Near-Death Experiences confirm Biblical Theology

Near Death Experiences (NDE’s) confirm the Bible in seemingly every way.  As a collective whole, NDE’s confirm the existence of heaven, hell, Sheol, Christ, and Satan. Testimony from NDE’s also provides much of the missing knowledge that is necessary in order to solve Biblical contradictions and unwind difficult to understand and thus often-ignored Bible verses in a way that not only makes perfect sense but also paints a glorious and beautiful picture that should, no doubt, bring joy to all!

Near-Death Experiences confirm Biblical Theology

It is sometimes supposed in Christian circles that near-death experiences (NDE’s) contradict Christian teaching.  During NDE’s people frequently describe encountering a being of light.  Occasionally this being of light imparts information allegedly contrary to Christian teaching.  Do near-death experiences (NDE’s) really contradict the Bible?

No.  In the hundreds of NDE’s that I have read, I have been hard-pressed to find any meaningful contradictions to Biblical teaching; instead, what I have found is an overwhelming confirmation of Biblical theology.

NDE’s confirm the Existence of Heaven.

Descriptions of heaven in NDE’s resemble the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21.

Descriptions of heaven in NDE’s resemble the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21.

Very often people who have had near-death experiences describe seeing cities of light of inexplicable grandeur much like the new Jerusalem.  During an NDE, George Ritchie was “shown a distant city made of brilliant light.  Its description resembled the city described in the Book of Revelation.”[i] Don Piper, an ordained minister since 1985, had a similar experience.  After being brought back to life after a near-fatal car accident, Don describes having seen a city of immense beauty strongly resembling the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21.  In his book 90 Minutes in Heaven, he writes:

 

One thing did surprise me: On earth, whenever I thought of heaven, I anticipated that one day I’d see a gate made of pearls, because the Bible refers to the gates of pearl.[ii]  The gate wasn’t made of pearls, but was pearlescent—perhaps iridescent may be more descriptive.  To me, it looked as if someone had spread pearl icing on a cake.  The gate glowed and shimmered.  I paused and stared at the glorious hues and shimmering shades.  The luminescence dazzled me, and I would have been content to stay at that spot.  Yet I stepped forward as if being escorted into God’s presence.  I paused just outside the gate, and I could see inside.  It was like a city with paved streets.  To my amazement, they had been constructed of literal gold.  If you could imagine a street paved with gold bricks, that’s as close as I can come to describing what lay inside the gate.  Everything I saw was bright—the brightest colors my eyes had ever beheld—so powerful that no earthly human could take in this brilliance.[iii]

new jerusalem

Descriptions of heaven in NDE’s resemble the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21.

Not only do NDE’s substantiate the existence of heaven, they also confirm the existence of more than one heavenly realm as indicated in Ephesians 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms . . .”[iv] and 2 Corinthians 12:2: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.”  NDE’s confirm the existence of a multi-dimensional afterlife with several heavenly realms.  Concerning the existence of multiple heavenly dimensions, Dr. Harold A. Widdison and Dr. Craig Lundahl, two NDE researchers, state, “But no matter what level or city a person qualifies for, each city is so superior to any on Earth that it is indescribable, and each succeeding realm is indescribably better than that immediately below it.”[v]

NDE’s confirm the Existence of Hell.

Though reports of burning sensations are rare in NDE literature, they do surface on very rare occasions.[vi]  In one such instance, Rev. Kenneth Hagin claims to have approached the gates of hell in I Believe in Visions:

The father down I went, the blacker it became, until it was blackness—I could not have seen my hand if it had been one inch in front of my eyes.  And the farther down I went, the hotter and more stifling it became.  Finally, far below me, I could see lights flickering on the walls of the caverns of the damned.  The lights were caused by the fires of hell.  The giant, white-crested orb of flame pulled me. . . .[vii]

hell

Reports of hell like the one pictured above are extremely rare and are reported primarily among fundamentalists.

