Faith, Suffering

Throwback Thursday ~ Six Reasons to Rejoice that Christ is Enough in Our Suffering

Originally published March 20, 2015christ is enough

It seems like so many people are hurting these days. There are personal hurts that come our way like health issues and broken relationships. Many of us are hurting because we’re watching someone we love suffer- an adult child going through a divorce, an elderly relative with Alzheimer’s. And the birth pains the world is going through – ISIS murdering our brothers and sisters in Christ, the rampant filth and debauchery that’s flooding our own culture here in the U.S., and so much more – make it burdensome just to inhabit the planet. It’s no wonder so many of us are limping around in pain just trying to make it through. Everywhere we turn, it’s bad news.

But for those of us who are in Christ, there’s also good news. Good news that trumps any piece of bad news we could possibly receive.

Good news: It’s OK for you to feel sad or overwhelmed during difficult times.

I know that may sound obvious, but sometimes we need to be reminded. We’ve all heard stories about a person who received the diagnosis of some terminal disease with a smile and a “Praise the Lord!” We’ve all run into that lady whose hair could be currently on fire who would brush off our concerns for her with, “Honey, I’m too blessed to be stressed!” And if that’s genuinely the heart of those people, that’s great. They can be very inspiring.

But that doesn’t mean you’re any less of a Christian, or that you don’t trust God, if your doctor tells you that you have cancer and you fall apart. Or if you get that devastating news and you don’t bounce back right away.

Whether we realize it or not, there’s often a subtle pressure we church ladies put on ourselves to walk into God’s house and paste on a smile and pretend like these devastating things don’t bother us. We think that’s faith. We think that shows that we completely trust God. But is that what faith and trust really mean?

Some of the greatest men and women of faith in the Bible were hurt deeply and mourned over that hurt.

God said David was “a man after God’s own heart,” yet look at so many of the Psalms he wrote, especially when he was running for his life from Saul.

I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
Psalm 6:6-7

Time and again, we see passages like that in David’s writings. God never rebukes him or tells him to just put on a happy face.

And what about Jesus? Remember the shortest verse in the Bible? In the story of Jesus raising Lazarus, John 11:35 says “Jesus wept.” The Bible doesn’t tell us precisely why He wept. Maybe it was for one of the same reasons we suffer- the personal pain of losing a loved one, the pain of watching Mary and Martha suffer, or the pain of experiencing a broken world where sin causes awful things like death and disease. But whatever the reasons for His pain, Jesus didn’t plaster on a fake smile and pretend everything was fine.

On the cross at Jesus’ moment of greatest anguish, when the weight of the sin of the world was bearing down on Him, and the wrath of God was being poured out on Him in all its fury, and Jesus was experiencing first hand that it was the will of God to crush Him, Jesus cried out from the depths of His soul, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

David, Jesus, and so many other faithful men and women of God grieved. God’s people hurt sometimes, and that’s OK. You do not have to smile and pretend everything is OK when it’s not. It is OK to be sad when you’re hurting.

But the second piece of good news is this:

Good News: We may grieve, but we don’t “grieve as those who have no hope.” 

Because those of us who are truly born again believers have hope. And His name is Jesus. And He is enough. Jesus is enough for anything you’re going through.

If you watch “Christian TV” or read a lot of the books you’ll find in Christian bookstores by preachers with shiny teeth and even shinier hair, or, heaven help you, if you’re on Facebook, the message you will often hear about suffering is this:

“The pain you’re going through right now is nothing compared to the size of the blessing you’re about to receive.”

or

“It’s never God’s will for you to be sick or in lack. If you just have enough faith (and sow a seed into my ministry), God will bless you.”

or

“Your words create your reality. If you speak positive words (I’m wealthy, I’m successful, I’m healed), you will attract those positive things into your life. If you speak negative words, negative things will happen.”

So if you listen to these guys, in addition to the difficult circumstances that are going on in your life, you now have the pressure of “I’m still sick. I must not have enough faith.” or “Oh no, I accidentally spoke a negative word! I’m doomed to a life of poverty.” or “I thought my blessing was right around the corner. Why am I still suffering?”

Don’t believe those lies. God doesn’t promise any of that malarky in the Bible, because our hope is not found in “everything’s going my way” circumstances. Our hope is found in Christ, regardless of our circumstances. Your circumstances may not get better. You may get that terminal disease and die from it. Your husband who left you for another woman may never come back. Your baby might be born with a disability. Sometimes circumstances don’t get better, but Jesus gets only gets better and better with each passing day.

