Heaven is for Real - Radical

Heaven is for Real

Nearly all of mankind seems to be fixated upon heaven, hell, and the end of the world. When the Bible has only a limited amount of tangible information about these things, how do we interpret new sources of information? What does the Bible truly say about Heaven? In this message, Pastor David Platt unpacks what Scripture says about books like “Heaven is for Real”, and how Christians should always be discerning.

  1. What The Bible Says About Books Like “Heaven is for Real”
  2. Discernment in the Church
  3. Accounts of Heaven In Scripture

Watch Full Message Of “Secret Church 13: Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World

So, the kinds of things we’re contemplating tonight, we cannot afford to be wrong on. We don’t want to live in a world of conjecture when it comes to eternal realities, especially when we know what is certain, and that’s why that study guide is filled with God’s word. Because God’s word is the only foundation upon which we can stand when we think about these things.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” What transcends this world? God’s word. So, tonight, let’s minimize the thoughts of man and magnify the truth of God. Now, I’ve got quotes from different people, like Tozer just a second ago, scattered throughout these notes. But the purpose of all these quotes from men and women is purely to point us to the truth of God, to the word of God. And this is important.

What The Bible Says About Books Like “Heaven is for Real”

There are so many thoughts of man swirling around, not just our culture, but swirling around the church today about heaven, hell, and the end of the world. Do you know what the best-selling evangelical book of the past decade is?

Heaven is for Real, a fanciful account of a four-year-old boy who talks about how he went to heaven and got a halo and wings, but he didn’t like them because they were too small. He claims that he sat on Jesus’ lap while angels sang to him. He even met the Holy Spirit, whom he describes as kind of blue. Over 7 million copies sold. Not to be confused with another book entitled The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, another best-seller by a man named Kevin Malarkey, pun intended. I’m just saying.

Malarkey had a six-year-old son who allegedly made multiple trips to heaven and back after a car accident. Malarkey’s son Alex has personally seen Satan many times. He describes him as having a funny looking mouth, a few moldy teeth, no noticeable ears, two bony arms and two bony legs.

Now, these two books are not to be confused with My Journey to Heaven: What I Saw and How It Changed My Life by Marvin Besteman, Flight to Heaven by Dale Black, To Heaven and Back: A Trust Story by Mary Neal, 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don, not John, Piper, Nine Days in Heaven by Dennis Prince, 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese, none of which of which you will see in the recommended reading at the end of your study guide.

Discernment In The Church

So, make no mistake, there is money to be made in peddling fiction about the afterlife as nonfiction in the world of Christian publishing today. And that’s what’s so disturbing about the entire trend. These books are being published and then devoured by people who would describe themselves as born again, Bible believing Christians, and all of that shows our level of discernment in the church today on this topic is extremely low.

Because the whole premise behind every single one of these books is contrary to everything God’s word says about heaven. John MacArthur sums it up best. I don’t have this quote in your guide, but he points to these two verses. I’ve got Proverbs 34 and John 3:13 when he says, “For anyone who truly believes the biblical record, it is impossible to resist the conclusion that these modern testimonies with their relentless self-focus and the relatively scant attention they pay to the glory of God are simply untrue.

Accounts of Heaven In Scripture

They’re either figments of the human imagination, dreams, hallucinations, false memories, fantasies, and in the worst cases, deliberate lies. Or else they’re products of demonic deception.” He continues, “We know this with absolute certainty because scripture definitively says that people do not go to heaven and come back. Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Proverbs 34. Answer, no one has ascended into heaven except He who is descended from heaven, the Son of man. John 3:13.” All the accounts of heaven in scripture are visions, not journeys taken by dead people, and even visions of heaven are very, very rare in scripture.

You can count them all on one hand. Four biblical authors had visions about heaven and wrote about what they saw, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John. All of them were prophetic vision, not near death experiences. Not one person raised from the dead in the Old Testament or the New Testament ever wrote down what he or she experienced in heaven, including Lazarus, who had a lot of time in a grave. For four days.

I was reading the other day, 2 Corinthians 12 describes Paul. He describes being caught up in heaven, but he gave no details. He summed it up in three verses. And one author said, “All the biblical writers who saw heaven and described their visions give comparatively sparse details, but they agree perfectly. Their visions are all fixated on the glory of God, which defines heaven and illuminates everything there.

They are overwhelmed, chagrined, petrified, and put to silence by the sheer majesty of God’s holiness. Notably missing from all the biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominate every account of heaven currently on the bestseller list.” Why then? Why are we buying this stuff when we have the word of God? Let’s minimize the thoughts of man and magnify trust. Let’s bank our lives and our understanding of the future on the truth of God.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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