Is “Heaven Is for Real” for Real?: An Exercise In Discernment


Following article gotten here:

There have been quite a number of books written by or about people who claim to have personally visited Heaven.

Some of these authors profess to be Christians while others do not. The descriptions of their experiences vary regarding such things as entering into a dazzling white light at the end of a dark tunnel and being greeted by deceased loved ones, or being in the presence of God and seeing the shed feathers of angels dotting the grand floor of His throne room. Many of their stories contain information that would seem to be beyond their ability to know at the time–or at all.

Although these individuals supply much information, the content raises many questions. Obviously, everything they say can’t be true because some of the content in one book contradicts what’s written in others. How do we know who is giving us an accurate and truthful account?

A biblical Christian might say that he would compare what they say with what is presented in the Scriptures about Heaven. If it rings true to the Word of God, then it must be true. Well, yes and no. Yes, it must be true to Scripture. What is presented certainly cannot be at odds with what the Bible teaches about Heaven; nevertheless, just because it conforms to Scripture doesn’t prove that the person’s declaration or experience of being  in Heaven actually took place.

I know a good deal about Heaven from my study of the Bible. If I told you that I had recently visited there and only communicated what I knew was recorded in the Bible about it, you couldn’t object to what I said on the basis of my being biblically inaccurate. Accuracy, however, is not the only criterion for biblical discernment. There are many other instructions and examples that we must take into consideration. For example, the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12 of a “man in Christ” (no doubt Paul himself) who was caught up to Heaven. He didn’t know at the time whether it was an experience in which his spirit had left his body, or a vision while his spirit remained in his body. Nevertheless, he states that what he saw and heard in paradise was not lawful for a man to utter. Paul’s experience was followed by a humbling infirmity, which he states that God allowed him to suffer “lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations…” (2 Corinthians:12:6-7 [6] For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. [7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. ). That isn’t always the case in Scripture. The Apostle John obviously was given permission to declare what he witnessed in Heaven in the Book of Revelation. This would seemingly apply as well to the writer of the Book of Job.

But can we be sure that the visions and personal experiences of these writers are true? Absolutely–because their words are found in the Scriptures . Of the Word of God, the psalmist writes, “Thy word is true from the beginning…,” and Jesus said, “Thy word is truth” (Psalm:119:160Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.; John:17:17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.). That  is the ultimate verification that the experiences of those men of God indeed took place as they described. Furthermore, since the canon of Scripture was closed in the first century A.D., no one since that time can have his vision of-or his alleged visit to–Heaven  validated in the same way.

Jesus gave us another insight to help our discernment when He told of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man, who had died, was in a place where he was tormented and suffering remorse. Yet he begged Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers so that they would not end up with him in “this place of torment.” Abraham’s response was: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And again, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke:16:19-31 [19] There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: [20] And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, [21] And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; [23] And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. [25] But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. [26] And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. [27] Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: [28] For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. [29] Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. [30] And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. [31] And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. ).

Armed with the above scriptural teachings for the purposes of discernment, let’s apply these and other biblical admonitions and critical questions to a book that is having an impact on Christendom and the American public.  Heaven Is for Real  was published in 2010 and made the New York Times  Best-Sellers list. It has also been the cause of controversy in some fellowships, as believers have been divided in their support of and disputation over the book’s veracity.

Heaven Is for Real  is a nonfiction account that documents the experience of a three-year-old boy who believes that he visited Heaven. The story is told by the boy’s father, an evangelical pastor. He and his wife initially seem to be rather startled by their son’s revelations, which he shares over a period of about three years. There is nothing not  to like about this Christian family, and much that is quite admirable. The little boy is a typical three- or four-year-old–hardly precocious, but simply matter of fact in relating what he seems to have experienced.

That experience took place when three-year-old Colton was undergoing emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. Not too long afterward, he told his parents that he saw them praying for him outside the operating room. When they asked how he knew what they had been doing he said, “Cause I could see you….I went up out of my body and I was looking down and I could see the doctor working on my body. [Scripture tells us that death takes place when the spirit vacates the body. Yet there was no medical report of a clinical death during Colton’s surgery.] And I saw you and Mommy. You were in a little room by yourself, praying; and Mommy was in a different room, and she was praying and talking on the phone” (pp. xx-xxi). The accuracy of Colton’s disclosure rocked his parents to the core. But that was just the beginning of revelations that far and away defy natural explanations.

