Heaven is Real & God is Just, Not Cruel

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I am not setting out to simply discredit a book.  If this book leads people to read the bible and seek Jesus in his glory then I will rejoice.  But that is not what I am seeing. I see my brothers and sisters suffering and struggling with questions and looking to works of fiction for answers – and not finding them.

What do all these verses have in common?

Matthew 16:24: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Matthew 10:21: Brother will deliver up brother to death, and father, his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and they will be hated by all for my namesake. The one who endures to the end will be saved.

John 16:1: The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.

2 Timothy 3:12: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

1 Peter 4:12: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that comes upon you-it’s no surprise-to test you as though something strange were happening to you

Philippians 1:29: For it has been granted to you that for your sake, you should not only believe but suffer.

2 Timothy 1:8: Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or me, his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel, for the power of God.

Acts 5:41:  they left the presence of the council rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to be shamed for the name.

These verses, and many more, demonstrate that this life is, as Lord’s Day 9 of the Heidelberg Catechism teaches, a life of sorrow.  In this life we will suffer, if we walk with Him, if we are his.

Now, allow me to tell you a story.

Imagine if you will, a family is out on a day trip to Stanley Park in Vancouver.  After a day at the aquarium, walking the seawall, feeding the squirrels and ducks, a 4 year old wanders away from her parents and gets lost. She is curious of the sights and sounds of Robson Street and she wanders further away.  The steam clock in Gastown intrigues her, and the cobble stone streets are beautiful in the evening and she plays with the pigeons, giggling and carefree. But the sun is setting.  She is lost; lost late at night in the dark alleyways of Vancouver’s down town east side.  Scared, alone, weeping, she scrapes her knee when she trips over a broken beer bottle.  A stray dog chases her, and she gets away by hiding behind a trash dumpster.  She lost a shoe in the chase; the dog is chewing on it at the corner; her clothes are torn, she cries, “I want my daddy.”  She remembers her daddy telling her that he would always protect her, always be there for her, yet she wanders the streets, as prostitutes, drug addicts and drunks leer at her. She is miserable, terrified and she longs for home. Then a familiar voice calls out, it is her dad.  He scoops her up in his arms and takes her home.  He wipes her tears, kisses her, bathes her and dresses her in the cleanest pyjamas and cuddles up with her on the couch.  The fire is lit, daddy is reading her a story. All is right in her world.  Daddy has taken her home.  But.  Then daddy says, “It is not time for you to come home yet.”  He picks up his daughter and takes her back to the alleyway where he found her, and drops her off.

He drives away.

The dog growls…

Horrible isn’t it? That is an imperfect analogy of the so called “near death experience.”  Let me state, emphatically, that when you go home, when daddy  calls you home, when you gaze upon his face in glory.  He will not send you back.   Hebrews 8:27 says,

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

We die once.  Heaven is real and God is just, not cruel.  We die only once. It is appointed for us to die once. When we see heaven, we will stay there. When God calls us home, it is final. He will not toy with us.  He will not tease us.  He will not bring us home, or let us in the door, and then slam the door in our face.  No. He will pick us up, take us in.

“Welcome home, my son, my daughter, I love you.”

Don’t look at what you see to find hope.  Please. Don’t find hope in dreams and stories of heaven and near death experiences.  Do not lose heart.  Find your hope in Christ. Oh my friends, I implore you, seek him! Look to his promises. He is all satisfying.

Do we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.  In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”  The hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain; but Moab will be trampled under him as straw is trampled down in the manure.  They will spread out their hands in it, as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim. God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands.  He will bring down your high fortified walls and lay them low; he will bring them down to the ground, to the very dust.

 

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7 Responses

  1. Jon says:

    I started reading hoping to bash your reformed view of God. I thought the Reformed view of God was cruel, but this God you present is very loving. You have thrown a wrench in what I believed about this topic. Thank you for this. You have made me think.

  2. Enid Luiten says:

    Come for coffee and let me tell you about my NEAR death experience. (I think the operative word here is “near”.) Although I agree with you, I would not call my experience a hallucination.

    • Enid that sounds wonderful, we have not visited in a long time! And I will tell you of my conversion experience 🙂 I don’t often tell of my conversion experience in detail because often I find that people who do not have a similar experience will be either left to doubt what I am saying or doubt their own salvation – why have I not experienced that? They should not focus on what I have experienced, nor should I, but on the promises of God in the gospel. Although I would not trade that experience for anything!

  3. gloria faber says:

    What a beautiful analogy about the lost little girl. I hope I remember that forever, especially when the fear of death has its hold on me. I agree with you about the book. We need to test the spirits of this age against scriptures. I’ve read the book and I heard about it on KARI radio – churches are toting the book and members are split up about. Satan must be real happy about that!!!
    May God continue to use you in His service.

    • Thanks for the comment Gloria. That is a very telling remark you made about Satan. Satan will use whatever he can to take our eyes off of Christ – even debating theology. We should always remember that all this is for His glory. Theology is for doxology.

  4. theodora1950 says:

    I agree with almost everything you wrote. However I disagree with one key point.
    There are people (and I know of two) who do indeed experience death or near-death and are resuscitated by CPR, who can recount almost “crossing over” and seeing, whether real or a vision, loved ones. Yet their spirit returns to their bodies and they continue in this life.
    So your analogy is stirring, but does not necessarily hold true.The Lord does say sometimes, your time has not yet come, your work on earth is not done. They do not see heaven in all it’s glory, or reality, but they do “get a glimpse”.
    That doesn’t mean I espouse the book “Heaven is for Real”. I have not read it, and have no intention of ever reading it. I do not believe that becoming millionaires on the “experience of death” is God’s will, or even meets His approval. One person I know that did have a near-death experience very rarely speaks of it, because she has a strong overwhelming sense that God does not want her to tell others. The other doubted her vision, but never forgot the experience. And I also do not feel that believing these people is extra-scriptural.
    It simply means that everything God reveals in scripture about death is gloriously true, and we should not be afraid when the Lord calls us home. We are going where we belong, to be with Him. What is more comforting?