God never promised you “Your Best Life Now.” He promises you Christ. And Christ is enough. And you can rejoice in that.

Why?

Because He knows what you’re going through.

Speaking of Jesus, Isaiah 53:3 says:

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

There’s nothing you can go through about which you can honestly say, “God doesn’t understand.” Jesus has been there. He knows what it’s like.

Why can you rejoice that Christ is enough?

Because He loves and cares for you more than you could ever imagine.

Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, left all his glory behind. For you. He lived a sinless life. For you. He endured being hated, mistreated, and misunderstood. For you. He was whipped, tortured, and humiliated. For you. He took the nails. He took your sin. He took the wrath of His Father. For you. And three days later, He got up out of the grave. For you.

Jesus loves you. He hurts when you hurt. He wants to be the one you run to and pour out your heart to when everything is falling apart so He can comfort you with His presence and His word. He wants you to “cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”

Why can you rejoice that Christ is enough?

Because the One who went through it all FOR you will walk through it all WITH you. And when you’re too weak to walk any more, He’ll carry you through it.

In Matthew 28:20, the Great Commission, Jesus says,

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In Hebrews 13:5b, He says,

be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Jesus isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to be right there with you no matter what.

Why can you rejoice that Christ is enough?

Because He sends you brothers and sisters in the faith to help you.

Church family is such a precious gift to us from Christ.

Matthew 25:36-40 is about the final judgment, and when Christ’s people stand before Him, He talks about how they have ministered to their brothers and sisters:

I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

When we’re hurting, we allow our church family to minister to us because that is Christ’s gift to us. When we’re able, we turn around and minister to our church family out of love for Christ. We carry our brothers and sisters because Christ carries us.

Why can you rejoice that Christ is enough?

Because what He wants to do IN you is better than what you want Him to do FOR you.

You want Him to bring relief to a temporary problem. He wants to do the eternal in you- make you more like Christ. Romans 5:3-5 says:

we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

We rejoice in our sufferings because, through them, God makes us more like Christ. And, as Christians, that’s our number one desire- to be like Him.

Why can you rejoice that Christ is enough?

Because you have the hope of Heaven.

Some days the only thing that gets me through is knowing that this life with all its hurts and problems won’t last forever. One day all of this is going to be gone, and God is going to set everything right. In the scope of eternity, this life and the suffering we endure is so short. James says our lives are a “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Revelation 21:3-4:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Keep things in perspective by keeping your focus on the hope of Heaven.

 

If you are in Christ, you have every reason to rejoice in the Lord, even in suffering, because Christ is enough: He knows what you’re going through, He loves you, He’ll walk through it with you, He has given you church family to help, He’s making you more Christ-like, and because you have the hope of Heaven.

He is enough, so rejoice. Because if Christ isn’t enough, what is?

Christian women, Heaven

Weak Women and the Idolatry of Personal Experience

I’m still out sick.
Please enjoy this selected article (April, 2015).
weak women

Well, here we go again. Another child claims to have taken another trip to Heaven complete with another face to face conversation with Jesus. Oh, and the child’s mother has written a book about it which prosperity pimp, T.D. Jakes, has optioned for his second unbiblical “I went to Heaven” movie. (Heaven is for Real was the first one.)

The gist of the story is that this sweet little girl, Annabel, was climbing a tree when a branch broke, causing her to fall head first, thirty feet into a hollow tree, where she was stuck for five hours. It’s unclear from the reports I’ve read whether this was actually a near death experience, the reports mentioning only that she was “unconscious” at some point (this is when she supposedly “went to Heaven”), and that she was rescued without injury. Additionally, Annabel had suffered for years with a very serious intenstinal disease, and after her accident, became asymptomatic.

These are nice people. Sincere people. The kind of people I’d probably be friends with if they went to my church.

And they have nicely, sincerely, and with the best of intentions fallen into what I think is the number one theological error facing Christian women today, namely, believing and trusting in human experience over God’s word.

Now, I don’t doubt the facts of this story: that Annabel had a dangerous and frightening accident, that she lost consciousness and had some sort of experience before awakening, that she had a serious intestinal disease, and that, in God’s perfect timing, He chose to heal Annabel shortly after this tree accident.

And the reason I don’t doubt any of that is that it is all based in verifiable fact (unless someone comes forward with documented evidence to the contrary) and none of it conflicts with God’s word.