Colton’s other revelations included: angels singing “Jesus Loves Me” to him; his sitting on Jesus’ lap; meeting John the Baptist and the angel Gabriel; petting Jesus’ rainbow-colored horse; his descriptions of Jesus’ wounds and attire, including a crown with a pink diamond that Jesus wore; the prevalence of kids in Heaven; his description of everyone there having wings like the angels–all except Jesus, that is; his being recognized by his great grandfather, who died decades before Colton was born; and the description of God as “really, really big.”

Although most of Colton’s observations in Heaven are not outside the realm of possibility of what could  take place there, they are nevertheless extra-biblical insights and information, some being more problematic than others. For example, Colton explains that “Everyone kind of looks like angels in heaven,” sporting wings (the size of which are dependent on the individual’s size) and a halo. Since the resurrection of believers’ transformed physical bodies has yet to take place, their form now in Heaven must lack physical attributes. Hence the need for wings of whatever size makes no sense. Moreover, other than the descriptive visions of the heavenly creatures known as cherubim and seraphim and the decorative designs in the Temple and upon the Mercy Seat, angels that appear to humanity are never described as having wings.

Many supporters of the book claim that any and all objections pale in the face of the supernatural knowledge that Colton reveals–things that were humanly impossible for him to know. For example, he said that he had met his other sister in Heaven. When told by his mother that Cassie was his only sister, his shocking response was, “No….I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn’t you?” (p. 94). Colton had never been told of the “painful episode” of the miscarriage, and his parents never knew the gender of the fetus. Colton added, “In heaven, this little girl ran up to me, and she wouldn’t stop hugging me….She said she just can’t wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven” (p. 96). That revelation seemed to be the most convincing for Colton’s parents that their son had indeed visited Heaven: “We had wanted to believe that our unborn child had gone to heaven. Even though the Bible is largely silent on this point, we had accepted it on faith. But now, we had an eyewitness: a daughter we had never met was waiting eagerly for us in eternity” (p. 97).

Was Colton truly an eyewitness  in Heaven to everything he described? Much of it is quite mindboggling, notwithstanding the fact that all of it  is extra-biblical. Yet it provides alleged insights about Heaven; e.g., a girl dies as a fetus, grows into a little girl in heaven, and then is eagerly awaiting her parents’ arrival. What if one or both parents reject the gospel? Would there then be disappointment in a place of perfect bliss?

Consider how Colton’s father mentioned that “the Bible is largely silent” on a certain issue. It is also completely silent on the specific things that Colton has revealed. This raises the question as to why God would leave out something of value for us in His inerrant Word, which was given through His prophets “as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter:1:21For 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.)–only to reveal it later through a little boy (as well as many others who make similar claims). On the back cover of the book we read, “ Heaven Is for Real  will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child.”

The Bible is God’s  precise, absolute, and eternal communication to mankind (Luke:21:33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.; Hebrews:4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.). It did not come by nor was it left up to the will or imagination of man (2 Peter:1:20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.). Paul writes, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians:2:13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.). Our faith can be childlike, but it is faith placed in God’s Word, not in anyone’s alleged “eyewitness” account, be they a child or an adult. Peter was an eyewitness to an incredible event. He saw Jesus supernaturally transfigured before his very eyes and heard the voice of God. We can be sure that the personal experience he had was true because it’s reported in Scripture. Nevertheless, he tells us that his personal experience (or anyone else’s) is not as trustworthy as the Word of God : “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed” (2 Peter:1:19We 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:).

