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Heaven & Near Death Experiences



I find NDEs fascinating to consider. These experiences have been documented over many years and are defined as a common set of events experienced by people when seriously ill or close to death. Irrespective of people’s faith persuasion or lack of, they have a set of common elements:


Three quarters of those having these experiences, feel an out of body feeling; the senses are more heightened than normal and they experience intense emotions, love and peace. Two thirds of people see or encounter brilliant colours and lights with a different sense of time or space and more than half encounter other people, friends or relatives; receive special knowledge and encounter heavenly places and know they must return to their earthly bodies. One quarter to a third passed through a tunnel or a barrier and experienced a review of their lives. [1]


This is amazing stuff and many people return with the knowledge of God, heaven and the need to tell others. There is even an organisation set up now to investigate NDEs, the international Association of Near-Death Studies or IANDS, who scientifically investigate these occurrences.[2]


Apparently one in 10 people have experienced a NDE. The reputable medical journal, the Lancet, has reported an account of a patient who had a cardiac arrest and saw a nurse place his dentures in a drawer whilst he was in a comatose state and not breathing (but was later resuscitated). A week later, now conscious, they were able to find his dentures by the patient recognising the nurse and reminding her where she had placed them. He had watched all of that from above, whilst unconscious and without any vital signs.


Dr Mary Neal, an orthopaedic spine surgeon and a sceptic, after having experienced death whilst in a kayak in Chile some years ago; trapped beneath water with bones broken and torn ligaments, experienced being physically held by Christ whilst under water for 14 minutes. She was eventually resuscitated and is now committed to telling the story of Christ of the Bible and Heaven.


As Christians, we want to make sure that anything we read about or watch on YouTube about NDEs, lines up with Bible and there are long-lasting and positive changes in their life as a result[3] as there are some discreditable stories out there.


What about NDEs in the Bible? Perhaps when Stephen was martyred, this could be an example (see Acts 7:55-60). It has been documented that a supernatural visual revelation can occur as one leaves this earth, getting a glimpse of a real heaven. Stephen seemed to see heaven, God and Jesus as he was stoned to death and he cried out ‘Lord Jesus receive my spirit’ as if he could see into heaven.


John Burke investigated 1,000 near death stories over 35 years and has written a book Imagine Heaven: looking at NDEs from a Christian perspective. He says we should get excited about the view of heaven that is time and time again reported because it helps prioritise life now.


Heaven is a real place and now today, with resuscitation methods, many people have died but have been resuscitated back to life. They have stories and no matter their persuasion, their stories resonate with the God of the Bible and heaven.


Other more frightening stories detail another place that is dark, fiery and with horrible beings but as the name of Jesus is spoken, freedom is available to all. Death is not something to be feared if you and I know the Lord.

[1] Brandon Clay, Answersingenesis.org (2020) [2] https://iands.org [3] Ibid


Peta



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