Eternity is rushing towards us.
You and everyone else must be ready.

Does Experience Trump the Word of God? – Part One

May 17, 2024

One of the real joys in life is reading a book. You can gain some knowledge and expand your mind a bit. A teenager told me the other day that if he had a phone in one hand and a book in the other, he would more than likely go to his phone. That is how this current generation is being trained. It’s time to untrain them and remind them of the joy of reading.

When I began writing, I never imagined that people would send me books! It never crossed my mind that this would happen, but now I receive books all the time! I even had a prisoner send me a book earlier this week! Of course, he wanted to “correct my doctrine.” Interestingly, the book he sent was written by a well-known heretic, so I didn’t waste my time reading it. This is why you need to get solid Christian books into the prisons and jails around you. There are a ton of books by false teachers sitting on the shelves of their libraries. Call the prison and ask for the chaplain. Ask them if they can take books and booklets that contain staples and have some shipped to them. We are really fighting a battle against false teachings in so many of these facilities.

And please don’t send me a book! My reading stack is pretty high at the moment. But as my days are winding down, it is kind of fun to look at that stack of books and decide which ones are worth spending my time on. Things become clearer as the days run shorter.

Heavenly Tourism

An older gentleman sent me a book the other day written by John Burke called Imagine the God of Heaven. He was reading it, liked it, and wanted me to have a copy. Interestingly, I was chatting with another older gentleman who had just read One Thing You Can’t Do in HeavenHe is fired up—like big time fired up—to share the gospel! He is 82 and witnesses all the time now! He finally realized what he was supposed to be doing with his time! But the older gentleman who sent me the John Burke book was reading another book by him and wanted my opinion about some things in it that he was running across.

Both of those John Burke books have to do with near-death experiences (NDEs). I have always been interested in the experiences people have. As a college student, I remember reading some books by Dr. Raymond Moody. I would never recommend his books to anyone. They are very “New Agey,” and they do not point anyone to Jesus Christ. I was not a Christian at the time, but I was fascinated with the idea of an afterlife and whether or not there was any proof for it.

But one thing I see with many of the folks who read these “heavenly tourism” books, as they are called, is that they are not looking at them with a critical eye. They are not doing QEQE: Question Everything, Question Everybody. People—many of whom are kids—have NDEs where they see certain scenes or go to particular places and then write about their experiences, which are very outlandish and, of course, not biblical. But the problem is that these books sell well, and publishers like books that sell well, regardless of whether or not they are true. There really isn’t much discernment going on.

Back when I taught Bible classes at a Christian school in Columbus, GA, I was really intrigued by a certain book. So, I went to the Christian bookstore and spoke with the owner about ordering multiple copies to give away. He happened to be the parent of one of my students! Nice gentleman. But he told me something that I will never forget. He warned me that the book had false teachings in it. He added that not everything in a Christian bookstore is biblical; they carry things that just sell well. I was kind of new to the faith at the time—a little too naïve, I guess—and I was under the impression that books would be vetted before they ever reached a Christian bookstore. Boy, was I wrong! What a lesson I learned from that man, which has served me well through the years.

Acts 17:11

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Discernment is Low

As we race toward the end of days, one of the things we’re missing is searching the Scriptures daily to see if anything and everything is true. Discernment isn’t a priority for many folks these days. Just because someone has an experience doesn’t mean it is true or valid; it just means they had an experience. Experience never trumps the Word of God. What we should be doing is filtering everything back through the Word of God to see if that experience, prophecy, etc., is biblical.

Do you know how many people predicted that on April 8th, the rapture was going to occur, the financial world was going to collapse, etc.? It seemed like everyone in the supposed “prophetic realm” was predicting something about that day. Why? Well, we do know that sometimes in the Bible, when it describes future things, it tells us about events that will occur in the heavens to signal that something big will be taking place on earth. But how many times has an eclipse occurred where nothing in our world happened? It was just an eclipse. An eclipse shows us that God has created everything and is still in control of His creation! People “ooh” and “aah” over an eclipse, but not over the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars! Something is way off in our world today.

But the problem with an eclipse or near-death experience is that we want them to be true. We want the rapture to occur on that day because we want out of here. This world is nuts and getting nuttier by the hour. It would be a fine time to exit. Instead, shouldn’t we say, “God, thanks for the rapture not happening on April 8th! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Now we have more time to reach lost souls and plant seeds in their lives for You. Thank you!” But we don’t think that way for some reason.

This is also true with NDEs; we want the accounts of NDEs that we read about to be true. They sound good. They sound like such a great place. They sound like the place I want the earth to be. And they sound like the place I want to be right now.

But what if these experiences aren’t true? How can we discern what is true and biblically accurate? That should actually be a very easy question for you to answer.

Staying Focused

These heavenly NDEs, though they are happening to people, can’t be compared to Paul’s vision found in 2 Corinthians. Paul was an apostle. He had been cleansed of his sins. He had already encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road. When he was caught up to Paradise, he didn’t give details about what he experienced except to say he heard words that were unlawful to repeat.

2 Corinthians 12:1-4

It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions  and revelations of the Lord.

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

If Paul says a man should not utter or speak about these things, then why are so many people who have these experiences not only speaking about them but also writing books about them? Now, Paul does write in 1 Corinthians about being taken to Paradise, but his vision is way different than someone having an NDE, since it is part of Holy Scripture and any heavenly NDE would not be.

Do we understand the difference? Or have we not even let the idea cross our minds that these encounters might be fake and that they might be a concoction of the Great Deceiver?

John 8:42-44

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Since Satan’s character is to lie, why would we not think that these heavenly near-death experiences are just another one of his schemes to deceive people?

In Part Two, which comes out on Wednesday, we will go through some NDE encounters from the book to help you see whether they are biblical or not. Once we recognize some of the red flags, we can pass what we learn along to others to make sure they’re warned as well. Please hold your questions and comments until after you read Part 2. It might answer some of the questions you have.

Until the nets are full,

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