Yes David Platt, Heaven is for Real!

HeavenI realize that I’m a nobody. I’m just a small house church leader in SE Calgary who’s voice is but a whisper in the midst of great speakers such as people like David Platt. But, I couldn’t help but cringe as I listened to these words in his post “Why You Should Not Believe in ‘Heaven is for Real“. Have we so lost our imaginations to the power of telling our story?

My mother lived to be 39 years old. I was 15 when we both were in a car accident in 1994 where she passed away and I would spend the next 3 months fighting for my life in the General Hospital Intensive Care Unit. Over that year I witnessed several miraculous experiences but one will be with me for the rest of my life.

I laid there, starring at the wall at the foot of my ICU bed listening to the beeps and the whirrs of the machines around me. Then a small pin light appeared at the foot of my bed. It grew over the next few minutes until it was the size of maybe a yoga ball that radiated all around the room. I didn’t really think or feel anything until a voice spoke to me from the light. My eyes filled up with tears and I could feel my self choking a bit as I heard my mother’s voice. It was warm and filled with love and only spoke a few words. She said, “You and your father will be ok.

It perplexed me in many ways that I won’t share here but I felt a great sense of hope and peace knowing that my mother was with Jesus. Perhaps that is what many of these experiences and stories of the miraculous are meant to mean; a struggle or paradox between our rationality and reason with the ever present tense of the Kingdom of hope and peace being near! Should we ever hide these stories? Should we be quiet out of the fear that others simply will not understand?

David Platt is right that several of the biblical authors also experienced prophetic visions of heaven with Isaiah seeing the Lord on a throne with his robe filling the Jerusalem temple and angels all around him (Isa. 6); Ezekiel envisioning fire lashing out with gleaming metal (Eze. 1); not of Paul’s vision, but the testimony/story of another man’s vision of the “third heaven” – “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.” (2 Cor. 12:2) (Interesting to note here that Paul himself accepted the story of a fellow believer while leaving the wonders of it up to God); and of course John’s vision of doorways to heaven, thrones, and voices like trumpets (Rev. 4)! Yet each grappled with what words to use to describe what they saw and each were ostracized, judged, and told to be quiet by the priests and community around them much like those who share such stories today.

There were also many who experienced resurrection and coming back from the dead such as the young girl who Jesus laid his hand upon as she “awoke” (Matt. 9:18-26); a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17); and most famously, the story of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Again, you are correct David Platt that the scriptures do not speak of any stories or experiences that these people shared and yet, that does not mean they did not share any. What stories do you suppose Mary and Martha shared with the villagers and those they saw in their travels? What experiences could Lazarus have spoke of while being dead in the tomb? Who are we to say, or were you there?!

I don’t profess not to struggle with some of the details in people’s visions like Colton Burpo’s story. But I don’t doubt at all that they experienced something significant that greatly affected the trajectory of their lives! So in what ways can these visions and dreams speak to us today?

In the first sense, these events happened to these people and their experiences have deep and meaningful significance to them. They have a right to speak of them and share how God may have spoke into their lives! We may not understand or even agree with everything they share but, we cannot deny that they experienced something in their life and it is shaping who they are.

Secondly, by listening to their stories we can find symbols of hope! By witnessing their testimony and the radical transformation that it has on their lives, we find an epiphany of God’s presence, love, and recognition to our existence. Though we know only in part, God’s glory is still in these stories. They are visions of God’s Kingdom come near in both the personal experience of the individuals and the communal promise of hope to the greatest story ever told!

Perhaps the greatest way we can treat these stories is by taking the advice of James, being quick to listen and slow to speak so that whatever righteousness God might work (James 1:19-20), might be done so through His works and not our own. Or should we become like the Pharisees commanding the crowds to silent at Jesus’ presence?! I think not less the stones begin to cry out! (Luke 19:40) If we all were willing to cry out “The Kingdom of God is near!” without fear of the judgements of others, perhaps then yes David Platt, we will recognize heaven is.. for real!

Lastly David Platt, regarding Kevin Malarkey… Who are we to speak against a person’s birth right and family name let alone that of a boy?! Does not the bible speak of the significance to a person’s family name? These are names of importance, history, meaning, and they deserve respect and honour in any room! To demean and mock them with a tact of bullying is in no way an act of Christ discipleship!


2 thoughts on “Yes David Platt, Heaven is for Real!

  1. another nobody

    You still cannot argue with the possibility that all of these experiences out there are not “figments of the human imagination, dreams, hallucinations, false memories, fantasies, and, in the worst cases, deliberate lies, or else they’re products of demonic deception.” The mind is a powerful thing and can make you believe a lot of things that aren’t strictly true, mostly due to a simple false perception. How could anyone prove or disprove such a claim of an event that no one else would have been able to witness? Sometimes one can even make oneself believe something actually happened through sheer will. Fame is also a corrupting motivator, unfortunately, so who can really say someone didn’t just see a golden opportunity with a gullible crowd. All they had to do was give the people what they wanted to hear (“Heaven is for real” is a pretty good example of something every Christian wants to hear). While demon involvement seems a bit of a stretch, I don’t suppose we can really determine how demons decide the best ways to fool humanity. Getting people to think they’re Christians and good people and that everything is ok by twisting the truths of the Christian faiths and beliefs seems like a pretty good way to me, though.

    Now, putting all that unprovable stuff aside along with any feelings of wanting to believe what these people say is true, if you are a true Christian, you cannot argue with the Bible. Platt specifically points out two verses from the Word of God that speak of this.

