Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.- John 3: 11-13 (ESV)
Christians are so easily distracted in these end days. Flash something shiny in our eyes and we will run to take our eyes off of Jesus. Angels descended into your church upon a glory cloud, covered in gold dust and left gemstones on all the pews! Hallelujah it must be a move of God! We are under the fourth blood moon of a tetrad during a Shemitah year heading towards Jubilee? You know what that means? Absolutely nothing. But boy do Christians jump through hoops thinking there is some hidden sign they have uncovered. Some biblical code that has laid dormant for centuries only to be discovered by Bob from Matawan. Sarcasm and jokes aside, how many of us have personally witnessed the debacle that is the false signs and lying wonders movement. Where false prophets perform magic tricks and clairvoyance and everyone thinks that they have had a spiritual experience not realizing it is not the Holy Spirit. It is usually at this point that an adherent of this false teaching will declare that I need a deeper spiritual revelation to which I say you need a deeper Scriptural revelation.
"But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. - John 15: 26 (ESV)
Who is it that the Holy Spirit will bear witness about? You or Jesus? So if someone is laying hands on you and prognosticating something about your future you can rest assured that is not information coming from the Holy Spirit beloved. It is either a demonic spirit or the person is a liar. All prophecy must point back to Christ and His Word. Period.
Another area Christians are so easily distracted with is tales of heaven. We are astounded by them. We chase after them. We want so desperately to believe nearly any story that comes along. We celebrate them as if they are akin to Scripture. I remember the false prophetess Kat Kerr who claims that she has visited heaven dozens of times. The lead worship singer for the heretical outfit known as Jesus Culture is Kim Walker Smith and she claims to have been taken by Jesus to the throne room where she met the Father face to face. What should make a discerning Christian run for cover we see more and more embracing instead. Why would you want to be led in worship by a woman who is either a liar by trade or cannot tell the difference between the demonic and the holy? What are you saying preacher? I am saying that anyone who claims to have visited heaven is either a liar or deceived. How can I be so sure? Because the Bible says so! Do we remember the Bible anymore? The book we are supposed to live by! The plumb line for all of our discernment and decision making? In regard to meeting the Father we know that it is impossible:
But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." - Exodus 33: 20 (ESV)
This was God talking to Moses! Yet we are supposed to believe that God was kidding? Or He made a mistake? Or He was just waiting for Kim Walker Smith to come along? Dear Lord we have to discern better than this! Not only that but she could not have been in the throne room of God because we know that is in heaven and our key verses today explicitly teach us that no one has ascended into heaven except Jesus. So we know the Kat Kerr's of the world are either liars or demonic. There is no third option.
So we come to what has been a new and growing phenomena in distracting modern Christians. Tim Challies has dubbed it "Heaven Tourism." We all remember the movie Heaven is For Real from last year. The story of little Colton Burpo's trip to heaven and back as told by his father. The movie based upon the book that sold over a million copies. People love to read and watch these fanciful tales of to there and back. One that some may not member is a book called The Boy Who Went To Heaven from 2010. This is how the book was marketed:
"In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex--and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. 'I think Alex has gone to be with Jesus,' a friend told the stricken dad. But two months later, Alex awoke from a coma with an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the angels that took him through the gates of heaven itself. Of the unearthly music that sounded just 'terrible' to a six-year-old. And, most amazing of all . . . Of meeting and talking to Jesus. 'The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven' is the true story of an ordinary boy's most extraordinary journey. As you see heaven and earth through Alex's eyes, you'll come away with new insights on miracles, life beyond this world, and the power of a father's love."
Except somewhere between that horrific car accident left Alex a quadriplegic for life and today Jesus has saved him. Now, as a sixteen year old saved child of God, Alex is correcting the record by admitting that he made the entire story up. He has been trying to get the retailers to stop selling the book and after getting nowhere, he has gone public. Here are his own words:
"Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short. I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible. It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of Heaven outside of what is written in the Bible"not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough. In Christ, Alex Malarkey."
