Beware “testimonies” of heaven from outside of Scripture

heavenThe fad of “Heaven is for Real” is starting to pass, but there is always more effort by the devil to distract people away from God’s Word and onto their own fancies.  FoxNews magazine reported recently that a neurosurgeon had a heavenly experience when he died and came back to life to tell us about it.  Here is the story.

I am always leery and on edge of experiential arguments in our present day “spiritual” world.  How does a person deal with all of the stories (coming from folks as simple as children to as complex as neurosurgeons) as they are reported?  The same way as you should deal with anything relating to the things of God – check it against the Word of God.  There are some good things to look for and compare, and then there are some good questions to ask… (very similar to figuring out a good sermon, thank you Issues Etc.).

Does the story glorify the Triune God, especially the salvation earned by Jesus Christ for sinners?  Is it about Christ?

In the story who is running the verbs?  Which verbs are being used?  Do these line up with Scripture about the topic?

In the neurosurgeon’s efforts to describe heaven he says some things:

“I knew I had to come back because there was another soul depending on me. It was that love from my son that really forced me to crawl my way back.”

How does that line up with Scripture?  Here is another whopper:

“I’ve come to know absolutely the existence of an all-loving and powerful God — that our souls are eternal,” Dr. Alexander said.  “I go to church all the time, but I have also come to realize strongly that there is no one right religion. All aspects of religion have everything to do with the rich, deep, eternal reality,” he explained.  “Anything about religion that says they are the only one is just doomed dysfunctional human thinking. It’s all about showing compassion and forgiveness in our lives and giving our faith and belief to the source of all creation.”

Here is an immediate red flag that what this man experienced was not from God, because his testimony does not line up with sacred Scripture.  This is an apostle of the false gospel of pluralism and in the end the same old demonic religion of works.  While I am glad the doctor has been restored his physical life, I pray that he would come to the knowledge of the Triune God, and receive the free forgiveness of his sins (even these ones) which has already been earned for him by Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the end, if you want to learn about heaven – go and read your Bible – it is infinitely more trustworthy than any experience and testimony of sinful human beings.

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Beware “testimonies” of heaven from outside of Scripture — 11 Comments

  1. Sometimes I wonder if the “light” seen in near death experiences is indeed God, but that in the case of an unbeliever it is for the purpose of escorting the soul to hell.

  2. I’ve encountered people who want to push books like ‘Heaven Is For Real’ onto anybody and everybody. This book was literally placed into my hands one Sunday morning after church and I politely accepted it. I found Dr. Jeff Gibbs review of it on the CSL website and paid close attention to all the points he made. When I returned the book to its’ owner I was hoping she wouldn’t ask me what I thought of it, but no such luck. I think I said something positive at the beginning of the conversation but as we continued to talk I had to tell her of my misgivings. Well, she didn’t want to hear any of it. Dr. Gibbs points out:

    1.’There is no effort to verify the book’s claims.
    2. Holy Scripture’s authority comes to be less important that the testimony of Colton Burpo.
    3. This book wrongly assumes throughout that God’s purpose in sending His Son into the world to serve, suffer, die, and rise from the dead was so that when we die, we can ‘go to heaven.’ To be sure, there is sufficient testimony in Scripture to say that when a believer dies, his soul goes to rest with Christ. But as every writing in the NT shows, Scripture reveals very little of what ‘heaven’ is like, and (more importantly), ‘heaven’ is not the great hope and promise of the Christian message at all! Rather, the return of Christ in glory is the time when God’s good work, begun in us, will come to completion and the creation itself will be set free from decay into the glorious freedom bestowed on God’s children.’ -These points were taken from Dr. J Gibbs review of book on the CLS website.

    This important point of doctrine that ‘we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come’ is sadly missed by a lot of people.

  3. If Christ could not give specifics of what heaven was like and did tell us mostly what it is not like I will just wait until I get there to find out. Satan can create and spread lies,,,Mary is our intermediary…the “saints” are too…God is all loving and forgiving outside of Christ’s work… the list continues. THE WORD is our guide and lamp.

  4. This parody has forever illustrated to me the ridiculousness of these claims of going to heaven and back:

    I do believe in near death experiences and out of body experiences. I’m not saying that everybody who claims to have gone to heaven and come back is lying. I AM saying that anybody who publishes a book about it is most certainly lying. Nobody catches a glimpse of eternity and comes back to turn a buck for it. I’d keep my mouth shut if it happened to me, only discussing it with my closest friends and family.

