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Heaven Taken by Storm: Showing the Holy Violence a Christian Is to Put Forth in the Pursuit After Glory

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Many today believe that the Christian life is rather easy to both obtain and live. But the Puritans saw it as warfare, as wrestling, as “holy violence,” to use their term. The Apostle Paul spoke of beating his own body into subjection. And this holy violence is to be brought not only against one’s self, but against Satan, the world, and heaven too. And in this confrontatio Many today believe that the Christian life is rather easy to both obtain and live. But the Puritans saw it as warfare, as wrestling, as “holy violence,” to use their term. The Apostle Paul spoke of beating his own body into subjection. And this holy violence is to be brought not only against one’s self, but against Satan, the world, and heaven too. And in this confrontation, we must use the weapons God has given us—reading the Word, hearing the Word, prayer, meditation, self-examination, and the due observance of the Lord’s Day. The writings of Thomas Watson, replete with sound doctrine, practical wisdom, and heart-searching application, need no introduction to readers of the Puritans. His profound spirituality, terse style, gripping remarks, practical illustrations, and beauty of expression make him one of the most irresistible, quotable, and devotional of all the Puritans. Heaven Taken By Storm is a precious little volume of practical Christian living.


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Many today believe that the Christian life is rather easy to both obtain and live. But the Puritans saw it as warfare, as wrestling, as “holy violence,” to use their term. The Apostle Paul spoke of beating his own body into subjection. And this holy violence is to be brought not only against one’s self, but against Satan, the world, and heaven too. And in this confrontatio Many today believe that the Christian life is rather easy to both obtain and live. But the Puritans saw it as warfare, as wrestling, as “holy violence,” to use their term. The Apostle Paul spoke of beating his own body into subjection. And this holy violence is to be brought not only against one’s self, but against Satan, the world, and heaven too. And in this confrontation, we must use the weapons God has given us—reading the Word, hearing the Word, prayer, meditation, self-examination, and the due observance of the Lord’s Day. The writings of Thomas Watson, replete with sound doctrine, practical wisdom, and heart-searching application, need no introduction to readers of the Puritans. His profound spirituality, terse style, gripping remarks, practical illustrations, and beauty of expression make him one of the most irresistible, quotable, and devotional of all the Puritans. Heaven Taken By Storm is a precious little volume of practical Christian living.

30 review for Heaven Taken by Storm: Showing the Holy Violence a Christian Is to Put Forth in the Pursuit After Glory

  1. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Watson is by far and away my favorite Puritan writer. This book is crammed full of pithy wisdom and evangelical fervor.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Suzannah

    This was really good. Thomas Watson is renowned as a particularly gifted writer, and the imagery in this book was beautiful. I found this book both convicting and encouraging. His thesis boils down to this: that the Christian is called to be strenuous in his pursuit of holiness. Refreshingly, Watson's strenuousness includes a strenuousness of the affections: against the tendency in the reformed church today to despise emotion and elevate reason, Watson encourages us to love the Lord our God with This was really good. Thomas Watson is renowned as a particularly gifted writer, and the imagery in this book was beautiful. I found this book both convicting and encouraging. His thesis boils down to this: that the Christian is called to be strenuous in his pursuit of holiness. Refreshingly, Watson's strenuousness includes a strenuousness of the affections: against the tendency in the reformed church today to despise emotion and elevate reason, Watson encourages us to love the Lord our God with all our faculties, reason and emotion. I had some reservations about this book. Watson seems to fall prey to that strand of Christian thinking that calls Christians to disengage themselves from the world of physical things - wealth, labour, food - in order to better fit themselves for the next. Granted, this strand has a long history in the church, but I think it's still an error. Watson uses "the world" to mean the material goods with which God has endowed his creation, but I think that "the world" as used by the apostles does not refer to material goods but to spiritual evils. When Christ said, "If ye were of the the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you" - he could not possibly have been speaking of inanimate objects with no moral volition. He had to be speaking of the "children of disobedience", the "crooked and perverse generation" - the people ruled by the spirit of the world, not the material goods of the world. It is "the world" as a moral, responsible agent that the Scriptures warn against, and not "the world" as the physical realm. Nevertheless, four stars, and I'll certainly be reading more of Watson.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Phillips