Accounts of hell like the one described by Hagin above are extremely rare and are reported primarily among fundamentalist Christians.  Most negative or hell-like NDE’s describe a dark, barren expanse similar to the realm of outer darkness mentioned by Jesus in the gospels.[viii]  P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D., Ph.D. published the following concerning hell-like NDE’s in the Journal of Near-Death Studies: “Invariably an attack of some kind would take place in hellish scenarios or a shunning, and pain would be felt or surges of anxiety and fear.  Any indifference to the individual’s presence would be severe, as would the necessity of the experiencer to defend him or herself and/or fight for the right to continued existence.  Themes of good and evil, beings like angels and devils, I have found commonplace . . .”[ix]  According to Atwater, “lifeless or threatening apparitions; barren or ugly expanses; threats, screams, silence; danger and the possibility of violence, torture; a feeling of cold (or temperature extremes) and a sense of hell” are commonly reported in hell-like NDE’s.[x]

Sue Leonard says that in hell-like NDE’s there are “sensations of burning, suffocating, semi blindness, while the landscape they find themselves in can be desolate, windy, arid, ‘superheated,’ empty, ‘full of eyes’ with the sound of low moaning in the air. . . .  There may be many anonymous people in the background, all apparently suffering—and taking no notice.  Occasionally a Christ like figure is reported to walk through this hell, ignoring pleas for help.”[xi]

NDE’s confirm the Existence of Sheol.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 states, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”  1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 use the words sleep and asleep to describe the dead.  Do the dead truly sleep before the resurrection?

The Book of Daniel closes with the words:  “You [Daniel] will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”[xii]  The Bible often implies that the dead sleep,[xiii] though there are also verses in the Bible that imply that spirits of the departed are conscious before the resurrection.[xiv]  The Bible indicates that before the resurrection, spirits of both the righteous and wicked are consigned to Sheol.[xv]  What is Sheol?

Descriptions of Sheol in the Bible . . .

Sheol is the land of the dead.  It is the netherworld where spirits of the departed await the resurrection.  Sheol is a realm of darkness that is often described as a pit.[xvi]   It is also called “outer darkness” by Jesus in the New Testament.[xvii]  This realm in which spirits are temporarily confined until the resurrection may have given rise to the concept of purgatory.

Descriptions of Sheol in Near-Death Experiences . . .

From the Biblical descriptions mentioned above, Sheol appears to be what is often called the void by researchers who study NDE’s.  Like Sheol, the void is an afterlife realm of complete darkness.  It is said to be completely absent of light at its lower depths but greyish or foggy at its outer edges.  It is a great expanse of black nothingness that seems limitless to spirits trapped in its depths.  While referring to Sheol, the void, 1 Corinthians 15:51 says, “We will not all sleep.” As stated in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the void is a realm where some spirits seem to sleep while it would seem that the majority of people who have reportedly experienced the void during an NDE are conscious and aware.[xviii]  The void is a place that spirits frequently pass through on their way to heaven; and like Biblical descriptions of Sheol, it is also a place where spirits are sometimes temporarily trapped before finally rising up to more pleasant heavenly realms.

According to NDE’s, some Spirits are Conscious and some are Asleep in Sheol.

Sheol is called the void in NDE literature. It is also called outer darkness by Jesus in the Gospels.

Sheol is called the void in NDE literature. It is also called outer darkness by Jesus in the Gospels.

Though most people who have described Sheol or the void during NDE’s are conscious, some NDE’s do report an awareness of spirits who are in a coma-like sleep.  Maybe spirits consigned to lengthy stays in the dark sensory deprivation of the lower recesses of the void slip in and out of consciousness?  Perhaps this is why the dead are sometimes said to be asleep in verses like Psalm 13:3 and conscious in verses like in Ezekiel 32:21?[xix]  Even if a spirit is fully conscious in Sheol, I do not believe that in the pitch blackness of the void it is a stretch for the Bible to use the words sleep or asleep when referring to the dead in Sheol since this is what the living do when it is dark.

