Many in Churches around the world have read and even loved the book Heaven is For Real. Now many are watching the movie as it was released on April 10, 2014. These books, and many like it, have become exceedingly popular in our culture over the past few years. The question to ask yourself is: are these books profitable for Christians? Do they line up with the Bible? If they don’t why are they so popular in the Church?
As Christians, we believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. We believe that the Bible is “Breathed out by God” like 2 Timothy 3:16 says. This verse means that what is written in the Bible is inspired by God and nothing written in the Bible is in there that God has not put in there himself. Actually as Christians we believe (or should) in a principle called Sola Scriptura. This principle means that the Bible is our only flawless source and the final authority for everything we believe! So as we look through the scripture why do we not see stories like Heaven is For Real? There are no such stories of people going to Heaven and coming back down like these recently popular stories. There are stories of visions and dreams but no such stories of someone ascending into heaven and returning. Even when people have had visions of heaven though, they never share experiences that don’t support the Bible and they cannot speak extensively on heaven because it’s so overwhelming. For instance Paul has a vision of heaven but in his experience he only shares that experience in 3 verses.
The Bible is very clear that our experiences are not as important as the scripture and we believe that nothing is equal with scripture especially our experiences or emotions. 2 Peter 1:16-21 tells us this truth that nothing not even their experiences are as important as scripture.
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention has to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
I want to draw your attention to this scripture Peter is remembering their experience at the transfiguration of Christ when they heard the voice of God say “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” but then in verse 19 Peter says we have the prophetic word, is more sure then even his experience of hearing the voice of God! That is a huge statement for us as believers. Basically Peter is saying that the Bible is the greatest thing the world has ever received because it confirms the truth of Christ! So we must be sure to not try to take experiences over the word of God!
With that being said, lets take a look at a few scriptures that refute the book Heaven is For Real and others like it. John 3:13 says, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” That verse in itself refutes the book Heaven is For Real! Nobody has seen heaven or descended from Heaven expect God in flesh in the form of Jesus! Now that doesn’t mean that Biblical writers have not had visions of heaven but these writers have never wrote about it extensively. Paul only spends 3 verses on talking about his experience in heaven in 2 Corinthians 12.
I want us all, including myself, to be in Prayer about what experiences in our lives, our emotions, or our opinions, which don’t line up with scripture! Lets pray that God will reveal and show us what lines up with scripture! The Devil is in the world to deceive the people of God and he has done a great job of doing it because we as the people of God have not held the scripture up to the standard that we should, we are all guilty of lowering the word of God. We are all guilty of trusting our feelings, emotions and experiences over the Bible! Lets each pray that we begin to trust the Bible more than we trust our experiences.