Editor’s Note: Today we’re beginning a new series, “Book Briefs,” to help you stock your reading pile with excellent, gospel-centered books. Tim Augustyn, our Pastor of Ministry Resources, reads a ton (you should see his bookshelves!) and will use this series to share a brief summary of titles he’s read, along with his favorite quotations from each. We hope “Book Briefs” will help and equip you!
Heaven, So Near – So Far Book Brief
Summary. At just over 100 pages, Heaven, So Near – So Far: The Story of Judas Iscariot (Christian Focus Publications) is short enough to read in one sitting. Author and Pastor Colin Smith faithfully and creatively tells the story of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, from a first-person perspective, so it reads like a novel.
Recommendation. I can’t think of a better book to put in your hands if you are looking for reasons to not walk away from your faith. It would also be a great book to give to a friend or family member who is in danger of walking away from Christ.
My Top 10 Quotes from Heaven, So Near – So Far
10. “I want you to know that I was neither a helpless victim nor a hideous monster. I was a person with hopes, dreams, doubts, fears, disappointments, and frustrations very much like you” (p. 10).
9. “I was ambitious. I had no interest in attaching myself to an obscure cause destined to failure. But I felt that, in Jesus, I had found a winner, and I became more determined than ever to find my way into his inner circle” (p. 21).
8. “Money is like fire: a good friend and a terrible enemy. Kept in its place, it has the power to sustain you, but when it takes control, it has the power to destroy you. Believe me: I know” (p. 40).
7. “The more you enter into sympathy with the enemies of Jesus, the less you have in common with his friends” (p. 64).
6. “It was as if Jesus were saying, “Do you really want to do this, Judas? I have already identified myself to these men. I am giving myself into their hands. Nothing will be gained by your act of treachery. Judas, don’t set yourself against me! Leave these men! Come under my protection! Step over the line right now and take your stand again with me, and with my disciples” (p. 80).
5. “That kiss was the most futile thing I ever did. I had thought of it as the centerpiece of my elaborate plan, but it accomplished nothing except to confirm my defection from being a follower of Jesus” (p. 82).
4. “As I listened to Pilate’s repeated assertion that Jesus had done nothing wrong, I wondered what had made me think I was right to betray him. To my surprise, no offense came to mind. I had betrayed him because his agenda did not align with mine” (p. 93).
3. “The last thing I remember was the sound of the branch to which I had tied the rope breaking. I fell into the darkness, and I feel that I have been falling ever since” (p. 97).
2. “The great irony of my existence here is that, though I cannot be happy in hell, I could not be happy in heaven either” (p. 100).
1. “The claims of Jesus are so exclusive and his demands so pervasive that if you do not give yourself to him completely, you will, in the end, give him up altogether. There is no middle ground” (p. 105).