Posted in 90 minutes in heaven, bible, heaven tourism, truth

Heaven Tourism: Compare Don Piper’s heaven scene with Apostle John’s

I’d written a few days ago that heaven tourism books are bad. The ‘heaven tourism’ phrase refers to the increasing bunch of people who have a vision and claim to have visited heaven, been shown or told things, and ‘came back’ to write a book about it. Or go on the speaking circuit.

No one has visited heaven except He who has come down from heaven, Jesus. (John 3:13). Aside from a very few individuals such as Ezekiel and Isaiah, John and Paul (who incidentally said it was unlawful to speak of the inexpressible things he’d seen (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) heaven currently remains a closed port of call unless one has died in Christ, and even then, at present it remains a one-way trip.

Yet Don Piper claims to have gone there for an hour and a half and came back to write a whole book about it. This is what Don Piper said he saw first thing:

In my next moment of awareness, I was standing in heaven. Joy pulsated through me as I looked around, and at that moment I became aware of a large crowd of people. They stood in front of a brilliant, ornate gate. I have no idea how far away they were; such things as distance didn’t matter. As the crowd rushed toward me, I didn’t see Jesus, but I did see people I had known. (90 Minutes in Heaven, p. 26-27)

John the Apostle went to heaven. He was in the spirit in the Lord’s day. He heard a voice. This is the first thing He saw:

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

Don Piper noticed right away that his great-grandmother Hattie’s teeth were white. (p. 34). That is a huge contrast to what John saw and how he behaved according to the scripture above.

Who are you going to believe? Paul, who actually went to heaven, whether in the body or the spirit he did not know, God knows, but who said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord? Or Don Piper who wrote that to be absent from the body is to be present with Great-granny Hattie?

Be very skeptical of people who claim to have visited heaven or some dimension where Jesus is. Beth Moore claims it, Don Piper, Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture band, Colton Burpo, Jesse DuPlantis, and many others. Yet have any of the people who died and were resurrected in the Bible apart from Jesus described anything they saw? Lazarus, Peter’s Mother-in-Law? The sleepy youth who fell out the window? No.

John MacArthur wrote at Answers in Genesis:

Four biblical authors had visions of heaven—not near-death experiences. Isaiah and Ezekiel (Old Testament prophets) and Paul and John (New Testament apostles) all had such visions. Two other biblical figures—Micaiah and Stephen—got glimpses of heaven, but what they saw is merely mentioned, not described (2 Chronicles 18:18; Acts 7:55).
Only three of these men later wrote about what they saw—and the details they gave were comparatively sparse (Isaiah 6:1–4; Ezekiel 1, 10; Revelation 4–6). All of them focused properly on God’s glory. 

They also mentioned their own fear and shame in the presence of such glory. They had nothing to say about the mundane features that are so prominent in modern tales about heaven (things like picnics, games, juvenile attractions, familiar faces, odd conversations, and so on). Paul gave no actual description of heaven but simply said what he saw would be unlawful to utter. In short, the biblical descriptions of heaven could hardly be any more different from today’s fanciful stories about heaven.

Avoid such fanciful stories and focus on what is written for our edification: the holy word of God contained in the 66 books of the Bible. Any and all references or descriptions of heaven in that Book are true and are all that we need to know about heaven for the present time.

Posted in discernment, heaven, heaven tourism, macarthur, spurgeon

Heaven tourism books are bad; some heaven books are good

“Heaven tourism” is a phrase I believe was coined by blogger Tim Challies, picked up and used frequently by teacher and lecturer Justin Peters. It is a phrase indicating that a person has had some sort of trauma like a car crash or medical issue, or perhaps was in desperate emotional state, and in the unconscious portion of their trauma, they claimed to have visited heaven.

When ‘coming to’ they remember their alleged visit or vision, and write it down, later to become a book or a movie.

None of these visits are real. No person has gone to heaven and returned, (John 3:13; Deuteronomy 30:12) with the exception of the few persons in the Bible such as John, Paul, Ezekiel, or Isaiah and having subsequently written inspired text. John Gill’s Commentary says of the John 3:13 verse:

And no man hath ascended into heaven,…. Though Enoch and Elias had, yet not by their own power, nor in the sense our Lord designs; whose meaning is, that no man had, or could go up to heaven, to bring from thence the knowledge of divine and heavenly things; in which sense the phrase is used in Deuteronomy 30:12

John MacAthur’s sermon says of the John 3:13 verse,

You either take what Jesus says, or you’re a fool because, you can’t ascend into heaven and find the answers for yourself.

And yet these books keep coming. it is part of the demonic delusion and apostasy that satan, god of this world, instills in the vulnerable, ignorant, or hapless.

A new book is out by a man named John Burke. You see in his summary below that he did the typically wrong approach to biblical interpretation. He collected man’s stories and experiences, affirming them as true and credible, and then compared them to the Bible. He is in effect saying that the experience, simply because it occurred and mimicked something from holy text, that it must be true. The blurb says, their ‘experiences point to the heaven promised in the Bible’. Well, it’s the Bible that points to heaven, and as a matter of fact, the Bible’s version of anything is the only credible word on anything, because it comes from God, who cannot lie.

Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God’s Promises, and the Exhilarating Future That Awaits You

Burke shows how the common experiences shared by thousands of near-death survivors–including doctors, college professors, bank presidents, people of all ages and cultures, and even blind people–point to the exhilarating picture of Heaven promised in the Bible.
This thrilling journey into the afterlife will make you feel like you’ve been there, forever changing the way you view the life to come–and the way you live your life today. You’ll discover Heaven is even more amazing than you’ve ever imagined.