But an actual “trip to Heaven”? That’s not based in verifiable fact and it does conflict with God’s word.

If you feel upset with me right now for saying that, I’d like to ask you to examine why that is. Why are you upset? On what do you base your belief that this child (or anyone else outside of documented cases in Scripture) has actually made a real trip to Heaven and come back to tell about it? Her say so? This child was nine years old when this happened. Nine. Colton Burpo (Heaven is for Real) was three. Alex Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven– which Alex has been recanting for years) was six.

Have you ever spent any time talking to a nine year old, a six year old, a three year old? A lot of them will tell you they believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, or that they have an imaginary friend, or that they’re a super hero. They’re very sincere and they aren’t lying, but they’re also very wrong because their beliefs are not based in fact and are strongly influenced by their immaturity. So why are we so quick to believe, based solely on their own say so, that the experiences these children had while unconscious were actual trips to Heaven?

For the same reason we love chick flicks and fairy tales and Hallmark movies, ladies. These stories appeal to our emotions. They make us feel good just like a rich piece of chocolate on a stressful day. And when you slap the “God” label on a story of childlike wonder coming out of a nice Christian family, our belief not only makes us feel good, we also feel justified in believing the story.

And God’s word says that kind of mindset is not for strong, discerning, godly women, it’s for weak women.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7

When we hold these “I went to Heaven” experiences (whether from children or adults) up to the light of Scripture, they crumble, from Hebrews 9:27, to the descriptions of God, Jesus, and Heaven that clearly contradict Scripture (and the descriptions from other people who supposedly went to Heaven and came back), to the sufficiency of Scripture, to the stark difference between Paul’s and John’s scripturally verified trips to Heaven and the trips being taken today (interestingly, Paul was stricken with a “thorn” after his trip to Heaven “to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations” while Annabel’s healing is being offered, in a whirlwind of publicity events, as proof that she went to Heaven), to the fact that the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that this kind of spiritual experience is valid or appropriate for Christians today.

The people who claim to have gone to Heaven had some sort of experience while unconscious, no doubt, but if they say that experience was an actual trip to Heaven, they are either mistaken or lying. It could have been a dream, a hallucination, an experience initiated by demons (let’s not forget that Satan was once an angel and continues to disguise himself as an angel of light), or a lie they’ve concocted, as was the case with Alex Malarkey. Yet, for some reason, Christian women, who, if asked point blank, would say that they believe the Bible is our ultimate authority for Christian belief, plunk down money for these books, movies, and other accessories, and eat these stories up with a spoon without ever engaging their brains and checking these supposed eyewitness accounts of Heaven against Scripture.

But “heavenly tourism” stories aren’t the only area in which we’re choosing to believe someone’s experience over Scripture.

Do you follow someone like Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, or Paula White? These women all say that God “called” them to do what they do, which includes preaching to and instructing men in the church setting. Do you believe them when they say God “called” them? If so, you’re believing their supposed experience over the crystal clear word of God in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (and plenty of other passages) which expressly forbids women from instructing men in the Scriptures or holding authority over men in the church.

And even putting aside the false and unbiblical doctrine these women teach, how many times have you heard one of them begin a sermon or teaching – not by reading God’s word and accurately teaching what the Bible says- but by telling a story about how God ostensibly “spoke” to them, acted in their lives in some way, or sent them a dream or a sign, and then basing their teaching on that experience rather than on God’s word? If you heed that kind of teaching, you’re believing their experience, not God’s word.

What about when it hits a little closer to home? You know God’s word says that homosexuality is a sin, but your 20 year old comes home and announces he’s marrying his boyfriend. So you just throw out that part of God’s word in favor of a happy experience with your son. You defend your right to swear like a sailor despite what God’s word says to the contrary. You “feel” that it was just fine for you to divorce your husband because you fell out of love with him, even though that’s not a biblically acceptable reason for divorce.