In referring to death, Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “[I]n the grave . . . there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”  Ecclesiastes 9:10 accurately states that in the dark void that is Sheol there is no work and no planning.  This verse also indicates that there is no knowledge and wisdom as well.  While describing the void, Emanuel Swedenborg contrasts the nature and behavior of good and bad spirits in the void in the following terms:

If a soul was inwardly involved in goodness while in the physical world, they will behave rationally and wisely at this stage.  [The implication being that these good and sensible spirits will escape the void.]  If a soul was inwardly involved in evil while in the physical world, they will behave senselessly and crazily.  Once their outward matters are taken away from them, their madness is unveiled [trapping them in Sheol].

Furthermore, many NDE’s report experiencing omniscience in the presence of the being of light that seems to act as a gatekeeper to higher heavenly realms.  This omniscience does not exist in the void outside of the presence of the being of light whose presence often marks the departure of spirits out of this realm.  Perhaps the lack of omniscience in the void explains why there is no knowledge or wisdom in Sheol according to Ecclesiastes 9:10?

Spirits trapped in the void are also often said to escape by faith and love.[xx] This is why Psalm 6:5 states, “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: In Sheol who shall give thee thanks?”[xxi]  No one remembers or gives thanks to God in Sheol because those who love and put their faith in God are presumably released from this realm.

Do NDE’s confirm the Existence of Christ?

NDE’s confirm the doctrine of predestination . . . but not everyone is predestined.

NDE’s frequently mention a light at the end of a tunnel. Is this Jesus, the light of the world?

Often throughout the New Testament, Jesus identifies himself as the light of the world.  Interestingly, in Acts 9 Paul is said to have encountered the resurrected Christ on his way to Damascus.  Reporting this encounter, Luke writes, “As he [Paul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.”   This depiction of Christ as “a light from heaven” bears a striking resemblance to the light many people encounter during NDE’s.  In light of the Biblical similarities, it is not surprising that many people who have had NDE’s identify the light as Jesus.

According to Dr. Raymond A. Moody, Jr., people often identify the being of light as Christ if they are Christian though people of other religions frequently identify the being of light as other important religious figures or deities.[xxii]  In The Light Beyond, Moody mentions one survivor of clinical death who “met a being of light that he still haltingly describes as God . . .”[xxiii]  The fact that this man identifies the being of light as God though he admittedly did not know who or what it was for sure suggests to me that perhaps the being of light often does not identify itself leaving its identity open to speculation colored by religious bias.  There also may be another plausible explanation for why the being of light is identified as a variety of deities.

As explained in What happens to People who have never heard about Jesus, and did Christianity Borrow from Other Religions? all mythic traditions, including the Bible, seem to abide by a universal encrypted language that reveals the story of the sacred king when decoded.  This fact suggests a divine origin to the diverse mythic traditions of the world. It appears that all the different gods throughout the world seem to represent either Jesus, the sacred king, or Satan, the tanist, while all female deities seem to represent their kingdoms whether in heaven, on earth or in Hades.  In light of this information, it would not be surprising if a Hindu identified the being of light as Krishna and a Christian identified it as Christ since Christ and Krishna are simply two different names for the same deity.

Do NDE’s confirm the Existence of Satan?

devil“Dalyrada committed suicide and found herself before a fierce looking and angry Angel of Death with huge wings pinioned behind him and glittering eyes.  This being was made out of shadows and was humanoid in form.  She learned that this being is frequently . . . assumed to be Satan.”  George Lennox had a similar experience:

He resembled a man somewhat, but was much larger than any human being I ever saw. He must have been at least ten feet high. He had great wings on his back. He was black as the coal I had been digging, and in a perfectly nude condition. He had a spear in his hand, the handle of which must have been fully fifteen feet in length. His eyes shone like balls of fire. His voice sounded more like the growls of a lion in a menagerie than anything I can recall.