We should be exhilarated at the glorious future awaiting us not because John Burke said so. We should be exhilarated by our glorious future not based on the flimsy experiences of man but by the word of God as revealed in the Bible. These heaven tourism books, like the one above, are specifically saying to you, “Never mind what God said about heaven, John Burke’s version will exhilarate you! Joe Schmoe’s tale will really get you going!” Blasphemous, isn’t it.

The Bible says we never look to experience first, it can be faulty. We look to God’s word first. Even the Apostles who were privileged to see a vision of Jesus transfigured along with Moses and Elijah, said that they do not preach their experience but test all things against the word of God. If that was the Apostle’s approach, men whom the Lord chose to carry His first message and were personally taught by Him, and who later wrote His words by Spirit-inspiration, would have preached their experience. But none of them did.

How much more important would it be for us today to follow their command and avoid preaching our experience? More to the point, how much more prideful and narcissistic is it to reject their commands and do it anyway? (2 Peter 1:20).

Do not preach your experience. Here is an excerpt from an essay written by Dr Bob Luginbill from the University of Louisville titled Scripture versus Personal Experience. I’m not familiar overall with the teaching of Dr Luginbill, but everything I read on this page discussing scripture vs. experience is explained well and accurately from the Bible.

In reality, of course, God is the One who determines how and when He communicates to us, and as it says in the book of Hebrews, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”, even though before the incarnation He had spoken to us via prophets “at many times and in various ways” (Heb.1:1-2 NIV). So it is Jesus who is the Message; and He is “the Word of God” (Rev.19:13). We now have the whole written word of Him who is the Living Word, and that is the place to which we are now to direct our attention, namely to the truth of the holy scriptures. And we can certainly do so, because not only do we all have Bibles, and not only is the Body equipped with teachers who can illuminate it for us, but we all also actually have the Holy Spirit indwelling us for illumination, and He is “the [very] Mind of Christ” 

It certainly made sense for God to speak directly to, say, Enoch, before the Bible existed in any form. But if He really were communicating directly to believers in a verbal way today, wouldn’t that undermine the authority of the Bible, and all pastor-teachers, and in fact everything anyone else might say or have said to us except this special person – because after all the person with that special channel would be getting it directly from God. But the Lord has established His Church for a reason, and the mutual support we give each other for learning the truth is a very large part of what we are supposed to be about – this service is a large part of the basis for our eternal rewards. If there were a direct channel, we wouldn’t need each other much at all.

I do not recommend the Burke heaven tourism book or any of the books in this panorama below, many of which I have read myself and have found them to be unbiblical.

If you want to read books that are based on the Bible’s presentation of heaven, please consider some of the following. I’ve read all of them.

John MacArthur: The Glory of Heaven

A quick look at a list of bestselling books and you’ll see that heaven is a hot topic. After all, who doesn’t wonder and long to know more about the place you’ll forever live in the presence of God, untouched by sorrow, pain, and fear. What will it be like? What will you do in heaven? How will you recognize and relate to loved ones there?  

The problem is, runaway books about heaven are selling—and misleading people—by the millions. They are filled with fabricated, fictional accounts that claim to tell the truth about heaven. John MacArthur critiques those claims—and offers an in-depth, biblical explanation of God’s eternal city—in a fully revised, new edition of The Glory of Heaven. You’ll discover what the Bible really teaches about your glorious future home.

Erwin Lutzer: One Minute After You Die

“One minute after you die you will either be elated or terrified. And it will be too late to reroute your travel plans.” 

Death comes to all, and yet death is not the end. For some, death is the beginning of unending bliss, for others, unending despair. In this latest edition of the bestselling book One Minute After You Die, Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer weighs the Bible’s words on life after death. He considers: Channeling, reincarnation, and near-death experiences; What heaven and hell will be like; The justice of eternal punishment; Trusting in God’s providence.

Randy Alcorn: Heaven

What will heaven be like? Randy Alcorn presents a thoroughly biblical answer, based on years of careful study, presented in an engaging, reader-friendly style. His conclusions will surprise readers and stretch their thinking about this important subject. Heaven will inspire readers to long for heaven while they’re living on earth.

Randy Alcorn/Charles Spurgeon: We Shall See God- Charles Spurgeon’s Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven

Some of Spurgeon’s most powerful sermons were those that he preached on the topic of Heaven. … Randy Alcorn has compiled the most profound spiritual insights on the topic of eternity from these sermons and arranged them into an easily-accessible highly inspirational devotional format complete with his own comments and devotional thoughts.

The Bible is the only reliable source regarding heaven. Honor our Jesus, who descended from his abode in glory to live as a man on an earth whose ground had been cursed, absorbed all God’s wrath meant for us, died a horrible, humiliating death, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. His life of preaching and teaching and the Spirit’s subsequent inspired texts should be honored as the first and the last word. If you would rather look at heaven through Joe Schmoe’s eyes and not through the Spirit’s truth, you have a serious problem.

——————————–

Further reading

LifeWay abandons heavenly visitation resources

A Justin Peters video teaching: Heavenly Tourism (one hour)

Tim Challies on the topic of Heaven Tourism

Posted in aliens and strangers, encouragement, heaven tourism, macarthur, prayer, sermons

The RIGHT kind of Heaven Tourism

Mike Riccardi at The Cripplegate began an excellent essay on the times in which we live this way:

The last few months have been emotionally tiring for Christians in America.

