In today’s episode, the guys consider the topic of near-death experiences. These phenomena seem to be rather common, and scientific study has even started to lend credence to them. We as Christians may be inclined to write off these experiences, or even to be swayed by the emotional testimony of someone who claims to have had one. But we need to consider near-death experiences with a respectful, humble attitude. Like the Bereans, we want to hold the things we’re told up to the rubric of Scripture and see how they stack up. So, does the Bible have anything specific to say about near-death experiences? It offers ten examples of related situations, along with seven visions of heaven. The common theme across all of these biblical events is the glory of God producing humility and fear, and these events offer parameters for how we might see God truly use near-death experiences today. We also have a couple of important biblical guardrails to bear in mind as we consider near-death experience stories: the guardrail of the completeness of biblical revelation, and the guardrail of biblical context. These two guardrails, the guys explain, teach us not to trust stories that claim to add to biblical revelation, and also keep us from proof-texting in our efforts to hold experience up to Scripture.
While most near-death-experience stories ultimately miss the bar of biblical reliability, there is often reason to believe that those who claim to have had near-death experiences have, in fact, experienced something. We don’t have to understand what exactly it is, though scientific research and studies based on cultural context offer some basic hints. It is also absolutely possible for God to use near-death experiences to draw people to Himself; we don’t want to write off this possibility any more than we want to assume it. Finally, we should bear in mind that near-death experiences, if nothing else, offer a segway to talk about the Bible. They inherently involve the topic of death, which should direct our eyes to the One who rendered death powerless by defeating it on the cross!