I was driving home today listening to Sean Hannity and his coworkers go on and on about this new movie coming out, based on the book of the same title, Heaven Is For Real. Given that Hannity was giving a complete endorsement for it, I thought I might bring some discernment to the discussion. I know many, and I mean many, are going to eat up whatever the book or movie says because these books always make heaven more palatable for those who are lost. I know, some of those who read this will think I’m just raining on the 4-year-olds parade because I don’t believe his story. Please hear me out.
First off, we are test the spirits and whatever anyone says concerning the things of God with Scripture (1 John 4:1). These stories never measure up. They never agree with what Scripture says about heaven. They always talk about the great peace they have, getting chummy with Jesus, seeing old friends and learning about things here on earth. What these stories lack is what Scripture gives us about heaven, and how it is focused purely on the Triune God’s glory. The people in heaven are not focusing on one another, but on God Himself. They are not getting chummy with each other, but praising God, singing the praise of Christ and rejoicing at the grace HE showed us for getting there. (I know, this sounds boring to the non-believer’s ears, but there will be nothing boring in heaven even if we do the same activity for the next 25 million years).
We don’t see these type accounts given when the prophets of God are given visions of heaven. For instance, Isaiah has a vision of the LORD sitting on His throne in the year that King Uzziah died. Does Isaiah get all chummy with the LORD, i.e., did he go and sit on His lap like this 4-yeard-old boy supposedly does in the movie about to be released? No, he falls as a dead man before the LORD and cries out: “Woe is me, I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.”
Remember that Isaiah was a prophet of God. By the time we get to his vision in Isaiah 6, he had already been preaching and prophesying for the LORD, the same LORD that he would fall before and make a proclamation of his own sinfulness.
This is because God is exceedingly and abundantly holy. He does not tolerate sin. When we, as fallen sinful beings, find ourselves in the presence of a holy being, it has a tendency to make us drop down and either hide from the holy being or worship the One before us.
These popular books never speak of the holiness of God, or His glory, or anything that resembles heaven as it is portrayed in the Bible. It’s all based on the person’s experience. This is the key to such stories. It’s completely impossible to test their experience or test what they think happened.
I do not for a moment doubt that this little boy had an experience of some kind. But it wasn’t heaven. It may have been demonic in nature for all we know. We don’t know. But to accept this story without comparing it to Scripture is foolishness and is an open door for all kinds of fanciful doctrines that the world may conjure up for the masses.
Second, not only do we have the account of Isaiah, but we also have Paul giving us the account of a man he knew that was caught up to the third heaven. The man doesn’t give us a description or tell us he saw old friends there. What he does say is that it was unlawful for him to speak to the issue. And I know such a man… how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible word, which it is not lawful for a man to utter (2 Corinthians 12:3-4).
Paul, who was guided by the Holy Spirit, is telling us that even if someone were taken to heaven and brought back, it would be unlawful for that person to say anything about it. Far be it from these modern-day prophets to stay silent about what they thought they saw. They are making it straight to the publishers of Christian drivel to sell their stories without any regard whatsoever to God’s Law or His Word. That is because most of these people are not really Christians. They are not those who go out of their way to die to self and exalt the LORD. They may include the LORD in their stories. False prophets always do. It gives them a sense of authentication with those who lack discernment. But they are never concerned with Jesus Christ and the gospel, that He comes to save sinners. In fact, most of them want nothing to do with the gospel. They simply need Jesus the meek-and-mild, not the Holy Son of God, Alpha and Omega, the King of all Creation and the final judge of all of mankind.
Finally, the heavens these people describe are nothing like what Jesus describes when He says, The Kingdom of heaven is like… That is because their heaven, and His (yes, it belongs to Him), are different heavens. These false prophets want nothing to do with the real heaven of Scripture. Otherwise, they would be touting the heavens of Scripture as opposed to the heaven of their imaginations.
The point being, if you want to know what heaven is like, and know it for real, read the Bible. What the Bible tells us about heaven is authoritative. It is not speculation or imagination. It is what Jesus told us it would be.
Please watch the video below for more on this topic. Hattip for the video: Neil.