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Preparing for Heaven

What Dallas Willard Taught Me About Living, Dying, and Eternal Life

by Gary Black Jr.

In his acclaimed books, renowned writer, speaker, and philosophy professor Dallas Willard explored the nature of Christian life in God’s Kingdom. Yet one topic remained undisclosed: Willard’s understanding of heaven and eternal life. In the months before his death, Willard engaged in moving and insightful conversations about the meaning of life and the life to come with close friend and theologian Gary Black Jr. These inspiring dialogues were steeped in biblical theology as well as practical wisdom grounded in the here-and-now.

In Preparing for Heaven Black reveals not only Willard’s profound and liberating vision of life after death, he also deftly unpacks the implications these realities hold for our lives today. Black shows how Willard understood our mortal lives as preparation for what comes next — that death is not the end of one life and the beginning of another, but rather a transition through which we continue the transformational work begun on Earth. Informative, challenging, and poignant, Willard and Black’s conversations and insights challenge us to reconsider our beliefs — that perhaps the line separating the afterlife from this life is not as absolute as we think, and that there is work to be done both now and in the glorious life to come. As a result we will find that our faith is more vibrant — and eternal — than we have dared to imagine.



​“Black was a long-time student of Dallas Willard and also a close friend. As Dallas always insisted, a good death must be the end result of a life well lived. This book shows Dallas’ philosophy of life as an end in itself and as a means to dying well.”​
JP Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University and author of The Soul: How We Know Its Real and Why It Matters
“What happens to you when you die? Gary Black gives us a fresh chance to reflect on the teachings of the Scriptures, as well as on the words and life and ‘radiant death’ of his friend, Dallas Willard.”
John Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and author of All The Places To Go
“Preparing for Heaven is a powerfully formative and tender book that is intellectually and spiritually profound while also emotionally stirring. The discussions on the life to come will alter your present life and carry you to a hope and joy in Jesus that is palpable and transformative.”
Keith J. Matthews, Professor of Spiritual Formation and Leadership, Azusa Pacific Seminary
“If you wonder what heaven will be like, and especially if you wonder what your reaction might be the unmitigated presence of God…you need to read this book. Gary Black, Jr and his discussions with Dallas Willard are a sound guide for exploring the afterlife.”
Todd Hunter, author of Christianity Beyond Belief
“Dallas Willard taught a generation how to live well. Now his friend Gary Black, Jr. tells how Willard will teach another generation how best to enter eternity. I am profoundly grateful to Gary for telling this story so that we might learn to live and die in a Christlike manner.”
Scot McKnight, author of The King Jesus Gospel
“I’m grateful that Gary has been able to capture not only Dallas’s thoughts on Heaven but also his experiences as he first glimpsed its splendor and glory. As a result, we have a better vision of how we can prepare for life in the kingdom of heaven now and forevermore.”
Jane Willard, wife of Dallas Willard
“Preparing For Heaven is a beautiful account of friendship, a profound vision of afterlife, and a wise and inspiring guide for how we can and must live now, given that bright image of heaven.”
Shauna Niequist, author of Bread & Wine
“Gary Black Jr. challenges us to think of heaven as a present reality not just a future hope. Combining the insights of a scholar and the heart of a pastor, Black stirs the soul to imagine an eternal kind of life available right now.”
Mike Lueken, Pastor, Oak Hills Church
“Preparing for Heaven opens up new vistas in how we see God’s life for us. Our crabbiness and pettiness fade as we gaze wide-eyed into the ‘glorious riches’ of joining God in the cosmic plan of the renewal of all things.”
Jan Johnson, co-author of Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice and Hearing God through the Year
“Here, we are given a window into an unusual life, and death— reflecting on life and death in light of Willard’s years of philosophical and theological beliefs. It is Willard and Black’s gift to us, the master and his apprentice together, a conversation with consequences, for now and forever. ”
Steven Garber, The Washington Institute, and author, Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good

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