Hallelujah beloved. That a brave 16 year old boy would have more guts than the majority of Sunday preaching pastors and actually present the Gospel! To unequivocally state that the Bible is the only source of truth. That Jesus died for our sins! That we can all be forgiven. Amen. Yet while this is a day to rejoice for salvation has truly come to Alex Malarkey, there is still the residual sadness for the swaths of professing Christians who continue to buy stories like this without seeming to care at all for the sufficiency of Scripture. Millions who bought the Prayer of Jabez; a book based upon two sentences in the Bible. Untold amounts of people who bought the Purpose Driven Lie. More untold amounts buying into the lies and witchcraft in the Circle Maker. How many of us went to see Heaven is for Real last year? How many bragged about it and thought it made for good "witnessing?" It was a lie just like the Boy Who Came Back From Heaven. I think it is time to be honest with ourselves beloved. Why do we chase these silly sparkly things? Why do we get so easily distracted? We already have a book that promises heaven is real! It is called the Bible! Yet why is it not enough for so many who claim to believe in it? Because it comes with God. Paul Washer is fond of saying that we ask the unsaved the wrong questions. Everyone wants to go to heaven. It is just that most don't want to see God when they get there. No beloved. We chase the Burpos and Malarkeys of the world because we like their heaven better. We like the heaven where we don't have to have those messy conversations about our sins and the need to repent of them. It is the same reason why we like our false teachers and false signs and lying wonders. We want our ears scratched not the scab of our sin picked at until we bleed. We would rather babble incoherently, fall down uncontrollably and make animal noises pretending it is a spiritual experience than open up our Bible and realize the lies we readily accept every single day. That the deep and profound spiritual experiences we think we have are nothing more than carnal expressions of emotionalism the world sells us through the very churches that ought to protect us from them.
Too harsh you say? Beloved there were churches all across this country that held screenings of the movie Heaven is For Real. Let that resonate for a minute. Churches that are charged with shepherding the sheep of God exposed them to a movie that a simple reading of Scripture will reveal to be anathema. And we eat it up. It is time that when a false teacher rings a dinner bell that we stop answering like Pavlov's dog. Two weeks ago a mega church pastor preached to 20,000 people that there are no Ten Commandments. Hillsong in London just performed the disco song "I Like to Move It, Move It" during worship! We are like that dog from the cartoon movie "Up." As soon as I think we might be getting on the right track we scream out - squirrel! Satan is having a field day with the church because the church refuses to wield the sword of the Spirit. The same mega church pastor I referenced earlier referred to people who want to go deeper into Scripture as "jackasses." He said this during a sermon. And twenty thousand people laughed and clapped. People wonder how Christians will fall for the mark of the beast when it comes out and the sad reality is they will run towards it. They will embrace it like they embraced Heaven Is For Real and The Boy Who Returned From Heaven. Their churches will hold special events to receive the mark. Free of charge. It is not always just a matter of being deceived. It is a matter of loving deception. Of chasing deception. Of marinating in it. Of deriding anyone who dares to point it out.
These are no small matters beloved. Not for God. To pretend to have seen God when you have not. To pretend that you have a seasonal pass to heaven. Kerr is quoted as claiming there are motorcycles with hyper-drive in heaven and children ride on hover boards. And people believe her. And they buy her books. And they go hear her talk. Instead of running from the unclean thing we look like pigpen from the Peanuts gang. Maybe people like Kerr is an extreme example. OK. How many people line up to be fed by Joel Osteen even though what he feeds is spiritual poison? How many people swear by Joseph Prince no matter how badly he mangles the Word of God? I actually had a debate with someone this week who was defending Bill Johnson. Yes, that Bill Johnson. The man who runs a school that teaches the gifts of the Holy Spirit! The man who advocate "grave sucking." The man who cannot see the inherent contradiction in teaching that God always wants to heal us while he is wearing prescription eyeglasses. That Bill Johnson. It can become very disheartening.
I do not know the heart of Alex Malarkey. From what I read he has not seen one dime of the profits for the sale of his book and even if he had, he was six at the time of the accident and 12 when it was published by his father. I am just happy that he now knows Jesus and as such he had to do the right thing and tell everyone that the Bible is enough. We do not need to be chasing every wind of doctrine. We do not need to be chasing any shiny object some charlatan flashes in front of our eyes. We do not need fanciful stories of a heaven we already should know is for real.