What If There Is a Heaven? Part I
"Men of Galilee," they [the angels at the time of Christ's return to heaven after his death and resurrection] said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."1
Dr. Maurice Rawlings, formerly a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga, and his colleagues constantly treated emergency patients, many of whom had near-death experiences. A study of these cases by Dr. Rawlings was reported in Omni magazine.
It is no longer unusual to hear about people who have almost died who speak of seeing a bright light, lush green meadows, rows of smiling relatives and experiencing a deep sense of peace. However, Dr. Rawlings obtains additional information from his patients by interviewing them immediately following resuscitation while they are very much in touch with their experience. Dr. Rawlings says that nearly 50 percent of the 300 people that he has interviewed have reported lakes of fire, devil-like figures and other sights reflecting the darkness of hell. Rawlings says that these people later change their story because they don't want to admit where they've been, not even to their families.
"Just listening to these patients has changed my whole life," claims Dr. Rawlings. "There is a life after death, and if I don't know where I'm going, it's not safe to die."
But do these experiences prove that there is a heaven or a hell?
We don't really know because these particular people didn't quite make it to the other side. Even if they did and came back, we probably wouldn't believe them because most of us tend to believe only what we have seen or experienced for ourselves. Furthermore, we tend to see and believe only what we want to see and believe—often in spite of the evidence.
One can only present what evidence there is, and then it is up to each individual to either accept or reject that evidence. And what evidence do we have as to whether there is a heaven and a hell or life after death?
First, there is the evidence from scores of cases mentioned by Dr. Rawlings and others who have written about near-death experiences and explained what they saw and experienced.
Second, we have the evidence from the testimonials of famous people who gave us their last words.
To be continued …
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that when Jesus returned to heaven after his death on the cross and resurrection, you sent your angels to assure his disciples and followers that Jesus would return to earth to take all of his true followers to be with him in heaven forever. Thank you for your wonderful promise that heaven is a reality for all who truly believe in you and have accepted Jesus as their Savior. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Acts 1:11 (NIV).
NOTE: To make absolutely sure you are ready for heaven read the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian (without having to be religious)" at: www.actsweb.org/christian.