Ladies, if God’s word says it ain’t so, it ain’t so, no matter what you or I or anyone else experiences to the contrary. And it doesn’t matter how real or vivid or intense that experience was or how right or godly it seemed– God’s word, and God’s word alone defines reality, truth, existence, right and wrong. And we’d better get with the program and submit to its authority. If not, well, I guess we’ll prove the truth of what Paul said by choosing to be those women he talked about: weak, burdened with sins, led astray by our emotions, and always learning yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

God doesn’t want you to be weak. He wants you to be a mighty woman of His word.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

 

Additional Resources:

90 Minutes in Heaven on the Big Screen?

“The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine

Heaven Tourism

LifeWay Pulls Heaven Tourism for Good

Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Portrait of the Heaven-Bound Slave

Since I’ve had to temporarily cut back on blogging I’ve asked some friends to contribute guest posts. If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

Kesha talents

A Portrait of the Heaven-Bound Slave
By: Kesha Griffin

When you think of the character of a Christian, what comes to mind? For some, we may think of loving, patient, kindness, giving, self-less, etc. (at least I hope this describes most Christians you know). Although all of these characteristics are important, I think many of us overlook one trait that our Lord often spoke about and held in high regard…faithfulness. In fact, the Bible teaches us that faithfulness (to the Word, to God, to His work) is a mark of a true believer. Sadly, we often hear how faithful God is to us (and He is), but rarely hear about the importance of being a faithful servant to our Master.

The Parable of the Talent is a great depiction of a faithful Christian. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the kingdom of heaven and begins telling them this parable of the talents. The parable involves a master, his three slaves, and the master’s talents (a measurement of gold, silver, money, etc.).The master represents Christ and the slaves represent believers and unbelievers. The story as told by Jesus, says the master was going away on a journey, and entrusted his slaves with his talents to manage while he was away. When the master returns home from his journey, his slaves show him what they did with the talents they were given.

Let’s examine the slaves in more detail:

#1- The Slave’s Portion
The master gave each slave a talent. The talent did not belong to the slave, it was entrusted to the slave. It belonged to the master (vs 14). Also notice, that the master gave each slave the amount he wanted them to have; One slave had five talents, one had two talents, and the other slave was given one talent. Finally, notice that the amount of the talents given to each slave was given according to their own ability (vs 15). The slaves didn’t ask the master to give them a certain amount of talents, the master decided how much, and to whom.

#2- The Slave’s Character
In the parable, two of the slaves immediately went out and starting working. This implies they had a sense of urgency, didn’t waste any time, and were eager to do the work of their master. It also appears these slaves were hard-working, searched for opportunity, put in effort, for the Scripture says they “went and traded” (vs 16). Lastly, not only did these slaves spend their time working diligently for their master, they found opportunities to make more for their master. They both doubled what was initially given to them.

The parable also reveals the character of the last slave. Although this slave was only given one talent, he went away, dug a hole and hid the money (vs 18). This implies that he didn’t want to work, there was no sense of urgency, and no desire to please his master. In fact, the Scripture says, he was “lazy and wicked” (vs 26). After burying his talent in the ground, he must have spent the rest of his time doing…whatever he wanted to do. His life was free from toiling for his master, he could do as he pleased.

Not only was this slave lazy but he had several excuses as to why he didn’t work for his master. He blamed his master, to the point of attacking the master’s character, saying that his master was a “hard” man (vs 24), and he blamed fear, said he was afraid (vs 25). He also tried to cover up his lack of effort by presenting the master the one talent he was entrusted with, as if he honestly wanted to please his master (vs 25).

#3- The Slave’s Reward
The two slaves who diligently worked for their master, both doubled their portion originally entrusted to them. Notice that although one slave ended up with ten talents, and the other four talents, they both received the same reward. The master commended them both and gave them more. How thrilled the slaves must have been to fulfill their obligated duty to work for the master, and to be rewarded by Him for doing so. What joy to hear their master say “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (vs 21 and 23)

Sadly, the wicked and lazy slave received condemnation and punishment from the master (vs 26-28). The one talent he had was taken and given to the slave who had the most. His master called him a worthless slave and cast him into outer darkness, a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs 30). How tragic.

It seems like a harsh punishment for a slave who was simply lazy right? Well, let me suggest that this lazy slave was not simply lazy. He is a depiction of an unbeliever. A person who is wicked, and who doesn’t have a relationship with the Master. Notice the slave didn’t want to work or even attempt to please the master (buried the talent in the ground). He didn’t appear to know (personally/intimately) the master well, he accused the master of being a hard man. He didn’t make the most of the talent that was given to him, not even investing it in the bank to gain interest (vs 27). He was disobedient, not wanting to do as the master instructed, and lived his life for himself, not for the master.

