In modern warfare, one common tactic that is used to stop or hinder an enemy's advance on the ground is to plant landmines throughout key patches of terrain. A minefield can wreak havoc on an army's ability to move through certain areas and to advance and hold ground by destroying tanks and other vehicles, and can seriously affect morale by injuring or killing individual troops in a gruesomely unpredictable manner. In many cases, soldiers are not even aware they have entered a minefield until one of their buddies gets blown to smithereens.
The Church is also involved in warfare, but we don't use the same kinds of weapons:
3For though we walk in the flesh, we don't wage war according to the flesh; 4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds, 5throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:3–5)
Although Satan doesn't literally use explosive devices, he has created a highly effective spiritual minefield to not only blind men to the truth of the gospel, but also to distract believers from their duties in the ongoing spiritual battle and render them ineffective in the fight.
In these last days, Satan has carefully laid out a minefield full of fascinating distractions that capture the imaginations of unwary believers, and draw them into subjects and activities that waste their time and effectively leave them laid up in the spiritual infirmary. These topics and activities may not necessarily be evil in and of themselves, and some may contain nuggets of truth. They do, however, seem to have one thing in common: they induce people to stray beyond Scripture.
Satan's minefield is filled with fascinating things that invariably lure believers into going beyond what is revealed in God's Word.
My goal in this article is to briefly discuss five common items buried in Satan's minefield, and to encourage you to carefully step over them for your own safety:
1. Quantum spirituality
3. UFOs and aliens
4. Bible codes
5. Heaven tourism
These items are all the subjects of numerous popular books, so I don't suppose I'm going to win any friends in the so-called Christian publishing industry. I guess that's just a burden I'll have to bear.
It's just that I don't want to see any of you get blown to smithereens.
1. Quantum spirituality
There has been a virtual revolution going on within the Church for the last couple of decades, and it is closely linked with what might seem like a rather unlikely subject for Christians: quantum mechanics.
This quirky, exotic branch of physics has become the playground of a number of Bible teachers and Christian authors in the last few years, and it has led to a sea change in the way many people are viewing God and spiritual things in general. Before I go any further, however, let me make one thing clear:
Schrödinger's cat knows more about quantum mechanics than I do.
That said, I'm going to attempt to explain a couple of key principles that may help convey the broad strokes of what I am talking about.
One of the basic principles taught in quantum mechanics is that at the quantum or subatomic level, all possible states of a particle exist simultaneously, although perhaps with different probabilities attached to them. When the particle is measured or observed, however, only one of those states is manifested in the physical world. Thus, at least at the quantum level, the observer affects the outcome of what is observed.
In a sense, the observer has the potential to influence or "create" the result.
In a roundabout way, this has found spiritual expression in the idea that man has the potential to be a co-creator with God. The reasoning goes roughly as follows:
As believers, we are new creations in Christ:
17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
So, since we are new creations in Christ, we should busy ourselves "co-creating for Christ" in the world around us, just as Christ would do if He were here. This apparently includes activities such as taking over cities, counties, states, and countries for Christ, building His kingdom, and so forth and so on. This is the dirt that dominion theology grows in, and I have discussed the biblical problems with this teaching in a previous article.
Another basic principle of quantum mechanics is called non-locality, and I've heard it explained this way:
Imagine you have a particle. You cut it in half. You cut it in half again, and continue cutting it in half until you reach an extremely small size known as the Planck length, named after theoretical physicist Max Planck. According to quantum mechanics, at that point if you tried to cut what was left in half again, the remaining bit would lose its "locality." In other words, it would lose its "location" in our physical world and in a sense would exist everywhere at once. Apparently scientific experiments have confirmed this (don't ask me how).
So, just how small is a Planck length? Well, it's about 1.6 x 10-35m. Does that help? No? OK, how about this: a proton is 100 quintillion Planck lengths wide. Still no help? All right...well, this is about the best I can do:
Imagine a tiny dot .1 mm wide (that's about the smallest dot you could see with the unaided eye, roughly one-third the width of the period at the end of this sentence). Now, imagine this tiny dot were expanded until it were the size of the observable universe. Within that universe-sized dot, a Planck length would about the width of the original .1mm dot.
