Is Heaven for Real?

By Curtis Rittenour
Posted April 16, 2014

Is there really a heaven? Absolutely. But where do we find trustworthy facts about this place?

A new movie this week, Heaven Is for Real, makes claims about heaven and people who die. How does it compare with the Bible?

There are plenty of skeptics who question the reality of heaven. But this new Sony Pictures movie appeals to common beliefs among many Christians and other people of faith about life after death. Heaven Is for Real is based on a 2010 bestselling book by Pastor Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, about Todd’s four-year-old son. The small-town Nebraska pastor says his boy experienced heaven while undergoing emergency surgery.

A couple of “convincing” pieces of evidence in the movie relate to people Colton supposedly saw, such as a miscarried sister and his great grandfather, who died 30 years before Colton was born. The book and movie claim that he shared “impossible-to-know” details about them both.

The emotive pull is strong, and it’s hard to deny what a little four-year-old boy shares without it touching your heart. But we need to ask the question, “How does the movie’s claim compare against Scripture?” One news review is quite open: “The original source material—not the Bible, silly, but the book “Heaven is for Real”—sold 8 million copies. It was a publishing juggernaut that Hollywood couldn’t ignore.” [1]

Can NDEs (near-death-experiences) be trusted? What if these testimonies contradict the Bible’s teaching about the state of the dead? Can these out-of-body encounters always be trusted? There is no question, from the standpoint of the Word of God, that heaven is for real. But what do we make of people who say they have seen their dead loved ones and talked with them? Does this dramatization of faith match the Scriptures?

We think not. The Bible is very clear: “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing…” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). We are strongly warned, “And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19). Jesus compared death to sleep (John 11:11–14). People who sleep in Jesus will not awake until the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16). We do not receive immortality until Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:51–54).

The devil is persistent on spreading his first lie to Eve, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). But “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Unless we are alive at the second coming of Christ, we will all die. We lay down in the sleep of death, we do not immediately go to heaven but await the resurrection morning, just like Paul who looked forward to “that Day” along with others who “have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8).

So if your friends or family ask, “Do you believe heaven is for real?” You can answer, “Absolutely, but depictions by Hollywood are not always accurate. I base my beliefs squarely on the Word of God. Would you be interested in learning what the Bible says about death and heaven?”

We have set up a special web page dedicated to this topic called www.isheavenforreal.com. Sit down with your friends or neighbors and listen to a Bible-based presentation by Pastor Doug Batchelor on the facts about death and heaven. The silver screen is not the best source of truth.

We also have a new sharing book from Pastor Doug called Final Mystery: The Truth About Death Revealed. It's available for order now and will be a great resource to share with friends and family. Click the image below to learn more.

Final Mystery

Curtis Rittenour
Curtis J. Rittenour is the senior writer at Amazing Facts International. He pastored for 25 years and has authored books, magazine articles, blogs, and seminars.
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