NDE’s confirm Biblical Descriptions of Heavenly Beings

As stated above, NDE’s confirm the Biblical teaching of many heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12; 2 Corinthians 12:2) or vibratory zones as they are called in the NDE literature.  The Bible also teaches that God is a being of light (Ezekiel 1:26-28) and so are the angels of heaven (2 Kings 6:17, Daniel 10:6, Matthew 28:2-3, 2 Corinthians 11:14, Hebrews 1:7).  Similarly, the saints upon ascending into heaven are also explicitly said to become beings of light like God and the angels of heaven (Matthew 13:43, Daniel 12:2-3, 1 Corinthians 15:49).  In fact, this idea is also stated in 1 Enoch 104:2-3: “[A]nd your names [the saints] are written before the glory of the Great One. Be hopeful; for aforetime ye were put to shame through ill and affliction; but now ye shall shine as the lights of heaven, ye shall shine and ye shall be seen, and the portals of heaven shall be opened to you.”  NDE researchers confirm this Biblical idea that in the highest heavenly realms the objects and beings in these regions radiate the brightest light. The Ascension and Martyrdom of Isaiah, an Old Testament Pseudepigraphical work, confirms this NDE research indicating that heavenly realms increase in luminosity as one ascends to higher and higher realms: “And then, when I was in the sixth heaven I thought the light which I had seen in the five heavens to be but darkness (The Ascension and Martyrdom of Isaiah 8:21).” In Dr. George Ritchie’s NDE he says the following concerning the fact that beings and objects in heaven are intrinsically luminescent:

And then I saw . . . a city.  A glowing, seemingly endless city, bright enough to be seen over all the unimaginable distance between.  The brightness seemed to shine from the very walls and streets of this place, and from the beings which I could now discern moving about within it.  In fact, the city and everything in it seemed to be made of light, even as the figure at my side was made of light [emphasis mine].[xxiv]

Confirming the idea that the saints shall also acquire luminescent bodies while in heaven like that of Christ’s, Dr George Ritchie says the following concerning the occupants of what is presumably one of the higher heavenly realms: “Even more amazing, they exuded light almost as brilliant as the Christ.”[xxv]  Echoing Daniel 12:2-3, Reverend Howard Storm likens beings in heaven to stars: “Everywhere around us were countless beings, like stars in the sky, coming and going.”[xxvi]

Spiritual beings in lower vibratory zones appear dark like shadows as is depicted in a scene in the movie Ghost.

The opposite is true for the lowest vibratory zones.  According to the NDE literature the lowest heavenly realms are very dark and the objects and beings in these regions look like dark shadows.  In verses like Proverbs 9:18, the Bible calls these beings rapha meaning shades.  The fact that spirits in the lower realms are called shades implies that they are dark like shadows.  This notion is made explicit in 2 Enoch 7:1: “And those men took me and led me up on to the second heaven, and showed me darkness, greater than earthly darkness, and there I saw prisoners hanging, watched, awaiting the great and boundless judgment, and these angels were dark-looking, more than earthly darkness, and incessantly making weeping through all hours [emphasis mine].”  Notice that 2 Enoch 7:1 also confirms the existence of many heavenly realms when it refers to the “second heaven” and that these nether regions are dark like the beings who inhabit it.  4 Ezra also indicates that wicked beings of lower realms are dark in appearance while those in high heavenly realms are bright: “Or that the faces of those who practiced self-control shall shine more than the stars but our faces [because of our wickedness] shall be blacker than darkness (4 Ezra 7:55).”  The same message is conveyed in the Testament of Solomon 59.

Religion is not Important?