So, what does this have to do with spirituality, one might innocently inquire. One result of non-locality is the concept that every point in the universe is "connected" with every other point at the quantum level. In other words, below the level of physical reality—beyond what we can see or experience, everything is one. There's no "separation" of things at the quantum level, or as a lot of New Agers would put it:
"Like, everything's connected, man. You know what I'm sayin'?"
This concept gives rise to all manner of teaching about how everything is one, and how God is this great oneness. Since the separation of things in the physical world is apparently just an illusion, in reality there is no separation between the Creator and His creation. They are one. God is everything and everything is God, and God is in everything. This all may sound pretty cool on the surface, but let's stop and think for a moment about where this is taking us.
The idea that everything is God and God is everything is called pantheism, and the idea that God's essence is in everything is panentheism. These have long been bedrock principles of the New Age religion, and thanks to quantum spirituality they have made major inroads into the Church. These are problematic for Bible-believing Christians for two basic reasons:
1. If God is one with all of creation, then He cannot logically be the Creator God that Scripture says He is.
The Bible clearly teaches that God exists separate from His creation. Yes, He created the universe and set things in motion, but God is eternal and has existed in a wholly self-sufficient manner since eternity past, before He created anything (including time itself). He created the universe, and so rather than being part of it, He is Lord over all of it (Acts 17:24).
2. If God is in all people, then what's up with all this "sinner in need of a Savior" business the Bible makes such a big deal about?
If we already have
God within us, then the
Bible is nonsense and
Jesus died for nothing.
If God is in all people, then His revealed Word to man is at best absurdly illogical, and at worst a pack of lies. The Bible teaches that God created the heavens and the earth, pronounced them "good," and created man in His own image. He gave man free will so he could choose to love Him, knowing He was also giving man the freedom to rebel against Him.
And rebel we did. And when we did, we became spiritually separated from a holy, just, loving God who created us to enjoy Him for eternity. That's the operative word here: s-e-p-a-r-a-t-e-d. This spiritual separation is the very reason God sent His Son into the world to live a sinless life in a body of flesh, die on a cross, and be resurrected so God could judge our sin and satisfy His own perfect justice on our behalf. Thus if we repent of sin and believe in faith in the atonement Christ made on our behalf, we can be justified before God, have Christ's righteousness imputed to us by faith, and be reconciled to God for eternity—and we are separated no more.
But if we already have God within us, then everything I just said is a crock. If in our natural state we have oneness with God, and can connect with this cosmic oneness through meditation and live spiritually fulfilling lives and be one with God after we die, then God was wasting His time. If we already have God within us, then the Bible is nonsense and Jesus died for nothing.
This oneness business sounds s-o-o good because it convicts no one of sin, and encourages spiritually unregenerate people to tune in to a God of their own creation who they imagine is nestled cozily within them, and who just loves them and doesn't judge them for anything in any way. Kewl.
But this is light years away from the gospel.
As these slick quantum concepts advance within the Church, believers are being dazzled with pseudo-scientific terminology and are being tantalized by the possibility of knowing far more about the true nature of reality and of the universe than God has revealed to us in His Word.
If we take Paul's admonition to the Colossians seriously, this is a problem:
8Be careful that you don't let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.
(Colossians 2:8 / emphasis added)
The Greek word translated as "elements" here (and as "rudiments" in some other translations) is stoicheia, and it can refer to elementary principles in either a philosophical or a physical way. Here, "elements of the world" emphasizes a physical context, and so Paul is basically warning believers that by giving our attention over to the elementary principles of the physical world, our focus can be drawn away from Christ.
That's precisely what quantum spirituality does: it compels unsuspecting believers to lavish their attention on the "elementary principles of the world," and not Christ. And it causes me untold grief to say it, but some of the finest Bible teachers I know—godly men who I love and respect—have started down this road, and it makes me afraid:
3But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 11:3)
The bottom line is that true biblical spirituality must be based on the Word, not on the world. It must be based on Christ, not on quanta.
