Don’t Book Heaven on the Nearly Departed

A cottage industry has arisen for books, TV appearances, even a movie, by people claiming they went to heaven and back during a near-death experience. Sincere belief and truth aren’t the same.

Are you willing to stake your soul on somebody’s entirely subjective experience with no means of verification? Some find them easier to believe than the words and resurrection of Christ with many credible proofs.

Are these experiences consistent with what the Bible teaches? How do they stack up with the words of Christ?

The latest account of glimpsing “heaven” comes from an Ohio man resuscitated after 45 minutes without oxygen. An attending nurse said: “He had no heart rate, he had no blood pressure, he had no pulse.” Brian Miller, 41, described what he “experienced”:

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The only thing I remember, I started seeing a light and started walking towards the light,’ he said, describing flowers that were along his path. Miller claimed his mother-in-law appeared, with his father-in-law who is also deceased waving to him from afar. ‘She was the most beautiful thing when I seen her. It was like the first day I met her. And looked so happy,’ Miller said. ‘She grabbed a hold of my arm and she told me, ‘It’s not your time, you don’t need to be here … you’ve got things to go down and do.

His message: “There’s an afterlife and people need to believe in it big time.”

True. But the questions are, will you spend it in Hell or heaven, and how can you be sure?

Some assume that the places these folks describe is heaven. Satan the deceiver, will provide a path with pansies toward the light with a sound track of “Stairway to Heaven,” if it will convince a person: “You’re doing just fine—you’re going to live forever—not to worry—we’ll catch you later.”

Jesus taught in Luke 16, that a great gulf is fixed between deceased believers and unbelievers, and there’s no crossing sides or returning to this life. Death is a one-way ticket, not a round-trip:

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)

The Apostle Paul warns about being deceived by Satan who “disguises himself as an angel of light,” whose “servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”

Consider the words of Christ recorded by the Apostle John in Chapter 14 of his Gospel:

Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.” ‘Lord,’ Thomas said, ‘we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?’ ‘Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’

The Apostle Luke recorded the dying words of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as he was being stoned by a mob of religious zealots enraged by his powerful proclamation that Jesus is Lord. Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul held the coats of those who stoned Stephen:

But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.

Luke, the physician, wrote in in Acts 1:

I wrote the first narrative [Gospel of Luke], Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

The Apostle John recorded his eye witness testimony in I John 1:1-4:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

Paul declares the Gospel in I Corinthians, chapter 15:

Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.

Some skeptics find it easier to believe that Jesus really didn’t die, and that the cool tomb revived Him. No faith required there.

The professional executioner who pierced Christ’s side with a spear pronounced Him dead. It was accepted by Pontius Pilot and by the religious leaders who wanted Christ crucified. They went so far as proposing an incredible tale to explain the empty tomb: The disciples, who fled the Cross in fear, stole Christ’s body while the Roman guards slept.

Some claim that on that first Sunday following Christ’s crucifixion everybody went to the wrong tomb: Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, Nicodemus, who owned the tomb, the Romans, who stationed a guard at His tomb, the religious leaders, and the angels who, without GPS or a Google map, all went to the wrong tomb.

When the believers started proclaiming “He is risen,” wouldn’t the Romans have produced His dead body in order to stop the upheaval caused by the Disciples who “turned the world upside down” by proclaiming Christ’s resurrection?

John concludes:

If we accept the testimony of men, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that He has given about His Son. (The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him. The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son.) And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life.

Book it with Jesus.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Jan LaRue is former Chief Counsel at Concerned Women for America; Legal Studies Director at Family Research Council; and Senior Counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families. She has had extensive public speaking and debate experience in law schools, universities, and national media on various constitutional issues. She is a member of the California and U.S. Supreme Court bars and co-author of Protecting Your Child in an X-Rated World. She currently writes as senior legal analyst for the American Civil Rights Union.
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