You can say that again.

The last few months have been emotionally tiring for Christians in America.

Weary with burdens? Climbing an endless mountain?
Let the Lord refresh you. (EPrata photo)

I don’t need to go over it all, we know what Pastor Riccardi means. We all know we are living in a sinful world, we all know we contribute to the sins that are piling up to heaven (though thank the Lord we are forgiven for them.) We are tired and we are weary. ANd it has only just begun.

The love of Jesus is a mystery in its depth and breadth and height and width and its eternality since before time began. This love given to us from heaven is incomprehensible and would overflow us if we received it openly in unglorified bodies.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…(Ephesians 3:17-19a)

Similarly, the hatred of satan is a mystery to us. We are unable to fully comprehend its evilness. We all know that the depths of sin and its ugliness is still a mystery to us, until some heinous acts are then exposed and we very nearly succumb to the shock. Remember, these heinous acts have been ongoing since the beginning of the world. Yet Christ in His mercy doesn’t reveal them all to us at once, else we wold veritably collapse from emotional exhaustion and spiritual despair. The last month has been hard enough.

the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Matthew 12:35a)

But it’s still difficult to deal with when we see previously unrevealed depths of depravity.

So what can we do when faced with incomprehensible evil? We can remember we are missionaries, aliens and strangers and this is not our home.

Our home is over yonder. EPrata photo

 For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. (1 Chronicles 29:15)

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; (Philippians 3:20)

We all know the summary of the verse at John 17:16, ‘we are in the world but not of it.’ In practical terms, I heard it explained best by Alistair Begg, “The boat is supposed to be in the water, but the water isn’t supposed to be in the boat.” ~Alistair Begg.

What can we do to get the water out of our boat?

Take a missionary leave to heaven. Yes, enjoy some heaven tourism. All missionaries get leave to go home once in a while. We all need a vacation from our daily grind. So go home to heaven. Here is how to do it:

First, pray. The Lord will call us home bodily in His good timing. But every day we can visit our home through prayer. When your kids go on mission, or go to college, or move a distance away, don’t they Skype with you? Don’t they call? They are not in their in body to be with their father but they communicate with home base. Who doesn’t remember being a shaky, tearful kid alone at college, or on the Army base, and calling home to receive some love from Dad or comfort from Mom?

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)

Stuck on this planet, our friends and colleagues perhaps have made it back home before us, lonely, shaky, tearful wanderer, pray. It is the “ET phone home” of Christianity.

Next, read the Bible. It is the security blanket the alien and stranger on this planet needs to stay warm, stay energized, stay effective. It is the energy pill, immunization shot, protein drink we need as we go out and complete our missionary tasks on planet Earth. When we are overcome with darkness because of the world, then overcome darkness with Light! The light is reading God’s word and seeing the face of Jesus. We can’t actually go to heaven and see Him yet, but we can behold His countenance by reading His words and having the Spirit point us toward Him. Behold His glory through the Word.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Third, wash yourself, wrap yourself in the Word by listening to a good sermon. Stay away from secular radio, avoid even Christian radio. Most times even Christian radio with its sad news coupled with songs that are only doctrine-light will not uplift you but bring you down. There is no better refreshment than the Living water to enliven the weary traveler, as we are.

When you listen to a good expositor plumb the beauteous depths of God’s word it washes over you like a flood of love and light. When you do this you are wrapping yourself in liquid sunlight, chasing away the vaporous darkness and illuminating the corners of your soul with heavenly love. Choose sermons that exegete verse on the beauty of heaven, or the strength of Jesus’ love, or the promises of things to come.

I can heartily recommend John MacArthur for this purpose. Phil Johnson on the Psalms is a wonderfully encouraging resource. Or choose another expositor who preaches verse by verse the word only. We do not want to hear some silly personal story from the pulpit when we’re faced with depths of sadness and are crying out to God. We don’t need practical tips for living, or topical studies. We want THE WORD, for that is the only ticket us expatriates require when it’s necessary to go on temporary leave to heaven.

Another good resource is just listening to an audio book that speaks the word. I listen to RefNet and at times they read aloud huge segments of the Bible. The word fills me and its vapors stream from the radio to my ears to my mind and glide along my veins and fill my innermost parts. It is His word that encourages, uplifts, transforms. When you want to visit heaven on a missionary reprieve, listen to a narrator read His eternal word. It is a living and active word, thus you WILL be refreshed.

Listen to hymns. Let strong, doctrinal music flood your soul, cleaning out the leaves and twigs that have accumulated in the corners of our our soul. Let good music wash away the despair and cleanse our mind. What a balm to bask in pure words from heaven! Choose your music carefully, and make a playlist that encompasses encouraging lyrics which include verses as straight from the Bible as you can. Again it is communication with heaven that we are after in order to visit heaven, they have to be His words, not man’s. Here is a list of good, doctrinal hymns from Religious Affections Ministries. They are grouped by category.

EPrata photo

So pray, read the Bible, listen to the Word, and enjoy good, doctrinal music. We are aliens on this planet. Taking time each day to temporarily visit home will please the Father, who sent us abroad. It will liven our heart, to further Jesus’ kingdom. It will allow us to partake of the peace, that Jesus gave us.