The source for some of the wildest and most sensational speculation in recent years originates from a cryptic reference to something that happened before the Flood in the book of Genesis:
1And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
(Genesis 6:1–4 AKJV / emphasis added)
Many Bible scholars agree that the "sons of God" mentioned above are angels—in this case rebellious angels who disobeyed God and took on physical form and came to earth to mate with human women. There is further support for this interpretation in the New Testament:
6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day.
(Jude 1:6 AKJV / emphasis added)
Jude is referring to angels who refused to stay where they belong, so to speak. In other words, they had no business leaving the spiritual realm they inhabited and coming to earth in physical form, and are even now being kept chained up in darkness until their final judgment.
The Hebrew word translated as "giants" in Genesis 6:4 above is nephilim, which were the offspring of these illicit matings. The word nephilim can be translated as "giants," but is translated more literally as "the fallen ones."
Many Bible teachers believe that as this mating of fallen angels and human women which gave rise to the Nephilim continued, genetic corruption of the human race spread unchecked. Many believe this is the primary reason God destroyed the world through the Flood, saving only Noah and his family. Interestingly, Noah is described as being "perfect in his generations" (Gen. 6:9), which many interpret to mean that he had no trace of the genetic corruption that may have become widespread on earth in those days.
Man for man: God created man, and wanted to save man. But to do that, He needed to have His Son born into the world, live a sinless life in the flesh, and die on the cross as a dyed-in-the-wool, genetically pure man. That meant God had to place His seed in a woman who had not been genetically corrupted by any ancestral connections with demonic hybrids.
In other words, Jesus wasn't born into the world as a Nephil (singular) to save Nephilim: He became a man to save men. In order to carry out His plan, God would need a genetically pure (i.e., purely human) female. If Satan and his compadres had succeeded in their efforts to corrupt the entire human gene pool, it would have thwarted God's plan of redemption.
Although the human population was rebooted starting with eight genetically pure individuals after the Flood, apparently the same thing happened again. Notice that Genesis 6:4 above says that there were giants (Nephilim) in the earth before the Flood, but "also after that."
And sure enough. The Nephilim showed up again when Israel was preparing to enter the Promised Land. They sent 12 spies out to reconnoiter the area, and they returned with the following bizarre description of the inhabitants:
33And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
(Numbers 13:33 AKJV / emphasis added)
Again, "giants" here are Nephilim. They're b-a-a-ck.
Although the ultimate fate of these post-Flood Nephilim is not clearly revealed in Scripture, I haven't seen any 18-foot tall demonic hybrids skulking about lately, so I have to assume they vanished in millennia past.
In spite of the Bible's silence on the issue, however, it seems the Nephilim have already been resurrected and sensationalized by a number of Christian authors by their interpretation of the following passage of Scripture:
37As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, 39and they didn't know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
(Matthew 24:37–39 / emphasis added)
In other words, Jesus compares the general conditions during the time leading up to the Second Coming to those during the time leading up to the Flood. And since the Nephilim existed prior to the Flood, these intrepid authors boldly assume this means the Nephilim must also exist prior to the Second Coming!
As soon as you read the Nephilim into Matthew 24:37, it's showtime!
This interpretation of this passage of Scripture has given rise to bizarre speculations about how we will see the Nephilim—the offspring of fallen angels and human women—reappear on earth during (if not before) the Tribulation. I won't even attempt to go into detail on some of the lurid scenarios that have come crawling out from under this idea because they are as bizarre as they are wildly speculative, but they certainly have one thing in common: they sell books and DVDs by the truckload.
I could list a half dozen well-known Christian authors who have made a career out of writing such books and producing such materials without pausing to take a breath. These sensational scenarios feed people's carnal curiosity and fuel their fleshly speculations, and it leads curiosity seekers to bookstores. Now, if it only led lost sinners to Christ...
