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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Heaven is Now" (Andrew Farley)

TITLE: Heaven Is Now: Awakening Your Five Spiritual Senses to the Wonders of Grace
AUTHOR: Andrew Farley
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012, (224 pages).

If there are two words to describe this book, it will be the words, "already done." Farley states the promise of heaven and the kingdom not as some distant future entity, but in the present now. We simply need to wake up. Feel the kingdom within. Be attentive to the Spirit. Be convicted of the work of Christ, the witness of the Spirit, the experience of God's grace, and the goodness of the Lord. In a nutshell, the author proposes the five senses as follows:

  1. Feel the freedom of God's grace
  2. Hear the Spirit bearing witness
  3. See the finished work of Jesus
  4. Smell the fragrant aroma of Christ
  5. Taste the goodness of the Lord.
The first sense is to FEEL the freedom of living in grace. This is the antithesis of being enslaved by the duty to law. As long as we practice the law, we will be frustrated about not being able to perfectly keep it. Be freed from the focus on the law toward the presence of grace in Jesus. This freedom is the way to grow toward heaven. Under the law, there will be more struggling and more sinning. Under grace, it will be more living. We are already able to experience and feel this freedom.

The second sense is to HEAR the Spirit of God bearing witness on our behalf. We need to stop hearing the deceiving voice of the devil, and start listening to the truth of God's redemption, and our spiritual rebirth in Jesus' image. Sometimes it is hard to discern which voice is of the flesh, and which is of the Spirit, which is why we need the Spirit's help. We are already able to listen to the Spirit because the Spirit of God is in us.

The third sense is to SEE the truth of Christ's work, that we have been cleansed by the blood of Christ already. Instead of rushing around in the future tense of Christ's work, we need to be reminded that Christ has already completed what is needed.

"We are not people who can be forgiven or might be forgiven or will be forgiven. We are forgiven people, forever:" (111)

The fourth sense is to SMELL the fragrance of God to experience life, not religion, his divinity in our humanity, knowing and understanding that God meets all of our needs. This is possible because God is already present with us.

The fifth sense is to TASTE the goodness of God that we do not need to worry about searching for God, because we already have God among us. God's will has already been revealed in the Word.

My Comments

The cover of the book is telling. By showing the peeling of the front cover to reveal heaven, it is a visual image of what the five senses of grace can essentially uncover. Each sense is used to uncover a certain aspect of living heaven here on earth. The operative word is "awaken" our senses to embrace the reality of heaven now. The affirmative word is "already" where we live our Christian lives from the position of "done," "victory already" and "new beginning." Grace is all around us for us to experience with our heart, hear with our ears, see with our eyes, smell with our noses, and taste with our tongues. The most encouraging message to take home is to recognize the perfect work God has done for us, the ever presence of God being with us, and the promise that God will help us. Always. The work of grace is already done. All we need to do is to be awakened and embrace the wonders of grace.

I find the prayers in every chapter under "Heaven Speaks" very enlightening. Printed in light blue, it is followed by a personal response that readers can adopt. There are many Bible references for the interested reader to research and to meditate more on. At the end of the book, the discussion questions allow readers to work through the book in groups. The strongest part of the book is the way Farley is able to hone in the five senses with Bible references on pages 213-5.

As I read this book, I am reminded of a book published back in 1996 that promotes quite a similar idea. Tim Dearborn's Taste and See also deals with awakening our spiritual senses toward loving God. Dearborn's book focuses on knowing and loving God. Farley's version offers an opportunity to realize the grace that has been given to us. Dearborn is focused on spirituality. Farley is focused on Christian living, especially victorious Christian living. Dearborn's work is supplemented by deeper research while Farley's book contains minimal references to other works. Personally, I prefer Dearborn's version for it provides a better bridge from our human senses to the practice of spirituality. Having said that, Farley can be commended for writing this book that is encouraging and empowering for the layperson.

Rating: 3.75 stars of 5.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

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