One of the major reasons NDE’s are said to contradict Christian teaching is because people who have survived clinical death frequently report being told that the specific religion that one ascribes to is not important.  It is love and knowledge that is important.[xxvii]  Statements like these have caused some to allege that the being of light must be Satan masquerading as an angel of light as he is said to do in 2 Corinthians 11:14.  People who have felt the great love radiating from the being of light often take offense to this claim. At first glance the claim that religion is not important would appear to contradict Jesus’ claim that faith in him is necessary for salvation.  However, both claims are correct.  Luke 10:25-28 echoes the key role of love in salvation:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.  “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied.  “How do you read it?”

He answered: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied.  “Do this and you will live.”

Above one can see how both Jesus and the being of light agree that love saves the soul. But what about the fact that religion is not important?  As I already mentioned, all mythic traditions, including the Bible, seem to abide by a universal encoded language that implies a divine origin to many of the diverse religious traditions of the world. It appears that all or nearly all of the different gods throughout history seem to represent either Jesus, the sacred king, or Satan, the tanist, while all female deities seem to represent their kingdoms whether in heaven, on earth or in Hades.  Therefore, the fact that the being of light indicates that the specific religion that one places their faith in is not important does not contradict the Biblical statement that there is only one God and that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation since most gods are simply Christ worshipped under another name.  See What happens to People who have never heard about Jesus, and did Christianity Borrow from Other Religions?

What is Saving Faith?

Though the Bible does state that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation, faith alone is not sufficient.  One must have saving faith.  In other words, a person must also display sufficient love for others in order to qualify for the higher heavenly realms.  This is stated clearest in James 2:14-24:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?   Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.   But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.   You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?   You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

NDE’s, the Bible and Pre-Birth Existence . . .

Most Christians today believe that the soul begins to exist at conception.  This assumption probably has its origin in the fact that most people believe that there are only three major realms: heaven, earth and hell.  And because both heaven and hell are eternal, a pre-birth existence is impossible since spirits presumably cannot leave heaven or hell once they get there.  These assumptions lead to the solid conclusion that the soul must begin to exist on earth.

As stated above and in Hell in NOT Eternal According to the Original Languages of the Bible, I show how the words translated forever and eternity as it relates to hell do not actually mean this in the original languages of the Bible.  Therefore, hell is not eternal as is commonly supposed.  In light of the above information, a pre-birth existence now becomes a possibility.  But what does the Bible say?

Does the Bible teach a Pre-Birth Existence?

In John 17:6, Jesus says “I have revealed you [God] to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They were yours [God’s].”[xxviii] In the context of this verse, Jesus implies that the disciples were God’s even before meeting Jesus.  How could this be?  John 17:14 answers this question: “They [the saints] are not of the world any more than I [Jesus] am of the world.”  Of means from.  In this verse, Jesus says that the saints are not from this world any more than Jesus is not from this world.  If the saints are not from this world, then where are they from?  John 17:14 implies that they are from where Jesus is from–heaven: “For I [Jesus] have come down from heaven . . .”[xxix]

Jacob's ladder

Jacob’s ladder

The descent of heavenly angels to earth is also found in Genesis 6:1-4, Genesis 28:10-19 and Hebrews 13:2.  In Genesis 6:1-4 angels from heaven called the sons of God descended to earth to become men who later had children with earthly women.  Furthermore, in Genesis 28:10-19 Jacob sees a vision of angels ascending and descending between heaven and earth.  The descent of angels to earth is also explicitly stated in Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”  In these verses, one can see that angels can leave heaven and come to earth to become part of humanity.  In fact, the Bible sometimes calls saints or prophets angels or messengers of God as is the case in 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, Haggai 1:13, Malachi 3:1, Revelation 2:1, Revelation 2:8, Revelation 2:12, Revelation 2:18, Revelation 3:1, Revelation 3:7 and Revelation 21:17.  The fact that some people are angels in the flesh shows that at least some people have an existence in heaven that pre-dates their earthly incarnation.  These verses undermine the assertion that all souls are created at conception.