    Not Watson's best, but that still means that it's quite good. Watson challenges the modern concept that the journey to heaven is a lackadaisical stroll, showing that is rather a matter of holy warfare. We are to take heaven by storm by zealously using the means and following hard after Christ. We are also to use holy violence against the world, the flesh, and the devil. The RHB edition which I read also included 2 sermons as appendices. They were 1) The Happiness of Drawing Near to God and 2) How Not Watson's best, but that still means that it's quite good. Watson challenges the modern concept that the journey to heaven is a lackadaisical stroll, showing that is rather a matter of holy warfare. We are to take heaven by storm by zealously using the means and following hard after Christ. We are also to use holy violence against the world, the flesh, and the devil. The RHB edition which I read also included 2 sermons as appendices. They were 1) The Happiness of Drawing Near to God and 2) How to Read the Scriptures For the Most Spiritual Profit. Very good.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Pippin

    Excellent. Written as only a Puritan could write.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tori Samar

    If not for the seventeenth-century writing style, I would be convinced that this book must have been written during my lifetime. That's how relevant it is to twenty-first century Christians. Just as in Watson's day, we are so zealous to follow after earthly and worldly pursuits but find it so challenging to exert this same zeal for God and eternity. This is not a book espousing salvation by works. Watson makes it clear that Christ is the one who saves. But this truth doesn't negate the fact that If not for the seventeenth-century writing style, I would be convinced that this book must have been written during my lifetime. That's how relevant it is to twenty-first century Christians. Just as in Watson's day, we are so zealous to follow after earthly and worldly pursuits but find it so challenging to exert this same zeal for God and eternity. This is not a book espousing salvation by works. Watson makes it clear that Christ is the one who saves. But this truth doesn't negate the fact that the Bible places demands on believers to run the race, fight, press toward the mark, take up the cross, follow, etc. Watson sums it up well: "[O]thers say, Christ has died for sinners; and so they leave him to do all for them and they will do nothing." Today, we would call that "Let go and let God." The fact is, we as Christians are expected to strive, to work, to be holy. We do those things, with the power of the Holy Spirit (Watson makes this point explicitly clear as well!). Watson wants each of us always to be active in God's service, to be zealous, to have our affections fixed solely on eternal things. Reading this book did not discourage me regarding how much effort the Christian life demands; rather, it impressed upon me my responsibility to serve God in the power of the Holy Spirit. My pastor has a saying he likes to remind us of often, and I think it fits perfectly with the message of this book: "Work like it all depends on you, and pray and have faith like it all depends upon God." A great book to read at the start of another year of service for God!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Smith

    This book will get anyone pumped up about living out his faith. It is a very practical look concerning why our hearts resist God and His gracious gifts to us. It also paints a healthy picture of what Christians have ahead of us on the path to glory, namely the hope of the rewards of heaven and the persecutions of the world. Watson stresses that the reward of heaven far outweighs the pain or persecution of this temporal and transient world, therefore we should strive all the more for that gloriou This book will get anyone pumped up about living out his faith. It is a very practical look concerning why our hearts resist God and His gracious gifts to us. It also paints a healthy picture of what Christians have ahead of us on the path to glory, namely the hope of the rewards of heaven and the persecutions of the world. Watson stresses that the reward of heaven far outweighs the pain or persecution of this temporal and transient world, therefore we should strive all the more for that glorious prize. He criticizes those who are lazy in their faith, while encouraging them to be invigorated once again, as they were when they first heard the good news of Jesus Christ. This is a book that will stir up your heart and make you yearn to seek the Lord with all your heart.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matt Crawford

