For many years, perhaps back to the time of Jesus, people about to die have reported visions of Jesus, angels, family members and heaven. These appear to be believable as many have also had visions of hell.
Trudy Harris was for many years a hospice nurse and also the former president of Hospice Foundation for Caring. In her book Glimpses of Heaven, foreword by Don Piper, she writes of the visions and comforts experienced by her former patients as they died. I have heard reports from other hospice personnel who report the almost identical visions. I highly recommend Trudy's book for your reading.
In her introduction she stated the following:
"Many years ago, I was visiting a terminally ill patient at his home in the middle of the night. As I entered his room, he smiled and, pointing to the window nearest his bed, said to me, 'There's an angel at my window, Trudy. Can you see him?' It was more than evident to me that Pat was actively dying and had very little time left, maybe an hour or so. He was peaceful and unafraid but awestruck by what he was seeing. I explained to him that God was preparing to take him home very soon, and He was letting him have a glimpse of heaven before going in. He smiled knowingly, nodding his head in agreement, and seemed totally at peace with that thought. Since he lived alone, I promised to stay with him until he was taken there safely by the angel who was watching over him now. Sitting on the floor next to his bed, I held his hand for less than an hour until he died."
"Over many years, family members, friends and patients in my care have shared with me their very personal experiences of dying. Their experiences are as varied and unique as the persons themselves, and are shared with an openness and confidence that can only be explained by their anticipated and imminent meeting with God. He speaks to their spirits in a way no one else ever has as he prepares to call them home. No one has to tell them they are dying: they know and recognize His voice. They have developed what I call 'spiritual eyes and ears' and seem to see and understand things in a way we cannot. The experiences are unique to the persons themselves but share a common theme of enlightenment, love, and acceptance at the end of life. They give us glimpses into a world none of us has yet seen but one day will. Each person seems to receive exactly what he or she needs to see and hear in order to die peacefully and well."
"As the physical body declines, the spiritual self becomes apparent and seems to yearn in a real and tangible way for someone or something greater than itself. This appears to be a very natural movement on the part of the dying person and is expressed in a myriad of ways. People who are about to die are very generous in sharing their experiences if they feel you will be open to hearing them. They tell you about their experiences as they are living them and seem to want to help you understand the simplicity of it all."
"This temporary tent, which is our body, is changing, and no one knows this better than the person who is dying. If you sit quietly and listen to them, both their questions and their insights, they will invite you to share in this next, awesome step in life's journey. There is nothing left to hide, nothing to gain, and nothing to prove or lose, thus making the sharing totally pure. And when you enter into the wonderment of these blessed experiences with them, you yourself will grow."
"Visions of those who have gone before them, angels, beautiful music, and personally comforting experiences permeate the minds and hearts of those who are dying. The imprints of their shared experiences are left with us to ponder and more importantly to provide a platform for our own lives. This book does not attempt to define or provide meanings to what people see and hear. Rather it offers a portrait of what we might expect when our time inevitably comes and demystifies death as only first-person accounts can do."
"When patients and friends who were dying would say to me. 'Today is my day' or 'I saw my name on the marker' or 'I heard them call my name' or 'my son is here with me now; he said it's time to go,' at first I simply did not understand. When many others told me about seeing angels in their rooms, being visited by loved ones who had died before them, or hearing beautiful choirs or smelling fragrant flowers when there were none around, I assumed it was the result of the medications they were taking or possibly dehydration. Surely the visions could not be real. But when others who were dying and not on medication and not dehydrated were saying the same things, I started to listen, really listen."
"When they spoke of angels, which many did, the angels were always described as more beautiful than they had ever imagined, eight feet tall, male, and wearing a white for which there is no word. 'Luminescent' is what each one said, like nothing they had ever seen before. The music they spoke of was far more exquisite than any symphony they had ever heard, and over and over again they mentioned colors that they said were to beautiful to describe."
"I have the feeling that people do not die at the exact minute or hour that we say they do. In some inexplicable way that we do not yet understand, they seem to travel back and forth from this world to the next, developing the insights God wants them to have on this, their final journey back to the Father who created them."
"A patient who was afraid to die lying flat on his back asked me to hold him in a sitting position as he was dying. Moments before he died he said to me, 'Trudy, there is no such thing as time. Dying is like walking from the living room into the dining room, there are no beginnings or endings.' The words he spoke were in response to my looking at my watch as I foolishly counted his respirations, and he smiled a very patient smile as he said it. Then he closed his eyes and died. There are so many new insights, so many opportunities to think and understand in a whole new way when seeing from the perspective of the patient who is moment away from entering heaven. There are so many important lessons people are trying to teach us moments before they die. We had better listen. We are standing on holy ground during these moments, and we dare not miss one of them" (pp 13-20).
Billy Graham Reports
In his book Death and the Life After, Billy reports on the death bed experiences of friends and family members.
"Ruth [his wife] tells about an experience she had in China. On the station where she lived, one of the evangelistic missionaries was Ad Talbot, whom she affectionately called Uncle Ad. Talbot had five sons and a daughter, Margaret Gay, a girl he deeply loved. Sometime after her death he was in the country with a Chinese Christian woman who was dying. As he knelt beside her bed, the old woman’s face lit up and she said to Uncle Ad, 'I see heaven, and Jesus is on the right hand of God, and Margaret Gay is with him.' At that moment the room was filled with heavenly music and the Chinese woman was dead" (pp 169).
"When my grandmother was dying she sat up in her bed, smiled, and said, 'I see Jesus, and He has His hand outstretched to me. And there’s Ben and he has both of his eyes and both of his legs!” My grandfather had lost a leg and an eye at Gettysburg" (pp 169).
He reports on his mother's visions.
"One morning when she awoke, she told Rose (caretaker) there was a man at the foot of her bed. She wanted to know who he was. Rose asked her if he looked like a good man. 'Oh yes, he has a very kind face.' 'Maybe he’s your guardian angel.' Mother then asked, 'Who is that woman who comes in with you?' This time Rose was startled. 'There hasn’t been anyone with me,' she said. 'Oh but for the last two weeks every time you came in the room there’s been someone with you. She just stands beside you. She must be your guardian angel.'"
"A short time passed. The next day she was in a semicoma, but woke early in the morning, long enough to announce very loudly, 'No payment, no pain, no sickness, no death….O what a beautiful day!' Then she said: 'Am I in a coma yet?' 'No, Ma’am' 'Am I dead yet? Are we in heaven yet?' 'No Ma’am', Rose answered, 'It’s a beautiful day, anyhow.' The morning she went to be with the Lord she kept reaching up…. She tried to say something about hand" (pp 132-133).
