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In this accessible, inspiring book, author John Ortberg contrasts two ways of thinking about Jesus’ gospel. In one version, people are concerned only about meeting the criteria and getting into heaven. In the other view, “the gospel announces the availability of life under God’s reign and power now. It’s about ‘up there’ coming ‘down here.’ By grace. Through Jesus. Transcending death. To all who will. For the sake of the world.” Relying extensively on the writing and thoughts of author Dallas Willard, Ortberg spells out how he thinks the latter view accurately reflects Scripture.

As a child, Ortberg learned to pray that God would get Christians out of the messes of this earth (the “Beam me up, Scotty” prayer). But when he realized what Jesus taught his disciples to pray (“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”), he began to understand that God wanted to establish his kingdom here. That is good news, he asserts. But, he asks, “Do you really believe it can happen? Do you really believe that the Kingdom of God can be established on this earth, starting with you?”

Ortberg spells out four stages Christians navigate—not in a linear fashion from beginning to end, but fluidly—on the journey to becoming and being Jesus’ disciples: awakening (becoming aware of God everywhere); purgation (asking for forgiveness, showing remorse, and changing behavior); illumination (living with a new map for life); and union (realizing we are never alone and that without Christ, we can do nothing).

Eternity Is Now in Session is a useful resource for both personal and small group study. Participants’ guides along with a DVD are available separately. (Tyndale Momentum)

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