I see at least three fundamental problems with this "Run for your lives, it's the Nephilim!" interpretation of Matthew 24:37–39 that undermine the whole Nephilim scenario:
1. The first obvious problem is the simple fact that it causes people to focus on some sensational supernatural phenomenon straight out of Hollywood, and thus it completely takes the focus away from Jesus.
You may as well know now:
I have a dim view of anything that takes the focus away from Jesus.
2. As I mentioned earlier, many Bible teachers believe that the main reason Satan had fallen angels come to earth in physical form to mate with human women was to corrupt the human gene pool, thus making it impossible for God to carry out His plan of sending His Son into the world to redeem mankind. Uhm...OK, but Satan's plan failed, and Jude 1:6 says those fallen angels are chained up in darkness awaiting judgment. So, what's the deal?
God wiped out all of Satan's genetic shenanigans in the Flood and saved Noah and his family to reboot the human population. God's plan was still intact and successfully came to fruition two thousand years ago with the birth, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, Satan's best efforts notwithstanding. So, let's put on our thinking caps:
Q. Since Satan's primary purpose for introducing the Nephilim into the human population in the first place was rendered null and void two thousand years ago, what purpose would be served by the reappearance of Nephilim today?
A. I have no earthly idea.
Well, besides making tons of money for a handful of Christian authors who peddle these spellbinding sci-fi fantasies to naive believers, that is.
3. Jesus never said one word about the Nephilim in Matthew 24:37–39. The entire idea has to be read wholesale into the passage.
Well, what did Jesus say? He said that people were "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" until the Flood was upon them. In other words, it was business as usual; people were ignoring Noah's warnings and carrying on with their lives, then destruction came swiftly. What Jesus is saying here is that this is just how things will be when all hell breaks loose during the Great Tribulation, which culminates in the Second Coming.
It would have been easy enough for Jesus to say "As the days of Noah were with all those Nephilim running amok, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." But that's not what He said, and that's not what He went on to emphasize in the rest of the passage.
3. UFOs and aliens
The modern UFO phenomenon was officially born in the summer of 1947, when either an experimental Air Force surveillance balloon (according to some) or a spaceship full of skinny, gray aliens (according to others) crashed on a ranch outside Roswell, New Mexico. The denials and disinformation coming from various military officials in the weeks and months following the incident, however, created the appearance of a government cover-up in the minds of many people, and conspiracy theorists have never looked back.
In no time at all, the imagination of the American public was gripped by the idea that alien spacecraft from other planets might be visiting earth, and UFOs and their extraterrestrial occupants quickly became a Hollywood staple. Sightings of UFOs rose accordingly, and pictures and videos emerged purporting to show these craft that presumably came from galaxies far, far away. It wasn't long before people began reporting that they had been abducted by aliens (typically during the night) and taken aboard their ships, and subjected to bizarre medical examinations and experiments before being deposited safely back in their beds.
Today, books, movies and television shows continually reinforce the notion that (a) UFOs and aliens are real, (b) there is a conspiracy at the highest levels of government to hide this information from the public, and that (c) "the truth is out there" concerning extraterrestrials, and will eventually be disclosed—maybe soon.
What has occurred in the last couple of decades, however, represents a major shift in the traditional UFO narrative. Several leading UFO researchers have published books in which they argue effectively against the idea that UFOs are physical spacecraft that actually travel scores of light years to visit our planet. One of the most highly respected UFO researchers is astronomer and computer scientist Jacques Vallée, who has published numerous books on the results of decades of research.
Vallée and others have come to the following conclusions:
1. UFOs are not physical, tangible spacecraft.
This key point is based on a wealth of evidence that UFOs routinely violate the laws of physics. In other words, it has been documented that UFOs do things that physical objects with mass cannot do, according to the natural laws which govern the three-dimensional time-space continuum we live in.
2. UFOs exhibit intelligent but deceptive behavior.
Although they are not physical spacecraft, they are known to behave in ways that clearly suggest they want people to believe they are. And that begs the question: Why?