    “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” -Proverbs 30:4

    “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” -John 3:13

    If the Bible says outright that no man has been to Heaven, then how can you claim to be a Christian while saying that the Bible is wrong and those people who died and rose again actually did go to Heaven and just never wrote their stories down? “…were you there?!” John 3:13 is actually the words of Jesus and, being one with God, he was there. I truly hope no one calls themselves a Christian while saying Jesus is wrong about anything that happened, is happening, or will happen.

    Make no mistake, this is all referring specifically to those near-death, round trips to Heaven and not visions of Heaven. Platt even points out that there are four instances in the Bible where Heaven was seen through prophetic visions, but it still clearly says that no man has actually gone to and returned from Heaven. The main point I’m getting from Platt’s talk is not so much that we should totally discredit and disregard these accounts, but that we need to stop focusing on what man has deemed important (frivolous details, best seller list) and what could easily be falsified but on God’s Word and what it has to say.

    Also, though these accounts may be false, their effect does not have to be entirely negative. Think of how many articles came out with the new movie Noah talking about how, even though the story itself is nonsense, it can still be used to get people interested enough so we, as Christians, can tell them the real story. It may be making the best of a bad situation, but any chance to share the Word is a good thing, right?

    1. My fellow nobody… Thank you for being willing to share some of your thoughts here even if you and I both might disagree in certain understandings. Thus is the nature of being fallen individuals and why the greatest dependence must be on God’s grace.

      Let me start by asking you a question. What is the quantification or qualification of a “true” or righteous Christian? Should the faith of an individual be judged by such things as edification or even righteous works? We need to be careful in how we answer this for fear that we stumble into the prayer of self-righteousness! (Luke 18:9-14) I am not arguing against the bible and in fact quoted the very texts that Platt spoke of! I found it interesting that in each of those texts, they gave startling details to their revelations and prophetic vision. I’m sure many in their day struggled with the “frivolous” details to what they saw and as scripture shows, these and other prophets were ostracized, imprisoned, and they even tried to kill them (1 Kings 19:2) because of their visions.

      I found it particularly interesting that contrary to Platt’s statement of Paul having a vision of heaven, it was actually his recount of a fellow believer who experienced the “third level” of heaven to which Paul himself did not judge over but rather left it to the wonder of God’s work and understanding. In his own words he said, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.” (2 Cor. 12:2)

      Perhaps Platt was referring to Paul’s conversion though on the road to Damascus where “a light from heaven” opened in the sky above and shone all around him? But then, no one else witnessed or saw this so who is to say he experienced anything? In your own words, “How could anyone prove or disprove such a claim of an event that no one else would have been able to witness?

      No brother, the measure of a Christian cannot be dependent on the edifice or righteous works of an individual. I will grant that in discipleship we are not absent of works IN faith as they present themselves as fruits in the Spirit but… but… they are works and fruits of love practiced in grace and not for the sake of quantification or qualification lest any man boast of his own works. (I’m going to assume there is no need to recite biblical reference on these things but should you… require them… feel free to ask and I’ll recite them.)

      Turning to the other passages you recited… Proverbs is arguable, as most scholars know it is a book of Hebrew wisdom and full of paradoxical pithy recitals; not always meant to be objective truths but rather guides to Jewish life. Take for example the part in your passage, “…what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” We know this was written hundreds of years before Jesus was even born so what would the readers of that day understand to the context of this passage? Perhaps the excluded ending of “Surely you know!” might give us a clue? It was sarcasm not to describe a truth of heavenly existence/understanding but that God is the awesome and powerful creator of all things and we should be prostrate in humility and wonder of His understanding of (dare I say it) the heavens and the earth rather then our own assumptions and interpretations of who has and hasn’t experienced such realities.

      As to Jesus’ words… this is interesting and I simply will comment as I have been reflecting on this over the past week. Is Jesus speaking objectively of the whole of heaven as apposed to those who share testimony to seeing only in part as most ALE’s do? (Ezekiel seeing a vision of Jesus along with other ALE’s; James, John, and Peter seeing Moses and Elijah with Jesus as other ALE’s see past loved ones; Paul’s fellow believer who saw the “third heaven” as other ALE’s see tunnels/lights; ect.) I’m not sure we are qualified to answer this question lest we claim divinity. I think I’ll leave it as Paul did – to the wonder of God and remain in the context that he was calling Nicodemus to be born in Spirit.

      I don’t dismiss Platt’s value in being passionately engaged and weighing all things as we see them in scripture! I would hope that has come across through my past comments. Yet, God’s Word is bigger then that which we find in the bible and is alive in each of our hearts, minds, soul, and strength! His Word is found in each of our own contexts, culture, and personal relationship to the gospel in Jesus. This of course goes into hermeneutical practices but, I don’t want to write you a book… yet. 😉

      I could go on here but I think what scared me the most in your comment brother or sister was the loss that you seem to have, to the presence of wonder in faith and the amazing works of God’s miraculous engagement with His creation today. You said, “Now, putting all that unprovable stuff aside…“; brother/sister, a “true” Christian believes in the presence, practice, and proclamation of the miraculous works of God both in history and the present! We are called to be witnesses to these experiences and share them to the ends of the earth along with discipleship! Or should we call the experiences of the disciples in the upper room simply euphoric hallucinations from bits of undigested food in their bellies?!

      This becomes the argument of most atheists and apposing proponents to the resurrection. Biblically and non-biblically they argue that there is no one who witnessed the resurrection that isn’t a Christian. This is a silly argument, as anyone who did witness the resurrection would of course then become a believer! The debate is one that simply becomes a circular game.

      I still stand to the point that Platt was out of line in mocking Kevin Malarkey for the sake of his name. Bullying has no place in the pulpit!

      My fellow nobody, I will leave it here but, I hope my thoughts offer you a different perspective; particularly in the understanding that just because we cannot rationalize the physical possibilities to the miraculous taking place, does not mean they do not happen! You will be in my prayers!

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