HOUSMAIL HM#115B --NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES Part 2 -- A Biblical View . 1 April 2004
Jesus left His Church a warning to be very cautious about too easily accepting the word of preachers offering "signs and wonders"in support of their claims. (Matthew 24:23-24). Lack of Biblical concern for THE TRUTH, and credulous acceptance of false teachers offering spectacular but unbiblical "signs" can cause people to be led astray.
The Apostle Paul put it in even stronger terms. He warned that a beautiful outward appearance is not enough to identify the true source of anything! Even Satan can disguise himself to look like "an angel of light"! (2 Cor 11:13-15) And sadly, many are willing to be deceived! (2 Thess 2:8-12) [Incidentally, I hope you noticed the marked similarity between Paul‘s description of Satan‘s ability to appear disguised as an "angel of light", and the "being of light" common to many similar "testimonies". Coincidence? -- or God‘s "orange light"?]
Why does God allow such things to happen? Well Moses told us that over 3000 years ago!
The LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your
with all your heart and with all your soul ."(Deut 13:1-3 RSV)
However God does not leave us helpless! If we prayerfully search for the Divine Wisdom (James 1:5-8) about the REAL message of the Bible, there are many "built in" signals which will enable the Bereans amongst us , (Acts 17:11) to identify the unbiblical errors found in the teaching of these false prophets mentioned by Jesus.
If you have read the companion article to this, "NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES Part 1 -- A Brief Review", you will recall that this topic was provoked by a question from my 15 year old grandson, about a "testimony" he had heard at his school, given by a speaker who described his "experience" of a visit to "hell" and "heaven" whilst allegedly dead, and his subsequent "resurrection" from the dead.
And you will also recall my fairly obvious scepticism about the Biblical validity of that testimony! Since Friday, I have actually read the speaker‘s "testimony" for myself, as found on his Web Site. So this is now a first hand assessment , no longer based only on the second hand report from last Friday. My disbelief remains intact! There were no surprises in the written "testimony". It contained many of the common features of similar "near-death experiences". (NDEs) It also contained the expected Biblical warning signs, by which those who truly love God are able to recognise it for what it is.
That this preacher has had an "experience" of some sort, I do not question. However the origin he claims for it, and the use he makes of it is quite another matter! He says it was from God. But it can‘t be measured against anything we can find in the Bible anywhere! It contradicts the Bible at many important points. And that means that we are entitled to reject it!
In yesterday‘s Melbourne Herald Sun, there was a brief report of the sad case of a woman in USA who has been charged with the murder of her two young sons. Defence counsel have pleaded "not guilty" on the ground of insanity. Her lawyers have told the court that she heard what she believed to be God‘s voice telling her to kill them.
Of course it is quite possible that this poor woman has heard a "voice". However did the voice come from God? We don‘t believe THAT for a moment do we? Why don‘t we believe it? ? (Even though the woman is reported to be a "deeply religious" person?) The answer is quite simple -- There must be something wrong with her "religion"! We know from the Bible that God doesn‘t tell REAL Christians to do things like that. And because of that we know that the voice she heard MUST be from some other source! There are many possibilities for that. It might indeed be as her lawyers claim. The "hearing of voices" is a common feature of some mental illness, and is a believable source. But from God? Never!
It is like that with "near-death experiences"! No matter what the credentials of the preacher, all teaching is subject to comparison with the Scriptures to test its validity. (1 Cor 14:32; 1 Thess 5:19-22) And that includes this present writer! You are encouraged to do your own Bible homework to check out what you are being told! Your faith must rest in hearing the Word of God for yourself.
ARE SOME OF THE WARNING SIGNALS WE SHOULD LOOK FOR?
First of all, are NDEs found anywhere in the Bible? If we are at all familiar with our Bibles, we KNOW that such things are not found there. They don‘t happen! And that should be the end of it!
However for those do who want more, there are several other things in the "testimony" which also sound loud warning bells! Each of these is a topic in its own right, and in this short paper we can only point to them briefly, without a detailed Bible discourse on each. You will be responsible for your own prayerful follow up, until you confirm for yourself, beyond question, how and why they might lead the elect astray. (Matt 24:23-24)
CONFUSION ABOUT THE IDENTITY OF GOD AND JESUS
The "testimony" I read is quite confused about the identity of the "being of light". Sometimes it is called "God", and sometimes it is called "Jesus", implying that they are one and the same person.
