Life After Death Experiences
Part Six - Life After Death Experiences
We all have heard the stories of those who died on the operation table and then were brought back to life. The accounts of what these individuals experienced is often eerily similar. Some feel wide awake and hovering over their body as they watch the medical staff try to save them. Others move toward a beautiful and compelling light but then before they enter into it are brought back to their earthly existence. Have these people really died and are their experience’s valid? The Bible is the only source by which we can answer this question for it’s author is the Creator of man. Only He can tell us what happens at the moment of death.
Let us begin our discussion by defining what death is. For the medical doctor who has only the functions of the physical body to determine life and death, death than is the cessation of all bodily functions. For him if the heart stops beating or the brain shows no activity the individual is dead. However, this definition of life and death is inadequate because there are many times when these indicators give false readings. Some who show no brain activity recover. Many hearts that stop beating start up again. Individuals pulled from freezing water where they have been submersed for 20-30 minutes come back to life and often doctors and families struggle over when it is appropriate to remove life support. All of this indecision could be put to rest if the medical community could measure life and death the way God does.
In James 2:26, James defines death as the departure of the spirit of man from the body of man. In other words when the human body is no longer a fit habitation for the spirit of man, then the spirit of the individual must move on in its existence by leaving that body to take up residence in a new dwelling place. Jesus describes this process In Luke 16:20-31, when He speaks of the death of Lazarus and the rich man. In both cases their bodies cease to function and are buried but their spirits moved on in their existence to a new dwelling place. For Lazarus, a Saint of God, his spirit went to dwell in what we call today heaven, a place of great delight and rest. The rich man on the other hand, as an unbeliever, went to hell where he found himself in continual torment. Paul and Peter also teach that this is the true determination of when death takes place.
2 Cor 5:1-8, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Phil 1:22-25, “But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”
1 Thess 4:13-14, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have died in Jesus.”
2 Peter 1:14-15, “knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.”
With this being the true definition of death, then we can say that anyone whose heart stops or shows no brain activity is not dead if their spirit still resides in their bodies. Thus they are still capable of a recovery because their spirit has not departed their bodies.
With this understanding of death we can then draw some conclusions
1) This explains why some people survive when other’s do not. For those who spirits have departed, all the life support in the world will not bring them back. But those whose spirit is still present have a good chance that all or at most of their bodily functions will be restored if given a chance. Thus it is God who decides when a spirit will depart and when a spirit will remain.
2) This explains why many claim to have died and then returned from the dead. Because their understanding of death is limited to the inadequate definition of medical science, they deem that since their bodily functions stopped for a period of time they had died. But in reality, they had not died because their spirit was still present and their bodies responded to medical attention and began functioning again.
3) This would be consistent with the fact that according to the Scriptures, the time God will resurrect or bring people back from the dead will be at the rapture of the Church (1 Thes. 4:13-18). Therefore, at this time no resurrections are taking place. If people who have “life after death” experiences really die, then it would take a resurrection to restore them. I would suspect that the majority who have had these experiences are not believers nor were their doctors. Rev. 20:5, 11-15 speaks of the fact that no unbeliever shall be raised from the dead until the end of time at the Great White Throne Judgment of Christ at the end of all time. The only logical conclusion is that they were fooled into believing they had died because their body stopped functioning. They did not have a “life after death” experience but rather a “near death” experience.
4) Since death is the departure of the spirit from the body to go to dwell either in heaven or in hell, this puts to rest the idea of ghosts or disembodied spirits who walk the earth. Though this has been a popular theme in books, movies, and reality television shows, there is no validity to it. If any “paranormal” activity is going on it is either the product of an over active imagination or the work of a deceiving spirit (fallen angel).
I know some will ask but what about the common descriptions that individuals gives of their experiences? Do they not imply that all men when they die go to heaven? Most talk about not feeling any fear but they walk toward a wonderful light implying a move toward heaven. To answer this let me point out several things:
1) A study a few years ago was undertaken by a doctor concerning this very matter. He received approval to interview these individual’s directly after their recovery and then again 24 hours later. He discovered that when interviewed directly after their experience they shared that they went through a period of darkness and which was often accompanied by fear. However, when interviewed 24 hours later, all they remembered was the wonderful experience of light. It was the doctor’s conclusion that memory has a tendency to screen out traumatic or fearful experiences. What they really experienced was replaced by the mind in the 24 hours that followed.
2) Medical science has shown that when the brain is starved of oxygen for any period of time, that it often causes vivid hallucinations of bright light. Possibly this were we get the idea of seeing “stars” after a hard blow to the head. This being the case, their experiences of light may be due to a depravation of oxygen not a movement toward heaven.
3) Satan portrays himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) and it would not be beyond the realm of possibility that Satan is behind many of these experiences with the purpose of fooling people into believing that there is no hell and that all go to heaven. Millions have bought into this lie and millions have found out that it is a lie only after it is too late to do anything about it. That happens when they enter through the gates of hell. (Lk. 16:20-31)
Are you ready for the day when your spirit leaves your body? Will you go to heaven or go to hell? The choice is one that you must make before the fact.