At the time and in the years following Colton’s experience, his dad was very interested in having him describe Jesus. He wrote that “as a pastor, I wound up spending a lot of time at hospitals, in Christian bookstores, and at other churches–all places where there are lots of drawings and paintings of Christ….When we came across a picture of Jesus we’d ask Colton, ‘What about this one? Is that what Jesus looks like?'” (p. 93). Time after time, Colton would reject the dozens of misrepresentations. Then, nearly three years after Colton’s surgery, he was shown a portrait of Jesus painted by a young girl named Akiane, who also claims to have have visited Heaven beginning at the age of four. Colton’s reaction was, “Dad, that one’s right.” His confirmation convinced his father: “Knowing how many pictures Colton had rejected, Sonja [his mother] and I finally felt that in Akiane’s portrait, we’d seen the face of Jesus. Or at least a startling likeness” (p. 145).

In Exodus, we find a definitive statement against anyone attempting to make an image of God (Exodus:20:4-5 [4] Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: [5] Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; ). That applies to images of Jesus, whether of statues or great religious paintings or on the silver screen. One of the many problems is that they inevitably lead to idolatry, which in turn breeds superstition and occultism. Another related problem is that they must all  be false representations because they have no basis in Scripture–other than being condemned. Jesus therefore could not encourage a young girl to paint His portrait.

Those who believe that He did encourage Akiane (because she could then point people to Him through her amazing art skills and her testimony concerning Him) need to compare with Scripture what she, at age 16, says about Jesus: “Jesus shared with us: ‘I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to my Father, but through me.’ I feel that he invited us to participate in the divinity. Each of us is one of kind [ sic ] original path to the way of truth and light, and without our individual love and effort we cannot understand and reach God” ( Her interpretation rejects Jesus as being the only way for mankind to be reconciled to God. It opposes what Jesus taught in favor of Satan’s promise of divinity to Eve (Genesis:3:5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.). Akiane’s paintings and words clearly reflect “another Jesus.”

What puzzles many people is how Colton, as a three-year-old at the time of his experience, could attain information, most of which was completely foreign to him at his young age. His parents don’t know for sure but believe their son received the visit to Heaven as a gift from God. Their “faith,” however sincere and biased toward their little boy, does not have the support of Scripture. How, then, was he able to describe what he did without the input gained from actually being in Heaven? No one can say for sure–not even little Colton. He was in an operating room, surrounded by attending medical personnel, and under the influence of an anesthesia-produced altered state of consciousness.

What we do know about that and other types of drug-induced conditions of mind (even dream states, meditation, and an overworked imagination) is that multitudes of people have reported experiences that seem to validate everything from clinical or near-death events to past-lives journeys to abductions on UFOs. They also reveal information for which they had no basis of knowledge prior to their experiences. It may be that an altered state of consciousness creates a condition in which the mind is like a blank screen, open to outside input. Spirit entities, whose goal it is to undermine the Word of God and deceive the world, might have that ability to program the blank screen and could therefore take advantage of anyone in such a highly susceptible condition (see Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion , pp. 187-90). But again, no one knows for sure how such things take place.

The critical issue for discernment is not “how it works” but “what is being communicated.” All that a Bible-believing Christian can do in ascertaining the truth of a matter is to be vigilant by “searching the Scriptures” to see if what is being presented is true to the full counsel of God’s Word (Acts:17:11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.). If we don’t do that, whether we are young believers or mature in the faith, we are just as vulnerable to false teachings as those whose circumstances have directly opened them to deceptive experiences.

A believer’s life in Christ is shaped by a great many experiences that the Lord allows for our growth in Him. It begins with one’s believing the gospel, to which sound doctrine is added. As we abide in Christ’s teachings, our discernment will increase, thus protecting us from “being carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians:4:14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;). Let us therefore take to heart Paul’s warning: “I have laid the foundation [of the gospel], and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (1 Corinthians:3:10According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.). TBC


Just because a child says so, does not make something more true


For those touchy feely types out there who may think I am attacking a little boy by not believing his story: Where is it written in The Bible that we have to believe everything that comes along? Are we not told to test all things? That would include whatever comes out of the mouths of anyone, and yes, that includes children as well. Do I believe he is lying? I can not say. Do I believe he may have had some kind or experience. Possibly. The point is this>>> His experience (true or not) does NOT line up with the Word of God. Please do not tell me how his book blessed you. Or gave you peace. If so, then you have put this book above the Word of God. John tells us in Revelation what heaven is like. Why do we need more than the Word? We do not.