Faithfulness is a characteristic of a true believer. Although not perfectly, are we truly living for Jesus, working diligently to make the most of all he has given us (our time, spiritual gifts, money, etc.), like a faithful slave? Is it our goal to please our Master? When Jesus comes to “settle the account” with us, will we hear the Master say “Well done my good and faithful slave…enter in”?


Kesha LOVES finding hidden treasures buried in Scripture and learning how to apply them to daily living. Her heart’s desire is that every Christian woman is equipped with sound doctrine, so that she may know God truthfully and intimately, and learn how to fight life with the sword, the Word of God. Follow Kesha at treasuresbykesha.com and on Twitter: @MrsKeshaGriffin and @treasurebyKesha.


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THE BLOGGERS who submit guest posts, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANY BLOGGER YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.
Faith, Gospel, Heaven, Hell, Salvation, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ From Here to Eternity

Originally published March 20, 2014here to eternityFred_Phelps_10-29-2002

Fred Phelps died last night. And I’m glad.

I’m glad there’s one less person on earth publicly sullying the name of Christ and dragging His holy Word through the mud.

What I’m not glad about is that, as far as we know, yesterday was the first day of his eternity in Hell.

Hell? But he claimed to be a Christian.

Fred Phelps and his kindred are a perfect example of the fact that you can claim whatever you want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.


“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21-23


And that’s not just the case for people like Fred Phelps whose lives seem to define the word “vile.” It’s also true for “nice” people. People you’d never put in the same category as Fred Phelps. People who volunteer at hospitals and run marathons to raise money for cancer research. Moms who’d do anything for their children. Men who are faithful to their wives. Your next door neighbor. Your brother. Your coworker.

Vile people don’t go to Heaven.

Nice people don’t go to Heaven.

Saved people go to Heaven.

The bad news is that you could never do enough good things to earn your way into Heaven. And, the good news is that you could never do enough bad things to forfeit Heaven.

Because being reconciled to God is not about what you do. It’s about what Christ has done.

We’re not always good. He was. We’re not always pleasing to God. He was. We don’t always do the right thing. He did. He lived the perfectly good, right, and pleasing-to-God life that we’d never be able to live. And then came the cross.

Some people refer to what happened at the cross as “the great exchange,” and, indeed it was the greatest exchange ever. At the cross, Christ suffered the execution that we deserve as the punishment for our crimes against God, and in exchange, we can have the perfect life He lived. His rap sheet for ours. Our guilty verdict for His innocent verdict. His death penalty for our exoneration. And it’s all ours if we’ll let go of the sin we cling to and throw ourselves on the mercy of the Judge.

Could someone as evil as Fred Phelps do that? Yes, and I hope he did before he died. Because no one who repents and trusts in Christ is beyond the reach of His saving grace. Not even a nice person like you.

Christian women, Heaven

Weak Women and the Idolatry of Personal Experience

weak women

Well, here we go again. Another child claims to have taken another trip to Heaven complete with another face to face conversation with Jesus. Oh, and the child’s mother has written a book about it which prosperity pimp, T.D. Jakes, has optioned for his second unbiblical “I went to Heaven” movie. (Heaven is for Real was the first one.)

The gist of the story is that this sweet little girl, Annabel, was climbing a tree when a branch broke, causing her to fall head first, thirty feet into a hollow tree, where she was stuck for five hours. It’s unclear from the reports I’ve read whether this was actually a near death experience, the reports mentioning only that she was “unconscious” at some point (this is when she supposedly “went to Heaven”), and that she was rescued without injury. Additionally, Annabel had suffered for years with a very serious intenstinal disease, and after her accident, became asymptomatic.

These are nice people. Sincere people. The kind of people I’d probably be friends with if they went to my church.

And they have nicely, sincerely, and with the best of intentions fallen into what I think is the number one theological error facing Christian women today, namely, believing and trusting in human experience over God’s word.

Now, I don’t doubt the facts of this story: that Annabel had a dangerous and frightening accident, that she lost consciousness and had some sort of experience before awakening, that she had a serious intestinal disease, and that, in God’s perfect timing, He chose to heal Annabel shortly after this tree accident.

And the reason I don’t doubt any of that is that it is all based in verifiable fact (unless someone comes forward with documented evidence to the contrary) and none of it conflicts with God’s word.

But an actual “trip to Heaven”? That’s not based in verifiable fact and it does conflict with God’s word.

