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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