3. UFOs are hyperdimensional in nature.
These researchers noted that UFOs are never spotted or tracked as they approach or leave the vicinity of earth. In other words, we never detect them coming or going out in space as one would expect if they were in fact physical spacecraft traveling great distances to and from earth in the conventional sense. They just suddenly show up in our atmosphere and then basically vanish, or zip off into nothingness. This suggests they don't just enter and leave our sky, they enter and leave our dimension.
These UFO researchers are convinced that, rather than being physical craft with physical beings who have traveled across the galaxy to check out our lovely little planet, UFOs are from another dimension (a "spiritual" dimension if you will, although Jacques Vallée for one is not a religious man), and they have an agenda. That is, UFOs are a hyperdimensional phenomenon, not an intergalactic one—and we have every reason to be wary of them.
The notion that these supposed extraterrestrial craft and their occupants are in fact spiritual in nature has created close links between UFOs and quantum spirituality and other metaphysical New Age concepts. Predictably, this is where the Church has gotten sucked into the mix.
It only takes a modest level of biblical discernment to see that the UFO phenomenon is nothing less than demonic deception. When you look at the books, the movies, the TV shows, the websites, the online games, etc., there can be no question the world is being primed to believe a Big Lie, and that lie involves contact with so-called extraterrestrials. No one can say just when or just how this will play out, but that's exactly what the world is being prepared for. And surprise, surprise: the Roman Catholic Church is leading the way.
Pope Francis has coyly suggested that he would be willing to baptize aliens, and it is an open secret that the Vatican and scientists in its employ are steadily gearing up for disclosure of alien contact at some point in the future. This has spawned a slew of best-selling books about the nefarious links between UFO activity, the demonic realm, the Roman Catholic Church, and the end-time scenario.
In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul talks about the fact that when the Rapture occurs, the Holy Spirit that is indwelling the Church will cease restraining both evil and the revelation of the Antichrist, who will be formally revealed at the abomination of desolation. At the same time, God will send a powerful delusion upon those who have rejected His mercy and grace by refusing to believe the gospel, and they will be deceived:
11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
(2 Thessalonians 2:11–12 AKJV / emphasis added)
I've got 50 bucks that says UFOs and so-called "aliens" will play some role in that strong delusion, whatever form it ultimately takes. But in many ways it's just like all this quantum spirituality and Nephilim business. UFOs and aliens are fascinating and alluring, but in reality they are merely another fleshly distraction for believers to get caught up in.
Give it a pass. Besides, if you're born again, you won't be here for that "strong delusion" anyway.
4. Bible codes
For many centuries, there have been kabbalists (Jewish mystics) who have meticulously pored over the Hebrew text of the Torah in search of secret codes they believe lie buried within it. A variety of methods have evolved to search for these codes, but the primary method is known as ELS, or Equidistant Letter Sequences.
For example, the word "generalizations" has an ELS encoded within it if you consider every third letter (i.e., a skip of +3):
G E N E R A L I Z A T I O N S > NAZIS
Interest in Bible codes has skyrocketed in the last several decades, thanks largely to the advent of personal computers and specially designed software that can do in moments what used to take countless hours of tedious labor. Originally only done to the Torah, the search for Bible codes has expanded to include the entire Hebrew text of the Old Testament as well as the King James Version of the Bible in English, and today there is a proliferation of books, websites, and software programs devoted to the pursuit.
According to Bible code enthusiasts, codes have been found that predict such events as the elections of Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush; the assassinations of President John Kennedy in 1963, Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995; the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2001; the fall of Saddam Hussein, etc. The list goes on and on.
Skeptics, however, have used the same techniques to find Bible codes that say things like "Jehovah is a liar," "There is no God," "Satan is Jehovah," and so on. Plus, such searches have been applied to Herman Melville's Moby Dick, and have turned up codes that reveal such events as the assassinations of Indira Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and President John Kennedy; the death of Princess Diana, and so on.
