Are You Testing “Heaven Is For Real” According To Scripture?

It seems that we are living in times where many Christians today are just simply taking in everything that looks inspirational, without question, as long as it makes them feel good.  I believe that it is getting worse and worse, and nothing has been better illustrative than the excitement to go see something that has come out of Hollywood, and without question, believe that it is going to be a good thing for everyone!  Nothing was more illustrative of an incredible lack of discernment and good judgment than the latest Hollywood disaster (in biblical terms) than Noah.  It was not even close to being a good rendition of the Bible account of Noah and the flood- yet undiscerning Christians flocked to it, and most likely walked away disappointed.

When will some Christians start understanding that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is NOT necessarily a duck- unless you know what is in the product!

I understand that many non-believers and even naïve young Christians (young in the faith) might be excited about such movies, and go to them, enjoy them, and come away excited and even encouraged about the afterlife.  That is quite understandable.  What bothers me is how supposedly mature, Bible-believing Christians, especially pastors and other leaders, are encouraging people to go to the movie, without checking out the claims of the young man and seeing whether they clash with Scripture in any way.  What would be more disturbing I suppose is if a Christian leader knows that this movie is very dubious, and recommends it anyway.  The emotional value of a movie it seems might be a very influential factor that perhaps clouds an otherwise mature Christian’s judgment, and makes them set aside God’s word, in exchange for the emotional benefits from the story.

I listened to a portion of Sean Hannity’s radio show a few days ago, where he interviewed Colton Burpo, who is now 14 years old, and his father Todd Burpo.  Colton is the young man who claims that at four years old, while undergoing surgery, he went to heaven and experienced some incredible things, including meeting Jesus, his grandfather who he never knew, and his sister who he never met, because she had died while in her mothers womb.  The movie is opening nationwide this Wednesday, April 16, and I am sure it will make millions of dollars this week.

Do We Have Physical Bodies in Heaven Right After We Die?

In the interview, Colton was asked about the people he saw in heaven, and whether they have physical bodies or not, or whether it was just a spiritual thing.  He answered Sean Hannity and said that definitely everyone in heaven has their own physical body, and he was able to hug some people physically.  So he had no doubt that people that he met in heaven possess physical bodies.

Now, the important question: what does Scripture say about death, and about what happens after a Christian dies?

As a believer who is saved, Scripture says that after death we are taken into the presence of Christ.  To the thief on the cross, Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).  And on two separate occasions, Paul said the following regarding death and bringing us into Christ’s presence:

“But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” (Philippians 1:23-24)


“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord–for we walk by faith, not by sight–we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-9)

Here’s where it gets “tricky”, in relation to Colton Burpo’s testimony.  I believe that when a Christian dies, his spirit/soul goes to be with the Lord- but not his physical body.

How do I know that?  Let’s see what Scripture says about this.

Paul says, in Romans 8:23, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Then we have 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

And then 1 Thessalonians 14: 13-17, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,4 that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

These two passages are describing believers being resurrected and given glorified bodies.

The question then follows here:

If believers go to be with Christ immediately after death, what is the purpose of this resurrection? It seems that while the souls/spirits of believers go to be with Christ immediately after death, the physical body remains in the grave “sleeping.” At the resurrection of believers, the physical body is resurrected, glorified, and then reunited with the soul/spirit. This reunited and glorified body-soul-spirit will be the possession of believers for eternity in the new heavens and new earth. (source, www.gotquestions.org)

And according to Revelation 20:11-15, those who died as unbelievers will also be resurrected just as the believer will be, but they will be eternally condemned to hell.  They will be resurrected to be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. The Scriptures say that those judged are judged according “…to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Rev 20: 12). And v 13 says, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” This answers the question: “What about the poor heathen who never heard?” They will be in this judgment.

Frankly, I don’t think a movie called “Hell is For Real” would have much appeal to people today, although if it followed Scripture, it could present the Gospel and show unbelievers where their destiny would be without Christ.

So it seems to me that Colton Burpo got it wrong.  The only other conclusion is that Scripture has it wrong, and what is described in the Bible is a mistake.  So you must choose: either believe Colton Burpo, or believe Scripture.

