Ask the Pastor: Three Levels of Heaven?
(Don’t forget to submit your Bible questions to us – email@example.com or in the “Question Box” outside the sanctuary.)
The question submitted this week from a congregation member is:
What are the three levels of heaven some people talk about?
What about the book “Heaven is for Real”?
Though it has been four years since the book was at its height of popularity, Heaven is for Real the movie was released in 2014. For those of you not familiar with the book, movie, or if you have forgotten, Wikipedia summaries it well:
In the book, Christian pastor Todd Burpo writes that during the months after his emergency surgery in 2003, his son Colton began describing events and people that seemed impossible for him to have seen or met. Examples include his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. Colton also claimed that he personally met Jesus riding a rainbow-colored horse and sat in Jesus’ lap, while the angels sang songs to him, He also says he saw Mary kneeling before the throne of God and at other times standing beside Jesus.
My aim of this short response is not to debunk the book in accordance to Scripture. Please see well-respected pastors for biblical reviews:
- http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/heaven-is-for-real – Tim Challies
- http://thebereanlibrary.com/archives/1802 – Berean Library
Rather, my aim is to present 9 truths from Luke 16:19-31 that not only briefly debunks this book, but also informs the Christian and non-Christian alike as to matters of heaven and hell.
Here’s the passage from the English Standard Version:
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,
23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house–
28 for I have five brothers– so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
- There is life after death (Luke 16:22; Rev. 20:10-15)
- There are people in both places, that is, heaven and hell (Luke 16:22-23; Matthew 25:31-46)
- God’s wrath is upon unbelievers because of their sin (Luke 16:23-24; John 3:16-18)
- Heaven and hell are both eternal (Luke 16:25-26; Jude 7)
- There is a heaven and a hell (Luke 16:22-23; Matthew 11:23)
- No second chances exist—death is it (Luke 16:26; Hebrews 9:27)!
- No one can pass between heaven and hell. Your eternal destiny is determined before you die (Luke 16:26).
- No one comes back to write books about the subject (Luke 16:27-28)
- The Bible is enough to show salvation and sufficient in all matters of faith and practice. (Luke 16:29-31; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)