Death of D. L. Moody
"William R. Moody, His Son, in his book The Life of Dwight L. Moody reports on the death of his father. His son-in-law, A.P. Fitt in his book, Shorter Life of D. L.. Moody, confirms the same story. You may read the story on the Web Site. Dr. Moody had a very bad heart and had called the elders of the church to anoint him with oil and to pray for him.
"After a rather restless night he fell into a quiet sleep for over an hour, from which he awoke in a sinking condition. During the earlier hours of the night, Mr. Fitt, his son-in-law, had been by his bedside, and he had seemed to rest and sleep a greater part of the time. At three in the morning, the elder son took the place as watcher in the sick-chamber, and for several hours Mr. Moody was very restless and unable to sleep. About 6 o’clock he quieted down, and soon fell into a natural sleep, from which he awoke in about an hour. Suddenly he was heard speaking in slow and measured words. He was saying: 'Earth recedes; Heaven opens before me.' The first impulse was to try to arouse him from what appeared to be a dream. 'No, this is no dream, Will,' he replied. 'It is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.' Meanwhile the nurse was summoning the family and the physician, who had spent the night in the house. Mr. Moody continued to talk quietly, and seemed to speak from another world his last message to the loved ones he was leaving."
"'I have always been an ambitious man,' he said, 'ambitious to leave no wealth or possessions, but to leave lots of work for you to do. Will, you will carry on Mount Hermon. Paul will take up the Seminary, when he is older; Fitt will look after the Institute, and Ambert (his nephew) will help you in the business details.' Then it seemed as though he saw beyond the veil, for he exclaimed: 'This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! I have been looking forward to it for years.' Then his face lit up, and he said, in a voice of joyful rapture:'Dwight! Irene! — I see the children’s faces,' referring to the two little grandchildren God had taken from his life in the past year. Then, as he thought he was losing consciousness; he said; 'Give my love to them all.' Turning to his wife, he exclaimed, 'Mamma, you have been a good wife to me!' and with that he became unconscious."
"For a time it seemed that he had passed on into the unseen world, but slowly he revived, under the effect of heart stimulants, and, suddenly raising himself on his elbow, exclaimed: 'What does all this mean? What are you all doing here?' He was told that he had not been well, and immediately it all seemed to be clear to him, and he said: 'This is a strange thing. I have been beyond the gates of death and to the very portals of Heaven, and here I am back again. It is very strange.' Again he talked about the work to be done assigning in the sons the Northfield schools, and to his daughter and her husband the Chicago Bible Institute. Then, in answer to the query of the daughter, 'But, Father what about Mother?' he replied 'Oh she’s like Eve, the mother of us all,' evidently meaning to imply that she was to mother the whole, and to be to all the interests as well as to the children the same helpful adviser and balance that she had been to him for so many years."
"To the plea of his daughter that he should not leave them, he said: 'I’m not going to throw my life away. I’ll stay as long as I can, but if my time is come, I’m ready.' "
Then he seemed to revive for a short time and then he began to fade again. "In a few moments more another sinking turn came, and from it he awoke in the presence of Him whom he loved and served so long and devotedly. It was not like death, for he fell on sleep quietly and peacefully."
"Of his awaking consciousness beyond the thin veil which separates the seen from the unseen we may not know just now, but of the welcome in that City for which at times he felt such a strange homesickness we may be sure. Did he not himself testify to having been 'within the gates' and 'beyond the portals,' where he had caught a glimpse of child faces 'loved long since and lost awhile'? During his earthly pilgrimage it had not been given him to sing the sweet and joyful melodies that filled his soul, but at that Christmas tide he joined in Heaven’s glorious anthems of praise to Him whose love had been a consuming fire and whom he had served with such devotion when on earth."
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In his book Voices from the edge of eternity John Myers compiled death bed visions from many years ago. The following are excerpts:
1. “There are so many of them. There’s Fred…and Ruth – what are you doing here? Oh, I know” (She did not know that Ruth had died the week before) (pp 19).
2. “They are calling, calling, calling – there in Heaven” “I didn’t know it could be so? beautiful. All is well with my soul” (pp 21).
3. “Oh! Papa, what a sweet sight! The golden gates are open and crowds of children come pouring out. Oh, such crowds” “In a whisper – Yes, yes, I come, I come” (pp 45).
4. “It is very beautiful over here” (Edison pp 48).
5. “Why Tom, I didn’t know you were up here” (pp 55).
6. “Mother – John –Don’t weep for me. Don’t call me back. I’ve been with Jesus, and the glory and wonder of it is too great” (Little Boy – pp 64).
7. “Oh, they are so beautiful?” “What do you see?” "Angels – and they are so beautiful” “They have wings” “They sing the sweetest of anything I have ever heard.” “I see the holy city” “I see Christ and Oh, He is so beautiful” “A lot of people – uncle George and a lot more” (Carrie Carmen pp 66)
8. “There! There! They are coming now and I shall go!” “There! There! They are going to open the gate. Now I can go in” (pp 98).
9. “There’s Mary (His sister)! Don’t you see her – standing at the foot of my bed?” “Beautiful, beautiful she is. There, she’s gone again” “Here she is with two angels with her. They’ve come for me” (pp 147).
10. A little girl – “The angels have come for me, I must go! They are at the door waiting for me. Ma, let me go! And then she looked up toward Heaven and continued, 'Look at the little children! Oh, Ma, I must go' " (pp 161)!
11. “Oh, how delightful it is! I knew You would be with me when the time came, and I knew it would be sweet – but not as sweet as it is” (pp 167)!
12. Pastor’s dying words – “Why, Heaven has come down to earth! I see the angels. They are flying through the house!” … After a little sleep, he awoke and exclaimed, “I have seen the King in His beauty – King of glory. I have slept in His palace” (pp 176)!
13. “The angels say there is plenty of room up there” (pp 179)!
14. Pastor’s Wife – “I see two angels coming for me” (pp 197).
15. A dying Husband – “Here that music! They don’t have such music as that on earth” (pp 206).
16. Young women dies – “About a week before the end her mother, sitting by her couch, became suddenly conscious of a most heavenly influence pervading the entire room. It was so powerful that she could scarcely refrain from shouting aloud. She wondered if Helen, on whose countenance rested a pleased expression, felt it too. The next day Helen said, “Ma, you thought I was asleep yesterday while you were sitting by me. I wasn’t, and two angels came into the room. The walls did not hinder their coming” (pp 212).
