HEAVEN IS FOR REAL? THE BOOK IS BETTER…
by Pastor Kyle Beshears
It is one of the most best selling evangelical books in the past decade with over seven million copies sold. It sat on the #1 New York Times best-sellers list for weeks. It is currently the #1 best seller on Amazon for Christian Living and Christian Eschatology. The book became so popular that it was turned into a blockbuster movie.
But this book is no deep treatise of theology nor a work written by a masterful theologian diving deep into eschatology. Neither is it a pastoral message from the office of a minister who, after years of toiling in the Lord’s work, has words of encouragement and challenges to pass on to the next generation. No, this movie is neither of either of these two.
Instead, it is a movie about the afterlife – an account of a little boy who experienced heaven and returned to tell the world. It recounts the glory of heaven, the reality of its existence, and the wonderfulness of the presence of God.
But, I must say, the book was better. No, not the actual book Heaven Is For Real. I mean the Bible.
“HEAVEN IS FOR REAL.” – THE BIBLE
Despite the wide popularity of Heaven Is For Real, we have an obligation to pause for a moment and ask ourselves whether or not this is something we should embrace with open arms or hold at a distance.
Could this work be genuine of the afterlife? In an age of materialism and naturalism, it would surly be a wonderful piece of evidence. Also, doesn’t the Bible seem to place credibility on the individual experience of believers? After all, Paul knew a man who “was caught up into paradise” and returned to tell about it (2Co 12:3–4). Shouldn’t we at least give Heaven Is For Real a chance?
Frankly, I’m not sure that we should. Why? Because we don’t need a book to tell us heaven is for real – we have the book. We don’t need accounts of individuals going to the beyond in order for us to know heaven is a real place. In fact, Jesus seems to tell us that if an individual was to return from the afterlife, we still wouldn’t believe them. His reason? We have the prophets, scripture, the Bible (Jn 20:29).
But what about Paul’s friend who went to heaven? Isn’t Heaven Is For Real simply the same thing? No, not necessarily, because the Holy Spirit didn’t inspire Heaven Is For Real, but he did inspire 2 Corinthians.
The ultimate problem with Heaven is For Real (or any other near-death experience books and films for that matter) is that we are reversing the order of evidence for the afterlife.
We want to use our experiences to prove Bible. Instead, we need to use Bible to prove our experiences.
At the end of the day, we must continually remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit has given us everything we need to know about the afterlife. It’s there, it exists, and it’s either indescribably wonderful or incomprehensibly horrible.
The point of the Bible teaching us about the afterlife is not so we can spend our days speculating eternity; rather, we should spend our days in anticipation of eternity.
And what’s the best way to anticipate eternity? Live a life worth living by bearing the name of Jesus Christ.
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