    Like many of the works of Thomas Watson (in my opinion a far under appreciated Puritan), this is a short and simple read. It shows that though God has providentially provided all we need, man. Is not without his own responsibility. Watson tells that humanity cannot go on in lawlessness. The language of violence talks about the seriousness that we must take our faith, but which u fortunately not many do. Each point rests on several biblical examples. Surely, Watson is an example to be emulated by Like many of the works of Thomas Watson (in my opinion a far under appreciated Puritan), this is a short and simple read. It shows that though God has providentially provided all we need, man. Is not without his own responsibility. Watson tells that humanity cannot go on in lawlessness. The language of violence talks about the seriousness that we must take our faith, but which u fortunately not many do. Each point rests on several biblical examples. Surely, Watson is an example to be emulated by today’s lackluster pastors.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    For those who think the Christian life is easy, this book is a good antidote. Christ's yoke is easy, but He also calls us to plucking out right eyes and cutting off right hands. Few works written recently treat the Christian life with the seriousness that it deserves. This work by an old English Puritan does so. Let us take advantage of it. For those who think the Christian life is easy, this book is a good antidote. Christ's yoke is easy, but He also calls us to plucking out right eyes and cutting off right hands. Few works written recently treat the Christian life with the seriousness that it deserves. This work by an old English Puritan does so. Let us take advantage of it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    Though I would not have phrased the headings in the way that Thomas Watson did, his points are no less valid, and his insights are absolutely brilliant in places. You will not be able to come away from reading this book without a more profound appreciation for what it means to undergo the process of sanctification.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Creed Galbraith

    Watson never ceases to be used by the Lord as a tool to bring conviction and drive me to my knees in repentance. Heaven taken by storm means we are to take up or cross and the sword of His word and get violent with our sin! The battle has already been proclaimed victorious, participate and receive the reward of eternal life with Christ in Heaven!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chip Tudor

    In this book Watson shares profound insights related to the Christian faith. You'll need an alert mind when reading it, because he is a deep thinker. But he shares many spiritual insights that will make you evaluate your own walk with Christ. In this book Watson shares profound insights related to the Christian faith. You'll need an alert mind when reading it, because he is a deep thinker. But he shares many spiritual insights that will make you evaluate your own walk with Christ.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric Honsberger

    Excellent. Hard and helpful. I will come back to this one.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Horn

    Thomas Watson is my favorite Puritan writer (at least thus far in my reading.) His books are always convicting, and this one is no exception. It is an eloquent call to a living Christianity, full of life and zeal and holy warfare.  I'll just conclude by including with the section of the book that stood out to me the most, the beginning of the chapter, "Use of Examinations": "1. Do we strive with our hearts to get them into a holy frame? How did David awaken all the powers of his soul to serve God, Thomas Watson is my favorite Puritan writer (at least thus far in my reading.) His books are always convicting, and this one is no exception. It is an eloquent call to a living Christianity, full of life and zeal and holy warfare.  I'll just conclude by including with the section of the book that stood out to me the most, the beginning of the chapter, "Use of Examinations": "1. Do we strive with our hearts to get them into a holy frame? How did David awaken all the powers of his soul to serve God, Psalm 87:6. "I myself will awake early." 2. Do we set time apart to call ourselves to account, and to try our evidences for Heaven? Psalm lxxxvii. 6. "My spirit made diligent search." Do we take our hearts as a watch all in pieces, to see what is amiss and to mend it? Are we meticulously inquisitive into the state of our souls? Are we afraid of artificial grace, as of artificial happiness? 3. Do we use violence in prayer? Is there fire in our sacrifice? Does the wind of the Spirit, filling our sails, cause "groans unutterable?" Romans viii. 25. Do we pray in the morning as if we were to die at night? 4. Do we thirst for the living God? Are our souls big with holy desires? Psalm lxxiii. 25. "There is none upon earth that I desire beside you." Do were desire holiness as well as Heaven? Do we desire as much to look like Christ, as to live with Christ? Is our desire constant? Is this spiritual pulse always beating? 5. Are we skilled in self-denial? Can we deny our ease, our aims, our interest? Can we cross our own will to fulfill God's? Can we behead our beloved sin? To pluck out the right eye requires violence. 6. Are we lovers of God? It is not how much we do—but how much we love. Does love command the castle of our hearts? Does Christ's beauty and sweetness constrain us? 2 Cor. v. 14. Do we love God more than we fear hell? 7. Do we keep our spiritual watch? Do we set spies in every place, watching our thoughts, our eyes, our tongues? When we have prayed against sin, do we watch against temptation? The Jews, having sealed the stone of Christ's sepulcher, 'set a watch," Matt. xxvii. 66. After we have been at the Word, do we set a watch? 8. Do we press after further degrees of sanctity? Phil iii. 13. "Reaching forth unto those things which are before." A godly Christian is a wonder; he is the most contented yet the least satisfied: he is contented with a little of the world—but not satisfied with a little grace; he would have still more faith and be anointed with fresh oil. Paul desired to "attain unto the resurrection of the dead," Phil. iii. 11, that is, he endeavored (if possible) to arrive at such a measure of grace as the saints shall have at the resurrection. 9. Is there a holy emulation in us? Do we labor to out-shine others in piety? To be more eminent for love and good works? Do we something which is singular? Matt. v. 47. "What do you do, more than others?" 10. Are we got above the world? Though we walk on earth, do we trade in Heaven? Can we say as David? Psalm cxxxxix. 17. "I am still with you." This requires violence; for motions upward are usually violent. 11. Do we set ourselves always under God's eye? Psalm xvi. 8. "I have set the Lord always before me." Do we live soberly and godly, remembering that whatever we are doing our Judge looks on?"