The Bible is quite clear that God is NOT Jesus, and Jesus is NOT God! (Deut 6:4; John 17:3; I Cor 8:6; 1 Tim 2:5) The difference is VERY important to our FAITH in the life and death of Jesus as a REAL man, provided by God to show other men THE WAY to overcome sin and reach the achievable goal of the holiness and purity of heart, to which we are called to prepare us for eternity! (1 John 5:1-3)
CONFUSION ABOUT CONDITIONAL IMMORTALITY
The "testimony" I read is used to claim that humans have immortal souls, with a conscious after life in either Hell, or Heaven, between death and the resurrection. THAT is certainly NOT Biblical! It preempts the Judgement which is to take place when Jesus returns to raise the dead. And it is wrong about the inheritance of the righteous. It has a DIFFERENT "GOOD NEWS"!
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that mortal men are born with "built in" immortality through the possession of "immortal souls". Nowhere in the Bible does it say that men are in a state of conscious existence, in the time between their death and resurrection.
Instead the Bible is quite clear that the dead have no conscious existence of any kind.
" For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing". (Eccles 9:5)
" There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" . (Eccles 9:10)
Immortality is not inherent but conditional ! (Rom 2:6-10; 6:23; 1 Cor 15:51-54 ) And the reward of the righteous is NOT in heaven NOW, but on earth, after the resurrection at the second coming of Jesus. (Matthew 5:5; Heb 11:39-40)
ARE NOT "SENT BACK" FROM THE DEAD TO WARN OTHERS!
In the PARABLE of "The Rich Man And Lazarus", Jesus Himself says that it would be pointless to raise anyone from the dead, in hope that such a resurrection will persuade anyone to become a believer! The same holds true today! If we cannot be convinced by what is already available to us in the Bible, then neither would we be convinced by the miracle of a resurrection! (Luke 16:27-31)
WITH EYES THAT GLOW RED IN THE DARK!
Yes! It really is there in the written testimony! He actually asks us to believe that "demons" in human form tried to attack him! They were recognisable as demons because their eyes glowed red in the dark! Only someone totally ignorant of Bible teaching about demons, would ever swallow THAT. It sounds much more like what one might expect from a drug induced hallucination! Or perhaps the aftermath of his NDE?
For the reasons listed above, my personal conclusion is that the "testimony" which led to the writing of this paper, is one of those counterfeit experiences from the false prophets described by Jesus in Matthew 24:24 . The man wasn‘t really dead. It has all the marks of a fairly "standard" NDE as reported by many others, Christians and pagans alike.
The warning signals described above all have their foundation in what the Apostles Paul and Peter had in mind when they warned against the MYTHS which were already creeping into the Church in their day! (1 Tim 1:4; 1 Tim 4:7; 2 Tim 4:4; 2 Pet 1:16)
It must be admitted that they sound quite spectacular. But their appeal is more to gullible people, ignorant of the Scriptures, too lazy to invest the time or effort to search prayerfully for themselves, and instead are content to swallow their religion "second hand" from hireling eartickling preachers. Strange isn‘t it, how willing some people are to be deceived by an outward appearance of religion, which lacks REAL life transforming power, (2 Tim 3:5) and offers in its place an amazing variety of spectacular sounding NON Biblical myths and/or false Gospels. (2 Cor 11:3-4, 13-15; 2 Thess 2:9-12; 2 Tim 4:3)
True believers, will however, want more than anything else in this world, (Luke 14:33) to find and believe THE TRUTH which alone can inspire the love that leads to REAL repentance, obedience, and eternal life . (John 8:31-32; 14:15; Rom 2:6-10)
You may be certain that anything which depends so heavily on things which are NOT Biblically true, will eventually lead to other things which subtly contradict the REAL teaching of Jesus about God‘s standards for true righteousness and holiness. e.g. The Sermon On The Mount.
The Serpent‘s subtle lie persuaded Eve in the Garden of Eden. The same technique is still leading people astray today!