Sunday, February 17, 2013

Discernment: are people's visits to hell actually true?

So many people these days have had a trip to heaven or hell. Jesse Duplantis, Beth Moore, Colton Burpo, Don Piper, Rick Joyner, Kenneth Hagin, Rebecca Springer, Richard Eby, Dr. Mary C. Neal, Kim Walker Smith of Jesus Culture ... the list of people taking a tour of heaven or having had a personal visit from Jesus in another dimension goes on and depressingly on. And hell is not to be left out, either, several people claim to have been personally escorted by Jesus in the underworld as well, such as Victoria Nehale, Mary K. Baker, Bill Wiese.

So what are we to make of all this?

Lies. All lies.

Let's take a look at the visits to hell. I've written several times about the trips to heaven. The bible says that even though you may have had a personal experience, we have a more sure word. Peter wrote that, and he was referring to his own personal visit from Jesus at the Mountain, and having seen the heaven glory and Jesus transfigured. Even Peter says that the word is more sure than a personal experience!

"And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation." (2 Peter 1:19-20).

Peter is saying that the prophetic word, which is the word spoken by the prophets, is sure. Remember Jeremiah 23:16, "Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord."

Peter is not saying we should not interpret scripture, he is talking about the source of it. In 1 Peter 1:10, Peter wrote, "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,"

In other words, the prophets heard the word from the LORD, and they carefully searched out what it meant. The false prophets did not have to search out what it meant because they made it up. Explaining it was just as easy- they made up the explanations. And the word was almost invariably happy, too. See what Jeremiah says,

"They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’" (Jeremiah 23:17).

Sound familiar?   I know that it does.

Peter's credentials were impeccable, being hand chosen by Jesus and endowed with miraculous powers to heal, raise from the dead, and preach! Every single person who came after Peter has credentials which are less stellar, so by default, if he says not to trust his experience, we trust the bible and not our own experience. Otherwise you're saying, "I trust Jesus Culture's Kim Walker Smith's experience of seeing a Gumby Jesus, she seems to be more credible than Peter."

Laughable, isn't it? The word is sure!

Now about the people who travel to hell, what of them? Well, those visions and visits are false, too. How do I know? Look at Lazarus.

"The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 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.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:22b-31)

If we are to believe the people who visited hell, then we are to disbelieve the holy word. First, because we would believe that Jesus changed His mind about sending people from hell to tell the story, and secondly that before, while we are told that people would not believe even a dead brother returned to life telling his family, but now they will believe an unknown person telling the world on Youtube.

Wiese says that he encountered Jesus in hell, who told him to tell other people that hell is real. This varies directly with the word. Do we have a more sure word, or do we not have a more sure word?

Some people are totally unbelievable and are obvious charlatans. Others, like Wiese, or Don Piper, for example, are likable and sincere. However, sincerity of their message does not make it true. Only the word is surely true, and if what someone says is against what the bible says, you must disregard the person's message and not the bible.

However, isn't that the point of what satan is doing, with all these Charismatic visions and visits? Even though Piper or Wiese's message may be good, the source is demonic. Look at what Paul did when the fortune-telling slave girl followed him around.

"She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour." (Acts 16:17-18)

What was Paul's problem? After all, she was saying something that was true. The problem is, her source was from satan, and a divided house cannot stand. Clarke's Commentary says, "The Gentiles, finding that their own demon bore testimony to the apostles, would naturally consider that the whole was one system; that they had nothing to learn, nothing to correct; and thus the preaching of the apostles must be useless to them."

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains, "Paul being grieved-for the poor victim; grieved to see such power possessed by the enemy of man's salvation, and grieved to observe the malignant design with which this high testimony was borne to Christ."

Isn't the phrase 'malignant design' so very wonderful!

Matthew Henry says of the slave-girl, "Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. But much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, by unholy and false preachers of the gospel, who are confounded with them by careless observers."

So even though the message at one point or another from one false prophet or another, may be true, satan's malignant design in using the message will always be dishonoring to Christ. Bill Wiese and Mary K Baker may be sincere, but satan's design is to usurp the authority of the Word, just as he was trying to do against Paul (who was speaking the true word) in using the slave-girl who was possessed.