17. She exclaimed, clearly, “Oh! do you hear the music” (pp 232),
18. “The patient in the next bed to her called me over and asked ‘Who is Margaret? Your mother has been talking to Margaret all morning.’ I told her that Margaret was my mother’s sister who had died years ago. …….Then mother spoke her last words. “Oh Arline, it’s so strange here, I’m in a ‘never-never’ land. I’m halfway between two worlds. Ma and Pa are here and I can see them, but I can’t see you anymore” (pp 236
Dr. Melvin Morse, in Closer ToThe Light (pp76), said that "It has become difficult to define death. This blurring of the line between life and death has changed how we respond to dying.
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Although most out-of-body experiences appear to be good, there are some which are not good. Perhaps many more are bad but are not reported. Also, we must remember that Satan can be an angel of light and a great deceiver.
French Infidel, Voltaire (Voices from the edge of eternity, (pp 22)
"When Voltaire felt the stroke which he realized must terminate in death, he was overpowered with remorse. He at once sent for the priest and wanted to be 'reconciled to the Church.' Hoping to allay his anguish by a written recantation, he had it prepared, signed it, and saw it witnessed. But it was all unavailing. For two months he was tortured with such an agony as led him at times to gash his teeth in impotent rage against God and man. At other times, in plaintive accents, he would plead, 'O Christ! O Lord Jesus!' Then, turning his face he would cry out, ' I must die - abandoned of God and of men!'"
"As his end drew near his condition became so frightful that his infidel associates were afraid to approach his bedside. Still they guarded the door that others might not know how awfully an infidel was compelled to die. Even his nurse repeatedly said that for all the wealth of Europe she would never see another infidel die. It was a scene of horror that lies beyond all exaggeration."
Such is the well-attested end of this man who had a natural sovereignty of intellect, excellent education, great wealth and much earthly honor."
"I am in the flames - Pull me out, Pull me out" (pp 71)
"Mr. W, the subject of his narrative, died in New York about the year 1883 at the age of seventy-four. He was an avowed infidel. He was a good neighbor in some respects, but he was very wicked and scoffed at Christianity. About seven years prior, to his death he attended a revival and the Spirit strove with him, but he resisted to the last...."
"At another time when visited by a doctor, he was groaning and making demonstrations of great agony. The doctor said, 'Why do you groan; your disease is not painful?' 'Oh doctor,' said he, 'It is not the body but the soul that troubles me!'"
"On the evening of his death, as the burdened preacher, with a friend, entered the room, he felt that it was filled with an awful presence - as if he were near the region of the damned. The dying man cried out, 'Oh God! - deliver me from that awful pit!.' It was not a penitential prayer, but the wail of a lost soul."
"About fifteen minutes before his death, which happened to be at twelve midnight, he exclaimed, 'I am in the flames - pull me out, pull me out!'. He kept repeating this, though as his strength failed his words became more faint. At last, the preacher put his ear down close to catch his departing whispers, and the last words he could hear were, 'Pull me out! Pull me out!'"
"Years later when talking to his preacher, he told me that those last terrible words, 'I am in the flames - pull me out, pull me out!' were still ringing in his ears."
Dr. Maurice Rawlings, M.D, reports the following from his book, Beyond Death's Door.
"The terrifying experiences may be as abundant as the pleasant ones. As with those who have had good experiences, those reporting bad experiences may have trouble realizing they are dead as they watch people work on their dead bodies. They may also enter a dark passage after leaving the room, but instead of emerging into bright surroundings they encounter grotesque people who may be lurking in the shadows or along a burning lake of fire. The horrors defy description and are difficult to recall.
Compared to pleasant experiences, exact details are difficult to obtain" (pp 45).
This report agrees with others I have read.
Other Comments by Dr. Rawlings:
"Entrance into hell (or what appears to be hell) may occur in a direct fashion, frequently by-passing most of the usual sequential order of events. In a similar manner, persons may report a direct entrance into heaven (or what appears to be heaven), although they seem more likely to first travel through some type of sorting ground or over some type of barrier. The sorting ground is usually a meeting area (true in both good and bad experiences) and the barrier is usually a fence or a wall or some similar obstacle." (pp 74).
Another report: "I remember getting short of breath and then I must have blacked out. Then I saw that I was getting out of my body. The next thing I remember was entering this gloomy room where I saw in one of the windows this huge giant with a grotesque face that was watching me. Running around the windowsill were little imps or elves that seemed to be with the giant. The giant beckoned me to come with him. I didn't want to go, but I had to. Outside was darkness but I could hear people moaning all around me. I could feel things moving about my feet. As we moved on through this tunnel or cave, things were getting worse, I remember I was crying. Then, for some reason the giant turned me loose and sent me back. I felt I was being spared. I don't know why. Then I remember finding myself back in the hospital bed" (pp 90).
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In his book Beyond Death's Door, Dr. Maurice Rawlings, M.D. paint a picture of a typical out-of-body experience (pp 44-45).
"A dying person simply faints or painlessly loses consciousness as death occurs, and yet he is still able to hear himself pronounced dead by his doctor. He then discovers that he is out of his own body, but still in the same room, looking on as a bystander and observing the procedures. He watches himself being resuscitated, and frequently is compelled to walk around other people who might be obstructing his view. Or he may look down upon the scene from a floating position near the ceiling in which he sometimes finds himself. Often he is looking down on the back of their heads as they work to revive his body. He notices who is in the room and that he is dead, that the lifeless body used to be his. He feels fine! The body has been vacated as if it were a strange object."
"After he becomes more accustomed to this odd condition he notices that he has a new body which seems real and endowed with superior senses. He is not a ghost. He can see and feel and think and talk just as before. But now fringe benefits have been added. He notices his body has infinite capabilities of transportation and thought-reading, and is capable of doing almost anything, He may then hear a peculiar noise after which he finds himself moving through a long, dark passage with walls. His speed may be fast or slow but he doesn’t touch the walls and is not afraid of falling. As he emerges from the tunnel he may see a brilliantly lighted environment of exquisite beauty where he meets and talks with friends and relatives who have previously died. He may then be interviewed by a being of light or a being of darkness. This environment may be inexpressibly wonderful, frequently a rolling meadow or a beautiful city; or it may be inexpressibly horrible, frequently a dungeon or a huge cave. His whole life may be played back as an instant review of all the major events of his life, as if anticipating a judgment."
