Check out Amazon or wherever books are sold, and you’ll find scores of books on heaven. Many are about heaven, and many more about people who claim they’ve been there, at least temporarily. Some of these claims are from people involved in the occult and the New Age, often associating their heavenly encounter with near-death-experiences, referred to as NDEs. But some Christians say they have gone to heaven. These claims range from slightly ambiguous encounters with the angelic to full-blown meetings with apostles and prophets—even Jesus himself! Others offer to teach how any Christian can go there, almost at will. This is my personal take on this phenomenon.
Let me first state that as a Bible-based Christian I believe in Heaven. What I don’t do is take my cues about the reality of heaven from contemporary sources, no matter how well-intentioned they may be. I neither fully accept or reject personal NDEs or Christian claims of having gone to Heaven. Such assertions are highly personal and unverifiable. They also contain accounts that are largely extra-biblical, by that we mean they can’t be authenticated with Scripture. And I’ll take it a step further. When it comes to Christians who claim to have gone to Heaven, I have never read their books, never listened to their interviews, and never watched their internet sites. This personal choice is deliberate. As I approach the waning years of my life, I want what I believe about heaven to be based solely on Scripture, not influenced by an unproveable description of Heaven, no matter how sincere that account may be.
You may argue that there’s no harm in hearing these stories. But that’s my point, they are just someone’s subjective story. For example, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Apostle John all had a visitation of Heaven, and they didn’t describe it casually. They recorded words such as “I fell on my face,” “woe is me, I am unclean,” “no strength was left in me,” and “I fell at his feet as though dead.” As for dying and coming back to life we also have Scriptural confirmation: Zarephath’s son (1 Kings 17:17), the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:18), the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11), Jairus’s daughter (Luke 8:52), Lazarus (John 11), various holy people (Matthew 27), Tabitha (Acts 9:36), Eutychus (Acts 20:7) and Jesus himself (Mark 16:1). Do we really need to know more than this?
And if you want to know all that’s necessary to live for Heaven and long for Heaven, check out 2 Corinthians 5:8—to be absent from our present bodies is to be home with the Lord, and Philippians 1:22—to die is gain. There are streets of gold and angels in Heaven. There are loved ones there. Heaven is inhabited by the saints of the age. But one thing is absolutely certain. Demons don’t go to Heaven. As Revelation 21:8 declares, “The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” That’s where the demons are, along with the unrepentant people they possessed. But this much we know from the Word of God, there are no demons in Heaven.