Sunday, February 19, 2012

51 Minutes (or so) in Heaven

I've always been dubious when I've heard about books where people say it happened to them, but today it happened to me and the experience I had was absolutely trustworthy. I know of many people who long to get a peek, just a glimpse, into what happens when they die, so they buy people's testimonies about glimpses, trips, experiences, dreams, where they saw, visited, experienced, gazed at, heven or hell. These readers all seem to have one thing in common: they long for a deeper assurance of the eternal, and they want other people in their lives to be jarred into these greater realities as well. But I've always found this unsettling, because although there is a God who reveals glimpses of the eternal to people, there is also an enemy who deceives, not to mention deceitful people out there who write lies in order to get rich. But I know for certain that my story is true and certain and to be trusted, and I come away from it feeling an assurance of the eternal that is absolutely to be trusted. Let me tell you what happened to me today.

It all started with my friend John. God led him to heaven for several hours this week, and today he led me, my wife, and about a thousand other people to see the very same realities. John is my pastor, and he is preaching through the book of Revelation. And my wife and I agree that as we were sitting under this ministry this morning, we were transported to see heaven (and hell) in a way that has changed us.

This should not shock anyone. In reference to his preaching, the Apostle Paul told the Galatians: "It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified" (Gal 3:1b, ESV). Paul's preaching gave people a visual display of the the realities he proclaimed. In another place, Paul said that "All Scripture is breathed out by God" (2 Tim 3:16a). So when I heard my pastor open God's living Word this morning, read it, and proclaim its message to us, I should not be surprised that I was, and about a thousand other people were, transported. That he is currently preaching through the book of Revelation explains why I saw heaven in particular so clearly.

And so it comes back to me as a preacher. As I evaluate myself I need to ask, 'will my preaching lead people to a clearer vision of Christ crucified?'; 'am I preaching from all parts of God's Word (including Revelation), so that God's people have a vision of heaven that they long for?'; 'will my preaching leave people wondering about the eternal, wanting a bit more of a peek, leading them to buy less-than reliable books when the absolutely trustworthy, living Word of God simply needs to be declared to them and they would be transported to another world?'. I think that preachers are too quick to mock those books and not quick enough to evaluate themselves and what the popularity of those books must say about their own preaching. To a man (or woman), every person I know who buys books of personal testimony about trips to heaven or hell have at least two things in common: 1) they have good motives; they sincerely want to understand more deeply and live more for the eternal; 2) they find the book of Revelation daunting and confusing.

I am thankful to be under the faithful ministry of a man so gifted and godly. I am thankful that he is preaching through Revelation, and, as he often says in sermons, inviting us to put on these new lenses through which we will see the world. I am thankful that my friend in Toronto has begun a series on the same book!

To download my Pastor, John Mahaffey's series as it unfolds, go here.

To check out the Canadian Gospel Coalition Conference he is organizing, click here.

To listen to John Piper's testimony of having God actually speak to him, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment