Posted in colton burpo, end time, NDE, near death experience, prophecy

Is the growing acceptance of both secular and "Christian" near-death experiences one of the prophesied lying signs?

FMI on Raymond Moody

The 1970s and 1980s were funny decades. The Free Love movement of the 60s gave way to Age of Aquarius, Eastern Mysticism (thanks, Beatles) and Near Death Experience movement. The 1970s for some reason was a breakthrough decade for study in NDE. For the first time the phenomenon was studied seriously. Books galore came out and the adults around me ate them up. I remember seeing Raymond Moody’s Life After Life, a seminal book for the decade that broke open the study of what happens after we die. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘ study of death and the five stages of grief was another that fascinated the adults around me. Then came all the philosophical books from New Age promoting spirituality and mysticism based on “discoveries” reported from NDEs such as those from Carlos Castaneda, (A Separate Reality) and Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull).

As a side note, adults, if you think the books you read and put on your bookshelves go unnoticed by your kids, you’re crazy. Growing up and as a young adult, I was hugely impacted by the books the adults around me were reading.

As far as NDEs went, I became fascinated by the fact that all these people nearly died or did die, and came back and reported the same thing. They all talked of beauty in another place or dimension, a tunnel, the light, peace. There had to be something to it, I thought! From the vantage point of today, of course I know these to be satanic deceptions perpetrated on unsaved people deluding them into thinking they are going to “that place”, “into the light” without repenting of sins or knowing Jesus.

Those 1970s NDEs are no different in their high deception-factor than are the ones from today by “Christians” like Colton Burpo (Heaven is For Real) or Alex Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven).

But when I was a young adult noticing all these New Age books talking about peace and light after death, it made sense to me. It was by the grace of God only that I didn’t stop there and came to know the real Light and can read the only book that reports what it is really like “over there” – the Bible.

The “Christian” books 90 Minutes in Heaven, by Don Piper; Heaven is For Real, by Colton Burpo and his dad; The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, by Alex Malarkey; 23 Minutes in Hell, by Bill Wiese; Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, by Eben Alexander; To Heaven and Back, by Mary C. Neal, Mary K. Baker’s A Divine Revelation of Heaven and other such books, exploring ‘the other side’ from a Christian perspective, have been enormous best-sellers. As each “Christian” NDE book has been published, they have grown in popularity…and acceptance. By the time Heaven is For Real came along people applauded the book, trusted the four-year-old’s account of rainbow horses and homework in heaven, and made a movie out of it. The Burpos are considered evangelical.

There have been great inroads that the testimonies of Christians who claim to have had a personal encounter with Jesus or angels at near death have become mainstream, a path that the 1970s NDE books started, which at that time were looked upon as paranormal quackery.

In this recent article in The Atlantic, the convergence of the “Christian” NDE and the New Age NDE appears to have been finalized.

The Science of Near-Death Experiences

Yet even these skeptics rarely accuse experiencers of inventing their stories from whole cloth. Though some of these stories may be fabrications, and more no doubt become embellished in the retelling, they’re too numerous and well documented to be dismissed altogether. It’s also hard to ignore the accounts by respected physicians with professional reputations to protect. Even if the afterlife isn’t real, the sensations of having been there certainly are.

There is something about NDEs that makes them scientifically intriguing. While you can’t rely on an alien abduction or a spiritual visitation taking place just when you’ve got recording instruments handy, many NDEs happen when a person is surrounded by an arsenal of devices designed to measure every single thing about the body that human ingenuity has made us capable of measuring.

And that’s exactly it. That is what intrigued me as a teen and young adult there are too many stories of NDE, they’re too similar, and in this age of technology they are too scientifically confirmed to simply ignore. What the people don’t know, however, is that simply the fact of the cumulative existence of thousands of NDE cases doesn’t confirm that they are sent from heaven.

Yes the NDE occurred. No, it doesn’t mean it was heaven. Satan is a deceiver and a liar, and he can perform lying wonders, (Matthew 24:24, Revelation 16:14), can appear as an angel of righteousness, (2 Corinthians 11:14), and alter the physiology of a targeted human. (Mark 4:3-4).

The fact that it occurred is not the proof. The world believes the NDE occurred but they never stop to think that the NDE itself may be real but is a deception. Satan counts on this.

I’d had a conversation with a young person, age 7. He was fervently trying to convince his mates that Bigfoot is real. Here is his argument.

I KNOW Bigfoot is real, because I had a dream about him…and DREAMS ARE REAL!

He made me laugh, and his argument was a circular but internally consistent logic that made it hard to argue against. I got to thinking about his argument though a little later. It’s the same argument that evangelicals make about Jesus, and when they do, it isn’t so cute or funny any more. But it is the exact argument that people who have had NDEs (or visions or dreams of Jesus) claim.

I had a dream/vision/near-death experience of heaven. Dreams are real. Therefore Heaven is for Real.

Too many Christians fall prey to this also. They blindly believe that simply because a supernatural event occurred that it must be from heaven. But more likely in this day and age, it is from hell.

Some don’t believe that satan is capable of deceivingly presenting a false heaven to people. However remember that angels are powerful. Satan was the most powerful angel of all, dwelling immediately next to the Most High in the heavenly realms at His throne. He was capable of showing all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus! (Matthew 4:8). The magicians were able to replicate Aaron’s and Moses’ sign from God by the power of their secret arts, turning their own staffs into snakes as Moses and Aaron had. (Exodus 7:11-12).

Do not overlook the many cautions and warnings in the Bible about satan’s lying signs and his power to deceive. The lying sign serves several purposes. They lead people astray. They confirm man in his error – for example, emphasizing Gods love toward the unrepentant sinner and the unrepentant sinner’s presence in heaven. Lying signs thus encourage people to rely on the sign and not the word of truth which would set him free.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, (2 Thessalonians 2:9)

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)

Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. (Revelation 13:14)

Satan has the power to deceive the entire earth. Do we not think he can deceive one unfortunate car accident victim lying in a state of drugged unconsciousness?

In The Atlantic article it’s stated,

Whether you saw a divine being or your brain was merely pumping out chemicals, the experience is so intense that it forces you to rethink your place on Earth.

The secular person and sadly the ‘Christian’ nowadays put faith in the experience and rate its credibility based on its intensity. Yet Theologian John MacArthur stated,

Studying mystical accounts of supposed journeys into the afterlife yields nothing but confusion, contradiction, false hope, bad doctrine, and a host of similar evils.

In my opinion, the fact so many “Christian” NDEs are occurring it is in itself a prophesied lying sign. A further sign is the convergence of Christian acceptance of (lying) wonders with with New Age (false) wonders. Another sign is the fact that evangelicals are accepting the New Age/Spiritual NDE instead of the Bible’s word on the matter.

Convergence almost complete

Conclusion point #1: Stay in the Word so that you will not be deceived.

Conclusion point #2: A supernatural wonder is not necessarily from God. Satan is supernatural, too.

Conclusion point #3: The world’s fascination with life after life is not only unabated since breaking through to the mainstream in the 1970s, but it’s growing. Christian booksellers are helping this along, partnering with New Age thought, and blending the two so that one is virtually indistinguishable from the other.

Yet even then, the positive outcome of this is that we have the knowledge of the truth, and can share with any person who is similarly fascinated with near-death experiences, as I once was before I was saved. Intrinsically, I knew life didn’t end at death. Eternity is written on our hearts. Share Revelation 21 and 22 with friends or family who want to know more. It is a beautiful future ahead for those who believe. Try to bring as many as possible along with you.

Further reading

Heaven is Real: Hallucinations are not

Posted in beth moore, colton burpo, joel osteen, kim walker smith, taking God's name in vain, third commandment

The Third Commandment: ways to take God’s name in vain you might not have thought of

Our glorious Lord Jesus Christ left His glory in heaven and came down to us. (Philippians 2:5-8). This was because of His great love for man and that He desired to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10).

To that end, our precious Christ lived among us us, lived among sin while not sinning Himself. He taught, He healed, He exorcised, He performed miracles. He discipled, He interceded, He obeyed the Father’s will.

Jesus spent all of His ministry hours, when not praying and rarely sleeping enough, to teach us. That is doctrine.

The word “doctrine” comes from the Greek word “didaskolos,” and it basically means “teaching.” It is used many times in the New Testament. Doctrine is extremely important in Christianity. By it we know who God is, what He has done, what the Trinity is, the deity of Christ, His resurrection, salvation, justification, etc. Doctrine is what defines the who’s and what’s of Christianity. In fact, you can’t be saved without doctrine. Rev. Matt Slick,

He did all this because He loved us. But beyond that, Jesus did it because He loves the Father, He was obeying the Father. Jesus at all times and in all moments sought the glory of the Father. (John 7:18). God’s glory was primary in the redemption plan.

Jesus’ work was to glorify the Father on earth. (John 7:14).

Now, having the right view of God is of utmost importance, beginning with Who He is. We cannot give Him the glory He deserves if we have a terribly flawed view of Him. One of the most basic ways we know Him is by His Name.

God protects His name. It is the name filled with all authority, all holiness, and when manifested on earth to be seen by men, filled with glory. So God made a commandment for us to never misuse His name. In Exodus 20 God commanded,

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

There are two things I’d like to look at regarding the name of God and its use today.

Colton Burpo, the boy who ‘went to heaven’ & whose experience is the basis
for the book Heaven is For Real, irreverently describing “God” as “really big”
and “looks like the archangel Gabriel.” source

Modern Christianity has trivialized God to the point where many see Him as a distant boyfriend, a prosperous ATM machine, an entertaining miracle maker, or a heavenly hospital. Man’s view of God has always been flawed (and it always will be to some degree, even in true Christians while we’re on earth, because we’re still flawed with sin) but even at that, taking utmost care not to misuse God’s name should be a primary focus in Christian life. After all, it is the third commandment! It all begins with how we use His name.

Names have power, they have authority, they mean something. What if your boss habitually mispronounces your name, wouldn’t that irk you? What if the Bureau of Motor Vehicles misspelled your name, isn’t that annoying? Even more, a misspelled name may have legal implications. When a relative insists on shortening the name of your child from Michael to Mike or from Elizabeth to Betsy, don’t you correct him?

Incident occurred in 1991.
Above CC photo from 2009

If we as puny humans fuss over the spelling or pronunciation of our name, how do you think God feels about His name? His is the highest name! (Philippians 2:9). The only name! (Acts 4:12)

Right, Swaggart’s blasphemy is especially egregious because he used the Lord’s name to make Him complicit in covering up Swaggart’s adultery and fornication.

Many people regularly violate the third commandment by taking God’s name in vain. They use it in a swear, they say ‘OMG’, they use it to show their amazement over an extra large ice cream cone. Trivial.

But that is not only what it means not to take God’s name in vain. In our Sunday School lesson last week, written by JD Greear and Trevin Wax, there are other ways to take God’s name one may not have considered. This is the first point. Taking God’s name in vain does not begin and end with ‘OMG’. Not by far. In the lesson Mr Greear and Mr Wax narrow in and focus on three other ways to take God’s name in vain:

1. Using God’s name flippantly
2. Using God’s name untruthfully
3. Using God’s name hypocritically

Left, In the preface, Moore says while she was writing the book God wouldn’t let her eat breakfast. Also, if she had not written the book the “rocks in my yard would have cried out”. So she said,”I entrust this message entirely to the One who delivered it while I sat bug-eyed.” p. xi.

I’d like to speak to #1, using God’s name flippantly. In the lesson the men spoke to the above, the often spoken OMG or swearing that has God’s name in it. However the authors also said, “Perhaps the danger we as Christians must be careful of is not cursing but trivializing God’s name by speaking of Him on too-familiar terms.” They advise against a careless approach to speaking of God.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29).

“Too-familiar” terms. That is surely an issue in this day and age. The fear of the Lord in believers is a bygone notion. It shouldn’t be.

I will use a real-life example of something Beth Moore recently said to show that she uses God’s name in vain, because she uses His name flippantly.

At a recent conference for women, Moore ended it by a usual method she employs in her performance, a call-and-response. She often tells the women attending to repeat after her. What is asked to be repeated are not usually bible verses but creeds and mottoes Moore has invented. Here is an example from the Unwrap the Bible Conference,

Be confident this great day  That your God has chosen you

Please understand that this kind of message is often spoken at her conferences and in her teaching. It is not just one instance one time, but a pattern of presuming to speak for God.

If we unpack this and apply it to the prohibition not to take the Lord’s name in vain, how can we reconcile a female teacher presuming to know that 11,000 women in attendance have been chosen by God? And worse, to tell them so, in God’s name?! What Moore is actually saying is that she knows God’s thoughts and she knows His plans- for each of the 11,000 women of whom she was speaking this creed with God’s name in it. We cannot say such things, and we should not! This is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

But there is a worse problem. Yes it is very bad for Beth Moore or Kim Smith or Jimmy Swaggart or Colton Burpo or any person to speak of God on too-familiar terms, imputing thoughts to Him He didn’t have, and relating doctrines He didn’t teach. Those are serious breaches of God’s law.