"As he walks along with his friends or relatives (frequently his parents in a good experience), a barrier is usually encountered beyond which he cannot go and still return. He usually is turned back at this point and suddenly finds himself back in his body where he may feel the shock of an applied electric current or chest pains from someone pushing upon his chest."
"These experience usually affect a person's life and attitudes profoundly. If the experience is pleasant, one is not afraid to die again. If it is unpleasant, an experience of damning incrimination, he may prefer to leave the story untold."
"They may also enter a dark passage after leaving the room, but instead of emerging into bright surroundings they enter a dark, dim environment where they encounter grotesque people who may be lurking in the shadows or along a burning lake of fire."
It should also be noted that people go through various stages of this experience. Many never leave the room where they are being resuscitated, others turn around in the tunnel. However, they are aware of every detail of the activity around them even locating previous lost objects. We must always ask the question, how much does Satan or his demons influence the vision?
We need to be careful of some of the reports of out of body experiences. Some are not Biblical in what is reported and can lead many astray. I find this to be true of reports in Life after life by Raymond A. Moody, Jr. He summarized his finding with these statements.
"Even those who previously had some traditional conviction about the nature of the afterlife world seem to have moved away from it to some degree following their own brushes with death. In fact, in all the reports I have gathered, not one person has described the cartoonist's heaven of pearly gates, golden streets, and winged, harp-playing angels, nor a hell of flames and demons with pitchforks."
"So, in most cases, the reward-punishment model of the afterlife is abandoned and disavowed, even by many who had been accustomed to thinking in those terms. They found, much to their amazements, that even when their most apparently awful and sinful deeds were made manifest before the being of light, the being responded not with anger and rage, but rather only with understanding, and even with humor. As one woman went through the review of her life with this being, she saw some scenes in which she had failed to show love and had shown selfishness. Yet, she says, 'His attitude when we came to these scenes was just that I had been learning, even then.' In place of this old model, many seemed to have returned with a new model and a new understanding of the world beyond -- a vision which features not unilateral judgment, but rather cooperative development towards the ultimate end of self-realization. According to these new views, development of the soul, especially in the spiritual faculties of love and knowledge, does not stop upon death. Rather, it continues on the other side, perhaps eternally, but certainly for a person of time and to a depth which can only be glimpsed, while we are still in physical bodies, 'through a glass, darkly'"(pp 70).
Many of the stories in Moody's book appear to have a New Age spin. I cannot find anywhere that Moody reports any really bad experiences, even from those who did not believe Christianity. Dr. Maurice Rawlings, M.D. wrote his book Beyond Death's Door to show that there are bad experiences as well as good. He states: "One fifth of those interviewed after resuscitation report out of body experiences. Unpleasant experiences in my study have turned out to be at least as frequent as the pleasant ones."
"Those who returned to life believing that there is no final judgment may have been deceived, 'And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light' (2 Cor. 11:24)" (pp 29).
Later in his book, Dr. Rawlings makes this statement: "Let me tell you how I began my study of after-death experiences. I began following published report of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (finally compiled in her book on Death and Dying) and Dr. Raymond Moody's reports in Life After Life. Except for cases of attempted suicide, all of their published reports represented unbelievably good experiences. I couldn't believe this! Their case reports were too pleasant, too euphoric to be true, I thought. As a youth I had been taught there was a 'good place' and a 'bad place,' a heaven and a hell. After the experience of resuscitating a man who said he was in hell and my subsequent belief in scriptural truth, I assumed that some would go to the 'bad place.' But almost all of these case reports spoke only of a 'good place.' It even occurred to me that some of the 'good' experiences could have been false impressions, perhaps created by Satan appearing as on 'angel of light' (2 Cor. 11:14)..."
"As a result of these observations. I am convinced that all of the cases published by Dr. Raymond Moody and Dr. Kubler-Ross, and subsequently by Drs. Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldson in their excellent collection At The Hour of Death are accurately reported by the authors but not always completely recalled or reported by the patients. I have found that most of the bad experiences are soon suppressed deeply into the patient's subliminal or subconscious mind. These bad experiences seem to be so painful and disturbing that they are removed from conscious recall so that only the pleasant experiences - or no experiences at all - are recollected" (pp 46 - 47).
Billy Graham, in his book, Death and the Life After, had this to say, "Today the dying experience is more openly discussed; however, many of the accounts I’ve heard or read of those last moment's tend to confuse the biblical doctrines and raise more questions than they answer. A good example is the popularity of account of “near-death” experiences, in which a person claims to have approached death (or even died) and then come back to life.”
"It is not my purpose to doubt the sincerity of those people who have recounted their “out-of-body” experience."
"Many describe near-death encounters after a cardiac arrest or other medical crisis and tell how they seemed to rise and watch as the medical team tried to revive them. Nor do I question those who tell about seeing spirits of relatives and friends who have already died, or others who have encountered a 'being of light' which brings them through a tunnel into an overwhelming, ecstatic experience of such intensity that they find it difficult to describe. (pp 19).
"But these experiences are not the bases for eternal truths nor are they a solid foundation for our confidence in life after death. They may be dangerously deceptive. They must be examined in the context of God’s Word."
"What bothers me about the life-after-death stories is that regardless of whether the person is a believer or not, seldom in these experiences does death appear to have any negative consequences – which is a direct contradiction of the Bible’s teaching" (pp 20).
Tim LaHaye, in his book, Life in the Afterlife, had this to say: "Although a numbers of similarities can be listed, serious contradictions between out-of-the-body experiences and the Bible persist. In addition, several of the researchers have drawn dangerous conclusions and advanced theories that contradict the Scriptures. Consider the following:
1. God (or the 'angel of light') will accept everyone, whether good or bad into his Kingdom...
2. Jesus Christ is not consistently presented as unique...
3. There is no future judgment for sin...
4. Both Christians and unbelievers have the same experience in the afterlife..
5. OBE travelers return and are granted a second chance after death...
6. When they return, some are told to warn others regarding the next life...
7. Many returnees teach that a mortal need not fear dying... " (pp 131-132).
Over the years many people have reported to have visions of parts of heaven. The visions reported below appear the be from reliable people and are not contradictory with the Bible as I understand it. The experiences of Don Piper and Roberts Liardon do not match the standard model of out-of-body experiences. They were not aware of leaving their bodies, did not go through a tunnel or meet a being of light, but immediately found themselves outside of the gate of the city of heaven.
The following quotes are excerpts from pages taken from Don Piper's book, 90 Minutes in Heaven. Don is a Baptist preacher. In 1989, he was in an automobile accident and was pronounced dead by the paramedics. Ninety minutes later he began to show signs of life and returned to his body. During those ninety minutes he found himself in heaven, standing outside of the gate, meeting family and friends. The following are quotes of some of the things he saw.
