“No Malarkey – Heaven is For Real”
“And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven (Genesis 28:17)!’”
In the 16th century the word had gone out among Spanish explorers of the New World of the golden city of El Dorado. Many explorers claimed that they themselves had found the city and returned to tell of its splendor. Some even supposed that Sir Walter Raleigh had found his there. But to this day there remains no evidence of it.
In recent years there has been a proliferation of books published about those who have died and gone to heaven and returned to earth once again. Some by innocent children and even one by a Baptist Preacher from Pasadena, Texas. In some of these books we learn that heaven is occupied by relatives and friends, who, in some cases weren’t righteous while on earth (Revelation 22:14). In Don Piper’s 90 Minutes In Heaven, only 15 pages of the 203 book detail his time in heaven, in which he never saw Jesus and says that the streets were “literally paved with gold (Revelation 21:21) but the gates were not of literal pearl.”1 In passing, Piper admits he never actually entered heaven’s gates (p.36) in spite of the book’s title.
Another best seller of this genre, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, was published in 2010 detailing Alex Malarkey’s time in heaven while he lay in a coma for two months. Malarkey released a statement early in January of this year stating; “I did not die. I did not go to heaven.” He continued by stating, “When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from the lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.”2 Tyndale House subsequently took the book out of print after selling more than a million copies.
Malarkey is now speaking the truth about heaven – “The Bible is enough.” Christians should be very guarded and skeptical of all claims of supposed heavenly tourists. There were many recorded examples of those who truly died and returned to life miraculously in the Bible yet there is no record of their experiences between their first death and their return to earth. “Lazarus, what was it like where you were for four days?” The Biblical record records no witness from him on this account (John 11), nor any from Talitha (Mark 5:41-43), nor from either of the widow’s sons (1 Kings 17:21-24, Luke 7:11-15). If the Holy Spirit had intended for us to have an account of one returning from the other side there were multiple witnesses He could have chosen but He did not. Interestingly, one wanted to send a message from the other side and was told that the living should believe the Bible (Luke 16:27-31).
Yet Paul speaks of a man who was caught up to third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2). First heaven would be the air above us where the birds fly (Genesis 1:26, Matthew 8:20). The second heaven is where the moon, stars and galaxies are – what we call space (Genesis 1:14, 22:17), while third heaven is the dwelling place of God (Deuteronomy 10:14, Isaiah 63:15). This is the heaven we want to know more about. This “man” Paul mentions was the Apostle himself (2 Corinthians 12:5-7). Yet he said that the things he heard there were unlawful for a man to utter and a thorn in the flesh was given to him because of the abundance of revelations he received.
The Bible clearly instructs us that heaven is a prepared place (John 14:2-3, Hebrews 11:16) for a prepared people but its precise details remain mysterious. Make no mistake, heaven is for real. Let’s make sure that our view of our eternal home comes from the Bible and view all other claims in light of Scripture. For the next few weeks we will examine what the Bible reveals about where men go after this life and what we can know of heaven.
“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven (John 3:13).”
Don Piper, 90 Minutes In Heaven, published by Fleming H. Revell, 2004, p.34