The above verses are not the only ones in the Bible that point to the preexistence of the soul.  Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. . .”  Ephesians 1:5 states, “For he chose us [the saints] in him before the creation of the word to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

Does the Book of Enoch teach a Pre-Birth Existence?

The preexistence of the soul is taught explicitly in the Book of Enoch.  In Enoch 39:1, the prophet writes, “In those days [the end times] shall the elect and holy race descend from the upper heavens, and their seed shall then be with the sons of men.”  The soul’s preexistence is also clearly indicated in Enoch 39:8.  In referring to the heavenly dwelling of the righteous, Enoch writes, “There was I desirous of remaining, and my soul longed for that habitation.  There was my antecedent inheritance; for thus had I prevailed with the Lord of spirits.”  While seeing God in the presence of the heavenly host, Enoch remembers this as having once been his home, that is, before being born on earth.  Though some might dismiss this testimony since the Book of Enoch is non canonical, one should not be so quick to dismiss this evidence.  The Bible often quotes and alludes to various non-canonical books.  In fact, the Book of Enoch is also quoted in the Bible in 2 Peter 2:4; 3:13 and Jude 4, 6, 13-15.

Bible Verses Often Cited against a Pre-Birth Existence confirm the Preexistence of the Soul.

Those who believe that all human spirits are created at birth will often cite 1 Corinthians 15:46-48: “The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.”  Many people will read these verses quickly thinking that they imply that the spirit is created at birth without realizing that Paul actually appears to be stating the opposite.   In v. 46 Paul indicates that the natural comes before the spiritual meaning that life on earth precedes the afterlife.  Paul then illustrates this idea by saying that Adam, the first man from the dust of the earth, came before Christ, the second man from heaven.   Paul then goes on to say, “As was the earthly man [Adam], so are those who are of [from] the earth; and as is the man from heaven [Jesus], so also are those who are of [from] heaven.   Here Paul clarifies the fact that there are some people who are of or from the earth and there are some people who are of or from heaven.  When Paul says that the natural comes before the spiritual he is merely setting his stop watch to start at birth in order to draw the connection between Adam and Christ.  He then goes on to clarify his message that when he said that the natural comes before the spiritual, he did not mean to contradict the fact that there are people who are of or from heaven before their earthly incarnation.

One might object to the above interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:46-48 by quoting John 3:13: “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”  Some ancient manuscripts of this verse have a different ending: “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the man who is in heaven.”  In other words, according to these ancient manuscripts, Jesus is actually saying that no one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the man who is in [the kingdom of] heaven.  The kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God denotes Jesus and his people, the saints.[xxx]  This verse appears to suggest that Jesus and the saints have an existence in heaven that predates their present incarnation on earth.

The preexistence of the soul is also implied in the immediate context of this verse.  John 3:11-13 reads, “Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?  No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven. . . .”   The central theme of Christ’s ministry is to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of heaven.   When Jesus says “we speak of what we know,” he is speaking primarily about heaven.  What is interesting is that Jesus does not say, “I speak of what I know.”  The plural is used here to allude to Jesus and his disciples.  Verse 11 is evidence in favor of the preexistence of the soul.  This verse implies that both Jesus and the disciples have seen heaven.  If the ending of v. 13 where truly “the Son of Man,” then there would appear to be a contradiction between the plural “we” in v. 11 and the singular tense of “the Son of Man” at the end of v. 13.  By saying “we testify to what we have seen” in v. 11, Jesus suggests that both he and his disciples have seen heaven.  However, if v. 13 truly ends with the “the Son of Man,” then this verse implies that only Jesus, not his disciples, has actually seen heaven.  This is a contradiction.  The alternate reading harmonizes these verses since “the man who is in heaven” can refer to both Jesus and his disciples as the context demands.

