You are quite right to question this. We often advise people to question what speakers and writers say, especially if it looks odd or outlandish. The first example of a glimpse into heaven that comes to my mind is Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Just before he was killed this is what he saw and revealed, as recorded in Acts 7:55 and 56
55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
So what is written by Terry is unusual but not unbiblical.
I usually doubt such stories because, quite often, they relate how unbelievers having a near-death experience are transported into some happy place that exists only in their imaginations or a realm of satanic deception. It reminds me of the British television series in which various Bishops, not all of them saved judging from their anti-Biblical utterances, talked about: “When I get to heaven.” If I get to heaven would have been a better title.
So when we hear such stories we have to ask 1) Who is telling them and 2) What is their motive?
I would never put such a story on our website without knowing the person involved. I trust Terry James. His background is solid and scripture-based and in no way does he either hallucinate or get involved in wacky baccy pseudo Christianity of the Todd Bentley type.
Now, Terry is a writer and clearly, if someone writes a book they aim to sell copies. So, to make up a sensational story would, of course, draw attention to your book. However, while there are many strange best-selling books involving the supernatural, often stocked by what are called “Christian bookshops,” Terry has never gone down this route to gain sales and get revenue. In fact last year I wrote two chapters for a book he edited, called The Departure, in which prophecy teachers told of different aspects of the rapture and the fast-approaching New World Order. No money ever changed hands.
Terry desires neither fame nor fortune for, to amend a well known cliché, if you want to make a small fortune, start with a large one and go into Christian publishing. I speak from experience. That’s why many of the smaller Christian publishers have gone out of business. Pat and I can only keep going because we work for nothing - our time is free. Terry could tell a similar tale, I am sure – there are many better ways to succeed that to write the kind of not-always-popular material we both specialize in.
In fact, if I wanted to make money from a so-called Christian book it would be called something like “100 ways the Bible can help make your fortune." Not a book we will write! You see, Terry is 68 and I am not far behind. We will soon face our Maker and have to give an account of ourselves. There will be no excuses or hiding place. Our motives will be examined. So readers can be sure that Terry acts only because, as in his RaptureReady website, linked to ours, he desires only to get the truth out to a lost and dying world.
I have no doubt the Lord will welcome Terry James in this manner: Matthew 25-21:
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
I fully agree that all Christian teaching should be Bible-based. If you read our book. Cults and Isms; True or False? You will find that at least 50 per cent of the content comprises Biblical quotes and references, all documented. This is so that nobody can say “That’s just your opinion.” No, our opinion doesn’t matter. It is God’s word that counts. However, in both our books and in my talks I also tell stories of personal experiences that are relevant to my theme. This in no way detracts from the teaching, in fact it enhances it.
Yes, the Bible is sufficient. But we are also given experiences and abilities which we can put to use in showing people that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. There are still supernatural happenings and Christianity is a supernaturally based religion. So, as long as we are not contradicting God’s word, such experiences, from men of probity, are valid.
I hope that answers your query. With best regards, in His name, Alan
Now here is Harry's question, which is a good one: From: harry.......Subject: afterlife experience
hi alan, just wanted to ask you about the article on your website about the man who died three times and claims to have been to heaven. it is a subject that i have struggled with for quite some time and find it very difficult to find it in harmony with bible teaching. there are so many differing accounts of these so called trips to heaven, so who`s version is true, no matter how reluctant the claimant is to tell their story they always do and the story then gets in the way of the true message of repentance and forgiveness and then to strive for holiness. my point being can these claims be the "doctrines of demons" for the "itching ears" that Paul talks about. i agree with you that the bible is all we need and not these new revelations as if God forgot to tell us something in the first place, i look forward to hearing from you God bless harry
Having had my reply, Harry came back with this comment:
hi alan, thanks for taking the time to reply. first of all i have the utmost respect for you and your work but especially as a brother in Christ and i only want to get to the truth of the matter. as i said to you earlier i really struggle with the subject in general, as for stephen the martyr his account is biblical so therefore it is true, my point was not that the claimant gains financially but that the claim is extra biblical and then who`s account do you believe as there are loads of them. also in hebrews 9v 26~29 it states that man has been appointed to die "once" and then the judgement and the same word is used in the next verse for Christ's "once" for all sacrifice so in actual fact some men dont die once but several times. i am not trying to be contentious and i appreciate you taking the time to reply as i dont have any christian friends to discuss any of these things in Christ harry
This was my response: Hello again Harry-
Feel free to run anything past us. We do not have a monopoly on wisdom or Biblical knowledge but I will do my best to answer in accordance with Scripture. I never claim to be an expert on anything but we are fortunate as a family to have had excellent teachers over 30 years, which helps a lot.
I thought Stephen's vision at his martyrdom was a good example of how such a thing could glorify God, which is all Terry wants to do. I see nothing wrong if a godly man has a vision from the Lord and wants to share it, to edify and encourage rather than to puff himself up. Pat once had such a vision ( of the Lord, but not of Heaven) and wrote about it in a newspaper we were running at the time in 1981, a few months after her conversion. I have never had a vision but have had some remarkable spiritual experiences: my life has been saved in incredible ways and my belief is that the Lord sent angels to protect me. Of course, that is unprovable. But I have a good sense of what is true and what is false, which is why Terry's words ring true. Men who are well taught Biblically should be able to discern truth from falsehood, fact from fiction.
I made the point about money as it is behind much of the falsehood which is written and spoken. People usually want to write books for fame or money. ( We were once accused of "making a fortune from your books," which really gave us a laugh!) Because we have been fleeced and conned in years past we are conscious that this is a motivation in many people who write of sensational "spiritual" experiences. So motivation is highly important. I once lived with and worked for a group of such people when I produced newspapers and magazines for the New Age Movement. Spiritual claptrap, mixed with misquotation from the Bible, was their stock in trade, coupled with hypocrisy.
Death is certainly final: people only die once. They also cannot return, which is what I tell spiritualists (see our chapter on the occult in Cults and Isms: True or False?) But there are sometimes occasions, on the operating table, when people are seemingly clinically dead, with heartbeat stopped. They are then revived. They haven't died their real death, but had a brief period when the heart stopped. So in my intro I used a little writer's licence to make a dramatic point and get the reader's attention. I do, of course, agree with the Word!
I think all teaching for believers must be Bible-based. However, we can use our experiences to illustrate points or encourage others and I do this all the time as much of what I have seen is particularly relevant for the times we are in. But when I speak on the EU, for example, my base point is the Book of Daniel. Then I illustrate from my experiences with the EU how this is being fulfilled today. This is perfectly valid. But it is not "adding to the Bible."
Anyway, those are my thoughts.With best regards, in His name - Alan. I sent Terry James a link to this article and this was his response. I don't think he will mind me using his e-mail to answer a few more points:
Thanks much, Alan, for letting me know you've posted this --and the response, etc.
I very much appreciate the way you addressed these matters. Your remarks are totally on the mark, except that I'm now 69 and will be 70 on August 3! Just can't believe that. I was 68 when it happened, of course.
When thinking on the reader's remark about "It is appointed unto man once to die..." I was reminded of Lazarus, who, of course, was raised from the dead. So, there are exceptions, even to those who have truly died and not been merely revived with defib paddles, etc. The dead were raised in several Biblical accounts.
At any rate, I've asked Todd to give our RR people a link to your website on this.
Thanks much for letting me have a look.
We will be in touch about the January Future Congress meetings.
Your Brother in Christ,Terry
PS. You certainly told the guy the truth about this not being a money-making business!