  14. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Radford

    This was the first book of Watson’s that I’ve read and thought it was an excellent call to arms for all believers, especially those struggling in understanding the doctrine of sanctification and our duty in becoming like Christ through various means of grace; prayer, meditation, knowledge of Scripture, etc. “Could God find time to think of your salvation? Could Jesus Christ find time to come into the world and be here more than thirty years in carrying in this great design of your redemption, an This was the first book of Watson’s that I’ve read and thought it was an excellent call to arms for all believers, especially those struggling in understanding the doctrine of sanctification and our duty in becoming like Christ through various means of grace; prayer, meditation, knowledge of Scripture, etc. “Could God find time to think of your salvation? Could Jesus Christ find time to come into the world and be here more than thirty years in carrying in this great design of your redemption, and can you find no time to look after it? Is the getting a little money that which obstructs this violence for heaven? Your money will perish with you.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joe Koehler

    Lots of gems in this small book. Watson aims to stir up readers to "offer violence" against Satan, the world, and the flesh. I take this to be synonymous with "spiritual warfare." Watson takes this phrase from Matt 11:12 - that heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. Some scholars disagree with Watson's interpretation of the text, rather applying the violence on the kingdom of heaven to those who opposed John and Jesus (like the Pharisees). However you land in the interpr Lots of gems in this small book. Watson aims to stir up readers to "offer violence" against Satan, the world, and the flesh. I take this to be synonymous with "spiritual warfare." Watson takes this phrase from Matt 11:12 - that heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. Some scholars disagree with Watson's interpretation of the text, rather applying the violence on the kingdom of heaven to those who opposed John and Jesus (like the Pharisees). However you land in the interpretation of this particular text, the exposition on the topic of spiritual warfare is still valuable. "Our life [as Christians] is military"

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ronnie Nichols

    I do enjoy Thomas Watson's writings. Heaven Taken By Storm is a great devotional and reminder that the Christian that has faith without works has a dead faith. Written back when "Lordship salvation" was still the only salvation there was, most in our modern evangelical assemblies would do themselves a favor by reading this reminder to walk out your salvation with fear and trembling. This booklet is not at all technical but presents the reader with clear and overwhelming biblical citing's to remi I do enjoy Thomas Watson's writings. Heaven Taken By Storm is a great devotional and reminder that the Christian that has faith without works has a dead faith. Written back when "Lordship salvation" was still the only salvation there was, most in our modern evangelical assemblies would do themselves a favor by reading this reminder to walk out your salvation with fear and trembling. This booklet is not at all technical but presents the reader with clear and overwhelming biblical citing's to remind us that faith that is alive is a working faith. Sound. Solid!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    Great and classic little book on the spiritual disciplines. Very convicting! Watson has a knack for this! It's more of an introduction though than a how to, and so not a ton of practical stuff on how to implement each discipline specifically. Extremely good introductory book to both the spiritual disciplines, and the puritans! The exhortations at the end of the book go deep and aren't for the faint of heart! Great and classic little book on the spiritual disciplines. Very convicting! Watson has a knack for this! It's more of an introduction though than a how to, and so not a ton of practical stuff on how to implement each discipline specifically. Extremely good introductory book to both the spiritual disciplines, and the puritans! The exhortations at the end of the book go deep and aren't for the faint of heart!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Challenging, yet encouraging One can claim to be a follower of Jesus and just mosey through life. Boston makes clear that a true follower of Jesus will fight through life to lay claim to their calling. This could be seen as a Puritan version of "Radical", because it challenges the notion of comfortable Christianity. In his typical style, Boston exegetes passages to find gold and the pastorally applies them to encourage the believer. Challenging, yet encouraging One can claim to be a follower of Jesus and just mosey through life. Boston makes clear that a true follower of Jesus will fight through life to lay claim to their calling. This could be seen as a Puritan version of "Radical", because it challenges the notion of comfortable Christianity. In his typical style, Boston exegetes passages to find gold and the pastorally applies them to encourage the believer.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Casey Blackbird