Uncomfortable with the possibility that readers of the New Testament might interpret this verse as evidence of the preexistence of the soul, a doctrine frequently hinted at in the Bible though never fully explained, a well-meaning scribe seems to have altered this text in favor of his interpretation that the man who is in heaven mentioned at the end of the verse is Jesus himself, and not necessarily the saints.  Because this ancient variation that ends with “the man who is in heaven” explains the existence of the current rendition and better fits the context, this ancient reading is probably what was written in the original manuscript.[xxxi]

The Preexistence of the Soul is widely attested to in Near-Death Experiences.

ndeThe preexistence of the soul is widely attested to in near-death experiences.  Arthur Yensen, a survivor of clinical death, wrote, “Once in heaven, a person may feel as if they had been there before. They may remember that heaven is their real home. They may remember that on Earth, people are visitors and homesick strangers.”[xxxii]  Many people who have had revelatory near-death experiences describe a multidimensional afterlife in which spirits may elect to stay in any given heavenly realm for an eternity if they desire, though spirits are allowed to ascend to higher realms if they qualify or even descend to lower realms to volunteer.  According to many NDE’s, the ultimate purpose of existence is to grow in love and knowledge.  In doing this, a spirit will ascend to higher heavenly realms.  One quick way to ascend is to come to earth.  This environment is perfectly designed for quick soul growth.  Therefore many spirits will choose to take “the earth test” to see if they are ready to ascend to a higher heavenly realm.  Though a quick method of ascension, coming to earth is risky.  After an earth incarnation, a soul may not display the qualities necessary for ascension and may even descend to a lower realm or even be sentenced to hell.

NDE’s confirm the doctrine of Predestination.

While there are some who come to earth for the purpose of soul growth, there are also those who have volunteered to come to earth in order to help others in their spiritual development.  According to NDE’s, souls that have volunteered to come to earth to help others are given a guaranty by God that they will return to the heavenly realm in which they came.  In other words, these spirits are “predestined” to return to heaven.  Ephesians 1:5 states, “For he chose us [the saints] in him before the creation of the word to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”  Ephesians 2:10 also confirms these revelatory NDE’s: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”   The predestined saints have chosen to descend to earth in order to perform a certain task prepared for them in advance.   This idea is also implicit in Enoch 38:2: “When righteousness shall be manifested in the presence of the righteous themselves, who will be elected for their good works duly weighed by the Lord of spirits.”

“By which also He [Jesus] went and preached unto the Spirits in Prison.”

resurrection 2The above subtitle is a quotation of 2 Peter 3:19 of the KJV.  This verse indicates that after Jesus’ death on the cross, he descended to Hades and “preached to the spirits” therein.  Many Christians have tried to explain away this verse thinking that because hell is eternal, there is no point in preaching to the eternally damned.  However, hell is not eternal as I explain in detail in Hell in NOT Eternal According to the Original Languages of the Bible  In light of this fact, this verse now seems plausible.

As I have already stated above, there are many dimensions of existence after death.  These dimensions are called vibratory zones in NDE literature.  The word Hades as it is used in the Bible as well as in Greek Mythology seems to denote the lower vibratory zones, in other words, those dimensions below what is Biblically considered heaven.  2 Peter 3:19 indicates that Jesus had descended to these lower vibratory zones after his crucifixion and preached to the spirits there in order to prepare them for the resurrection of the dead which was soon to take place after Jesus’ own resurrection.  Her Pettersson’s NDE confirms 2 Peter 3:19.  At this time, Her Pettersson’s spirit guide showed him a beautiful realm where people were very busy.  Surprisingly, there were people preaching on the streets and in large churches:

“Who are they?” Her Pettersson asked (referring to the preachers)?

“They,” his guide answered, “belong to the church of the First born, [sic] [The church of the firstborn is another name for Christianity according to Hebrews 12:23] and they have been sent here to be ministering spirits to those who shall yet becoming [sic.] heirs of salvation.”

“I am afraid,” stammered Her Pettersson, “that I do not comprehend you.  Are we not in heaven?  How can the world of salvation be preached here?”

