Have Some People Already Visited Heaven?

He has also set eternity in [our] heart.
–Ecclesiastes 3:11

“God is calling me.” Those were the final words spoken by evangelist Dwight L. Moody on December 22, 1899, when he died at his home in Northfield, Massachusetts. Of course, the fact that D. L. Moody died is nothing unusual. We all die, don’t we? But what was interesting about Moody’s experience is what happened immediately before his death. According to an article in the “New York Times,” Moody said right before he died, “I see earth receding; Heaven is opening; God is calling me.”

Did Moody have what we call today a near-death experience? His great-nephew Raymond Moody thinks so. Raymond Moody is the father of the modern “near-death experience” fad. He wrote a best-selling book called “Life After Life” that describes countless people who have had an out-of-body experience when they were near death in which they visited the other side and were able to come back and relate what they had seen. These experiences differ from the experience of D. L. Moody in two significant ways. First of all, D. L. Moody actually died. He did not nearly die. Second, he never came back to share what he saw on the other side.

That brings up a question as we consider our series on Heaven: Have some people who are alive right now already visited Heaven? How do we make sense of all of these books and experiences of people who say, “We went to the other side. We saw what God has prepared for us, and we have come back to tell you all about it”?

The International Association for Near-Death Studies defines a near-death experience as “a profound psychological event that may occur to a person close to death or if not near death in a situation of physical or emotional crisis, and it includes transcendental and mystical elements.” Here are some common components of near-death experiences many claim to have had today:

  • The sensation of floating upward and viewing the scene around one’s dead body.
  • Traveling through a tunnel or a dark space toward a light.
  • Time spent in a beautiful other-worldly realm.
  • Meeting God, Jesus, and/or angels.
  • Encountering deceased loved ones, relatives, and friends.
  • Approaching a barrier of some sort and being called back to return to one’s body and life.

Many people claim to have had these experiences, but are they valid?

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Have Some People Already Visited Heaven?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

“Dwight L. Moody Is Dead,” “New York Times,” December 23, 1899; “Near-Death Experiences: Key Facts,” International Association for Near-Death Studies, https://iands.org/ndes/about-ndes.

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)

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