“Age expresses time passing, and there is no time there. All of the people I encountered were the same age they had been the last time I had seen them – except that all the ravages of living on earth had vanished. Even though some of their features may not have been considered attractive on earth, in heaven every feature was perfect, beautiful, and wonderful to gaze at."
“Everything was brilliantly intense. Coming out from the gate –a short distance ahead – was a brilliance that was brighter than the light that surrounded us, utterly luminous. As soon as I stopped gazing at the people’s faces, I realized that everything around me glowed with a dazzling intensity".
“Strange as it seems, as brilliant as everything was, each time I stepped forward, the splendor increased. The farther I walked, the brighter the light. The light engulfed me, and I had the sense that I was being ushered in the presence of God... In heaven, each of our senses is immeasurably heightened to take it all in. And what a sensory celebration!”
“Then I heard the music…..It was the most beautiful and pleasant sound I’ve ever heard, and it didn't stop... It seemed as if I were part of the music – and it played in and through my body... Myriads of sounds so filled my mind and heart that it’s difficult to explain them. The most amazing one, however, was the angel’s wings. I didn’t see them, but the sound was a beautiful holy melody with a cadence that seemed never to stop. The swishing resounded as if it was a form of never-ending praise."
(Note: Roberts Liadon, in his book We Saw Heaven. reports the same sounds coming from the angel wings.)
“In those minutes – and they held no sense of time for me – others touched me, and their warm embraces were absolutely real. I saw colors I would never have believed existed. I’ve never, ever felt more alive than I did then. I was home, I was where I belonged. I wanted to be there more than I had ever wanted to be anywhere on earth. Time had slipped away, and I was simply present in heaven. All worries, anxieties and concerns vanished. I had no needs, and I felt perfect.”
"Everything I experienced was like a first-class buffet for the senses. I had never felt such powerful embraces or feasted my eyes on such beauty. Heaven's light and texture defy earthly eyes or explanation. Warm, radiant light engulfed me. As I looked around, I could hardly grasp the vivid dazzling colors. Every hue and tone surpassed anything I had ever seen."
"With all the heightened awareness of my senses, I felt as if I had never seen, heard, or felt anything so real before. I don't recall that I tasted anything, yet I know that if I had, that too would have been more glorious than anything I had eaten or drunk on earth. The best way I can explain it is to say that I felt as if I were in another dimension."
“I paused just outside the gate, and I could see inside. It was like a city with paved streets. To my amazement, they had been constructed of literal gold. If you imagine a street paved with gold bricks, that’s as close as I can come to describing what lay inside the Gate. Everything I saw was bright – the brightest colors my eyes had ever beheld – so powerful that no earthly human could take in this brilliance.”
"All the people I met looked exactly as I once knew them -- although they were more radiant and joyful than they'd ever been on earth."
"My great-grandmother, Hattie Mann, was Native American. As a child I saw her only after she had developed osteoporosis. Her head and shoulders were bent forward, giving her a humped appearance. I especially remember her extremely wrinkled face. The other thing that stands out in my memory is that she had false teeth -- which she didn't wear often. Yet when she smiled at me in heaven, her teeth sparkled. I know they were her own, and when she smiled, it was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen."
"Then I noticed something else -- she wasn't slumped over. She stood strong and upright, and the wrinkles had been erased from her face. I have no idea what age she was, and I didn't even think about that. As I stared at her beaming face, I sensed that age has no meaning in heaven."
When Roberts Liardon was eight year old he had a vision of heaven. In his book We Saw Heaven he reports on the vision of heaven he had. He also reports on visions from others over the years. The following are excerpts from his book.
"I turned around to see who had spoken to me, and there stood Jesus Christ. All the glory that was about Him began to move toward me, and it came upon me. I recognized Him immediately, although he did not look like any of the pictures I had ever seen painted of Him. This much I can say: When you are faced with the presence of Jesus, you have no doubt who He is."
"Since that moment when I came face-to-face with Him, people have asked me repeatedly what He looks like. This is harder to answer than it might seem. In my experience, those who have seen Him are so overwhelmed by His presence that His appearance is secondary. You become so caught up in who He is that your mind doesn't fully retain the details of what He looks like."
"But I remember that he appeared to me to be somewhere around 5'11" to 6'1" tall and muscular - the perfect man. I saw no scars or signs of his crucifixion. They may have been there, but I did not see them. The way He looked, talked and moved seemed the epitome or perfection and wholeness. He is God, and I sensed that. His skin was olive-tones, and He had a beard. His hair came almost to His shoulders and appeared to be sandy-brown..."
"And the glory of that presence engulfed me. I buckled to my knees, and tears began to stream from my eyes, running down my face. I could not have stopped them if I had tried. They were not provoked by any human emotion such as sadness or excitement, but by His very presence. When he spoke to me, it was as if arrows of faith propelled by love shot into me and exploded inside. My only reaction was to weep."
"Then He spoke again, 'I want to give you a tour through Heaven, this place I have made for all who believe, because I love you so much'" (pp 5).
Jesus then proceeded to walk and talk to Roberts in a causal manner as they entered heaven.
Liadon's view of the city.
"Jesus escorted me through that huge gate. He didn't ask anyone to open it, and He pushed no button, it simply opened up and we walked through to the inside of Heaven."
"As I entered Heaven, the first thing I saw was a street, and it was made of gold. As I continued to walk through Heaven, I saw that all the streets looked as if they were literally made of pure gold. Even the curbs were made of gold. In some places the streets looked just like the gold we have on earth, which is how I recognized what it was. Yet, in other parts, the streets were transparent, and the gold looked as clear as crystal..."
"Along the curbs, the grass was a green that I cannot express, except to say it was the original essence and the very fullness of that color. In fact, all the colors there were of such a nature that the colors here on earth seem faded in comparison to the vibrancy of Heaven. The curbs were also lined with flowers in all the colors of the rainbow; and they hummed."
"I noticed the trees as we passed. The leaves swayed back and forth, dancing and praising. You would have thought a great wind was blowing through the land. The grass was very soft and yet after we passed over it, the blades sprang back into perfect alignment, immediately erasing any footprints. I think many men will be happy to know that you never have to mow the lawn in Heaven" (pp 39).
Liadon reports on Rebecca Springer's initial vision of life in Heaven.
