It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.
Are near-death experiences valid? How do we know that these experiences are not simply chemical reactions that the brain produces in times of stress that can lead to the sensation of light? Some chemicals can produce in the brain an out-of-body experience. On the other hand, if a near-death experience leads somebody to faith in Christ or causes them to make positive changes in their lives, who are we to deny that their experience is real?
We need to examine these experiences in the light of Scripture. During the next three days, I will share with you several biblical principles for evaluating near-death experiences.
First, near death is not death. The Bible is very clear on this point. You only die once. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” You may say, “What about Lazarus? What about Jairus’ daughter? What about those cases where God raised people from the dead?” We have a word to describe those events: miracles. The reason we call them miracles is because they are the exception to the rule; they are not the rule. Yet not once in the Bible did somebody that God raised up from the dead ever tell about what they saw on the other side. The only people who can tell you with accuracy what is in Heaven are those who have been to Heaven, and you have to be dead to get to Heaven. The only other way you know about Heaven is from what God has recorded in His book.
Second, the Bible is sufficient. The presupposition behind books written by Christians about near-death experiences is this: “The Bible is good, but it is not sufficient. There is more information God wants us to have about Heaven, and He has given me that information to share with you for $22.95.” But look at what the Apostle Paul said about the sufficiency of God’s Word: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep [Christians who have died], so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). During the last 35 years, I have conducted hundreds of funeral services. And every time I conduct a service, I read from this passage of Scripture. I also read Revelation 21:4, which says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” I have never ever felt the need to reach into some secular book to give additional information about Heaven. Every time I read those verses from God’s Word and look into the eyes of those on the front two rows who have lost a loved one, I see God’s Word bringing comfort and peace to them. That is the power of God’s Word. God’s Word is sufficient. We do not need any extrabiblical revelation about Heaven.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Have Some People Already Visited Heaven?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)