If Scripture is correct, what does that say of Colton’s testimony?  We already know of the other contradictions from his account that do not line up with Scripture.  What does a Bible-believing Christian do with the fact that much of Colton’s story is in opposition to the Bible?  What does one do with the fact that his claim to have gone to heaven is contradicted by God’s word?  Jesus told Nicodemus:

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.” John 3:13

I don’t often reference the NLT, but I believe it translates it most clearly: “No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.”

Dear brothers and sisters, pastors, and youth leaders, you may think I am obsessed with yet another nitpicky thing.  Why should I ruin such a wonderful, inspiring and emotionally reassuring story? Why spoil people’s chances at getting a good feeling about life after death?  Why not let them have a modicum of comfort in their lives?  The answer is simple.  We must not accept anything just because it has the label of “Christian”, or because it feels good, or looks good, for the sake of temporary good feelings and comfort- if it goes against God’s Holy word.  Don’t you think that there are many more people in this world who could sit down and write an even more incredible story than Colton has written?  Would you believe them too?

Either Colton Burpo’s story must be rejected, or you must reject the veracity of Scripture.  You cannot have both.

Reference: http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/how-do-i-know-heaven-is-for-real/

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8 responses to “Are You Testing “Heaven Is For Real” According To Scripture?

  1. Manny, we are definitely living in a time of confusion and deception especially if it has some mystical story attached. If there ever was a time people needs to know their Bible as you point out it is now. Both article are timely especially with so many movies coming out about the Bible being touted as true.

  2. What if Colton was talking about his glorified body? We will still eat and drink and walk in heaven according to Scripture. We don’t just float around like spirits when we get there. And at the time Jesus said that about no one going to heaven and coming back, was he talking about Paradise or Heaven? What about Lazarus? Have you ever read Randy Alcorn’s book called ” Heaven”? It’s very good, Scriptural, and insightful.

  3. I am convinced that the problem, and it is a problem, is we, as a church, must get back to the basics. Meaning, the church has forgotton the TRUE WORD of God. God’s copyright has been compromized, Rev. 22:18, 19. “In the beginning was Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. There will be consequences tampering with the Word of God.
    God Bless.

  4. Do you think that perhaps a four yro using the term physical bodies was the best way he could describe what he saw as he looked upon these heavenly beings? Just think you are making too much of that. As far as the other issue of one coming out of heaven- no one had until Jesus did but does that preclude future incidents too?

  5. Well, my question to you is Anthony, do I have to believe every word someone says who claims an experience such as this? On what basis should I take his word for it? He probably believes it happened, but how does he even know for sure?

    How do you, Anthony, discern between the stories that you hear about heaven? What about those televangelists who talk all the time on tv about speaking directly to God or the Holy Spirit? Do you believe them, and if not, why not?

  6. Anthony, I recommend that you read Luke Chapter 16 concerning the rich man and Lazarus. I think that you will find it helpful concerning the Biblical point-of-view. I personally do not take these stories serious. If one does not believe Moses and the prophets and more importantly Christ Himself, then how can they believe anyone who claims they have been to heaven and returns.

  7. Its a movie give me a break- it doesn’t claim to be the bible. So the child had amazing experiences as a child that became a book and a movie- So what! sure beats half the trash produced every other week. Go watch the movie with your family and have a f
    Good discussion after with the bible-

  8. I have already had a discussion with my oldest son about this book/movie and the many other claims written by others to have died and gone to heaven. I showed him according to scripture that these things are not believable. We did not waste our money and help these people get richer, as well as help Hollywood get richer from another exploitation.

    Following are some more claims for you to believe and have fun with.

    David Cloud has written a book on Pentecostalism and its many errors, and in it, he documents the many claims of heavenly visitation. Here are some of the accounts. I suppose you will have fun with these also. Perhaps I should write a book next year on my trip to heaven.

    Believe all this if you will and tell the children that these are also true stories- even if they contradict each other.

    Excerpted from the book THE PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC MOVEMENTS: THE HISTORY AND THE ERROR. (David Cloud, wayoflife.org)

    Not only are there many Pentecostals who claim to have seen Jesus, some have even made trips to heaven.

    Pentecostal evangelist John Lake claimed to have visited heaven. So did Percy Collett, Dudley Danielson, Marvin Ford, Aline Baxley, Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Benny Hinn, Roberts Lairdon, and many others.