Be encouraged, Brother, be heartened Sister, be strong Pastor…

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)











Posted in 90 minutes in heaven, heaven is for real, heaven tourism, lifeway

Good News: Baptist Press reports LifeWay pulls all heaven tourism books

Quote from Phil Johnson [Exec. Director of: gty.org & works with John MacArthur]:

“Only four authors in all the bible were blessed with visions of heaven and wrote about what they saw: the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, and the apostles Paul and John. Two other biblical figures—Micaiah and Stephen—got glimpses of heaven, but what they saw is merely mentioned, not described (2 Chronicles 18:18; Acts 7:55).

As pastor John MacArthur points out, all of these were prophetic visions, not near-death experiences. Not one person raised from the dead in the old & new testaments ever recorded for us what he or she experienced in heaven. That includes Lazarus, who spent four days in the grave. Paul was caught up into heaven in an experience so vivid he said he didn’t know whether he went there bodily or not, but he saw things that are unlawful to utter, so he gave no details. He covered the whole incident in just three verses (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

All three biblical writers who saw heaven and described their visions give comparatively sparse details, but they agree perfectly (Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1 and 10; Revelation 4-6). They don’t agree with the Burpo-Malarkey vision of heaven. Both their intonation and the details they highlight are markedly different. The biblical authors are all fixated on God’s glory, which defines and illuminates everything there. They are overwhelmed, chagrined, petrified, and put to silence by the sheer majesty of God’s holiness. Notably missing from all the biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominate every account of heaven currently on the bestseller lists.”

Thankfully and gratefully and finally, Baptist Press reports today,

LifeWay pulls ‘heaven visitation resources’

LifeWay Christian Resources has stopped selling all “experiential testimonies about heaven” following consideration of a 2014 Southern Baptist Convention resolution on “the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife.”

Though LifeWay “was not mentioned in the SBC resolution affirming the sufficiency of biblical revelation and affirming the truth about heaven and hell,” King told BP in an interview, “the resolution was approved overwhelmingly and was considered during our process.”

The resolution, adopted by messengers to the SBC annual meeting in June, warned Christians not to allow “the numerous books and movies purporting to explain or describe the afterlife experience” to “become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife.”

The resolution did not list specific book or movie titles, but it seemed to describe works like “90 Minutes in Heaven,” “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven” by Kevin and Alex Malarkey and “Heaven Is for Real” by Todd Burpo along with its companion movie released last year by Sony Pictures.

The resolution affirmed “the sufficiency of biblical revelation over subjective experiential explanations to guide one’s understanding of the truth about heaven and hell.”

In January, LifeWay announced it would stop selling “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven” after coauthor Alex Malarkey admitted that he lied about having a vision of heaven as a 6-year-old. See related BP story. At the time, King said LifeWay was “committed to becoming even more proactive in the next few months in evaluating the resources we carry.”

end excerpts

Now if we can just get them to pull Beth Moore…

——————————–

Further Reading

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine

Heaven is for Real, But are the Modern Day Claims of “There and Back Againers” in Line with the Bible?

Video, Justin Peters, Why The Heaven Tourist Reports Contradict Scripture (Part One)

Posted in heaven tourism, jim hammond, sbc, southern baptist convention, sufficiency

Southern Baptist Convention resolves that heaven tourism books & movies are antithetical to scripture

Today at the Southern Baptist Convention 2014, as Jason Smathers wrote in his report “The Bible is Sufficient to Know Heaven is Real

Southern Baptists declare afterlife books and movies to be “antithetical to Scripture.”

While choosing not to name any book or movie in particular, following the huge success of books and movies like Heaven is For Real, 90 Minutes in Heaven, and 23 Minutes in Hell, the messengers to the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention has addressed the issue through a resolution which states these accounts cannot be corroborated, are self contradictory and are antithetical to Scripture.

The resolution can be read below.”

Please read through the resolution, which I heartily applaud, and then read my questions at the bottom.

___________________________

RESOLUTION
ON THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE REGARDING THE AFTERLIFE

WHEREAS, There have been numerous books and movies purporting to explain or describe the afterlife experience; and

WHEREAS, These books and movies have had a considerable impact as seen in the best seller lists and high box office receipts; and

WHEREAS, Many of these books and movies have sought to describe heaven from a subjective, experiential source, mainly via personal testimonies that cannot be corroborated; and

WHEREAS, Many of these are not unified and contain details that are antithetical to Scripture; and

WHEREAS, Many devout and well-meaning people allow these to become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife rather than scriptural truth; and

WHEREAS, Though the Scriptures include explicit accounts of persons raised from the dead, such as Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and Lazarus, in God’s perfect revelatory wisdom, He has not given us any report of their individual experience in the afterlife (Deuteronomy 29:29; Mark 5:21–43; Luke 7:11–17; John 11:35–44); and

WHEREAS, The Apostle Paul wrote about “a man in Christ” who was caught up “into the third heaven” who “heard inexpressible words” that “a man is not allowed to speak” (2 Corinthians 12:1–4); and

WHEREAS, The doctrines of the afterlife are critical to a full understanding of salvation and repentance (Luke 16:29–31; John 3:16–18); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, reaffirm the sufficiency of biblical revelation over subjective experiential explanations to guide one’s understanding of the truth about heaven and hell.
_____________________________

Here are my hypothetical WHEREAS’ questions: Will the following happen now that the largest Protestant denomination in the US has made a public declaration and resolution regarding the unscriptural nature of heaven tourism and its cunning destabilization of the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture?

