AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
We all die alone. There is no way to grip onto another soul and cross into the next life as a group. God has made both death and judgment very individual experiences. We mustn’t make light of this, for within the carnal Church, there is far too much emphasis being put on the need for others to keep us strong in the walk. GOD is the One we must be relying on, not the faithful brethren. The brethren can’t be counted on to keep their priorities right. Unless we are each relying directly on God to guide us, we will find ourselves gently drifting into compromise without even noticing it. As much as our flesh loves being patted on the back and showered with caring prayers, our soul’s foundation must be built on God alone. As soon as we rely on other people to keep us faithful, we will surely fall. God doesn’t consider “but all my friends were doing it” to be a valid reason to sin.
That said, no one likes to be alone. We hang out in groups in this first life and we all want assurance that there will be friendly groups waiting to include us on the other side. No one wants to think they will be drifting in some other dimension feeling lost and alone. So when someone has a near-death experience and claims to have seen a glimpse of the other side, we’re naturally quite curious. If the glimpse was positive, we are ready to accept it as real—much too ready.
Visions, emotions and physical sensations—it is so easy to rely on these things as our guides in life. It’s so easy to exalt them as greater authorities than the Holy Spirit. While He quietly convicts us that no one will get to Heaven without reverential submission to Jesus, we’re ready to call Him a liar if some unsaved person claims to have been to Heaven. After all, near death experiences can’t be wrong—or can they? Would God intentionally deceive us about what lies beyond? Would He give souls comforting images of reuniting with loved ones in a beautiful place when in fact He knows they are headed for Hell? We’d like to think God wouldn’t do such a thing. We are wrong.
In the Bible, we find many examples of God intentionally deceiving souls who refuse to listen to Him. The prophet Micaiah had a vision of God brainstorming with spirits in Heaven as to how He would trick a rebellious king to go to his death in battle. One of the spirits suggested he could put lying words in the mouths of the king’s advisers. God approved the idea as excellent (2 Chron. 18). Elsewhere in the prophetic books, God speaks of intentionally blocking rebellious souls from understanding truth. Instead, He allows scores of false prophets to deliver messages of peace that will lead the people astray. The true prophet Jeremiah once complained that the situation was rather unfair. Instead of being sympathetic, God promised to slaughter both the false prophets AND their attentive audiences (Jer. 14). In Isaiah 6, He tells His newly appointed prophet that He plans to block His people from understanding truth so that they will be unable to repent. Isaiah asks how long the deception will go on. God replies, “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until Yahweh has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken.”
While we’re used to calling Satan “the father of all lies,” when it comes to effectively deceiving people, no one can outmatch God. “You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived!” a bitter Jeremiah cried out when he discovered that God’s pretty promises to protect him weren’t all that he thought they would be (Jer. 20:7). Later on, Jesus describes Himself saying, “Away from Me, I never knew you!” to a group of souls who are totally shocked by His rejection of them (Matt. 7:23). Why? Because Jesus was channeling His power through them to cast out demons and perform miracles—things we assume God would only ever do with those He approves of. Turns out we’re wrong. God has no problems using rebels to accomplish His work. When we try to rely on signs and wonders and visions of the afterlife to tell us what truth is, we end up deceived. The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts us of truth, and He says that He gives every soul enough information to repent, submit to God, and be saved. If they can’t be bothered, well then, it’s a whole new kind of game. God never tells us to put our trust in the things we can see. Instead, He tells us just the opposite: to live by faith, not by sight. He also tells us that reverential fear of Him is the first step in attaining true wisdom. This means that if we refuse to revere Him, we’ll become fools who believe our own delusions.
You would be very foolish to put any stock in another soul’s near-death experience of the afterlife. While these experiences are very real to the people having them, their contents cannot be trusted. As humans, we desperately want the truth to be something that is pleasing to our flesh. This is why when someone wakes up declaring that they’ve seen “evidence” that all souls will go to Heaven when they die, that someone instantly gains a huge following. People want to believe in anything but the truth. Our pride hates the notion of having to bow down before an all-powerful God who we cannot control in any way. As a human, you have no idea what is really going on between another soul and God. For all you know, their vision could have been a God-approved deception from Satan that was intended to give them a false sense of security. Nothing keeps rebels more happy in their rebellion than to pretend that sin has no eternal consequences. Yet God has told us that it does. Who are you going to believe: God or some fallen human being? If you are foolish enough to believe the human over God, then you deserve to be deceived. God doesn’t call us forever. The day comes when He is fed up with giving us new chances to come to Him, and He hands us over to Satan. When that day comes, Satan will do everything possible to make us feel happy and at peace in the midst of our rebellion. He’ll come to us as a beautiful, sexy angel of light who gently kisses us on the cheek and assures us that all is well. Then one day, we’ll wake up in Hell: horrified and hurting with no hope of relief. God is fair. He gives every soul some illumination of truth. If they embrace His truth, He gives them more. If they reject it, He gives them another chance—but not forever.
Truth is a very serious matter. We all want to know what eternity will be like. God has only given us a vague sketch, yet it’s enough for us to understand what choices we need to make in order to be right with Him. Beware of getting caught up in testimonials of souls who think they’ve seen visions of Heaven. Don’t be impressed when people wake up knowing things that they couldn’t possibly find out on their own. Demons know what all our dead relatives looked like. They can easily put on theatrical performances in which they appear to us as perfect replicas of people we may or may not have known. Then when we wake up with our heads full of supernatural knowledge, we end up leading thousands astray by inferring that everyone ends up in Heaven when they die.
If you make a study of near death experiences, you’ll find that the most popular stories are always those that minimize the reality of Hell and God’s wrath. The happy endings are the only ones we want to turn into books and movies. When people see horrible visions of Hell—which they occasionally do—their experiences tend to be forgotten with suspicious swiftness. It is not God’s habit to give us a bunch of details about the afterlife before we get there. Meanwhile, Satan will make the most of any opportunity to give us a false sense of spiritual security.
Another soul’s spiritual journey has nothing to do with your own. You will die alone, and be judged alone, therefore you would be wise to listen to God alone when it comes to matters of truth. Don’t let yourself be swayed by the dramatic testimonials of others. What someone else did or didn’t see isn’t going to change your own standing with God. How your soul responds to the Holy Spirit’s convictions is what will determine where you personally end up in eternity. Despite what Satan and many of his foolish followers want us to believe, there are most certainly two drastically different destinations available to us. Hell is real. God’s wrath is real. We need to accept these truths and stop looking for some way to get out of coming to God on His terms.