    In 1977 Richard Eby claimed that he died and went to heaven and he brought back the revelation that “the primary nerve in God’s cranium is the sense of smell.” He said that in heaven he could move anywhere at will and that he was visible yet transparent.

    In the 1980s, Percy Collett built a large following based on his dramatic accounts of a five-day trip to heaven. He spoke face to face with the Holy Spirit and saw cats and (barkless) dogs. He saw the “Pity Department,” where aborted babies go to be trained for a period of time. He saw the “Garment Room,” where angels are sewing robes for believers. He even saw a “Holy Ghost elevator.”

    Roberts Lairdon claims that he toured heaven when he was only eight years old. He said Jesus is 5 feet 11 to 6 feet tall and has sandy brown hair that is “not too long and not too short.” He saw storage buildings containing body parts that are waiting for “saints and sinners alike” on earth to claim them. Jesus told him, “You should come in here with faith and get the needed parts for you and the people you’ll come in contact with” (Lairdon, I Saw Heaven, Tulsa: Harrison House, 1983, p. 19). He saw a medicine cabinet with bottles labeled “overdose of the Holy Ghost,” and he and Jesus splashed each other in the River of Life.

    On “This Is Your Day,” May 4, 2000, Benny Hinn interviewed G.S. Dhinakaran of “Jesus Calls” ministry in India about his many alleged trips to heaven. Dhinakaran said, “Whenever I’m heartbroken because of the ministry, problems of the ministry that’s the time the Lord Jesus says come and he takes me to heaven and then he talks to me in person. He calls one of the apostles and makes them speak to me concerning my problems.” Dhinakaran claims there are actually three heavens and believers are assigned to one of them according to what they did on earth.

    Jesse Duplantis claims that on his journey to heaven he saw an angel thrown against a wall when God barely moved His finger and (accidentally?) hit him while he was flying by. Duplantis says he learned that there are two types of Christians in heaven, the strong and the weak, and the weak have to smell the leaves of the tree of life to gain strength.

    WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

    I reject all of these claims about visiting heaven, whether in vision or in the body, for the simple reason that in every case the individual adds to the things recorded in the Bible in direct conflict with God’s command:

    “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, IF ANY MAN SHALL ADD UNTO THESE THINGS, GOD SHALL ADD UNTO HIM THE PLAGUES THAT ARE WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19).

    Many of the things recorded in the book of Revelation pertain to heaven. Consider Revelation 4-5; 7:9-17; 8:1-6; 10:1; 11:15-19; 12:1-3; 12:7-12; 14:1-17; 15:1-8; 16:1, 5-7; 17:1-2; 19:1-16; 20:1; 21:1-27; 22:1-5. The book of Revelation ends with almost two entire chapters describing the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, and then concludes with a solemn warning not to “add unto these things.”

    Is it not adding to the things of Scripture about heaven to say there are Holy Ghost elevators and storage buildings with body parts and barkless dogs or that the primary nerve in God’s cranium is the sense of smell?

    These experiences are either true or they are a lie, and we are convinced that they are lies. Those who describe them might very well think that they have visited heaven, but they have done no such thing.

    The Bible is more certain than any vision or the most glorious mystical experience. It is possible to be deceived into thinking one has been to heaven or seen Jesus when this has not actually happened, but the Bible is sure. Peter reminded his readers that he was eyewitness to Christ’s majesty, that he had witnessed Christ’s transformation on the mountain and heard the very voice of Almighty God and had seen Elijah and Moses (2 Pet. 1:16-18). What could be more glorious than that? No Pentecostal or Charismatic has experienced anything greater than this. But Peter does not end here. Rather than urging his readers to seek such experiences he magnifies the Bible above all such things:

    “We have also A MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of THE SCRIPTURE is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:19-21).

    The more sure word of prophecy is the Scripture itself. It was given by divine inspiration and is therefore infallible.

    This is the message that every Pentecostal and Charismatic needs to hear and to submit to. Lay aside the carnal lust for mystical experiences and miraculous signs and cleave to the Bible alone as the sole and perfectly sufficient authority for faith and practice. Walk by faith and not by sight, for this is biblical Christianity. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24-25).

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