Yet there are examples of encoded information in the Bible that, rather than being speculative or open to interpretation, are in fact quite compelling. For example:
9Out of the ground Yahweh God made every tree to grow that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
(Genesis 2:9 / emphasis added)
Genesis 2:9 says God placed every kind of tree in the Garden of Eden, but no specific species of tree is named. However, encoded within the surrounding 22 verses (Gen. 2:7–3:3) of the Hebrew text are the names of all 25 specific trees mentioned throughout the rest of the Old Testament: date, oak, acacia, cedar, chestnut, poplar, etc.
Coincidence? I report, you decide.
Proponents of the validity of Bible codes and their predictions often cite the following verse to justify their efforts:
2It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
Conversely, there are other verses that cast a very different light on the issue:
19I have not spoken in secret, in a place of the land of darkness. I didn't say to the seed of Jacob, "Seek me in vain." I, Yahweh, speak righteousness. I declare things that are right.
(Isaiah 45:19 / emphasis added)
16Come near to me and hear this: "From the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I." Now the Lord Yahweh has sent me, with his Spirit.
(Isaiah 48:16 / emphasis added)
I have not spoken in secret. In the New Testament, Jesus reiterates this idea:
20Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret."
(John 18:20 / emphasis added)
The point is that God gave us His Word to communicate with us, not to confuse us or hide things from us. He speaks to us clearly and openly in His Word, in straightforward terms we can understand. And that's exactly the way He wants us to approach Scripture, because He is trying to communicate with us and He does want us to understand. There is nothing in Scripture that indicates that God has hidden secret prophetic messages from us in His Word that He wants us to spend time trying to sniff out.
But that hasn't stopped Bible codes from spawning a virtual subculture within the Church, and it is leading sincere people off on one wild goose chase after another in terms of speculating about what lies ahead prophetically.
I have a couple of problems with the Bible code business:
1. We don't need Bible codes to know what is going to happen in terms of the prophetic scenario—we can know all God has ordained for us to know by rightly dividing the Word and observing the signs of the times.
Anything beyond a biblically based, biblically sound, and biblically consistent attempt to properly interpret what God has revealed in the plain text of Scripture is nothing but fleshly speculation that has no place in the life of any believer. Period. It will do nothing but become a foolish, fanciful distraction to people whose carnal curiosity compels them to venture beyond the boundaries set by God's Word.
2. OK, so maybe God has encoded things in His Word. Even though that appears to be the case, that doesn't mean we should waste our time vainly searching for clues about future prophetic events.
As a matter of fact, there are examples of God encoding information in His Word that are undeniable, far more than the example I gave above. I mean, these things really are there, so there's little point denying it. After all, we serve an awesome God, and the awesome God we serve spoke the universe into existence by the Word of His mouth. So, I don't really have a tough time believing that He's smart enough to encode meaningful information in His Word. And I'm not saying He didn't, because He did, which should surprise no one:
29The secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(Deuteronomy 29:29 / emphasis added)
But there is a monumental difference between simply being aware that God has encoded relevant, contextual information in various places within the Bible, and spending our time searching for hints about future events to satisfy our fleshly curiosity and as a result allow ourselves to be drawn beyond what God has revealed to us in His Word. That's when the Bible codes literally become a form of divination, which is strictly prohibited in the Bible. Sadly, however, for many people the temptation is overwhelming.
Just read it: The plain text of Scripture is far more than any of us can ever absorb in a lifetime, and God clearly intended for us to be satisfied with that.
5. Heaven tourism
I wrote an article on this topic about a year ago, so I'll try to keep this part short. I just felt compelled to give it a (dis)honorable mention, because it has certainly become one of the leading distractions in today's Church.
Books about people's visits to heaven (and hell) have been selling like hotcakes for the last few years, and the trend shows little sign of abating. The experience is even crossing religious bounds, as a 15-year-old Israeli boy named Nathan had an out-of-body experience in the fall of 2015, and says he visited heaven. Nathan's story (which conforms to orthodox Jewish theology, of course) has gone viral, and he seems completely believable.
And I do believe him. I just don't believe he actually visited heaven.