WHEREAS, will SBC churches finally stop inviting Don Piper, author of 90 Minutes in Heaven, to preach at their churches with his ‘experiential witness’ at the center of his sermons?

WHEREAS, Jim Hammond, former youth minister at First Baptist Church in Fort Stockton, Texas was fired last week because he stood up for biblical truth and had concerns about Piper preaching at his church,

WHEREAS, Pastor Hammond, according to Pastor Justin Peters, “his wife, and two young children will now have to vacate the church parsonage which had been there home and look for a new residence. Why was he fired? FBC Fort Stockton has Don Piper scheduled to come and preach in October. Jim knew that Piper’s account of going to Heaven (aside from Piper’s self contradictory statements of the matter) does not square with Scripture. He did his research and talked with the pastor about his concerns. The deacons were notified, a meeting was called, and Jim was fired,”

WHEREAS, will Pastor Hammond now be reinstated, with back pay and apologetic repentance from pastor and deacons?

WHEREAS, because it has been resolved by the SBC that heaven tourism books and movies sway people from an understanding of scripture, and according to SBC resolve have “allowed these to become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife rather than scriptural truth“, will LifeWay Christian Resources no longer sell, offer, or promote heaven tourism books? Will LifeWay understand that continuing to sell these books which have details in them “antithetical to scripture” would be UNaffirming to SBC’s declaration that the “biblical revelation of the afterlife is sufficient, over subjective experiential explanations, to guide one’s understanding of the truth about heaven and hell.

I hope and pray that each of my hypothetical WHEREAS’s come true. I’m looking at YOU, LifeWay.

Posted in 90 minutes in heaven, discernment, extra-biblical, heaven is for real, heaven tourism

Have you been to heaven lately? Also, ‘Heaven is for Real’ Dad Says Critics are ‘Pharisees’

Many people seem to be having a trip to heaven and a personal tour of the place, even meeting John the Baptist, “he’s nice” and meeting up with relatives and chatting with angels. A few of the prophets and apostles in the bible saw heaven. Let’s compare their reactions to the experiences the modern day heaven tourists are having.

Colton Burpo says he went to heaven in his book Heaven Is For Real. Colton was three at the time of a medical emergency in which he did not die, but while on the operating table, he went to heaven anyway. He told his story to his pastor-father over the course of several years, and Heaven is For Real was born. Asked about Jesus, Colton described ‘him”.  Jesus has markers. [marks on feet and hands]. And brown hair and hair on his face. I was sitting on Jesus’ lap. I got to pet His rainbow horse. I was scared so Jesus had the angels sing to me.”

Now let’s look at Apostle John’s trip to heaven.

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” (Revelation 1:12-17)

Strong’s Greek, 3498 dead; literally, “what lacks life”; dead; (figuratively) not able to respond to impulses, or perform functions. So when John saw Jesus he fell as if dead, meaning unconscious and unable to perform functions. But Colton tottled around petting rainbow horses.

Kim Walker Smith of the band Jesus Culture says she saw Jesus in a vision, and had many other visions too.

“Anyways, (pause) so, irresistible, I go to Jesus, I fall in His arms. And as I’m laying in His arms, I’m still feeling kind of afraid to really even look at Him.  All the sudden this thought comes into my mind, and I know this is not my thought. I would never, ever, ever in a million, trillion years think this; and I think, “I need to ask Him two questions.” I need to ask Him, “How much do You love me; and what were You thinking when You created me?” And as this thought comes into my mind, I’m thinking, “No way! I am not asking those questions.”

Oh but she did. She was kind of afraid but quickly overcame her fear to ask the LORD OF THE UNIVERSE about herself.

Isaiah was afraid too. Let’s see his reaction to being with God.

“And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:4-5)

John fell down. Isaiah fell down. Colton sat in the throne. Kim sat in the throne.

“When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face.” (Daniel 8:15-17)

Daniel fell down. 

Let’s see how Jesse Duplantis’ heaven tour went.

In his hotel room on August 1988 Duplantis “felt a suction as if I was being pulled up out of the room” … zooming along at a phenomenal rate of speed, being carried in something like a cable car. It was a chariot without a horse.” A blond-headed angel is with him in the cable car. Duplantis asks, “Where are we going?” He smiled and said, “You have an appointment with the Lord God Jehovah”… (His name is YHWH, a real angel would know better and call God by His real name, says Justin Peters).

Duplantis continues, “Jesus was taller than I thought He would be. I would guess Him to be from five feet eleven inches to six feet one inch. I thought at first His hair was white; but when He turned His head, I caught a glance and saw that it was light brown. When He looked at me, the glory of God was emanating from Him. I said, “Jesus!” He said simply, “Do you like this place?” I said, “Yes, Sir”.

Do you like this place? Oh my.

In the recounting of the vision Duplantis says he had, he did fall down at the feet of Jesus, but not as though dead. He noticed the holes in His feet and when he stood up, he noticed Jesus’ height. That’s a lot of noticing, when all the other men, including even Peter in the boat with Jesus, shrank back or fell down. Some simply fainted.

In addition, “Jesus” told Duplantis that he’d learn a lot there, yet scripture alone is the place where we receive our teaching. God said the canon is closed and not to add to the word of the bible. (Revelation 22:18).  Finally, “Jesus” told Duplantis that he was supposed to tell the world that He is coming.

I said, “They know that.”
“No, they don’t know that. I brought you here so that you would go tell them I’m coming. Do you hear Me? I’m coming. Go tell them.”