"The next thing she knew, Rebecca was sitting in a sheltered area of flowering shrubs upon soft, green grass blossoming with fragrant flowers, some of which she recognized from earth and others which were new to her. She observed how perfect each plant was with smooth, glossy leaves. Stretching into the distance was a field of perfect grass, flowers and trees bearing blossoms and fruits. It reminded her of the tree of life in Revelation 22:2 that bore 12 kinds of fruit."
"Under the trees, she saw groups of happy little children playing, catching brightly colored birds that seemed to play along with them. Older people walked through the ground bearing a tangible air of peace and happiness. Everyone she saw was wearing pure white clothing. Looking further, she saw beautiful homes of unusual design, sparkling fountains and a river clear as crystal. The walkways appeared to be made of pearl. Everything spoke to her of purity for there was no decay. The air was fresh and invigorating, and instead of sunlight, there was a golden glow similar to a summer sunset" (pp 95)."
Liardon reports on Children.
"In 1988, evangelist Jesse Duplantis was taken up into Heaven. While he was there, he saw a multitude of small children, singing and praising God as they played little harps. When he asked the angel who had brought him there who they were, he was told they were the children the earth did not want. As Duplantis watched these children, who appeared to be from three to ten years old, he realized that they were children who had been lost to abortion. The angel explained to him that these children longed to see their mothers come to Heaven and be reunited with them."
The children continued to play their beautiful music when Jesus appeared to them. His hands reached out to them as they played their harps and sang praises to him. They hugged Him and looked up at Him in adoration. He responded by saying, 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me... for of such is the kingdom God' (Mark 10:14b)" (pp 17).
Roberts Liardon's vision of angels.
"Jesus and I became friends as He continued to take me on a tour of Heaven"... "All the saints whom I saw were dressed in white robes... The angels I saw in Heaven were tall and strong; they appeared to be from six to eight feet tall and were dressed according to their position. Some angels I saw did not have wings - but others did. When those wings moved, a musical sound was created, the like of which we have been unable to duplicate on earth" (pp 41).
Liadon's view of animals.
"Jesus and I continued walking, and as we crossed some hills, I noticed other things. I saw all kinds of animals, every kind you can think of from A to Z. Often, people have questioned the subject of animals in Heaven, but if you think about it, why should there not be animals in Heaven? The Bible talks about horses in heaven - and why would God have only one kind of animal? The most well-known reference, of course, is regarding Jesus returning to earth on a white horse, found in Revelation 19:11. When the prophet Elijah was taken up into Heaven, a fiery horse and chariot were sent down after him."
"While I was in Heaven I saw a dog, a baby goat, and a lion of great strength. There were birds singing in the trees, all sizes of birds, and they seemed to be singing the same song. And I could understand what they were singing - there was no 'communication gap.' When they stopped singing, it seemed as if they began to talk among themselves" (pp 38).
Liadon's reports on some Chinese boy's vision.
"In paradise, the [Chinese] boys saw trees bearing delicious fruit, beautiful expanses of fragrant flowers, exotically colored birds with their glorious songs, and animals of all sorts, both familiar animals such as deer, lions, elephants, and rabbits, and those they had never seen before. They even climbed upon a lion's back, ran their fingers through his mane, and put their hands in his mouth! There was no hostility or danger there" (pp 142).
Jesus took Robert's Liadon on a tour of a mansion.
"After we finished talking, the man took us through the house. It can be described only as total perfection. The windows had curtains over them. The walls were decorated with paintings that reminded me of earth's modern art, except they were better."
"I saw photographs of the man's family members, and there were plants everywhere. In addition, the mansion was filled with beautiful furniture and luxuries. There were some things, however, that I did not recognize."
"Each mansion was suited to the person who lived there, for every child of God has his or her own mansion in Heaven, according to John 14:2. I had the impression that to some degree, your mansion or home there contains what you like and enjoy. This particular one had different rooms, such as the dining room, living room, kitchen, den and so forth. I'm sure that there were bedrooms, but I did not go upstairs."
"The man gave me a large fruit to eat that looked somewhat like an apple, and it was delicious. Afterward, we said good-bye and left through the back door. I cannot begin to tell you why we left that way instead of the front door, but that is the way we went out. There were other people in the house, and they hugged and kissed both of us before we left" (pp 14-15).
Liadon reports on Rebecca Springer's experience with the waters of the river of life.
"Rebecca and Frank [her departed brother-in-law] reached the river of life. It was lined with beautiful stones, but was not cold; rather, it felt very much like the surrounding air. At the moment, Rebecca looked down and was delighted to see that she, too, was clothed in the white raiment of Heaven."
"She didn't want to venture further into the water, exclaiming that it would cover her head and she might drown. Frank gently reminder her that there was no death in Heaven! Plunging into the river, Rebecca found she could breathe - and talk and see, just as if she were above the water. Frank encouraged her to run her hands over her face and through her hair. She did, and it was a delightful feeling, although she regretted the tangles in her long hair which she was sure to have once they left the water. Besides, what would they do for towels?"
"Emerging from the river, she soon realized that as soon as the air touched her, her skin, hair, and clothing were as dry as before they entered the water. In fact, her robe seemed even more beautiful than when she had entered the river. She felt as if she could fly and asked Frank what the water had done for her."
"Frank replied that the river of life had washed away the last influences of life on earth and had made her ready for her new life in Heaven." (pp 91).
I want to share another report about a man and his mother. Dr. Maurice Rawlings was resuscitating a man who had died on his treadmill. Every time, Dr. Rawlings would bring him back he would scream that he was in hell. After a while, he was stabilized and the man accepted Christ as his savior. Sometime later the man died again and had another out-of-the-body experience. This time it was a pleasant experience. Let's pick up the story as Dr. Rawlings reports it.
"He also recalls meeting both his mother and step-mother during one of these subsequent death episodes. The meeting place was a gorge full of beautiful colors. He also saw other relatives who had died before. This experience was very pleasurable, occurring in a narrow valley with very lush vegetation, and brilliant illumination by a huge beam of light. He 'saw' his mother for the first time. She had died at age twenty-one when he was fifteen months old and his father had soon remarried. The man had never seen a picture of his real mother, and yet he was able to pick her picture out of several others a few weeks later when his mother's sister, after hearing of the experience, produced some family pictures for identification. There was no mistake. The same auburn hair, the same eyes and mouth -- the face was identical to the lady he saw in his experience."
"She was still twenty-one years old. There was no doubt it was his mother. He was astounded and so was his father" (Beyond Death's Door, pp 5-6).