As I laid out in my earlier article, there are several key points about all these experiences of so-called heaven tourism that earmark them as deception, and demonstrate that they are in no way biblically legitimate. Here is a quick summary of some of the key points I brought out in that article:
Besides two brief "glimpses," only four men had full-blown visions of heaven in the Bible. In the Old Testament, Isaiah (Isa. 6) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1–3:15) both had visions of heaven when they were commissioned by God as prophets, and the thing that jumps out at you is how both men were so overwhelmed by God's glory that all they could do was fall on their faces and cry out that they were unworthy to even be there. Notably absent are all the fanciful details that fill the pages of heaven tourism bestsellers.
In the New Testament, Paul (2 Cor. 12:2–4) and John (the book of Revelation) had phenomenal visions of heaven. Paul, however, revealed absolutely nothing about the details of his vision, and only mentioned it to support the legitimacy of his apostleship. John only wrote down the details of his vision because Jesus told him to (Rev. 1:11).
In addition, the Bible records several people being raised from the dead, and not one of them says a single word about what they saw or experienced.
The Bible, however, tells us four key facts about Satan that are relevant to this issue:
(a) Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:1–2).
(b) Satan can masquerade as a being of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
(c) Satan can take people on out-of-body experiences and show them incredibly wonderful things (Matt. 4:8–10).
(d) Satan seeks to blind men to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:3–4).
In regard to (a), note that near-death and out-of-body experiences occur in the lower levels of the spiritual realm (the astral plane), which is precisely where Satan rules the roost.
In regard to (b), note that nearly all heaven tourism stories involve the assistance of beings of light who exude warmth and reassurance.
In regard to (c), Satan took Jesus on an out-of-body experience and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor in a moment of time. You think he could manage to show somebody a believable version of heaven and all the accessories? Piece of cake.
In regard to (d), note that the biblical message of the gospel (repentance of sin, salvation through faith in Christ alone, etc.) is conspicuously absent from virtually every single heaven tourism story, and many things that people report simply do not line up with God's Word. What we invariably get in place of the gospel is a warm, glowing potpourri of New Age spirituality that typically highlights the fact that Jesus is not the Son of God and everybody goes to heaven...yay!
Color me surprised.
The bottom line is that when you compare the enthralling tales of trips to heaven being told and sold today to what Scripture says, it is pretty clear:
Not one of these people got anywhere near heaven.
The problem, of course, is that these mesmerizing accounts of alleged trips to heaven are capturing the imaginations of millions of believers, and at the same time not-so-subtly exposing them to a New Age gospel that neatly sidesteps the cross of Christ.
Barack Obamagog: Nathan, the 15-year-old Israeli boy I mentioned earlier, said that while in heaven he was shown that the battle of Gog Magog (Ezek. 37–38) actually started in September of 2015, and would eventually erupt into a nuclear exchange. But I got a kick out of the fact that he said he was shown that Gog, the leader of this attack against Israel, was none other than Barack Obama! (Hey, if he snags that Secretary-General of the UN gig, who knows...)
Before I bring this to close, I want to stress the following points:
I am not necessarily questioning the truth or validity of every single idea represented in these five topics. For example, I have no doubt that there really are fundamental links between quantum mechanics and both physical and spiritual reality. Why wouldn't there be? Who do you think created quantum mechanics?
I believe the Bible teaches that fallen angels left their spiritual domain and took on physical form to mate with human women. I have no trouble believing that actually happened because I believe God's Word and I believe that's what it says. I just think that people who are convinced the Nephilim will return during the Tribulation are reading things into Scripture that simply aren't there. Besides, according to Jude 1:6, the instigators are currently in chains awaiting judgment! What's God gonna do, let 'em out on parole in time for the Tribulation?
I am convinced that UFOs are an elaborate deception that is setting mankind up to be deceived in the last days. People really are seeing something, and you can't chalk it all up to swamp gas and weather balloons. There is something out there, and it's demonic in origin.
It cannot easily be denied that God has encoded contextually significant information within the text of Scripture. And I am not saying God hasn't also encoded prophetic events in His Word, because He may very well have done just that. But that doesn't give us license to practice what amounts to divination.
