Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To Heaven and Back?

How many times have you heard someone claim they died and got a glimpse of heaven? Recently a co-worker told me the Pastor of her sister’s church preached a sermon on heaven. In his sermon, he mentioned a little boy who’d died and entered heaven {the child was revived by doctors}. While in heaven, he saw his grandpa who he’d never met. The mother of the child showed the little boy a picture of his grandpa, and he said that wasn’t him. So she proceeded to show him another picture, one of his grandpa when he was younger, and he said that was him. I didn’t say much as I listened, but all the while I knew what she thought was true was anything but. Stories like this are told everywhere, those who do not understand what the Bible actually teaches about death and heaven swallow this as truth.
Several days later as I recalled this again, I went to 2nd Corinthians 12 and Paul’s being caught up to the third heaven. The one thing I notice about Paul’s truthful account, he makes no mention of any family members being there. Not that they weren’t there, but the emphasis is not on deceased loved ones, it is on the unspeakable words Paul heard; this inexpressible language left him with the understanding that what he heard is not lawful for a man to utter. Another thing I noticed is that Paul refuses to boast that he went there personally, he refers to himself as a man he knew in Christ; boasting is sinful.

In Ezekiel’s breathtaking description, the emphasis is on the throne and the One who sits on the throne, not deceased loved ones. When Ezekiel saw the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord, it caused him to fall on his face.

In Revelation 1:13-17, we see John’s vision of the Lord, ‘and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded bout the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead”. All of these men had a supernatural vision, God had granted them a look into things most will never know. The response by these men to their God-empowered visions is one you never hear those who claim to have died, gone to heaven and come back say … ‘I fell on my face’. What John, the Apostle Paul and Ezekiel saw and heard was indescribable; leaving them awestruck, causing them to fall down, to go limp, as if dead. What they saw took their breath away and produced a state of lifelessness because what their eyes were taking in was beyond human ability to describe.

Many of these so-called trips to heaven and back almost always include going into the light, looking down over their earthly body, hearing a voice telling them it isn’t time, to go back, etc. Again, none of this is biblical. If someone dies {take note, the biblical accounts of heaven were visions and the ones who’d had the visions were alive}, they will not be coming back. The Bible teaches when a person dies, they either go to be with the Lord, or they go to outer darkness/hell to await final judgment.

Upon death, the soul separates from the body, it does not tarry hovering over the body. The believer in Christ is ushered in before the Lord {Philippians 1:23; 2nd Corinthians 5:8}. The unbeliever enters into hell {Luke 16:22-23; Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30}. Those who claim to have died and come back to life never really died; their heart may have stopped briefly, or they may have stopped breathing momentarily; but they were not legally dead. Their souls never separated from their earthly bodies; they still had brain activity. They may very well have been resuscitated, but that does not mean they were dead. To be dead is to be without life; no heartbeat, no breathing, no brain activity, no movement. One may indeed have a temporary stoppage of breathing, or a heart that stops briefly, but that does not classify you as legally dead. The better terminology for this would be ‘my heart stopped temporarily’, or ‘I stopped breathing for a short time’; not ‘I died on the operating table three times’. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die (depart, to be dead, separation, departure}, but after this the judgment” – Hebrews 9:27. Death is permanent and final.
How do we explain the stories about near death experiences? The story I was told concerned a child and an angel carrying him to his grandpa; I recall in God’s word the fact that we are all born sinners, radically depraved. This child is just as prone to demonic visions/activity and/or drug induced hallucinating visions as any adult. My suggestion is the so-called trips to heaven and back are either demonic, drug-induced, or the person claiming to have died and gone to heaven is very imaginative; I know they are not of God because His word speaks otherwise.

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