So we have a new ‘go and tell’ given directly to Jesse Duplantis by Jesus. Because nobody knows Jesus is coming. Oh, my.

Though Jesse Duplantis was taught new things, and then told to go and tell, Paul said it is unlawful to tell.

“and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.” (2 Corinthians 12:4).

If a contradiction exists between a man’s experience and the bible’s truth, which will you believe?

In one more comparison, here’s Ezekiel’s experience, and then Don Piper’s.

“In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. … Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” (Ezekiel 1:1, 28)

Don Piper: “As the crowd rushed toward me, I didn’t see Jesus, but I did see the people I had known. As they surged toward me, I knew instantly that all of them had died during my lifetime. Their presence seemed absolutely natural. They rushed toward me, and every person was smiling, shouting, and praising God. … Although no one said so, intuitively I knew they were my celestial welcoming committee. It was as if they had all gathered just outside heaven’s gate, waiting for me. … “More and more people reached for me and called me by name. I felt overwhelmed by the number of people who had come to welcome me to heaven. There were so many of them, and I had never imagined anyone being as happy as they all were…. I spotted two teachers who had loved me and often talked to me about Jesus Christ. … Everyone continually embraced me, touched me, spoke to me, laughed and praised God.” pp 22 & 24

me me me me me me me me me me me me me = # times we read me or my in those few sentences. Ezekiel spoke of the glory of the Lord.

“But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8)

Quite a different use of the word me there, with Peter pleading for Jesus to remove Himself from sinful ‘me’.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, when Peter saw Jesus in His glory, his first impulse was to build a tent of worship. He said as much to Jesus, then,

“He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.” (Matthew 17:5-6)

The disciples were terrified in the presence of the LORD. Yet Kim Smith lounged in Jesus’ lap and asked Him of ‘me’.

Here are several short blog essays to help you discern that trips to heaven are not real. They ones by John MacArthur are aptly titled. Several in the list are by Tim Challies & another is by Justin Peters.

Sermon by Justin Peters: Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word-Faith Movement

Response to Heaven is For Real, 4 part essays

1. Blog by John MacArthur: Heaven Is Real; Hallucinations Are Not

2. Blog by John MacArthur: Dead Men Tell No Tales

3. Blog by John MacArthur: When Preschoolers Speak Ex Cathedra

4. Blog by John MacArthur: The Idolatry of Experience

Tim Challies Book Review: Heaven is For Real

Tim Challies: I Went to Heaven Books

Tim Challies: What The Bible Says About the Heaven Books

The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven…not quite” Beth Malarkey’s Poignant Testimony about her son’s NON-trip to heaven, how it is just a lie exploited by others (“The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”)

‘Heaven is for Real’ Dad Says Critics are ‘Pharisees’

Posted in 90 minutes in heaven, burpo, discernment, heaven is for real, heaven tourism, visions

"Heaven is for Real" is Unreal. What near death experiences tell us, and what they don’t tell us

In 2010 a book was released called “Heaven is for Real“. A wikipedia page describes the plot thus:
The book documents the report of a near-death experience by Burpo’s then-four-year-old son, Colton. The book tells how the boy began saying he had visited heaven.”

And at the end of the page it says, “See Also”:
23 Minutes in Hell
90 Minutes in Heaven
The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven
Proof of Heaven

The book was immediately optioned to be made into a movie, which is being released this month, April 2014.

Heaven Is for Real
A small-town father must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world.”

I used the word ‘immediately’ because the book was a runaway bestseller. It spent eight weeks at No. 1 in 2011. It’s been on the NY Times bestseller list for a total of 138 weeks.

This is incredible to me. That people in the first place would seek any information about God’s dwelling apart from God’s word is amazingly undiscerning. And to be attracted to such information from a four-year-old-boy is just beyond comprehension.

But I understand. I understand the attraction to wanting to see peeks of the other side. As Christians, we resist such thoughts and desires, because they aren’t profitable. When I was an unsaved person, though, I was intrigued by near-death experiences (NDEs).

Besides near-death experiences, there are now post-death experiences. Science and medicine has advanced to the point currently where doctors can put a person to death for a long period of time in order to operate or repair a body, and then bring them back to life in controlled circumstances.

I wasn’t saved until I was 43 years old. That is a lot of years as a teen and an adult to ponder the mysteries of the other side. And ponder I did. There is a certain logic to Christianity that the unsaved mind suppresses. (Romans 1:18). Intuitively it seemed that evolution would not have gone to all the trouble to evolve us bodily AND in addition, give us a mind, a conscience, and self-awareness. I wondered, what was the point of living 40, 50, 70 years and then…poof, nada? Obliteration? It didn’t seem likely.

Secondly, it seemed that every culture in the world since recorded time and history began has celebrated or worshiped a deity or deities. I often wondered, why are we all wired to worship? And which deity is the right one? There must be something to religion, if every culture from north to south, east to west, has worshiped someone or something.

Third, I always wondered why so many people reported having a near death experience, and why those experiences seemed so similar.

It was more than reasonable that religion was real, the other side was real, that heaven was real.

Then I became a Christian by God’s grace and the drawing of the Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 2:8, John 6:44). I learned through the bible that heaven IS real. I read what it looks like. I read who will go there. I read about worship there. All about heaven, it’s in the bible. How great and glorious God is to provide us this glimpse.

