Today, I saw a headline on Instagram; Woman dies from suffering a heart attack and claims she went to Heaven and met Jesus. I thought of the man in the Bible who begged for someone to be sent to his brothers to warn them of the afterlife. Accounts of visits to Heaven and hell abound worldwide, from books to YouTube videos. Most of the stories I’ve heard are a little far-fetched, but hey, I’ve never been to Heaven, so who am I to judge. But here’s the thing the Bible itself doesn’t give us much information about Heaven, so we cannot test the experiences of people’s claims. But we do get a little bit of insight into handling these stories from three accounts in the Bible.
Let’s look at the account I mentioned at the beginning. Luke 16:19-31 ESV “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead. No story about Heaven or hell will convince anyone of their need for salvation, and as an aside, neither will healing nor a miracle convince someone to believe in Jesus. In Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus rebuked the cities where most of His works were done because the people did not repent of sin. The towns loved the miracles and the free food, but they still rejected Jesus. We must come to a place where we believe in the power of the preached gospel to save sinners. We don’t need to perform street healing; we need to present the gospel.
As Christians, our relationship with God should not be based on experiences of going to Heaven or the stories of others. I will be very blunt; leaders in the body of Christ who claim to go to Heaven frequently and come back with special revelation are wolves, they are charlatans, and they are not going to Heaven. You may wonder how I can say such a thing; it is simple. The Apostle Paul went to Heaven and said He saw things that could not be uttered, and even the Apostle John in Revelation gave little to no detail about Heaven. Heaven is the place of God’s glory, goodness, and presence. So pardon me if I think having a water fight with Jesus, Christmas Town, and uphill waterslides is nothing more than fabrication and vain imagination.
We need to be more discerning about the things we read and hear. If God wanted us to know a bunch of specifics about Heaven, He would have put them in the Scripture. Ask yourself why you need to hear these stories and why you desire to take a trip to Heaven. The hard truth is simple; the Scripture isn’t enough for us. I have heard the stories countless times, I read the Bible, but I longed for something more. When Scripture is no longer sufficient for information and instruction, we begin walking in dangerous territory. I don’t need stories; none of us should need stories of Heaven because Heaven is not about the streets of gold, water fights with Jesus, a mansion with everything you’ve ever wanted, or any other carnal desire. Heaven is about the very presence of God. So when you read a headline or hear some Charismatic leader begin spinning a web of things that cannot be substantiated by Scripture, stop reading and quit listening; Scripture is sufficient. There may not be much said about Heaven in Scripture; I believe that’s on purpose because Scripture is not about what is in Heaven but who is in Heaven; God, the Creator and King, Jesus, our Savior and Lord, and the Holy Spirit our Comforter and Teacher.