The Truth Matters....
Have you Heard…..
Have you heard of people who saw an angel, died and went to heaven and came back, or some other 'proof' of heaven being real? How do you interpret this in the light of scripture? Does it matter? Your answer to the first questions is probably 'yes', I have heard of people going to heaven and coming back. You may wonder if this is proof of heaven or just something that is actually without explainable, but possibly explained by drugs.
Let's see what the Bible has to say.
The Bible tells us that Elisha’s servant’s eyes were opened to see the heavenly host around them protecting them from danger. So, I am not discounting the fact that people sometimes see things that are not normally seen. They may see the armies of God or possibly even the armies of Satan. We are told of angels bringing news being seen in the Bible. I personally have had several unexplainable experiences in seeing something that could get me classified as on some sort of hallucinogenic if I was bold in telling the world about my experience or vision or whatever it was. The absolute fact is there is no real way to verify or prove such an experience is for real, or that it has any relevance to actual events. The Bible does tell us not to try to communicate with the dead. There are far more important things that Christians need to be doing. The lost people of the world need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ as set down in writing for us in the Bible. There is no personal experience that is better than what we already know based on scripture.
1 Peter 1:16-21 tells us,
‘16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Peter heard God the Father give honour and glory to Jesus Christ saying, ‘this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’
Peter heard this personally. Yet Peter said, ‘We have a more sure word of prophecy,’ and goes on to name the written scripture as the ‘more sure word’ than repeating his personal experience. So, there we are. If Peter, having spent 3 years in the presence of Jesus Christ, and having heard the voice of God from heaven, names the written word of God as a more sure word of prophecy, then any personal experiences of a man, woman, or child, do not supersede the written Word of God.
If a person actually came back from heaven what do you think they would actually say? I believe they would start quoting scripture on how to be saved. Above all else they would not want the lost to miss heaven. I know that a great many of my relatives are there in heaven. I don't need someone to verify that they are there enjoying themselves. I believe if a Christian had an encounter with a dead person returning from the grave they would hear something like, 'Hi. Glad to see you. Now get busy telling the world the way of salvation is through Christ Jesus our Lord.' They wouldn't spend any time telling you that they had seen your loved one or friend who is already in heaven. They wouldn't spend time telling you how good the food is or how wonderful the music is. They would be preaching the good news that the lost can be saved from hell through Jesus.
So, I think it is fine to acknowledge that there are some experiences that cannot be explained. If you think you saw an angel, then perhaps you did. If the angel spoke to you that being would not say one single word that contradicts the written word of the Bible. Don't say things that cannot be verified through scripture. The lost don't need to hear, 'Well, I believe the Bible because I saw an angel.' You could say that you believe the Bible because it is true, and the truth has a power all its own. It is like fire and a hammer - very powerful. Everyone does not need to see an angel to be saved. Or have some other super natural experience. Or at least feel really good. The truth is that any feeling or experience can be duplicated by the devil.
What people need is to be saved is faith. The Word of God as given to us in the Bible doesn't change. It is there for us to read and find comfort. Make use of it. Most people have some sort of wonderful feeling of relief when they get saved, but it doesn't last. It comes down to experiences are not an indication of salvation. If 'feeling saved' was proof of salvation then most people would definitely be lost because they don’t have that giddy feeling of joy all the time.
Remember that the Bible is without error as written in its original form. The Bible has thousands of ancient manuscripts. People who have studied the older manuscripts verify that the Bible we have today is an exact copy of ancient manuscripts. Remember that the Almighty God of the Bible spoke the world into place. Our God would not have a problem getting exactly what He wanted put into a book and preserved through generations.
Something that is outrageously arrogant is the view some people have of people from ancient times and even just a few generations ago. They see them as all illiterate and low intelligence. Our ancestors were just as smart or smarter than people now. In any sort of civilization, a great number of the population could read and write. They could reason. To think less of them because they didn't have modern conveniences is arrogant to say the very least.
The Bible is sufficient to tell people how to be saved. It isn't supposed to provide a detailed account of the world's total history, or to answer all our questions regarding creation. God could have written a 50 volume encyclopedia and still not covered every question that arises. The important fact is that is sufficient to tell us what we need to know to get to heaven. So we don't need someone's 'experiences' to get us there. Something else that is interesting about heaven is that no one can describe what is there. We just don’t have the mental capacity to see, understand, and explain heaven. We have an example of Jesus’ disciple John trying to explain future events in the book of Revelation.
The plan of salvation has not changed from creation until today. All people can relate to the God's written word. God's word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It doesn't need any additions to explain God's plan of salvation and how to live a life pleasing to God. It doesn't 'evolve' because it has no need to change. It is already perfect. It doesn't need any additions or subtractions because it really is already perfect.
Read Hebrews chapter 11. It begins by saying, ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’. Nowhere does it suggest that feelings and sight are a part of faith or salvation.
There is a peace that passes understanding, but sometimes that peace isn’t regarding anything except that God is in control and that His promises are sure. Personally I am facing an unknown future due to stage 4 ovarian cancer. I am living one day at a time thanking God for today. I have no idea if I will be one of the few that lives to a ripe old age with this diagnosis. I do know a few things. At my age I would be considered ancient just a few generations ago. Now we tend to think of old age as somewhere between 80 and 90. Three score and ten is mentioned in the Bible as an average life. Peace that passes understanding does not come through seeing angels or having visions. It comes from simply believing God regardless of your circumstances or what your future looks like it will hold.
I want to mention again that death for a Christian is separation without communication for an unknown period of time. It is hard to the point of unbearable, yet the bereaved have no recourse except to bear it. Believers in Jesus Christ experience the first death only. That is to say death of the body. Separation from other believers is only temporary. This is referred to as the shadow of death. Having experienced the loss of dear loved ones I can only say, ‘Wow!’. If THAT is referred to as the shadow of death, and is so painful and horrible for friends and family, how infinitely worse is the second death which is hell. Tell the world that Jesus saves! They would quote Ephesians 2:8-9 which says,
‘8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.’
Then they would probably quote Mark 16:15 which says, ‘15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’
Watch the faces of this choir as they sing…..
Send the Light