Near Death Experiences

I would talk to you today about misconceptions that people have about death and heaven. First of all, I am not a believer in what are called “NDE’s” (Near Death Experiences). Why not? Two reasons: first of all many people who say they have died have been reported to have seen a great light. They talk about a peaceful experience. These reports are from people who had, by their own admission, no relationship with the church and thus with Christ. I am reminded of what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:14: “that the devil can disguise himself ‘as an angel of light.’” Other people have reported that when they died they left their body and saw themselves floating above and saw their relatives mourning their passing or doctors trying to revive them. I do not believe these people were clinically dead and that our mind can imagine anything. For example one of our first elders had a severe heart attack. His heart stopped beating for about 10 minutes. After he was revived, I asked him if he experienced anything and he said no. Hebrews 9:27 says: “It is appointed once for man to die and then comes judgment.” (emphasis mine)

What do we know about heaven? I think very little. One of the joys of the Christian life is anticipating God’s Kingdom. In John 14:1, Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” The word for mansion literally means “dwelling”. It does not describe exactly what that is like. We are studying the book of Revelation on Sunday morning and are seeing glimpses of heaven but certainly not its fullness. What we do know is that we will see God and the Lord Jesus Christ in bodily form. We will see all the saints and angels and enjoy a sinless eternity.

We do know however that many speculate about heaven with unbiblical teachings. For example, evangelist Jesse Duplantis in his book Heaven, Close Encounters of the God Kindsaid that he went to heaven in 1988 in something like a cable car. He claims that when there he put out his hand to comfort Jesus who seemed to be hurting only to tell him: “I need you, Jesse!” This is blasphemous.

In 2004 Randy Alcorn published a book entitled Heaven. He uses words such as maybe, likely, could be, perhaps, in describing heaven. He says “We may not set foot on the new earth until ‘the sixth day of the new creation’ and perhaps ‘watch God at work for another creative week.’ We may ‘look back at the present earth and conclude, creatively speaking, that God was just ‘warming up’ and getting started.’ He also said that God may create new races of intelligent beings, either on earth or on other planets spread across the new universe.” This is very unlikely.

He also says there may be talking animals and intelligent non-human beings. He says animals will be seen to have “non-human souls” but then he says that although humans continue to exist after death this may not be the case for animals but he says God may have a future plan for animals. He continues, “extinct animals may be brought back so that we can imagine ourselves riding a brontosaurus, or flying on the back of a pterodactyl.”

What we should know about heaven is only what the Scripture tells us and what St. John tells us in Revelation 21:1-4: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself with be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’”

Recent Christian Movies

There have been a lot of movies made this spring that claim to have strong Christian messages. So far there has been Son of God, God is Not Dead and Noah. Having seen all three of these movies, I can honestly say that none of them were good portrayals of the Gospel. The movie Noah was far more fiction than fact. For example, Noah believed that “the Creator” (the name God was never used) wanted him to see that all the humans in the ark were killed before it hit land. This was because men were evil. That is true (Genesis 6:5) but God saved Noah and his family out of His grace to the human race. Genesis 9:8, 9: “And God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: ‘And as for Me, behold, I will establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you”’. There is no talk here of God eliminating Noah and his family.  In the movie, Seth’s wife had twin daughters. Noah was to put them to death. He disobeyed the Creator and did not kill the babies for “love”.  This is an unbiblical movie.

The one that would come closest to the truth was the Son of God but it was still lacking. For example, the person playing Jesus quoted the first part of John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life” but he did not say the end of the verse “No one comes to the Father  but through Me”. (an oversight?)

I do not know why Hollywood cannot simply make the Gospel story true to the Biblical text. What is wrong with saying that first of all God so loved the world (John 3:16)? This means that He offers His love to all who receive Him. He offers His Gospel of hope to hopeless people. How did God find us? We believe in the doctrine of unconditional election which means that God chose us based on nothing that we have done. In Deuteronomy 7:7, 8 God said to Israel, “The Lord did not send His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you are the least of all peoples but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

It is the grace of God that our salvation is not based upon our looks, our income, our education, or our status in society or our goodness. If that were the case, we would all perish. There are many people who believe that they are not good enough for God. Again, if that’s the case, we would all be lost.

The end of John 3:16 says, “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. What a wonderful promise Jesus makes to those who repent.  Sadly the only reason that such a movie would not be popular is because of our sinful pride. We want to be autonomous people in charge of not only our life but our salvation. As Paul said in Ephesians 2:1: “We are dead in trespasses and sins until  God in His mercy  savesus”. Therefore, the purpose of a Gospel movie should be evangelism telling people the good news of Jesus Christ and praying that God would change their hard hearts and show them that what they are seeking is only found in the Lord Jesus.

Regardless of how a movie true to the Gospel is received, this is the only way that such a movie should be presented.