As far as peace, the Word of God says, “He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon Him (God).” NOT if you find the right books to read.

As you watch the video, ask yourself do you really believe this little child at the time knew absoultely nothing about his dead sister. Think about this…we here things all day long. Even in passing. Things stay in our sub-conscious only to be awaken at a later date. No one can tell me he never heard his parents talking about his dead sister. It only makes seense that the parents would talk about their lost child. And yes, that means in the presence of a 3 or 4 year old. So, I think they lie when they say he knew nothing about her.

The same about his grandfather who he had never met. Do you think for one moment these parents NEVER showed their son a picture of his deceased grandfather?

Jesus had “sea-blue eyes.” Uh yeah, right. Does not quite fit the image of a man who was a Jew, now, does it? Why do all the jesus’s have blue eyes? Sorry, I don’t buy it.

“And a smile that lit up the heavens.” Trite at the very least.

The parents can say this is not about money, but it is. There is a lot to gain by having a best seller. Money, fame, etc.

I find it very odd that they use almost word for word the very same title that Choo Thomas did for her book, “Heaven is so real.” What would be the purpose of this? It would be very easily found in any search engine after CT already blazed the trail ahead of them.

The world is being primed for massive deception, people. These so-called heaven experiences are just one more thing to make people hunger — not for the things of God — but for experiences. Think about it.


“Heaven is for Real.” Is it Biblical?


In light of the many stories out there (that I believe are either being fabricated or just plain delusional) I found this at:

I recently read Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, because I was given a copy by a family member. The book, written by Todd Burpo—a pastor in Nebraska—tells the story of his son Colton’s experience during surgery following a ruptured appendix. Although the surgery was completely normal—Colton never flat-lined and the operative report showed nothing unusual—Colton, who was four at the time, claimed months after surgery that he had gone out of his body and taken a trip to heaven for “three minutes” while on the operating table. The book reveals the details he shared about his heavenly visit.

Although encouraged to see how God spared the Burpo’s little boy’s life and provided for their medical bills, thumbing through the book, I was immediately alarmed by what I was reading.

I am so thankful we are grounded in a biblical church, and that I know my Bible well enough to know that his tale is not in line with what the Bible teaches. At the same time, I am deeply disturbed that so many people are reading this book (it is a New York Times #1 bestseller) and coming away thinking it’s an accurate, theologically sound picture of heaven. Far from it.

I am also deeply troubled that Colton’s own father is a pastor and never once refutes Colton’s claims with Scripture. He backs them up with Scripture when they conveniently seem to support Colton’s stories, but he never tells readers who may have limited theological or biblical understanding that the Bible presents a different picture from his son on certain topics, such as his son’s report that all people except Jesus fly with wings and that the angel Gabriel sits on a throne to the left of God the Father. People are being misled by this book and are basing their views of heaven on what Colton says and the new information he presents.

For Colton’s story of his trip to heaven to be true, it must agree with what Scripture teaches about heaven. If it doesn’t, either the Bible is wrong, or Colton’s story is wrong. Since no one else seems to be doing it, let me provide the Scriptural evidence to disprove some of Colton’s most troublesome, Scripturally inaccurate claims.

1) Colton claims people have wings in heaven.

Page 72: Todd Burpo writes,

“So what did the kids look like? What do people look like in heaven?”
“Everybody’s got wings,” Colton said.
Wings, hugh? “Did you have wings?” I asked.
“Yeah, but mine weren’t very big.” He looked a little glum when he said this.
“Okay…did you walk places or did you fly?”
“We flew. Well, all except for Jesus. He was the only one in heaven who didn’t have wings. Jesus just went up and down like an elevator.”
If you look up references to wings in the Bible, you will find passages conveying biblical truths using bird metaphors. Isaiah 40:31 talks about how those who “hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;” Jesus says in Luke 13:34 that he longed to gather his people to him like a “hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” Birds were created with wings. Man was created in God’s image (Genesis 1), without wings.

In 1 Corinthians 15:35-58, Paul writes about the resurrection body. He says, “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.” God created us in His image (Genesis 1), as men and women, with a human body, not as a bird with wings. Paul also writes, “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Cor. 15: 49).

