Before any people who were excited to see the movie get offended by the title of this blog, ask yourself one question; “What is a more credible source of truth to me? The Word of God, or the testimony of man?” Heaven is for Real is the account of a four year old boy named Colton Burpo who claims to had a near death experience and claims to have actually been to Heaven. Now I am just as curious about Heaven as the next Christian. However, we must not be so willing to believe every account of the afterlife that comes our way without carefully filtering it through the scriptures. I find it very odd that we are skeptical by human nature, and if we are told something regarding the weather, the news, or the personal background of an individual, we check things out to make sure we know the truth. But when it comes to someone saying that they have experienced the afterlife, we rarely compare their account to scripture and at times, even hold what the person says regarding their experience in higher authority than the Bible.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9.
Peter is speaking of the children of God. If you are a true Christian, then you are one of His chosen children. And look at the way God describes His children in the verse above. Peter says that God’s children are a “royal priesthood.” It goes on to say that we may proclaim Him, that is Christ, who saved us for His glory. If you are a Christian, you are one of His priest. Everyone person who has been bought by His blood is considered and called a priest by God. Because we are to herald His name to others that they may be brought from darkness into the light.
Now consider how easily many professing Christians are mislead by books and movies about the things of God. There are people who profess Christ that will angrily defend movies and books like “Heaven is For Real” because it makes them feel good. But they never seek to see what God says about the matter.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.” Hosea 4:6.
Read that verse again. It may frighten some reading it. Or it might anger some. But consider what the Lord is saying. He says that His people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge. Not speaking of cultural knowledge, but knowledge of God throughout the scriptures. Meaning that when we have little knowledge of the scriptures, then we will be easily deceived into believing lies about God. And when we begin to attribute truths to God that go against scripture, then its not the God of the Bible we are believing in, but one conjured up by an author, or in the case of “Heaven is For Real”, Hollywood.
The most sobering portion of Hosea 4:6 comes at the end of the verse. God says because His people have rejected Godly knowledge in exchange for man centered knowledge, God rejects them from being a priest. What terrifies me is that in 1 Peter, God describes His children as being priest. Yet the Lord says for our Lack of knowledge, we are destroyed and rejected from being His priest!
Does this mean if you have read a book and even fallen into the deception of believing falsities about God that you are not saved? No. But it does mean that if a person lives their whole life believing more Godly knowledge from man centered ideas rather than from His word, then they are lost. I can say this because the scriptures does, and again, it makes sense. Because when we worship or begin to believe in any other God than the one of the Bible, it is not Jesus. And it is our own fault, because we would have neglected to truly seek Him in scriptures and instead, merely rely on what culture says about God.
We destroy ourselves for a lack of Biblical knowledge.
All throughout scripture, numerous passages warn us sternly not to believe whatever we hear.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1.
The people of Galatia were falling prey to believing the words of men over the true Gospel that Paul had preached. For those that would believe anything other than what has been revealed in God’s word, the apostle Paul said this;
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-8.
I believe that God in the same way is truly astonished at some professing believers who are so easily swayed to believe other accounts separate from his Word. Paul said if any person believes anything else other than the true Gospel of Christ, let him be accursed. The Hebrew is much more harsh, basically saying, “Let him be damned.” Again, this does not mean if you have seen or plan on seeing the movie you are not saved. But it does mean if you are quick to believe lies about God over the truth found in scripture, then the God you are believing in is one defined by culture, not scripture.
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” 2 John 1:10-12.
This teaching John is speaking of is the Gospel found in scripture. And John says if anyone says anything that contradicts scripture, don’t even let him into your house. Yet we do this regularly in our culture by buying books and movies with skewed takes on the afterlife into our homes. Again, the words of John are stern in the latter part of the verse, saying that whomever takes a false Gospel into their house is participating in wicked works. These are not my opinions, this is the Word of God.
Lets consider the Word of God for a moment when we line it up against people who profess that they have been to the afterlife and lived to tell about it.
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.
Paul speaks of knowing a man who was actually taken up into Heaven. Some theologians believe that Paul may have been speaking of himself. And this man saw the wonders of paradise. And God showed him and told him things. But look at the last part of the verse….“things that cannot be told and that man MAY NOT UTTER.”
If God would not let Paul speak of the things he had seen in Heaven and told Him that man is not even able to talk about such things, what makes us think God is going to change all of the sudden? We love the old saying, “God is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” We love to quote the verses in scripture regarding Gods unchanging nature. But we are so easily willing to go against the word of God for the sake of satisfying our own curiosities.
In reading the verse above if you go back to the start of the chapter, Paul makes it clear he is referring to a vision. So the man Paul refers to who experienced Heaven didnt actually go there, but rather he had a vision given by God. And again, he was told that he was not allowed to tell of anything he saw.
“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” John 3:13.
Individuals in scripture were given visions of Heaven. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul and John were the only four people in scripture that were allow to see Heaven through a vision. But no one has actually died, gone to Heaven or Hell for that matter, and then come back to tell about it. If you dont agree with this statement, don’t argue with me, take it up with John 3:13. Jesus is the only one who has died and gone to Heaven and the only one who will return.
Two other individuals in scripture, Micaiah and Stephen got glimpses of Heaven, but what they saw is only briefly mentioned, not described. Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John were allowed by God to give small descriptions, but everything they mentioned was solely centered around the Glory of God, not themselves. In fact, all of them mentioned their own fear and shame in the presence of such glory. Accounts given today from movies and present day authors center their so called experiences around seeing loved ones, images of the Heavenly landscape, and themselves. A far cry from how the prophets, Paul and John described their visions. They felt a great sense of unworthiness and were terrified by the weight of their own sinful nature in the presence of such Glory!
Jesus Himself spoke of a great divide between the afterlife and our earthly existence;
“And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’” Luke 16:23.
Christ Himself just said that NO ONE can pass back and forth between the afterlife and our present life. The New Testament adds much to our understanding of Heaven and Hell. But we are still not permitted to add our own ideas or experience based conclusions to what God has specifically revealed through His Word. We are forbidden in ALL spiritual matters that go beyond what is written in His Word.
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” 1 Corinthians 4:6.
Those who profess to know more about Heaven than God tells us are sinning.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29.
It is not wrong to go see the Movie “Heaven is For Real.” But I don’t see how it can be beneficial to believers.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23.
And it can be dangerous if you view it as anything other than a Hollywood movie. It can be dangerous if you begin to attempt to ream truth from it. God has revealed everything He had intended us to know about Himself and through His word. Yet so many of us prefer to get our dose of Gospel second hand rather than taking the time to dig into scripture and develop a true personal relationship. Again there are many falsities and things that are very contradictory to scripture within the book and the film. Neither are safe sources of Biblical truth. If you really want to know what God is like, get your information first hand from what He says about Himself in His Word.
“It’s a little heaven below, to imagine sweet things. But never think that imagination can picture heaven. When it is most sublime, when it is freest from the dust of earth, when it is carried up by the greatest knowledge, and kept steady by the most extreme caution, imagination cannot picture heaven. “It hath not entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Imagination is good, but not to picture to us heaven. Your imaginary heaven you will find by-and-by to be all a mistake; though you may have piled up fine castles, you will find them to be castles in the air, and they will vanish like thin clouds before the gale. For imagination cannot make a heaven. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered the heart of man to conceive” it.” Charles Spurgeon.