And I believe many of the people recounting stories of visits to heaven are telling the truth to the best of their ability. On the authority of God's Word, however, I just don't believe they actually visited heaven. I believe they are simply the victims of demonic deception.
The point I want to get across, however, is that even though some of these topics may contain legitimate ideas and elements of truth, they become a veritable minefield for born-again believers to the extent that we allow our carnal curiosity to get the best of us and let these things lure us well beyond what God has revealed to us in His Word.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, one of the purposes of a minefield is to discourage troops from advancing and holding ground. The minefield Satan has created is dotted with a wide variety of captivating subjects that keep book publishers and Hollywood producers busy; and just like the five items we have looked at in this article, one of the fundamental purposes of these items is to distract believers to the point where they are no longer advancing and holding their ground spiritually.
As usual, it comes down to our flesh. Our flesh craves the feeling of knowing something others don't—of believing we've got the inside scoop on some incredible secret, something that others are clueless about or mystified by. It puffs us up with pride and gratifies our flesh.
God's Word, however, is designed to keep us out of Satan's minefield; and if we limit ourselves to what God has revealed to us in His Word, we should be in pretty good shape. The problems start when we are tempted to go beyond what the Bible says, and that is precisely what Satan's minefield is designed to do and why it is so potentially dangerous.
The bottom line is this:
We don't need to go off the rails with quantum spirituality.
We need to be stoked to the gills with Holy Spirit-uality.
We don't need to beware of the Nephilim.
We need to obey our Heavenly Father.
We shouldn't be looking to the skies for alien spacecraft.
We should be looking to the clouds for our Lord and Savior.
We shouldn't scratch our heads searching for prophecies that are concealed.
We should lift up our heads as we see prophecies that are fulfilled.
We don't need to take a package tour of heaven.
We need to tell people how to get to heaven.
We need to stick to what the Bible reveals to us, which is actually more than we will ever be able to take in as we read it, study it, search it, and rightly divide it. If we are willing to do that, this is what we will find:
The Bible doesn't warn us about the appearance of demonic hybrids, or the arrival of so-called "aliens" from other dimensions.
It warns us about deception.
The Bible doesn't tell us to mindlessly sift through the letters of its words in an endless search for cryptic prophetic messages, to apply the principles of quantum mechanics to the things of the Spirit in wildly speculative ways, or to gorge ourselves on fanciful tales of alleged excursions to heaven or hell.
It tells us to wait expectantly for the Lord.
And while we're waiting, we have much better things to do than indulging our carnal curiosity by playing around in Satan's minefield—like spreading the message of the gospel to a lost and dying world while there is still time.
So, don't let one of Satan's landmines blow your spiritual life to smithereens by leading you beyond the safety and rock-solid certainty of God's Word. Our Heavenly Father doesn't want us to go there, and it's mostly for our own good. Of course, God knows it's natural for us to be fascinated by these and other things, but all He wants is for us to trust Him and be patient.
He'll answer all of our questions soon enough.
Greg Lauer / February 2016
If you like this article, share it with someone!
1. Deriv. of "Sunset Over Grass Field" © AOosthuizen at Can Stock Photo
2. Deriv. of "Danger Minefield" © Al at Fotolia.com
3. "Higgs Boson" © Petrovich12 at Fotolia.com
4. "Genetic Corruption"—derivative work based on 4a–4c:
4a. Deriv. of "Rainbow DNA" © deosum at Can Stock Photo
4b. Deriv. of "Evolution and Origins Concept" © Kagenmi at Fotolia.com
4c. Deriv. of "Red Devil's Hands" © shalunx at Fotolia.com
5. "UFO Invasion" © nikolayn at Fotolia.com
6. "Bible Code Example" by Brendan McKay [PD]
7. "The Gates of Paradise" © ayvan at Fotolia.com
(All PD works are via Wikimedia Commons.)
All Scripture is taken from the World English Bible, unless annotated as KJV (King James Version) or AKJV (American King James Version).