  5. Thank you for being this clear about the topic of feelings and experiences. While there’s nothing wrong with feeling (we do it without realizing we do it), let’s remember that feelings can be subjective. Our culture of seeking fulfillment via sex is based on following our basic impulses and feelings. Thus, our culture of divorce and abandonment. Also, many who advocate women’s ordination in our church body subscribe to a more feelings-driven Christianity.
    Unfortunately, many evangelicals base their beliefs on this shaky ground of a conversion experience, over God’s grace.

  6. Here’s something I wrote on the subject five years ago, for those interested: Heaven. It is an 18-page review of one of the best books I have read on the subject, Heaven by Randy Alcorn, which goes a long way to dispel the common myths about Heaven, giving us a Biblically-informed perspective on our eternal home.

    Many people fear heaven. Still more aren’t really looking forward to it. Misconceptions make heaven seem quite foreign to many, and often downright boring – and even scary! Alcorn writes:

    “A pastor once confessed to me, ‘Whenever I think about heaven, it makes me depressed. I’d rather just cease to exist when I die.’

    ‘Why?’ I asked.

    ‘I can’t stand the thought of that endless tedium. To float around in the clouds with nothing to do but strum a harp . . . it’s all so terribly boring. Heaven doesn’t sound much better than Hell. I’d rather be annihilated than spend eternity in a place like that.’ Where did this Bible-believing, seminary-educated pastor get such a view of Heaven?”

    Alcorn also quotes another author, John Eldredge, from the book THE JOURNEY OF DESIRE:

    “Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an unending church service. . . . We have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky, one great hymn after another, forever and ever, amen. And our heart sinks. ‘Forever and ever? That’s it? That’s the good news?’ And then we sigh and feel guilty that we are not more ‘spiritual.’ We lose heart, and we turn once more to the present to find what life we can.”

    Alcorn notes that in THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, Mark Twain portrays a similar view of heaven. The Christian spinster Miss Watson takes a dim view of Huck’s fun-loving spirit. According to Huck,

    “She went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. . . . I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.”

    Although most Americans believe in an “afterlife,” people believe quite a variety of things about eternity. Alcorn writes: “A Barna spokesman said: ‘They’re cutting and pasting religious views from a variety of different sources – television, movies, conversations with their friends.’ The result is a highly subjective theology of the afterlife, disconnected from the biblical doctrine of Heaven.”

    “Many Christians who’ve gone to church all their adult lives (especially those under fifty) can’t recall having heard a single sermon on Heaven. It’s occasionally mentioned, but rarely emphasized, and almost never is it developed as a topic. We’re told how to get to Heaven, and that it’s a better destination than Hell, but we’re taught remarkably little about Heaven itself.”

    This must please Satan, because “some of Satan’s favorite lies are about Heaven. Revelation 13:6 tells us the satanic beast ‘opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place’ . . . It must be maddening for him that we’re now entitled to the home he was kicked out of. What better way for the devil and his demons to attack us than to whisper lies about the very place on which God tells us to set our hearts and minds?”

    The book then goes on to dispel the myths and talk about what Scripture has to tell us about our eternal home. Read more of my summary review here: Heaven.

  7. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
    1 John 4:1

    “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”
    2 Corinthians 11:13-15

    “All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
    the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
    What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
    Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
    It has been already
    in the ages before us.”
    Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

  8. mames :
    Mary is our intermediary…the “saints” are too…

    What is the scriptural basis for this claim?

    As I understand it, Christ, and He alone, is our intermediary interceding on our behalf with the Father and for whose sake and none other the Father regards us as righteous in His sight and thus makes us heirs to Heaven.

  9. @Nate Bargmann #9
    mames :
    “Mary is our intermediary…the “saints” are too…” What is the scriptural basis for this claim?

    What “mames” actually said was, “Satan can create and spread lies,,, [e.g.,] Mary is our intermediary…the “saints” are too…

    Does that clear things up for you, Nate?

  10. What “mames” actually said was, “Satan can create and spread lies,,, [e.g.,] Mary is our intermediary…the “saints” are too…
    Does that clear things up for you, Nate?

    No, as mames’ comment has no “[e.g.,]” in it just three commas separating the fragments which appears to me as a list of facts as written. If “for example” is what was meant, then the author needs to write it that way. No, I am not an English major or anything of the sort but we must be careful in our written word to assure what we mean is clearly communicated.

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