on 10 February 2004
This book frankly amazed me. I was amazed at the price for such a small book; and even more surprised by Wilkinson’s central thesis, that what we do here on Earth affects how we are rewarded in Heaven. Having read the book, I felt I must write something, since this book seems to have basked in nothing but positive reviews – which are simply misleading. I know this is popular teaching in the US – less so in the UK. Why write a theological book when you can get to the top of the NY Times Bestsellers list?
Wilkinson organises the book around two “keys”. The first key is belief (chapters seven onwards), and the second is how our works affect our repayment in Heaven (chapters one to six).
The author presents a number of interesting concepts – such as the idea of property ownership in Heaven:
“What is surprising is what Jesus promises a faithful steward of His treasure. It is not, as you might expect, that you’ll steward more treasure in Heaven, but that you will own it.” (p. 86)
Wilkinson’s argument rests upon the verse in Matthew 6: 19-20:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal…”
The problem some might have with this verse is Wilkinson’s literal interpretation of it. Surely the treasure in Heaven is to be able to worship God continually. Without evangelism…?
There are a number of other ideas, which are cause for concern.
For example, in ‘Hell by Degrees’ (p.97), the author ‘demonstrates’ how eternal punishment is related to how bad we have been on Earth. However, I think for me, Wilkinson’s understanding of Hell is woefully inadequate. How would his argument stand up if we begin to conceptualise hell as simply being the eternal absence of God? What worse punishment could there be than that? Would Wilkinson modify his argument along the lines of Very bad=No access to God, Just a bit bad=some access to God? It is submitted that that just does not hold water.
Tough questions such as: “will directing your giving to a high-profile civic fund please Him as much as giving it top your church’s missions fund?” (p.88), miss the mark, and do little to encourage social action.
But then, not completely unexpectedly, Wilkinson seems to spot the problem with his argument, and adds that belief fills the gaps that our good works miss. A bit like Tort fills the gaps in contract. Since, “no amount of good works can save us” (p.97).
So where are we left at the end of the book? Well, I was confused by Wilkinson’s contradictions. I understand the points he sought to make, but the Bible verses and other quotations were shoehorned in, as if to prove his points. God’s grace is almost completely overlooked – something find rather odd. This book comes in no less than seven different English-language editions. Why? It’s more of a door wedge than a doorstop.
Wilkinson’s focus is on Heaven being the goal. I would argue that God’s glory is the goal – Heaven’s the bonus.
on 25 November 2003
This little book if full of morsels of truth, that will give you much food for thought, and inspire you to make the very most of your talents, every day of your life.
Dr. Wilkinson has a way of putting wisdom and principles for a life that pleases the Lord into words that make them immediate and so easy to grasp.
No matter how familiar I am with the subjects he writes about, I always get startling clarity on something vital that I had not noticed before. There is also much insight given into the many parables of Jesus, which is most helpful.
In Chapter # 1, "Keyhole to the Stars", the first subjects mentioned are the two keys that indicate the "where and how" of our Final Destination; the first is belief, and the second is behavior.
The following five chapters deal with the behavior part, and are about the purpose of life, and how our choices and "works" are so important, what is meant by "repayment" for works done, those opportunities for good actions that we might have passed by, and much more. Also discussed are our motives, and how well we steward what God has given us.
Chapter 7 brings us back to the essential key of belief, and the final chapter ends with a pledge of allegiance as a "citizen of heaven"; the last six pages have quotes from Christian leaders, from Augustine to John Wesley, on the subject of eternal rewards.
Dr. Wilkinson gives us all a challenge, "…to see your true calling today and to seize the opportunity that is right in front of you. Don't waste another day living for less".
on 5 December 2003
I remember when I first learned that good works would not get me into heaven -- that the only way to heaven was accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Immediately a question popped into my head. If accepting Jesus is the only way into heaven, and I have that taken care of, why not just coast for the rest of my life? After all, if good works won't get me into heaven, then how important could they really be? This book has the answer -- very!
Backing everything up with scripture and quotes from the likes of Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, C.S. Lewis, Charles Swindoll, Charles Stanley and Billy Graham, Wilkinson explains that our behavior doesn't determine where we will spend eternity, but it definitely determines how we will spend eternity. He assembles a solid case to show that our eternal reward is determined by how well we manage our lives.
Would you approach life differently if you knew that everything you did ultimately mattered? Would you live a richer life as a result? Would you be a blessing to more people? If you are looking to live a life worthy of reward, pick up this book and get excited about the possibilities. Life will take on a whole new meaning.
Larry Hehn, author of Get the Prize: Nine Keys for a Life of Victory