Not only are there many Pentecostals who claim to have seen Jesus, some have even made trips to heaven.
Pentecostal evangelist John Lake claimed to have visited heaven. So did Percy Collett, Dudley Danielson, Marvin Ford, Aline Baxley, Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Benny Hinn, Roberts Lairdon, and many others.
In 1977 Richard Eby claimed that he died and went to heaven and he brought back the revelation that “the primary nerve in God’s cranium is the sense of smell.” He said that in heaven he could move anywhere at will and that he was visible yet transparent.
In the 1980s, Percy Collett built a large following based on his dramatic accounts of a five-day trip to heaven. He spoke face to face with the Holy Spirit and saw cats and (barkless) dogs. He saw the “Pity Department,” where aborted babies go to be trained for a period of time. He saw the “Garment Room,” where angels are sewing robes for believers. He even saw a “Holy Ghost elevator.”
Roberts Lairdon claims that he toured heaven when he was only eight years old. He said Jesus is 5 feet 11 to 6 feet tall and has sandy brown hair that is “not too long and not too short.” He saw storage buildings containing body parts that are waiting for “saints and sinners alike” on earth to claim them. Jesus told him, “You should come in here with faith and get the needed parts for you and the people you’ll come in contact with” (Lairdon, I Saw Heaven, Tulsa: Harrison House, 1983, p. 19). He saw a medicine cabinet with bottles labeled “overdose of the Holy Ghost,” and he and Jesus splashed each other in the River of Life.
On “This Is Your Day,” May 4, 2000, Benny Hinn interviewed G.S. Dhinakaran of “Jesus Calls” ministry in India about his many alleged trips to heaven. Dhinakaran said, “Whenever I’m heartbroken because of the ministry, problems of the ministry that’s the time the Lord Jesus says come and he takes me to heaven and then he talks to me in person. He calls one of the apostles and makes them speak to me concerning my problems.” Dhinakaran claims there are actually three heavens and believers are assigned to one of them according to what they did on earth.
Jesse Duplantis claims that on his journey to heaven he saw an angel thrown against a wall when God barely moved His finger and (accidentally?) hit him while he was flying by. Duplantis says he learned that there are two types of Christians in heaven, the strong and the weak, and the weak have to smell the leaves of the tree of life to gain strength.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
I reject all of these claims about visiting heaven, whether in vision or in the body, for the simple reason that in every case the individual adds to the things recorded in the Bible in direct conflict with God’s command:
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, IF ANY MAN SHALL ADD UNTO THESE THINGS, GOD SHALL ADD UNTO HIM THE PLAGUES THAT ARE WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19).
Many of the things recorded in the book of Revelation pertain to heaven. Consider Revelation 4-5; 7:9-17; 8:1-6; 10:1; 11:15-19; 12:1-3; 12:7-12; 14:1-17; 15:1-8; 16:1, 5-7; 17:1-2; 19:1-16; 20:1; 21:1-27; 22:1-5. The book of Revelation ends with almost two entire chapters describing the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, and then concludes with a solemn warning not to “add unto these things.”
Is it not adding to the things of Scripture about heaven to say there are Holy Ghost elevators and storage buildings with body parts and barkless dogs or that the primary nerve in God’s cranium is the sense of smell?
These experiences are either true or they are a lie, and we are convinced that they are lies. Those who describe them might very well think that they have visited heaven, but they have done no such thing.
The Bible is more certain than any vision or the most glorious mystical experience. It is possible to be deceived into thinking one has been to heaven or seen Jesus when this has not actually happened, but the Bible is sure. Peter reminded his readers that he was eyewitness to Christ’s majesty, that he had witnessed Christ’s transformation on the mountain and heard the very voice of Almighty God and had seen Elijah and Moses (2 Pet. 1:16-18). What could be more glorious than that? No Pentecostal or Charismatic has experienced anything greater than this. But Peter does not end here. Rather than urging his readers to seek such experiences he magnifies the Bible above all such things:
“We have also A MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of THE SCRIPTURE is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:19-21).
The more sure word of prophecy is the Scripture itself. It was given by divine inspiration and is therefore infallible.
This is the message that every Pentecostal and Charismatic needs to hear and to submit to. Lay aside the carnal lust for mystical experiences and miraculous signs and cleave to the Bible alone as the sole and perfectly sufficient authority for faith and practice. Walk by faith and not by sight, for this is biblical Christianity. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24-25).
[This article is excerpted from the new book The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements: The History and the Error. I have been examining and re-examining the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements for more than three decades since I was led to Christ by a Pentecostal in 1973 and began to seek God’s will about tongues-speaking and the miraculous gifts of the early churches. I have built a large library of materials on this subject and have interviewed Pentecostals and Charismatics and attended their churches in many parts of the world. I have also attended large Charismatic conferences with press credentials. I have approached these studies with an open mind in the sense of having a commitment only to the truth and not to anyone’s tradition. I am a member of an independent Baptist church but Baptist doctrine and practice is not my authority; the Bible is. Each fresh evaluation of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement has brought an increased conviction that it is unscriptural and dangerous. This book begins with my own experience with the Pentecostal movement. The next section deals with the history of the Pentecostal movement, beginning with a survey of miraculous signs from the second to the 18th centuries. We then examine the movements in the 19th century that led up to the creation of Pentecostalism and the outbreak of “tongues-speaking” at Charles Parham’s Bible school in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901, and at William Seymour’s Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles in 1906. We examine some of the major Pentecostal denominations, the Latter Rain Covenent, the major Pentecostal healing evangelists, the Sharon Schools and the New Order of the Latter Rain, the Manifest Sons of God, the Word-Faith movement and its key leaders, the Charismatic Movement, the Roman Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Pentecostal Prophets, the Third Wave, and the recent Pentecostal scandals. We conclude the historical section with a look at the Laughing Revival. In the last section of the book we deal with the theological errors of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements (exalting experience over Scripture, emphasis on the miraculous, Messianic and apostolic miracles can be reproduced, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of fire, exalting the Holy Spirit, tongues speaking is for today, sinless perfectionism, healing is guaranteed in the atonement, spirit slaying, spirit drunkenness, visions of Jesus, trips to heaven, women preachers, and ecumenism). The final section of the book answers the question: “Why are people deluded by Pentecostal-Charismatic error?” David and Tami Lee, former Pentecostals, after reviewing a section of the book said: “Very well done! We pray God will use it to open the eyes of many and to help keep many of His children out of such deception.” And Mary Keating, also a former Charismatic, said, “The book is excellent and I have no doubt whatever that the Lord is going to use it in a mighty way. Amen!!” 317 pages. $9.95. Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061. 866-295-4143]
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