If someone tells us he was in heaven...
Permit me the observation: we Christians can be quite gullible. If someone tells us he was in heaven, and publishes this in a book, there are many serious Christians who immediately believe him, especially when a child claims such an experience. It is a fact that even in our conservative circles, I am frequently coming into contact with sincere Christians who are drawn to the “heavenly trip” books. It is like a mouse drawn to the cheese. I understand the fascination of these books. They affect our emotions, give us a feeling of security, and warm our hearts. But, could this be wrong? The answer is: yes!
The evangelical “heavenly trip” books and their present boom are a sign of our times, the end times, if I may say so, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:1-4). They testify of a spiritual superficiality, which has enveloped a large portion of fundamental Christians. This statement may sound harsh, but it is true. The focus on irrational sentimentalism, which was once a sign of religious liberalism, has found its way into our circles through these works: “If it feels good, then it must be right.” This is the conclusion of many believers. The Biblical command, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,” is no longer what counts but warm and fuzzy “feel good” Christianity. This is what many strive after. This urge may be understandable—especially in view of the problems in our world—but it is no sign of spiritual maturity.
John MacArthur shows in his book, The Glory of Heaven what thinking Christians should make of supposed heavenly trips and near-death experiences, and what God Himself says in His Word about the Bible—that it is far more glorious, precious and exciting than we could ever imagine. If you want to know more about the right and wrong ideas about heaven, I can warmly recommend MacArthur’s thorough work on this subject. He is not afraid of criticizing beloved and well-known works such as Heaven Is for Real.
What is a good antidote for our gullibility? The love of our Lord tells us to “continue ye in my love” (John 15:9), and true love does not believe anything that goes against God. If we really love our Lord Jesus with all our hearts, if He is the center of our thoughts, if we want to please Him, then we are no longer satisfied with books about journeys to heaven in which Jesus often plays a minor role, as a friendly prompter. If Christ is our life and our all, then we want to know and have fellowship with Him more. Then we will want to strip off our superficial worldliness and pursue a deeper holiness. Then this literature will no longer interest us, as we ask ourselves continually: where is Jesus? We find Him in prayer, when reading His Word, and in His Church.
Our Lord is coming soon. This is our hope and prayer, and therefore we should be “sober” as the apostles say, and wait for Him and not the next “I Was in Heaven” bestseller. Maranatha.
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