A Note to the Reader
I wrote this book because I want you to see that Jesus Christ is of supreme value, and that following Him is worth any cost.
My prayer is that, whatever your failures, disappointments, or unanswered questions, you will come to a place of saying, “I cannot and will not give up on Jesus Christ.”
Peter, who denied Jesus, and Judas, who betrayed Him, both hit a low point in their lives when it looked as if they were done with Jesus forever. Yet these men responded in very different ways. Judas separated from the other disciples and gave up on faith in Christ completely. Peter chose a different and a better path. Though he had denied the Lord, he rejoined the other disciples. Christ restored Peter and gave him a new purpose in life for which he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. And the fruit of Peter’s restored life was incalculable.
The tragedy of Judas is that he could have received the same grace and restoration as Peter. Christ forgives the sin of all who come to Him. But rather than returning to Jesus, Judas gave up on Him.
Friend, if you are struggling with the faith you once professed, or if you are hanging on but feel you lack the strength to continue, I pray that your future path will be like Peter’s and not like Judas’. Christ rose. The tomb is empty. And that means that the future belongs to Him.
Colin S. Smith
I came as close to heaven as a person can be, without getting in. For three years, I followed Jesus Christ and devoted myself to ministry. I was in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm. I served the bread and fish when He fed five thousand people. As an apostle, I was sent out to preach the gospel, I cast out demons, and I called people to repentance. But today, despite all that I did as a follower of Jesus, I am languishing in hell.
Down here, we are all familiar with the story of the thief on the cross, to whom Jesus said, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” He was on the brink of hell, but ended up in heaven. My story is different. I was at the gates of heaven, but ended up in hell. I was the disciple who betrayed Jesus.
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. When I abandoned my faith, I felt that I had good reasons for doing so, though now, I live with perpetual regret.
In telling my story, I seek neither your pity nor your praise. I write only to describe the path by which I came to this abyss, having spent the best years of my life as a disciple of Jesus.
This is an extract from Heaven, So Near – So Far by Colin S. Smith.