A Book on Heaven That Doesn’t Speculate

heaven_cover“Dan Barber and Robert Peterson’s Life Everlasting is clear, timely, and important. It is biblical, too, both in content and in structure, as it refrains from speculation and highlights the Bible’s own key themes of heaven.”

That endorsement by Chris Morgan sums up this book well:

Dan C. Barber and Robert A. Peterson. Life Everlasting: The Unfolding Story of Heaven. Explorations in Biblical Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2012.

  • 238 pp.
  • 19-page PDF available here (includes the table of contents)
  • Endorsements by Darrin Patrick, Sam Storms, Stephen Wellum, Stephen Nichols, and others

The authors give a road map to the book:

We will treat five major biblical pictures or themes that portray heaven’s final state. Why did we choose these themes from among the many in Scripture? Because we find them compelling and encompassing of some of the others. We will trace each picture from Genesis to Revelation and will devote ten chapters to this task. We will allot two chapters apiece to each of the pictures:

  1. creation,
  2. rest,
  3. kingdom,
  4. presence, and
  5. glory.

The first chapter devoted to each picture will describe it in terms of creation, fall, and redemption. And the following chapter will describe that same picture in terms of the restoration. (p. 13, formatting added)

The book focuses on major biblical themes, but it also includes an appendix that answers fifteen “Frequently Asked Questions about Heaven” (pp. 197–212). (Some of the answers refer to sections of the book that answer the question.)

  1. What Common Questions about Heaven Does Scripture Not Answer?
  2. What Happens When Believers Die?
  3. What about Purgatory?
  4. Should People Talk to the Dead?
  5. What about Near-Death Experiences?
  6. What Are the Crowns That Believers Receive in Heaven?
  7. Are There Levels in Heaven according to Rewards?
  8. Will We Be All-Knowing in Heaven?
  9. Will the Current Earth Be Completely Destroyed and a Brand-New Earth Created?
  10. Will We Recognize Others in Heaven?
  11. Will We Be Married and Enjoy Sex in Heaven?
  12. What Kind of Bodies Will We Have in Heaven?
  13. What Happens to Babies Who Die?
  14. Will There Be Sorrow in Heaven over Those in Hell?
  15. Will Everyone Go to Heaven?

For example, they answer Q11 on pp. 43–46, partly by quoting C. S. Lewis (p. 45):

C. S. Lewis helps us to understand that there is pleasure that is more enjoyable than sex and an intimacy deeper than the union of husband and wife:

Our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure[,] should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer “No,” he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason lovers in their carnal raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it. [Note: C. S. Lewis, Miracles  (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 261–62.]


  1. Mike Wittmer says

    I’ll have to read the book first, so this is probably an uninformed comment, but I wish they would say “new heaven and new earth” or “new creation” or even “new earth” rather than heaven, as to my knowledge Scripture doesn’t use “heaven” as the term for our final home. For instance, who cares if we’ll have bodies in heaven? We know we’ll have them on the new earth after our resurrection, and that’s what Scripture cares about most.

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