Saturday, September 27, 2008

Message from Heaven?

"But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”" (Luke 16:31)
Recently Don Piper, the author of 90 Minutes in Heaven spoke about his experiences at a church in Knoxville, TN. A member of the church that was in attendance in that service gave me the audio of the message. They had previously told me about his planned appearance and were really excited about the event.

I have mixed emotions when responding to things like this. My first reaction is to be skeptical and critical. My second reaction is to be careful not to crush the heart of the person that finds spiritual value in unverifiable anecdotal experiences. In the end we must balance the fine line of truth and love.

"but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—" (Ephesians 4:15)

I listened to the audio of the message given to me and my suspicions were confirmed. Don Piper is a sincere person who really believes that he went to heaven, but I do not. It is more likely that he had a dream or a hallucination. Even if Don Piper did actually go to heaven and was permitted to speak of it (unlike the apostle Paul who did go to heaven and was told that it was not lawful to speak of the experience 2 Corinthians 12:4) what value would it be to the church or to the community?

In the audio message I heard Don Piper said the reason he was given the round trip ticket from earth to heaven and now back to earth was so that he “could go and tell people that heaven is real and that Jesus is the way.”

I have several fundamental problems with this reason listed below. Perhaps after reading this you can send me more or tell me what I am missing.

1. The Scriptures verify the reality of heaven. Experience is not a higher witness. [Psalm 138:2]
2. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not by anecdotal experience. [Romans 10:17]
3. We can be fooled by experience. God’s Word is more sure than our experiences. [2 Peter 1:19]

It is the Word of God that will bring faith and faithfulness. It is alive and powerful [Hebrews 4:12] and it will accomplish what God intends it to do. [Isaiah 55:11]

Most people naturally think that if someone comes back from the dead to tell about the realities of the afterlife, then many will believe. However it will take a supernatural work of God’s grace to cause belief in the unbeliever. The means by which God has chosen to dispense His grace is directly through the proclamation of His Word, the gospel [1 John 1:1-4].

In fact, Jesus dealt directly with this hypothetical situation in Luke 16. His conclusion is as follows.

"But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”" (Luke 16:31)

Review of 90 Minutes in Heaven

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