Be discerning about these visits to heaven and hell, and of people's tales of visitations from Jesus in visions. It is not enough that their message borne from experience may seem consistent with the bible, the bible tells us that we have a more sure word in the Prophets. And that is enough, more than enough, for me. I hope it is for you too.
--------------------------

FMI:

Justin Peters essay "Your Best Afterlife Now: (An examination and critique of claimed visits to heaven and hell"

Tim Challies reviews Heaven Is For Real and 90 Minutes In Heaven.

Pertinent part begins at 41:14--


19 comments:

  1. You make good points as always. What bums me about Bill Weise is that I got ahold of his book "23 Questions About Hell," which is actually quite informative and relies nearly totally on Scripture and even cites guys like Henry Morris in making observations. The book didn't include any nonsense about his supposed trip, but only obliquely referenced it.

    A later podcast by Todd Friel then put to words exactly what I couldn't put my finger on: [paraphrased] "Is it in the Bible? Then why do we need this guy to have a vision to tell us about it?" In other words, if their visions are antiBiblical, then they are heretical. And if they are not heretical, then they are Biblical, but simultaneously irrelevant, because we can find all of that information in the Bible without having to depend on some hearsay 'prophecy/vision.'

    I always learn something new by reading articles from other Christians, though, and this is what I learned from your article today: the message Satan was proclaiming from the girl wasn't evil, but the intent was to make people believe that they could get godly revelation from sources apart from the Apostles/Scripture, which would encourage "private interpretation," and all manner of cults such as RCC, Mormonism etc etc ad infinitum. So applying that to Bill Weise and the guys, I see why it would still be wrong. The problem isn't the message Weise told, since he found Bible verses to justify it. But the problem is that, whether Weise even wants it to occur or not, people will be encouraged to turn to mere men for revelation, rather than the Bible, as a result of his books. So I agree that Bill is sincere; he doesn't seem to be motivated by evil desires; he might even have actually seen some sort of vision. But he's still allowing himself to become a stumbling block for others, unfortunately. But with prayer, I hope and trust that God can use the Biblical message in what he's said to do more good than the erosive effect of his implication that turning aside to people's claims of private visions is okay does. (sorry for the messy grammar).

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    1. EUREKA! Thank you for saying that, because it is exactly the point I was hoping to make! It is how satan undermines the authority of the scripture by letting man know he can find revelation apart from the bible. You said it perfectly. Thanks so much EriK :)

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  2. AMEN!!! May God be with YOU!!!

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  3. Ok, this is a good article, but the question still bothers me. These people say that if we don't live super holy lives, then we are all going to burn, even Christian believers who had the Spirit. That's the message. Is this true?

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      If you mean by "these people who say" are the ones who have claimed to visit heaven or hell, then no, these people are false. Their visions are false and their message is false.

      Any Christian who is a real Christian, is saved by grace through no merit of their own, and is sealed with a deposit of the guarantee of our inheritance. (Ephesians 2:8,2 Corinthians 1:22) No Christian can be lost or will lose their salvation. (John 10:27-28). As John MacArthur said, "If I COULD lose my salvation, I WOULD".

      That said, a Christian will live an increasingly holy life as they continually submit to the Father, repent, grow in sanctification by the Spirit's power, pray, read the bible, etc. The Christian WILL bear fruit. Some seasons of a Christian's life seems to have slowed down on the fruit bearing, though none can truly say for sure until we get there, while other seasons seem gangbusters for bearing fruit. The idea is, though, that the overall trajectory is up.

      Satan works to cloud the mind, to instill doubt, and to make Christians wander from the narrow way so as to dampen their witness for Christ. He sends false dreams and visions to false converts who return from their dream state or vision state to speak lies which scare the sheep. They are wolves who are ravenous, ravenous means they are always hungry and always seeking prey. Don't listen to the heaven or hell tourists, no man has gone to the father and come back (John 3:3). Jesus has you in the palm of His hand and none can snatch us out of it. Read the bible for your information on heaven and hell, it is the only reliable source.

      Just keep reading the bible and listening to credible pastors who preach the word, verse by verse.

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    2. Perfectly state Elizabeth.

