly proves that the opposite is true. It is the believer with a mind saturated with a biblical view of Heaven who lives a life of greatest earthly good. Nichols proposes that no one is a better example for how to live well between Heaven and earth than Jonathan Edwards. While he was not perfect, Edwards lived what he taught others, exhibiting a life on earth lived in light of his future life in Heaven. According to Nichols (and Edwards), the Christian with Heaven always in view will conduct himself in a way most consistent with the realities of Heaven. The Christian living with eyes toward Heaven is loving and doing good deeds; exhibiting enjoyment and pleasure in the beauty of God’s creation, His people, and Himself; working justice and crying out against injustice; exuding peace in the midst of pain; and serving the Lord with gladness. As Nichols points out in each chapter, this way of living glorifies God, brings joy to the believer, and serves as a wonderfully compelling apologetic to a dying world.
If one’s familiarity with Edwards’ does not extend past “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” then Heaven on Earth will serve to broaden the reader’s perspective of Jonathan Edwards’ sermons and ideas. While reading Edwards unedited can be a daunting task, Nichols helps remove the language barrier and place Edwards in the 21st century, even providing a short primer on reading a puritan sermon that is very helpful. I found Nichols’ insights quite thought-provoking, taking time after reading each chapter to ponder his meditations and scrutinize my own way of “living in between.” This work is convicting, encouraging, and rich with scriptural truth and Edwardsian insight.