Four men went to heaven in visions and three came back authorized to tell about it. (Paul said he heard things he was forbidden to tell. 2 Corinthians 12:2. John also was told not to tell of one of the things he’d heard, the Seven Thunders, Revelation 10:1-7). Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John went to heaven in visions and were shown wonderful things. How glorious the Lord is to give us these peeks that are now recorded in His word! We can trust them.

And if you think about it, ONLY FOUR men were given visions of heaven. Job, who was called righteous by God, wasn’t escorted around heaven on a personal tour. King David, a man after God’s own heart, wasn’t given an individual advance visit. John the Baptist, whom Jesus said no other man born of woman had risen greater than, wasn’t given an opportunity to stroll around and take in the sights.

But four year old Colton Burpo was. He and his dad wrote “Heaven is for Real.” In Colton’s version, people had bodies. In the bible version, people haven’t been given their glorified body yet. That won’t happen until the rapture. And we’re supposed to believe the boy?

Dr Eben Alexander was given a tour. He wrote “Proof of Heaven.” Dr Alexander, a former surgeon, has been fired from multiple hospitals, is the subject of several malpractice suits, and is charged by doctors with lying in his book about the events leading up to his NDE, and others found discrepancies in his book on other matters. He is a Christ-rejecting pagan who believes in reincarnation. And HE was given a tour of heaven?

What near death experiences don’t tell us is, what heaven is like, because NONE of the people who claim to have gone there, really went there. The details of their trip contradict not only the bible, but they contradict each other. Any detail, glimpse, peek, or curiosity you have about heaven will not be satisfied in these books or movies. Though they may indeed have had some sort of experience, the details related to heaven are all untrue imaginings.

What NDEs do tell us is what we already know from the bible: the conscious mind continues.

There is no doubt that near death experiences happen. They are consistently reported by millions of people. Eight million people in the US alone have reported having such an experience. And most of them have similar elements. The NDE FAQ page defines those elements this way:

No two NDEs are exactly identical, but within a number of experiences a pattern becomes evident. Researchers have identified the common elements that define near-death experiences. Bruce Greyson argues that the general features of the experience include impressions of being outside one’s physical body, visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries. (source)

There is no doubt that in some of the NDEs, spiritual forces are at play. However, the fact of having a near death experience does not by default make the experience true. Here is the Stand to Reason blog explaining this very concept in their discussion of “Heaven is For Real“.

“What we can’t conclude from these experiences that appear to be real is that what they heard and learned during these experiences are necessarily true. An experience can be real without the conclusions of the experience being accurate. That happens to us all the time even in this life. We have an experience, but we’re mistaken about what we think about it. It can happen in death, too. After all, once we have evidence for a non-physical world, we have reason to believe from the Bible, which tells us about this world, that there are beings there that deceive us. There are also beings who tell us the truth. But which do people encounter in their near death experiences? It’s hard to tell.”

Yes, it’s hard to tell. And why would we even want to pursue such rabbit trails that lead only to the Valley of Humiliation and the Cliffs of Insanity? (apologies to John Bunyan and William Goldman)

All that NDEs can tell us is that the conscious mind continues (we already knew that) and people experience things after death (we already knew that too). Anything other than that are fanciful thoughts and images that have no place in biblical mind and a Jesus-loving heart.

As far as the movie Heaven is For Real goes, avoid it. Though ‘Christian’ movies that are made with Hollywood production values are rare these days, movies about the afterlife, the soul and angels are common. Interest in the topic of the afterlife among the unsaved (and unfortunately the saved) is what’s real. Look at this small list I gathered in just a short time:

Heaven Can Wait/remake of Here Comes Mr Jordan, Warren Beatty,
A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an over-anxious angel before he was supposed to die, comes back to life in the body of a recently-murdered millionaire. (God messes up, that wacky deity! Hijinks from heaven ensue)

All of Me, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin
A dying millionaire has her soul transferred into a younger, willing woman. But something goes wrong, and she finds herself in her lawyer’s body – together with the lawyer. (This movie presents God as a mess-up and violates John 10:12).

What Dreams May Come, Robin Williams
After dying in a car crash a man searches the afterlife for his wife. Chris Robin Williams) dies and awakens in Heaven, and learns that his immediate surroundings can be controlled by his imagination. He meets a man (Cuba Gooding Jr.) he recognizes as Albert, his friend and mentor from his medical residency, and the presence from his time as a “ghost” on Earth. Albert will guide and help in this new afterlife. Albert teaches Chris about his existence in Heaven, and how to shape his little corner, and to travel to others’ “dreams”. Meanwhile, Annie is unable to cope with the loss of her husband and decides to commit suicide. Chris, who is initially relieved that her suffering is done, grows angry when he learns that those who commit suicide go to Hell; this is not the result of a judgment made against them, but rather their own tendency to create “nightmare” afterlife worlds based on their pain. Chris is adamant that he will rescue Annie from Hell, despite Albert’s insistence that no one has ever succeeded in doing so. Albert agrees to find Chris a “tracker” to help search for Annie’s soul. (This movie teaches we are little gods and we create heaven and hell ourselves AND that we can re-write the rules of heaven. Additionally there is no marriage in heaven and our focus will be on Jesus, not our earthly wife).

Defending Your Life, Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep
In an afterlife resembling the present-day US, people must prove their worth by showing in court how they have demonstrated courage. (A works related salvation, and one which defendants argue with God, no less. Presenting God as less than the Holy and Righteous Judge).

Wings of Desire, Peter Falk
An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal. (Presented as a romantic, sensitive story, this one is right out of Genesis 6 with the unholy angels mating with women.)

