Friday, January 24, 2014

"Even if someone rises from the dead"

I have long registered my dismay over the popularity of the "I died, went to Heaven, and God sent me back" books. First of all there is no biblical category for this. "It is appointed unto man once to die and then face the judgment." Folks, "clinically dead" is the not the same thing as "dead dead." What is more, these testimonies tend to go off into flights of fancy. For instance, the Burpos would have us believe that we will have wings in Heaven. Also, they undermine the sufficiency of Scripture. I have had brothers and sisters in Christ tell me, "I always believed in Heaven but now (after reading one of these books) I really believe."

These books are defended on the basis of the fact that these testimonies generate faith in unbelievers. Of course this is precisely what Jesus said would not happen (Luke 16). One more concern I have is the profit motive. Some of these books have generated enormous amounts of wealth for the writers. As a result numerous spin offs are produced which seems highly opportunistic.

Now, a movie of Heaven Is For Real is coming up and millions of evangelicals will flock to the screen. Another loss for biblical discernment.

Nancy Guthrie has written a helpful piece on this phenomena.

She writes:
The question really isn't about whether or not a 4-year-old's description of heaven lines up with what the Scriptures teach. The question is whether or not we really believe that God in his Word "has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3). Admittedly the Bible does not provide as much detail about what awaits us beyond this life as some of us might like. It does tell us four significant things:
1. We will be with Christ (Luke 23:42-43Phil 1:21-23).
2. It will be far better than life on this earth (Phil 1:21-23).
3. We will be away from the body (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

4. Our spirits will be made perfect—completely cleansed of sin (Hebrews 12:22-23).
Since we know that to be at home with the Lord is to be away from the body, when one of these books describes physical bodies in heaven that are healed and whole, we know instantly that it is not a genuine account of the current realities of heaven. One day the physical bodies of those who are united to Christ will be healed and whole like the body of the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22-23; 1 John 3:2). But that will not be until the day Christ returns and makes all things new. Right now "we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21).

Until then, we do not need the testimony of an impressionable 4-year-old boy, a neurosurgeon, spine surgeon, sports writer, or even a pastor to know that heaven is real. We have everything we need in the Bible. Its testimony is enough to generate genuine faith in Christ, as well as a greater longing for unending life in his presence.
Read the whole post HERE.

1 comment:

Mark said...

None of the justified elect have ascended to a place from which they never descended.

Hebrews 11: 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Acts 2: 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 UNTIL I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Colossians 3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where CHRIST is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, THEN you also will appear with him in glory.

John 3:13–”No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”

An ascent directly into heaven from death without a resurrection would be Plato’s pagan idea of death as the release of an immortal soul. Going to heaven is not resurrection.

Gnostics teach going to heaven without resurrection. Gnostics teach that resurrection is going to heaven. Some of these gnostics are preterists, but most of them simply do not think straight about the need for the second coming of Christ.

Many hold onto unbiblical (Platonic) ideas about what “soul” is. Since they do not know that the living soul is body plus breath (Genesis 2:7), they tend to think of the “immortal soul” and they cannot deal with reality of Christ the servant pouring out His soul unto death (Isaiah 53). Since they change Christ’s death into “spiritual death”, they also tend to change Christ’s bodily resurrection into “going to heaven.”

Heretics like Harold Camping went so far as to say that Christ’s “spiritual death” (which he located before creation) is the real and effective death. Caping claimed that the physical death was only a demonstration of the real “spiritual” death. Other unthinking preachers do not go as far as Camping, but they seem to prefer talking about Christ’s “infinite soul suffering” instead of the death Christ died in history which was demanded by God’s law for the sins of the elect imputed to Christ.

Ephesians 1:20 describes God’s mighty power “which He exercised in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and enthroned Him at His right hand in the heavenlies.”

Acts 3:15–”You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead.”

I Peter 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

I Corinthians 15: 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, THEN AT HIS COMING those who belong to Christ.