“No brother!” the guide replied, “We are not in what mortals call heaven!  This is Hades.”[xxxiii]


[i] www.near-death.com/experiences/research20.html (3/20/2008).

[ii] Revelation 21:21.

[iii] Don Piper and Cecil Murphey, 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2004), 34-35.

[iv] See also Ephesians 1:20, 2:6, 3:10, and 6:12.

[v] www.near-death.com/experiences/research18.html#a01a (9/12/13).

[vi] www.cinemind.com/atwater/hell.html (3/12/2008).

[vii] Kenneth E. Hagin, I Believe in Visions, (Tulsa: Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc., 1984), 5.

[viii] Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30.

[ix] www.cinemind.com/atwater/hell.html (3/12/2008).

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Sue Leonard, Quest for the Unknown: Life Beyond Death (Pleasantville, NY: A Darling Kindersley Book, 1992), 27.

[xii] Daniel 12:13.

[xiii] Ecclesiastes 9:10; Isaiah 38:18; Psalms 13:3; Psalms 6:5.

[xiv] Ezekiel 32:21.

[xv] Genesis 37:35.

[xvi] Ezekiel 32:21-23.

[xvii] Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30.

[xviii] www.near-death.com/experiences/research06.html (3/20/2008).

[xix] Isaiah 38:18 states, “For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness.”   Here Hezekiah dreads being trapped in Sheol where he expects to sleep until the resurrection, which according to some NDE’s some souls do.

[xx] www.near-death.com/experiences/research15.html (9/12/2013).

[xxi] The American Standard Version.

[xxii] Dr. Raymond A. Moody, Jr., Life After Life (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1976), 46.

[xxiii] Dr. Raymond A. Moody, Jr., The Light Beyond: New Explorations by the Author of Life after Life (Bantarn Books, 1988), 29.

[xxiv] www.near-death.com/experiences/research19.html (3/14/2008).

[xxv] Ibid.

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Dr. Raymond A. Moody, Jr., Life after Life (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1976), 50-51; Dr. Raymond A. Moody, Jr., The Light Beyond: New Explorations by the Author of Life after Life (Bantarn Books, 1988), 11.

[xxviii] John 17:6.

[xxix] Ibid., 6:38.

[xxx] This kingdom is the Messianic kingdom spoken of by Jesus so often in the Gospels as the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.  At the coming of the kingdom of God, Daniel foresees the heavenly coronation of the Jewish Messiah in Daniel 7.  Here Christ is said to come with the clouds to receive dominion over heaven and earth.  But what exactly is the kingdom of God and the Messianic kingdom?  In Matthew 4:8-9, Jesus is tempted by the devil.  At this time he is taken to a high mountain and showed “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  ‘All this I will give to you,’ he [Satan] said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’”  The implication behind this offer is that Satan, not Jesus, is the prince of the world at the time of Jesus’ temptation.  It would seem that during Jesus’ absence from heaven, Satan had seized control of the world.  This point is echoed in the Bible.  Satan is called the prince of this world in John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11.  Ephesians 2:2, 6:12 and Revelation 12:8 imply that the devil ruled the world from a heavenly throne.  However, his reign would not last forever.  According to 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ. . . .”  This reconciliation would come through the supplanting of Satan described in Revelation 12:7-10.  In these verses, there is a war in heaven and Satan and his angels lose “their place in heaven.”  After Satan is dispelled, a loud voice in heaven declares, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.”   After the subjugation of the devil, Christ, once again the prince of the world, rules the world from a heavenly throne in the place of his rival.  This is the Messianic kingdom also called the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.

[xxxi] The field of study dedicated to the pursuit of what was written in the original manuscripts of the Bible is called textual criticism.

[xxxii] http://www.near-death.com/experiences/research18.html#a01a (9/13/12).

[xxxiii] www.near-death.com/experiences/research18.html (3/20/2008).

Near-Death Experiences confirm Biblical Theology

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