The Colton Burpo Story
In his book, Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo, a Wesleyan Church pastor, tells the story of his son's, Colton, visit to heaven. I highly recommend this book and I understand that Colton's story is to be made into a movie. Colton was not quite four years old when he went to heaven and returned during surgery.
I want to share an excerpt from the book which I hope will bless all who have lost a child (pp 44-46).
One evening in October, I was sitting at the kitchen table working on a sermon. Sonja was around the corner in the living room, working on the business books, processing job tickets, and sorting through payables. Cassie played with her Barbie dolls at her feet. I heard Colton's footsteps padding up the hallway and caught a glimpse of him circling the couch, where he then planted himself directly in front Sonja.
"Mommy, I have two sisters," Colton said.
I put down my pen. Sonja didn't. She kept on working.
Colton repeated himself. "Mommy, I have two sisters."
Sonja looked up from her paperwork and shook her head slightly. No, you have your sister, Cassie and ... do you mean your cousin, Traci?"
"No." Colton clipped off the word adamantly. "I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn't you?"
At that moment, time stopped in the Burpo household and Sonja's eyes grew wide. Just a few seconds before, Colton had been trying unsuccessfully to get his mom to listen him. Now, even from the kitchen table, I could see that he had her undivided attention.
"Who told you I had a baby die in my tummy?" Sonja said, her tone serious.
"She did, Mommy. She said she died in your tummy."
Then Colton turned and started to walk away. He had said what he had to say and was ready to move on. But after the bomb he'd just dropped, Sonja was just getting started. Before our son could get around the couch, Sonja's voice rang out in on all-hands-on-deck red alert. "Colton Todd Burpo, you get back here right now?"
Colton spun around and caught my eye. His face said, What did I just do?
I knew what my wife had to be feeling. Losing that baby was the most painful event of her life. We had explained to Cassie; she was older. But we hadn't told Colton, judging the topic a bit beyond a four-year-old's capacity to understand. From the table. I watched quietly as emotions moved across Sonja's face.
A bit nervously, Colton slunk back around the couch and faced his mom again, this time much more warily. "It's okay, Mommy," he said. "She's okay. God adopted her."
Sonja slid off the couch and knelt down in front of Colton so that she could look him in the eyes. "Don't you mean Jesus adopted her?" she said.
"No, Mommy, His Dad did!"
Sonja turned and looked at me. In that moment, she later told me, she was trying to stay calm, but she was overwhelmed. Our baby...was--is!--a girl, she thought.
Sonja focused on Colton, and I could hear the effect it took to steady her voice. "So what did she look like?"
"She looked a lot like Cassie," Colton said. "She is just a little bit smaller, and she has dark hair.
Sonja's dark hair.
As I watched , a blend of pain and joy played across by wife's face. Cassie and Colton have my blond hair. She had even jokingly complained to me before. "I carry these kids for nine months, and they both come out looking like you." Now there was a child who looked like her. A daughter. I saw the first hint of moisture glint in my wife's eyes.
Now Colton went on without prompting. "In heaven, this little girl ran up to me, and she wouldn't stop hugging me," he said in a tone that clearly indicated he didn't enjoy all this hugging from a girl.
"Maybe she was just happy that someone from her family was there," Sonja offered. "Girls hug. When we're happy, we hug."
Colton didn't seem convinced.
Sonja's eyes lit up and she asked. "What was her name? What was the little girl's name?"
Colton seemed to forget about all the yucky girl hugs for a moment. "She doesn't have a name. You guys didn't name her."
How did he know that?
"You're right, Colton." Sonja said. "We didn't even know she was a she."
The Colton said something that still rings in my ears. "Yeah, she said she just can't wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven."
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We now turn our attention to the last days and what life will be like in heaven throughout eternity. We will begin with the resurrection of our physical bodies. I do not believe that the coming of that event will be very long into the future. All the signs of Jesus returning are in place. We are just waiting.
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The bodies we will have in the intermediate heaven are temporary bodies. The Bible teaches that there will be a bodily resurrection ar which time we will receive a new physical body. Those who are saved will receive bodies like Jesus’ resurrected body (Phil. 3:21).
The Bible teaches that the Church was concealed in the Old Testament, and revealed during the first advent of Christ. It had a definite beginning, which is often disputed, and will continue to exist throughout eternity; however, its role will change. The Scriptures tell us that its current role, while here on earth, is to preach the gospel, minister, and edify the body of Christ. In the book of Romans, Paul states that another group will replace the work of the Church on earth. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). The Greek word “pleroma”, which was translated “fullness”, means that the Church is full – no more will be added to it. It refers to a specific number. At that time, God will give the saints of the Church new glorified bodies, and take them into heaven as the bride of Christ. The role of the Church will change as it reigns with Christ as His bride and joint heir.
The doctrine of the rapture of the Church, also known as the bodily resurrection of the Church saints, and their translation into heaven, is confusing to many people. The early Church taught the doctrine of the Rapture along with the doctrine of the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth, but later the emphasis was diminished, and in some cases the teaching was discontinued. Over the years, different views were taught about “End Time” events.
Any discussion of the Rapture must be based upon our view of what the Bible teaches about “End Times”, and the earthly return of Christ. It must also be interpreted in light of our view of God’s future plans for Israel. The line is usually drawn in the sand over this view. To those who believe that Israel forfeited God’s promises in the Old Testament when they rejected Christ as their Messiah, the concept of the Rapture, Tribulation, and Millennium is unclear and perhaps irrelevant. However, those who believe that God’s promises were unconditional, and will eventually be fulfilled, these future events are very relevant, and should be studied very carefully. Due to lack of understanding, there are many confusing crossover beliefs between these two views resulting in different opinions of the Rapture.
Beginning with the Roman influence on Christian doctrine, the Church believed that most of the visions of Revelation took place within the Church. This view, called the amillennial theory, teaches that much of chapters four through eighteen of Revelation took place at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and during the Roman persecution of the Church. This theory teaches that there will not be a literal millennial reign of Christ on earth, and the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church appears to be irrelevant.
There is another view, the postmillennial theory, which advocates that the teaching and discipline of the Church will eventually overcome evil resulting in a period of peace and utopia on earth. They see this as an evolutionary process where people get better and better and eventually everyone will become a member of the Church, and the Church will evolve into the Millenium. However, some people who believe this theory see the Millenium as a spiritual kingdom where Christ rules supremely in the heart of the people.
Those who believe these theories, teach that the Millenium will take place before the Second Advent of Christ, and the concept of the Rapture of the Church is unclear to them.