If you feel upset with me right now for saying that, I’d like to ask you to examine why that is. Why are you upset? On what do you base your belief that this child (or anyone else outside of documented cases in Scripture) has actually made a real trip to Heaven and come back to tell about it? Her say so? This child was nine years old when this happened. Nine. Colton Burpo (Heaven is for Real) was three. Alex Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven– which Alex has been recanting for years) was six.

Have you ever spent any time talking to a nine year old, a six year old, a three year old? A lot of them will tell you they believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, or that they have an imaginary friend, or that they’re a super hero. They’re very sincere and they aren’t lying, but they’re also very wrong because their beliefs are not based in fact and are strongly influenced by their immaturity. So why are we so quick to believe, based solely on their own say so, that the experiences these children had while unconscious were actual trips to Heaven?

For the same reason we love chick flicks and fairy tales and Hallmark movies, ladies. These stories appeal to our emotions. They make us feel good just like a rich piece of chocolate on a stressful day. And when you slap the “God” label on a story of childlike wonder coming out of a nice Christian family, our belief not only makes us feel good, we also feel justified in believing the story.

And God’s word says that kind of mindset is not for strong, discerning, godly women, it’s for weak women.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7

When we hold these “I went to Heaven” experiences (whether from children or adults) up to the light of Scripture, they crumble, from Hebrews 9:27, to the descriptions of God, Jesus, and Heaven that clearly contradict Scripture (and the descriptions from other people who supposedly went to Heaven and came back), to the sufficiency of Scripture, to the stark difference between Paul’s and John’s scripturally verified trips to Heaven and the trips being taken today (interestingly, Paul was stricken with a “thorn” after his trip to Heaven “to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations” while Annabel’s healing is being offered, in a whirlwind of publicity events, as proof that she went to Heaven), to the fact that the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that this kind of spiritual experience is valid or appropriate for Christians today.

The people who claim to have gone to Heaven had some sort of experience while unconscious, no doubt, but if they say that experience was an actual trip to Heaven, they are either mistaken or lying. It could have been a dream, a hallucination, an experience initiated by demons (let’s not forget that Satan was once an angel and continues to disguise himself as an angel of light), or a lie they’ve concocted, as was the case with Alex Malarkey. Yet, for some reason, Christian women, who, if asked point blank, would say that they believe the Bible is our ultimate authority for Christian belief, plunk down money for these books, movies, and other accessories, and eat these stories up with a spoon without ever engaging their brains and checking these supposed eyewitness accounts of Heaven against Scripture.

But “heavenly tourism” stories aren’t the only area in which we’re choosing to believe someone’s experience over Scripture.

Do you follow someone like Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, or Paula White? These women all say that God “called” them to do what they do, which includes preaching to and instructing men in the church setting. Do you believe them when they say God “called” them? If so, you’re believing their supposed experience over the crystal clear word of God in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (and plenty of other passages) which expressly forbids women from instructing men in the Scriptures or holding authority over men in the church.

And even putting aside the false and unbiblical doctrine these women teach, how many times have you heard one of them begin a sermon or teaching – not by reading God’s word and accurately teaching what the Bible says- but by telling a story about how God ostensibly “spoke” to them, acted in their lives in some way, or sent them a dream or a sign, and then basing their teaching on that experience rather than on God’s word? If you heed that kind of teaching, you’re believing their experience, not God’s word.

What about when it hits a little closer to home? You know God’s word says that homosexuality is a sin, but your 20 year old comes home and announces he’s marrying his boyfriend. So you just throw out that part of God’s word in favor of a happy experience with your son. You defend your right to swear like a sailor despite what God’s word says to the contrary. You “feel” that it was just fine for you to divorce your husband because you fell out of love with him, even though that’s not a biblically acceptable reason for divorce.

Ladies, if God’s word says it ain’t so, it ain’t so, no matter what you or I or anyone else experiences to the contrary. And it doesn’t matter how real or vivid or intense that experience was or how right or godly it seemed– God’s word, and God’s word alone defines reality, truth, existence, right and wrong. And we’d better get with the program and submit to its authority. If not, well, I guess we’ll prove the truth of what Paul said by choosing to be those women he talked about: weak, burdened with sins, led astray by our emotions, and always learning yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

God doesn’t want you to be weak. He wants you to be a mighty woman of His word.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

 

Additional Resources:

90 Minutes in Heaven on the Big Screen?

“The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine

Heaven Tourism

LifeWay Pulls Heaven Tourism for Good