Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and the Bible - Part 2
- Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and the Bible - Part 1
What happens at the moment of death? Can we really know? The Bible has much to say about near death experiences.
If we are to make sense of near death experiences (NDEs), as was mentioned in Part 1, we must look to Scripture. We can get information from many sources, but the only source we can trust completely is the Bible. The media can and does lie much of the time. Books and (can you imagine?) the internet can and do lie. Unfortuantely, our experiences can also lie.
Jesus Himself is Truth and so from His words, Truth flows. We must gauge the media, books and the internet, and even our own experiences by the Bible. Romans 3:4 tells us "For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar. . . ." So the question becomes not, what have I experienced?, but what does the Bible say I have experienced? To unravel the mystery of NDEs, that is where we need to begin - the Bible.
I am a Bible literalist. If the Bible says it, I am obligated to believe it whether it fits my mold of philosophy or experience. If we are to take the Bible at face value. That means we are not to add to or take away from what it says to make it fit our personal beliefs which may in fact be flawed. That being said, is there a verse that tells us just that? I believe there is - Proverbs 30:6 tells us, "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. " We could also add Revelation 22:18, 19, Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 among others.
Fame and Fortune
Referring to Todd Burpo's account of his son Colton's trip to Heaven and back (see Part 1), Colton reports a God with blue eyes, yellow hair, and huge wings; a Jesus with sea-green-bluish eyes, brown hair, no wings, but with a rainbow colored horse; and a Holy Spirit who is bluish but hard to see. None of these things are seen in Scripture. Colton, although I am sure unintentionally, has added to the Scriptures.
Bill Wiese is a Celebrity
Bill Wiese mentions in his book, 23 Minutes in Hell, that he experienced 300 degree temperatures with no humidity; reptilian-like demons of torture, rats the size of dogs and many other things. Again, he has added to the Word of God as the Bible does not report any of these things. We have been given all we need to know in the 66 books of the Bible, and if our experiences do not line up with Scripture, we must allow God to be true. "But" . . .I hear someone say, "I have experienced an NDE. It was very real. I know what I've seen even if it doesn't agree with the Bible."
NDEs Are for Real
There is no argument from me. I know people do experience these things, and that they are very real, but again, let us look to Scripture. Paul writes in II Corinthians 11:14, " And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." We underestimate the power of the evil one. He can appear as one from God, an angel of light. Light, that is what many people report seeing at the end of the dark tunnel. Some have actually reported demonic activity taking place in the tunnel as they travel toward "the light". I do not doubt the experiences. Based on Scripture, I doubt the source as being from God.
Scripture goes on to say in Hebrews 9:27, ". . . it is appointed unto men once to die . . . ." If we are to take the statement literally (and I see no reason not to), and we are to let God be true, we need to accept the fact that we die only one time. If we are to say that one has died, and come back from the realm of the dead to tell about it, then we make God a liar, for He says we die only once. Even though the doctor may pronounce us dead, somehow we are not. There is still a spark of life, albeit very small, that exists within us. Somehow, ever so faintly, the neurons in the brain are firing ever so slightly.
Deuteronomy 5:26 asks the question, " For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking . . . and lived?" Obviously, those who have claimed to see God in their NDE would remain there and would cease to live if they truly saw and heard Him speak. Even Moses was shielded from seeing the complete glory of God (Exodus 33;20). We know that no one has seen God and lived - so why are these still living after a near death experience? Again, we can only look to Scripture, not what we perceive as sin-sick and sin-tainted individuals. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" We cannot even trust our own hearts.
Could it be that the purpose of one experiencing near death was allowed to visit the Heavenly throne room was to come back and tell about it so that others might come to Christ? Paul did just that. Paul relays his story in II Corinthians 12:2-6. First we must realize that Paul himself mentions he could not tell if he was in the body or out (verse 2, 3). Paul may have just had an out-of-body experience without dying. There is no evidence that he died. This would allow him to face death at the hand of Nero, dying only once.
I see no connection with this incident and Acts 14:19 where Paul was supposedly left for dead at Lystra. Even if there was a clear connection, Paul was supposedly left for dead; that is to deem, regard, or think to be dead.
So what did the Apostle Paul report upon his return? Nothing - absolutely nothing. His report is found in II Corinthians 12:4, " How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." For whatever God's purpose was, Paul was given the gift of seeing the third heaven, but was not given permission to talk about it. It is "unlawful" to speak of those things. Lazarus, upon his return to this world gave not a clue as to what the afterlife held. Why? Because it is unlawful.
The prophet Isaiah relates this in Isaiah 64::4 - "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." Plainly the prophet tells us that only God has seen and heard what is on the other side. Therefore, whatever is reported as being on the other side was not truly seen.
Remember, that we are not to add or take away from Scripture. We are to let God be true and judge our experiences by the Book rather than twisting the clear meaning of the Book to fit our experiences. Remember satan is an angel of light and that we only die once. Remember that no one has seen or audibly heard the living God and lived.Remember lastly that we are not relay descriptions of Heaven.
That being said, I do not understand all that takes place at the moment of death, and if you are honest, neither do you, but we do have a Book that gives us light on the subject. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us both as we study the Word of God together.