Monday 2 July 2012

Setting our Sights on Heaven: Why It’s Hard and Why It’s Worth It, by Paul D. Wolfe

Paul D. Wolfe
Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, 2011, 194pp, paperback.
ISBN: 978 1 84871 143 3

Setting our Sights on Heaven. What a marvelous subject to be writing on as a Christian author! Sinclair Ferguson in his ‘Foreword’ is sadly right, when he accurately diagnoses a problem faced by many contemporary churches. He writes: ‘We are inexperienced in breathing in heavenly air. But the soul that has breathed in heaven’s joyful passion for the glory of God senses more and more just how abnormal, fallen, and distorted this-world-focused life has become’ (xi).

The subject matter of this book makes for compelling reading. The work is structured in two parts: Part 1, ‘The World to Come’ and Part 2, ‘The Cure for What Ails Us’. Chapter Two, ‘Show Me the Way To Go Home’ is particularly useful, to help those who fear death, so that they can be comforted with the sure promise of the Christian’s future hope, ‘life on the new earth’ (43). Chapter Three ‘Set Your Minds’, could pastorally help us all, to become re-orientated upon the goal of our faith. This chapter emphasises the exhortation of Peter the apostle, to ‘set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 1:13).

There are two comments that can be made to perhaps improve the readability of this project. Firstly, I could not help but think that this book came across as a systematic theology of the doctrine of heaven. This is not wrong in itself, but the material could have been arranged differently. Secondly, the book would have been greatly enhanced if it had included a chapter which expounded the last two chapters of the Bible: Revelation Chapters 21 and 22. In this section of scripture we encounter the ‘heavenly air’ at it’s freshest.

Even if you do not read this book, may you be gripped anew with a vision of heaven,as John the apostle was, on the Isle of Patmos. ‘And I saw no temple in the city, for it’s temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and it’s lamp is the Lamb’ (Rev. 21:22-23).


Emma Sheffield said...

What book on heaven would you most recommend Kevin? I agree that it is a wonderful subject to spend time thinking about, nd would like to order a book as I have none on my bookshelf. Thanks, Emma

Kevin Bidwell said...


That is a very good question. A few titles come to mind.

1. 'Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell' by Edward Donnelly

2. 'Charity and It's Fruits' by Jonathan Edwards. In this book there is a sermon by Edwards called Heaven a World of Charity (Love). It is outstanding!

3. 'More than Conquerors' by William Hendriksen. This a commentary on the whole Book of Revelation and of course this includes chapters 21 and 22.

Additionally, we all as Christians should simply read the last two chapters of the Bible more often.

Since you are from Sheffield, you are most welcome to worship with us at some time at Sheffield Presbyterian Church ( and we value your prayer.

I hope this helps,

Kevin Bidwell

Emma Sheffield said...

Thanks Kevin, I have taken your advice and read the chapter in the jonathan Edwards book- the book was on kindle for only 70p! It is wonderful as you say, a great encouragement, and a real reminder not to lay down roots to far in this world, it is nothing compared to the world to come! Thanks for recommending it, I will turn back now and read the rest of the book, but I am sure that the chapter on heaven will become one of those that I love to turn to again and again.
I do pray for you guys at the Presbyterian church, and hopefully you'll be encouraged to hear that you are prayed for often at our prayer meetings. I go to Wycliffe currently, but never got to know you during your time there. God willing I will be part of the church plant going out to crystal peaks next year from Wycliffe, so please pray for us too, it is exciting but daunting too after many years in a large lovely church with many friends.
I enjoy the blog, always plenty to think about. God bless x