    This is a fantastic book, worth the time of any Christian who wonders about how the Christian life should be lived. I would warn you, though, this is a terrible printing of the book. Do not purchase this copy, go to Reformation Heritage and purchase their copy. It’s hard reading as it is, and the poor publishing quality makes it even harder.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cole Newton

    I enjoyed this book so much that I read it together with several church members and recorded some of my thoughts over a chapter or two each week, which you can find here: https://bcnewton.co/teachings/heaven-... It is a powerful and short read, and a wonderful first step into the rich writings of the Puritans! I enjoyed this book so much that I read it together with several church members and recorded some of my thoughts over a chapter or two each week, which you can find here: https://bcnewton.co/teachings/heaven-... It is a powerful and short read, and a wonderful first step into the rich writings of the Puritans!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    second time reading this book. I can guarantee it will be read again. will be put on my repete shelf

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This quickly became my favorite book on the Christian life and if asked for book recommendations, this is my first suggestion. This will be a perineal read for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    (I listened to this on audiobook.)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michaël St-Amour

    Watson undeniably have an incredible feather. This work show the Puritan zeal, piety and wisdom as well as their love for God.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Hill

    This book is actually really lively and helpful. 3 stars reflects one main thing: Matthew 11:12 is not about what Watson's book is about and that matters a lot. I do recommend this book but with that caution. This book is actually really lively and helpful. 3 stars reflects one main thing: Matthew 11:12 is not about what Watson's book is about and that matters a lot. I do recommend this book but with that caution.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Sultze

    Wow, this is a must read. It is challenging to the Christian's soul but in the end will prove to bring great delight to those who want to put forth violence in their pursuit after glory. As Watson describes, this violence is holy violence for the truth and violence offered for one's own salvation. His application of Matthew 11:12 will encourage you and admonish you as you seek to live for Christ. Wow, this is a must read. It is challenging to the Christian's soul but in the end will prove to bring great delight to those who want to put forth violence in their pursuit after glory. As Watson describes, this violence is holy violence for the truth and violence offered for one's own salvation. His application of Matthew 11:12 will encourage you and admonish you as you seek to live for Christ.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brian Nicks

    Wow! This book is basically a 100 page sermon on Matthew 11:12. In typical Puritan style, Thomas Watson delivers a powerful message to those who would enter heaven - you have work to do while here on earth. If you have never read anything by a Puritan author, this is an excellent place to start. He grabs your attention from the beginning and never lets go. This is going to be a must read for the young men I disciple from now on.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    An incredible read. "Men could be content to have the kingdom of Heaven; but they are loathe to fight for it. They choose rather to go in a feather before to He'll than to be carried to Heaven in. 'Fiery chariot ' of zeal and violence " An incredible read. "Men could be content to have the kingdom of Heaven; but they are loathe to fight for it. They choose rather to go in a feather before to He'll than to be carried to Heaven in. 'Fiery chariot ' of zeal and violence "

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bob Ladwig

    I studied this book with some good friends from Church, I appreciated the book more having different eyes go over it than my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is a must read for all Christians! Best book I have read on the necessary of living a life of holy violence.

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