Since the Scriptures teach that the Church will continually go through suffering and tribulation, the postmillennial view is very contradictory. The Scriptures state repeatedly that evil will become more rampant as we approach the Second Coming of Christ (2 Tim. 3:1-7, 2 Peter 3:3).
The Rapture of the Church must be viewed, and discussed in light of what is called the premillennial theory. This view teaches that God has not finished His program with Israel and that, one day, He will return to earth to set up the promised messianic kingdom of one thousand years and many Jews will accept Him as their Messiah. This theory teaches that the Old Testament prophecy of the future role of Israel will be literally fulfilled, and should not be spiritualized away. Paul tells us that we must rightly divide the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15). This means that we must interpret the Rapture of the Church, the Great Tribulation and the Millennium in light of Biblical prophecy.
Part of the confusion comes from not understanding the unique role that the “The Church” or “Bride of Christ” has in God’s grand plan for the ages – we don’t know who we are. We are told to “rightly divide the Word”, but often we do not do that because we do not have the Biblical knowledge to properly understand it.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he said this about the future of the Church. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'"(1 Cor. 15:51-55a).
Paul says this is a mystery. A Biblical mystery is something that has not previously been revealed in the Scriptures. Paul also says that this will happen in the twinkling of the eye. Since the soul does not sleep after death, this refers to a bodily resurrection. We will be given new, glorified bodies like Jesus has, and will be taken into heaven. Spiritual bodies are invisible to people who are still in their natural bodies, but they can see glorified bodies. Glorified bodies are the types of bodies that we will get and need when we return with Christ to reign on earth.
In First Thessalonians, Paul gives us these words. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
When Christ returns, those who died previously (the dead in Christ) receive their new resurrected bodies and those who are living will be transformed with the same type bodies, like the resurrected body of Christ, and they will all return with Him to heaven. We shall always be with the Lord – in heaven and on earth.
We need to contrast this appearing of Christ with the Second Coming of Christ as recorded in Matthew Chapter twenty-four. "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matt 24:27, 30).
In Revelation chapter one, John writes these words. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Rev 1:7).
When Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels appeared unto the disciples and said: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Act 1:11b).
The Second Coming of Christ is not a mystery and He shall return to the Mount of Olives and every eye will see him. In contrast, at the Rapture, when Christ returns for the Church, He will come in the sky, and only the born again Christians will see him.
The marriage of the Lamb is presented in The Revelation. Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready" (Rev 19:7).
This scene takes place in heaven after the Rapture and before the Second Coming of Christ. It would be impossible for the marriage to take place if the bride was not in heaven.
Jesus must come again for His bride, The Church, before the consummation stage of the marriage begins. The beginning phase of the consummation is the rapture, when the Church will be taken to meet her Groom in the air.
In the nineteenth chapter of Revelation we read these words: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). This scene takes place in heaven after the Rapture, and before the Second Coming of Christ. It would be impossible for the marriage to take place if the bride were not in heaven.
The prophet Zechariah says that the Lord will return and bring all his saints with him. “Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You” (Zech. 14:5b). At the Second Coming of Christ the bride will return with Jesus to the earth.
Now we come to the question of when the Rapture will take place. There are four views of this: (1) Pretribulation, (2) Posttribulation, (3) Midtribulation and (4) Partial Rapture. The pretribulation theory teaches that the Church will be raptured before the Tribulation period begins. The posttribulation view advocates that the Church will go through the Tribulation period and will be raptured at the end of the Tribulation. The midtribulation view assumes that the Church will go through the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation and then be taken to heaven.
During the last century, there have been some people who believe in a partial rapture view. This theory teaches that some of the most faithful will be raptured before the Tribulation, but others will go through it. The partial rapture theory implies that the timing of the Rapture of the saints will be based upon their good works or fruit bearing. Those who adhere to this Partial Rapture view believe that they personally will be raptured.
The following is given in support of the pre-tribulational view:
• Jesus promised that his church would not see the wrath of God. During the tribulation, the wrath of God is poured out upon the world. "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3:10). Most believe this verse refers to the great tribulation because it refers to the whole world.
• The apostle Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, gave us these words about our protection from the wrath of God. “And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9). Since God’s wrath will be poured out upon the unsaved of the world, Paul taught us not to fear this wrath.
• In the first three chapters of Revelation, the emphasis is placed upon the Church. But beginning with the fourth chapter, the church is not mentioned again until it is implied in the nineteenth chapter. Therefore, we can assume that the Church is not on earth during the Tribulation.
• In the first verse of Revelation chapter four, John is invited to heaven to view the Great Tribulation which will take place on earth. “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this'" (Rev 4:1). Many believe that John represents the Church in this verse and, if this is true, the Church will view the tribulation from heaven.
• In Daniel chapter nine, we read about what is called “the seventy weeks of Daniel”. During this Jewish time period, the tribulation begins when the Antichrist enters into a covenant with Israel. If God works with only one group of people at a time, as has been previously, then God only has Israel in view during the tribulation period. Therefore, the church must be in heaven at the beginning of the tribulation.
Paul tells us in Romans that when the days of the church are complete, that God will turn back to the nation, Israel. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins’" (Romans 11:25-27).
At the Rapture, the Church will be given new glorified bodies, and will be taken to heaven to jointly reign with Christ forever more.
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• The word rapture comes from the Latin word “rapere” found in the expression “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The Greek word was “harpazo” which was translated to “rapere” and then translated to “caught up”.
Based up 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (4:13-18) there will be a rapture.
Who will be in the rapture?
• Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica when He gave this promise.
• Contrast the program of the Church to the program of Israel.
• Based upon the meaning and the promises given to the Church (saved Jews and Gentiles), only the Church will be raptured.
When will the rapture take place?
• Historical Argument – The apostolic Church believed that the church would be raptured before the Great Tribulation - imminent return of Christ.
• Harmony of Scripture – distinguishes clearly between the Church and Israel and their respective programs. Programs are mutuality exclusive.
• The nature of the Church – Bride and Body of Christ, joint heir with Christ, judgment of believer’s works in heaven, marriage in heaven, will return with Christ at Second Coming.
• Daniel seventy weeks of chapter nine clearly shows the time line for the program with Israel.
• Nature of the tribulation – The wrath of God is poured out on those living during the tribulation. The Church is promised that they will not endure the wrath of God.
• The Holy Spirit and the true Church are a restraining factor on the Antichrist. (2 Thess. 2:1-15).
• The word Church is not used in the description of the tribulation in Revelation.
Therefore we must assume that the rapture takes place before the tribulation.
Last edited by wayne on Fri Mar 11, 2011 8:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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