But it is a sin for the hearers, too.

This is point #2. We know the bible says that false teachers will have a condemnation upon them. (Jude 1:4). For all teachers (true and false) who teach the word, they are judged more strictly. (James 3:1). Again, it relates to God’s holy name not being taken in vain. But the hearers are also judged!

There are two scriptures I have in mind to show you this. First we turn to the familiar verse I mention often, in Revelation 2:20. This is where the Lord has something against the people in the church at Thyatira: they tolerated the false prophetess Jezebel and by their inaction allowed her to seduce His servants. The sin of inaction is still a sin.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:17).

However we go even further. We read in Leviticus 24:11,13-16a the following-

and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. … Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death.

Notice the distinction in verse 11, the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name and he cursed the Name. In the Hebrew the word for blaspheme used in this verse means “to utter a curse against, curse.” You might argue that Beth Moore and other false teachers don’t outright curse against God. You’re right, they don’t. However look at the second charge made against the woman’s son. He cursed. The Hebrew word used in this case means “to trivialize” or to be slight or swift about the Name. To lighten it.

The chief lesson to be learned from this incident and from the law here given is very plain. It is the high criminality in God’s sight of all irreverent use of His holy name… [failure to act] cannot but operate most fatally by breaking down in the public conscience that profound reverence toward God, which is the most essential condition of the maintenance of all private and public morality. ~William Robertson Nicoll, Expositor’s Bible, 1888

Kim Smith of Jesus Culture describing her vision of seeing
God the Father at a table making a clay heart for Kim. source

When Moore or other false teachers teach, they often empty out God’s name by trivializing it. They purport to speak for God. They relate dreams and retell things that God supposedly told them. They make pronouncements about His thoughts and intentions. They are casual about His holy name.

Now look at the penalty. The person who cursed His name is stoned. But why did the hearers who heard the cursing have to lay hands on the man’s head? Because they were transferring their guilt from themselves to the blasphemer. In the case of the cursing His name, not only the one who speaks it is guilty, but the hearers are too.

James Burton Coffman in his commentary on the Leviticus 24 verse said,

God’s concern here was to remove a spot of deadly infection from the body of the Chosen People. Harford called it a “purgative” action. If not eradicated, a cancerous condition of the kind associated with profane cursing would indeed have destroyed the whole nation. Men are no longer much concerned about such things, but the growth of the cancer has already corrupted a major portion of our present society.

That was Jesus’ charge to the congregation at Thyatira, they tolerated false pronouncements purported to be said in His name by a prophetess teaching falsely. They did NOT purge it out. (I wonder what Jesus will say to the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention when He brings up Beth Moore’s false prophecies and erroneous teaching…and that not only did they tolerate them but LifeWay made money off them…)

It is my opinion that the seriousness of taking the Lord’s name in vain is one important reason “not many of you should seek to be teachers” (James 3:1). To teach falsely is not just to teach error mixed with truth. It is also to

1. Use God’s name flippantly (Example, Beth Moore)
2. Use God’s name untruthfully (Example, Kim Smith)
3. Use God’s name hypocritically (Example, Jimmy Swaggart)

In remembering the Hebrews 12 verse, acceptable worship means remembering who He is, no matter how loving we feel toward Him, and no matter how boldly we come to the throne, (Hebrews 4:16), we must fear Him by worshiping in reverence and awe.

Now of course I am not agitating to re-institute lex talionis, an eye for an eye, the law of retaliation. Nor am I wanting to see false teachers stoned. Jesus will repay. He is well aware of the damage done in His holy name and He will perfectly and justly recompense all for their deeds. (Isaiah 59:18, Romans 2:6). This essay is about the importance of His holy Name and the various ways we take it in vain. Read Leviticus 24:10-16, and read Deuteronomy 17:1-7 to see how seriously God takes it when an idolater mishandles anything about Himself, and the guilt that is upon the hearers too.

In Deuteronomy God charged the people with the task of inquiring diligently when they hear of an idolatrous situation, and if found guilty, the laying on of hands again to “purge the evil from among your midst.” (Deuteronomy 17:7).  And in the New Testament, Revelation 2:20, the church at Thyatira…”I have this against you, that you tolerate…”

God is adamant that His name be used in truthful and honorable ways. ~Greear, Wax “The Gospel Project for Adults”