Paul wrote: “1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory . I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell ; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12
Paul is writing of himself here. He was probably referring to a time when he was carried out of a city and stoned by the inhabitants and left for dead. He states he was in heaven but he could not tell if he was in his body or not. He saw things which he said “it is not lawful for a man to utter.” I think this is just another way of saying he had no words that could describe what he saw.
Have other people besides Paul been caught up to the third heaven and then returned to Earth? The third heaven is the place where God dwells.
I have written about heaven before and what the Bible teaches that we can expect but I have never written about any eyewitness accounts of heaven. Recently I have read two books from people who claim to have been there. The first book was 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. Mr. Piper is a Baptist minister who found himself in a head on collision with a truck on a bridge in Texas. Mr. Piper was driving a small car which was totaled. Mr. Piper was declared dead by emergency personnel but then was given his life back 90 minutes later. Mr. Piper wrote about this a few years after the incident because he had to endure months of pain and reconstructive surgery for the injuries sustained in the accident.
The first chapter of the book Don tells about what he experienced while in heaven and the rest of the book talks about his spiritual and physical struggles while his body recuperated.
The other book was Heaven is Real by Todd Burpo. This has been a bestseller for a long time. Todd is a Methodist pastor who writes about what his 4 year old son, Colton, experienced in heaven while he was in surgery for a ruptured appendix. This book took several years to get written because Colton’s story came out in bits and pieces over time.
What can we expect in heaven? What did Don Piper and Colton Burpo say about heaven?
“So then after the Lord (Jesus) had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” Mark 16:19
Todd asked his son Colton if Jesus sat on the right hand of God, then who sat on the left hand? Colton answered, “Gabriel.”
Gabriel is the angel who told Mary she would bear a child who would be the Son of God and Gabriel is also the angel who answered Daniel’s prayer for understanding a prophetic vision.
Music – Colton stated that Jesus and angels sung to him. Mr. Piper stated that the entire time he was in heaven, music permeated everything and it was the most beautiful music he had ever heard. In his book, Mr. Piper was asked what he missed the most about heaven and his answer was, “The music.” I am a music lover myself and most people like music in some form. The Bible teaches that, in heaven, we will be able to sing and play music and since I can do neither now, I look forward to that. In the book Colton asked if they would sing “We Will Rock You” but he said they wouldn’t sing that.
Colors – On earth the only colors we recognize come from the rainbow with different shades. Both Colton and Don said there were many colors in heaven we had never seen before and they just had no way to describe them much like Paul saying he saw things “not lawful for man to utter”.
Friends and Relatives – Both Colton and Don talked about seeing relatives. Colton saw his grandfather and Don saw friends and family who had died on Earth. We will see our loved ones again if we have a relationship with Christ and the loved ones had one the moment they died.
Unborn Children – Colton saw his sister. Colton never knew he had a second sister until his visit to heaven. Colton’s mother had a miscarriage and never knew if the lost child was a boy or a girl. Colton told her it was a girl and she was in heaven. This would mean that all aborted babies and all babies lost to miscarriages would be in heaven now. This also means that abortion is murder. Life begins at the moment of conception.
Weapons – Colton stated angels had swords. When asked why, he said it was to keep Satan out of heaven. He was emphatic Satan was not in hell and the Bible also teaches this. “Be sober , be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
The Bible teaches that there is no one in the lake of fire yet. (There is a place of torment for the unsaved but it is not their final destination.) The Antichrist and the False Prophet are the first two occupants of the lake of fire and they haven’t appeared yet.
Wings – Colton stated he had wings and his grandfather had wings. What was the purpose of the wings? It was how they got around in heaven. Mr. Piper never mentioned anything about wings. Hawkman was my favorite comic book character as a child and the thought of having wings is intriguing. Sometimes I wished I had wings now so I could just fly where I wanted to go but some hunter would probably shoot me down.
The coming war - The Bible does teach a final battle with evil which we call Armageddon. Colton told his dad that he saw him and all the males in heaven armed with either swords or bows and arrows fighting “monsters” while the women and children watched. When asked when this occurred, Colton answered when God destroys the world and sets up His kingdom. The “monsters” would be demonic spirits
I highly recommend reading both books as they are both quite interesting.
By Gary Goodworth
Copyrigh 2012 by Gary Goodworth