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  4. Has anyone heard the story of the girl Angelica who went to Heaven and Hell and she said she saw Selena, Michael Jackson, and Pope John 2? Do you believe it's false?

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    1. It is definitely false.

      1. Trips to heaven and hell are not real. FMI & scriptures, read here
      http://www.gty.org/heaven

      and here

      http://www.gty.org/Blog/B121018

      2. Pope John Paul and all popes are in hell. They did not believe in grace through faith alone, and thus were disqualified for heaven. ROman Catholicism is a false religiono

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    2. I agree that it's likely false and that Roman Catholicism is a false religion, I use to be Roman Catholic. But as for saying the popes or anyone in particular are in hell, I disagree, only God knows.

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    3. Hi Anonymous,

      I agree that it's usually dangerous to say a particular person is in hell or not. However in some circumstances it is obvious. If a person's atheist father who denied Christ all his life died, he would be in hell. As for popes, it is safe to say that they are, because in order to become a pope, they had to believe Catholic Dogma, teach Catholic Dogma, protect the integrity of Catholic Dogma, in other words, live it and breathe it. Pope means vicar (vicarious substitute, or 'instead of') and they absolutely believe they are operating as substitute for Christ on earth. They are operating for much of their life within earth's highest blasphemy , and so when a pope dies (and once a pope you die a pope, one recent exception notwithstanding) he is still operating in that blasphemy, so yes, it is safe to say that popes are in hell

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  5. Believing in Jesus Christ is a commandment and a work. Salvation is by Grace, unmerited favor. Denying Jesus would actually be disobeying a commandment and eternal salvation is not determined by the law, but by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God and the faith that saves you in this verse is Jesus Christ's faith not yours. He was faithful unto death. Romans chapter 11:28 is a proof text that there are people who are enemies of the gospel but still have eternal salvation. Because "but as touching the election they are beloved for the father's sake." This verse teaches that there are unconverted disbelieving elect people.

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    1. You're right, this verse teaches that there are unconverted disbelieving elect people: The Jews, whom God chose, and don't currently believe, but will.(Zechariah 12:10)

      The context is God's work with His unbelieving elect, the Jews. As Gill's Exposition explains,

      "that they were suffered to reject the Gospel, and treat it with hatred and virulence, that by this means it might be taken away from them, and carried to the Gentiles; so that the present enmity of the Jews to the Gospel, turned to the advantage of the Gentiles, and should not hinder the future conversion of God's elect among them in the latter day:"

      Believing in Jesus is a commandment but not a work.You're right, Jesus sends the Spirit to draw men and by grace they are saved. We cannot be saved by our own choice to believe. God does it.

      What does your comment have to do with the topic of the essay, visits to hell? I don't see the connection

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    2. What led me to sites like this was a family member prompting me to read books about these kids going to heaven and I recently watched the Colton film. One observation Colton describes people having wings in Heaven? What confounds me about it is how people believe these "stories" but they all tell different tales. The bible can't contradict itself. I have sleep paralysis and interestingly many people around the world have the "same" handful of demonic hallucinations. Why these "hallucinations" are mainly demonic, I have no idea. Satan is deceptive but as for these experiences no matter how real they seam it may simply be a part of the sleep disorder. So again, how do people buy into all these different stories and claims? They may seem real, but
      that doesn't make it real. Perhaps a vision, but leaving to Heaven or Hell and returning I'm not sure about from a biblical standpoint. However the bible teaches there's no crossing over from Heaven to Hell, yet I came across stories claiming that to be the case and it's believed although it's not scripturally sound.

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    3. In regard to your reply concerning Romans chapt 11:28. Believing and faith is a work according to first Thessalonians chapt. 1 verse 3, KJV. Concerning the disbelieving elect Jews who were enemies of the gospel the bible never teaches that they would later on believe, that's an assumption. If it's necessary for someone to believe in Jesus Christ in order to obtain eternal salvation then how do you account for everyone who will die who doesn't have the "ability" to believe, babies, mentally challenged people, people around the world who will never have access to the gospel. As soon as you attach one condition that somebody needs to "do" in order to obtain eternal life you just made eternal salvation by works and not of grace. The believing is the evidence of one's eternal salvation, not the condition.

