Here is a short book to read and give away to a non-Christian friend or acquaintance. Written in the first person, it tells the story of Good Friday from the perspective of the crucified criminal who ask the Lord Jesus to remember him. With a biblically informed imagination, Colin Smith recounts the way this guilty crucified criminal went from condemned cell, via the agony of crucifixion, to the joy of heaven with the Lord Jesus. He imagines the criminal looking back on that last day from the perspective of the eternal security of heaven. He speaks as an eyewitness of the sufferings of Jesus; one who heard His words spoken from the cross. What unfolds is a story of amazing grace. Here was a man with nothing to commend him; with no time to turn over a new leaf; with no record of a new start. He simply turned to the Lord Jesus and asked for mercy. What a demonstration of the truth that whoever comes to Jesus will never be driven away!
This is a book to buy, read and give away. I know of one believer who on reading this book ordered ten and quickly found opportunities to give them away to others, including to his barber. Here in Enfield we have bought a pile and are urging folk to read it before Easter with a view to then passing it on to a friend. Go for it!
Jonathan Prime, Pastoral Ministries Director, Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches
Colin S. Smith brings the thief on the cross to life in the 96- page novella Heaven, How I Got Here. He writes imaginatively from the thief's perspective while dealing respectfully with the biblical account. For instance, he doesn't invent words to put in Jesus mind or mouth. Instead, as we follow the thief through his last day on earth- from eating his breakfast, to carrying his cross, to finally breathing his last- Smith shares poignant reflections on law, justice, faith, and forgiveness. Through it all, he continually brings our attention back to Christ's work on the cross and His offer of salvation to all who believe.
Christians looking for a book to savor on the beach, share with graduates, or challenge unbelieving friends will want to take note.
Somewhere in the midst of these pages you discover that you're not simply in the cast; you are center stage, eyeball to eyeball with God himself. And what happens when that realization hits has power to change your life forever.
Christopher Castaldo, Lead Pastor, New Covenant Church, Naperville, Illinois
I've never read anything like this! This compelling first-person account from a heavenly perspective helped me understand and appreciate what Jesus endured on the cross and why he did it.
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition and author of "Blind Spots"
...fuses together profound theology, historical veracity and gospel integrity with a vivid and dramatic writing style which is compelling on every page. This book is genre defying.
David Meredith, Mission Director, Free Church of Scotland, Inverness
...brilliant idea beautifully executed...combines pastoral wisdom and narrative skill to help us get inside the heart and mind of the thief on the cross, crucified next to the Christ on Calvary.
Justin Taylor, Executive vice president, Crossway Books and blogger, "Between Two Worlds", Wheaton, Illinois
How I wish that every skeptic and every believer would read this book!
Erwin Lutzer, Senior Pastor, Moody Church, Chicago, Illinois
Colin Smith takes a fresh approach to a sometimes troubling topic. Instead of describing heavenly details like the people you'll meet, the things you'll do, or the appearance of the Holy Spirit, Smith writes from the heavenly vantage point of the person closest to Jesus as he died on the cross: the thief at his side who would come to believe... I was gripped by the thief's play-by-play of the passion story as it unfolded, and how he came to see the gospel implications of Jesus's actions toward those around-toward his executors, toward his mother, and toward the thief himself. Heaven, How I Got Here oozes gospel truth.
Its accessible format makes it easy to give away and even read in one sitting. Pastors would be wise to have a few on hand to give to seekers, those struggling with assurance, and those needing a deeper and more personal look at the good news.
If you are looking to deepen your understanding of God's cross-shaped love and to share it with others, I can't help but warmly commend Heaven, How I Got Here.
The Gospel Coalition
Here is a gripping account of God's amazing grace that comes alive as recounted from this unusual and really helpful perspective.
Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
This book takes the story of the thief on the cross and tells it from his point of view. He describes his last day on earth. In a lively, clear and readable way huge doctrines of scripture are explained: sin, repentance, faith, redemption, justification, substitutionary atonement, propitiation, heaven and hell. All are wonderfully unpacked from the point of view of a man who starts the day in the kingdom of darkness and ends it in the kingdom of light.
This book would be great, and different, to give to an interested non-Christian. But it makes an inspiring and stimulating read for any believer also, enabling the redeemed to ponder anew the glory and the shame of the cross.
Short on words; long on truth.