It’s A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart
An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. (A person given visions of the future like John of Patmos was??)

Michael, John Travolta, Andie MacDowell
Frank Quinlan and Huey Driscoll, two reporters from a Chicago-based tabloid, along with Dorothy Winters, an ‘angel expert’, are asked to travel to rural Iowa to investigate a claim from an old woman that she shares her house with a real, live archangel named Michael. Upon arrival, they see that her claims are true – but Michael is not what they expected: he smokes, drinks beer, has a very active libido and has a rather colourful vocabulary. In fact, they would never believe it were it not for the two feathery wings protruding from his back. (This is obviously an unholy angel, presented as holy. What a blot on the name of Jesus and His heaven!)

In 2004 John Hagee Ministries put together a movie called “Escape From Hell.” In it, a psychiatrist who counsels people who have had near death experiences becomes consumed with learning whether there is an afterlife for real or not. He induces a medical death for himself and calls a friend to come revive him before it is too late. With that, he passes out and begins his tour. The doctrinal errors in this film are too numerous to mention, but a movie reviewer called CBC Pastor wrote this:

When we seek to add error to increase the scare effect, we deny the power of God’s Spirit to work through truth… Movies that stretch the truth to this level only hurt evangelism through those that will laugh themselves right out of our churches and ignore the truth of genuine warning.

That is exactly what these heaven tourism books and movies do. They deny the power of the Spirit to work through truth, and isn’t that how the Spirit promised to work? Through truth? Not through lies.

Here are some credible reviews and essays on heaven tourism. I’ll tell you ahead of time, they are all negative. I am purposely listing these in order to help you or to help you help a family member or friend who insists that these visions and trips to heaven are real. Heaven IS for real. I know this because Jesus told me so, not a little boy, or a disgraced doctor or a well-intentioned pastor or any man in the flesh. As Pastor Tim Challies succinctly said of Heaven is for Real,

The point of it all is to encourage you that heaven is a real place. Colton went there and his experience now validates its existence“.

Ridiculous in the extreme, isn’t it?!

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Further Reading

Heaven is For Real, book review by Tim Challies

Heaven Tourism, essay by Tim Challies

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine , essay by Phil Johnson

To Heaven and Back, review by Randy Alcorn

Justin Peters explains why trips to heaven don’t line up with the biblevideo

The Berean Library, Heaven is for Real

Posted in heaven tourism, mike gendron, mohler, unbiblical

The economic sin of heaven tourism, unbiblical Christianese, expository preaching, God’s justice in Christ

We are nearing the end of the first full week of school. The kindergarten kids are tiring me out! I have just a few links for you tonight.

In the first one, Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks on why expository preaching is SOOO important.

“The Sheer Weightlessness of so many Sermons: Why Expository Preaching Matters”
“One of the first steps to a recovery of authentic Christian preaching is to define exactly what we mean when we discuss authentic preaching as “exposition.” Many preachers claim to be expositors. But in many cases, this means merely that the preacher has a biblical text in mind, no matter how tenuous its relationship to the sermon.”

“Unfortunately, the appetite for serious preaching has virtually disappeared among many Christians who are content to have their fascinations with themselves encouraged from the pulpit.”

Read on. Dr Mohler does a great job as usual for making the case.

In this next link, Mike Gendron at Proclaiming the Gospel talks of the wishy-washy Christian-ese vocabulary words that have crept into our language but in fact are merely watering down the faith and making a mush of the crispness of the word.

Unbiblical Words in Today’s Christian Vocabulary
“Does it concern you that terms with no biblical foundation have crept into the contemporary Christian vocabulary? Most of the unbiblical terms being used today describe how a person becomes a Christian or how a professing Christians excuses their lifestyle of habitual sin. Some examples of the former include “accepting Jesus” and “inviting Jesus into your heart.” Two examples of the latter include “backsliding” and “carnal Christians.” These four terms give professing Christians a false sense of security that they are saved when they may never have been converted. We need to take great care that we are part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

The latest edition of NoCo90 (No Compromise Radio 90-Second Biblical Truth Clips) is about the Economic Sin of Lazarus.

I’ll summarize what Pastor Mike Abendroth of Bethlehem Bible Church in MA said in this very short but powerful video clip. Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out of the grave. His grave cloths were unbound from him, and Lazarus went on to live the rest of his natural life. What was heaven like, Lazarus? We don’t know. Lazarus is never recorded in the bible as saying anything about what he did, where he went or what it was like for him during the 4 days he was dead. Yet people today who allegedly die for a minute or an hour, and are brought back to consciousness if not life, are speaking about their experience in packed auditoriums, writing books that sell for big bucks, and making movies to gain economically from their so-called heavenly visit. In listening to Pastor Abendroth explain it in those terms you begin to see how crass the whole heaven tourism industry really is.

Then he said that if you want to read a book about a guy who rose from the dead and was in heaven, then remember that JESUS is that man, and He wrote a book about it, and that book is free.

Pastor Abendroth says it much better than I do, so please do click on the link to go to his Youtube account and listen for 90 seconds.

The Christian Pundit has a terrific essay on God’s Justice in Christ. I love to ponder His justice…even more than pondering His love. I hate sin and I can’t wait for Jesus to render justice on the world so that when the time comes, all will worship Him in perfection, truth, and sinlessness. I long for that day. Meanwhile, today, here is their essay on justice

God’s Justice in Christ

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Painting of the day

Jesus walks on water, Ivan Aivazovsky, 1888