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    4. Thanks for your reply. I looked up 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and faith is not a work in that verse., It means that though faith is given by God, (and you and I had already agreed on that in the two comments above), the outworking of faith is service. Faith is a gift.

      I posted the verse that shows that the Jews will come to belief. Zech 12:10. There are others., it is not an assumption. God elected His people and at the end of time He will bring them into the sheepfold. It's the covenant He made with them. The entire 1000 year millennial kingdom is a fulfillment of this promise to them.

      One must believe on Jesus to enter heaven. God bestows the ability, He draws them via the Spirit and instills in them the regeneration necessary.

      Your question about what about people who never hear of Jesus is a contradiction since you already said twice that God instills the faith to believe. Nevertheless, here is an answer, it involves mans' responsibility for His sin, and his deliberate suppression of the truth despite the fact that God revealed Himself in creation--

      http://www.gotquestions.org/never-heard.html

      We already agreed that no one does anything to believe. God does it. You're contradicting yourself and the conversation has become unprofitable and circular. I wish you the best and thank you for stopping by.

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  6. Well since the Bible is clear that death is a dreamless sleep until either the resurrection of the saved, or (1000 years later) the resurrection of the lost (Revelation 20:4-5, John 5:28-29, Daniel 12:2). Well technically Heaven does exist at the moment but the fiery lake of burning sulphur does not exist yet. Not only that but it doesn't burn for all eternity either but causes the second death (Revelation 21:8) and reduces the wicked to ashes (Malachi 4:3)

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  7. Tim, the Bible is not clear that death is a dreamless sleep until the resurrection. There is no such doctrine as soul sleep. The moment we die, we face God's judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

    The verses recording the torment of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:23-25 make it clear that souls are conscious and aware after death. The lost will be resurrected after the 1000 year kingdom has come to completion to be judged in the Great White Throne Judgment and then be cast into the Lake of Fire with their new bodies for final, eternal punishment. Eternal is eternal. There will be no reduction to ashes. Here is the Malachi 4:3 you base that on

    And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

    In that verse, God promises the righteous that they who were once trampled under the unrighteous acts of the wicked will have their fortunes will be reversed. Ashes were often spread on footpaths as a poor man's cement to provide better footing. This verse is an allusion to that.

    Jesus said the wicked will go to eternal torment. Since God is an infinite and eternal Being, the punishment for sin must also be infinite and eternal. That the sinner's punishment is forever is mentioned in these verses
    Matthew 25:41, “unquenchable fire”
    Matthew 3:12, “shame and everlasting contempt”
    Daniel 12:2, a place where “the fire is not quenched”
    Mark 9:44-49, a place of “torment” and “fire”
    Luke 16:23-24, “everlasting destruction”
    2 Thessalonians 1:9, a place where “the smoke of torment rises forever and ever”
    Revelation 14:10-11, a “lake of burning sulfur” where the wicked are “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10)

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  8. A 15 year old girl claimed a trip to hell on YouTube a while back and it just honestly seemed like a scare tactic to shake the faith of Christians. She claimed there was a "room" where people who had bad thoughts were being tormented. Hmmm...Never read about anything like that in the bible. I don't focus on hell. I simply do my best to ensure HEAVEN is in my future. Another YouTuber claimed to have seen dead celebrities in Heaven who were Satanists and Atheists throughout some course in their lives. I honestly think a lot of these people are being paid VERY WELL to deceive Christians so we'll throw up our hands and GIVE UP our walk with God.

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  9. I appreciate the concern and explanations of the author. Truth, however, like he said can come from any source.I'm thinking now of King Saul who began prophesying(truth) with the prophets of God at a time when he was seeking to kill David! So yes Satan can mix truth with lies in order to deceive.God himself can use whoever he wants to achieve his purposes.Remember to the demons he said, "Who will go down and deceive Ahab that he may fall?"Look this up I may not be quoting word for word. THANKS. Acts 2:38 Mark 16:16 Acts 22:16. Born again.

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4000 posts!

Dear Reader, As of yesterday I have published 4000 essays at the End Time. My goal has been to share thoughts on the three general topics ...