Our bodies will be resurrected, like Christ’s. Therefore, if Jesus does not have wings, we will not have wings. Also, in the description of heaven, Revelation 21:24 says, “The nations will walk by its light.” Notice the word “walk”—not fly.

Further, in the account of Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew chapter 17, when the disciples saw Moses and Elijah, they recognized them. “Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4). No mention of them having wings.

Jesus’ resurrected body did not include a set of wings, and we are told we will be like Him.

2) Colton claims people have lights over their heads in heaven.

Page 73:

“Everyone kind of looks like angels in heaven, Dad.”
“What do you mean?”
“All the people have a light above their head.”
Todd Burpo goes on to cite what he claims to be Scriptural evidence of lights over one’s head, using the examples of the angel appearing to Mary Magdalene at Jesus’ tomb (that his appearance was like lightning), Stephen’s face as “bright as an angel’s” during his stoning, and John writing in Revelation about a mighty angel with a “rainbow over his head,” and that the angel’s face “shone like the sun.”

It seems that what Colton was trying to describe was a halo, which the Bible does not say exists, but is depicted in virtually all children’s Bible stories, Renaissance art, and other drawings that a four-year old would most likely have been exposed to—even though his dad (who is a pastor) says he was not exposed to pictures like this.

The description given in the book of Revelation of those in heaven is that they are wearing “fine linen, white and clean.” (Revelation 21:14). No mention of lights above heads. Either it’s new and extrabiblical, or it’s a made-up story from an imaginative kid.

3) Colton claims Jesus has a rainbow horse and that he got to pet him. (page 63).

When the Bible talks about Jesus with a horse, the horse mentioned is always white. (Revelation 19:11, 14).

4) Colton’s depiction of God’s throne.
This is Colton’s account:

Page 100:

“Well, what did God’s throne look like?” [asks his dad]
Colton: “It was big, Dad…really, really big, because God is the biggest one there is…And do you know that Jesus sits right next to God?…Jesus’ chair is right next to his Dad’s!”
Todd Burpo:
“It was another one of those moments when I thought, He had to have seen this…’Well, who sits on the other side of God’s throne?’”
Colton: “Oh, that’s easy Dad. That’s where the angel Gabriel is. He’s really nice.”
Todd writes, “Gabriel. That makes sense,” and then cites Luke chapter 1, when Gabriel foretells John the Baptist’s birth and says, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God…’
“So I’d had my glimpse into God’s throne room, but Colton’s descriptions had me wondering: if God the Father was seated on his throne with Jesus on his right and Gabriel on his left, where was Colton?”…
“Where did you sit, Colton?” I asked.
Colton: “They brought in a little chair for me, he said smiling. “I sat by God the Holy Spirit.”
“What does God look like?” I said. “God the Holy Spirit?”
Colton furrowed his brow, “Hmm, that’s kind of a hard one…he’s kind of blue.”
He then goes on to claim that’s where he met his Dad’s grandpa, sitting by the Holy Spirit.

So that’s what Colton says about the throne room of heaven. This is what the Bible says:

First, though, let’s not forget all the Scriptures that tell us that God the Father is invisible. (“The Son is the image of the invisible God.”–Col. 1:15; Jesus: “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known”–John 1:18).

So how could Colton have possibly seen God the Father, and can he–the God of the Universe–possibly be contained to a “really big throne”?

If that’s not enough, let’s look at a biblical description of heaven’s throne room:
Revelation chapter 4:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven…At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were 24 other thrones, and seated on them were 24 elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumbles and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’ Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the 24 elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4: 1-11).
There is also another account of the Lord seated on his throne in Isaiah 6:1-4, which corresponds with the Revelation account.
Neither of these accounts resemble Colton’s account to any degree.

5) Colton claims to have seen Satan in heaven, which was revealed three years after his supposed “trip” to heaven, ironically after watching the battle scene in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Page 132:

Colton’s mom: “Well, I guess that’s one thing you didn’t like about heaven—no swords up there.”
“There are too swords in heaven!” he said.”
“Um…okay. Why do they need swords in heaven?”
“Mom, Satan’s not in hell yet,” Colton said, almost scolding. “The angels carry swords so they can keep Satan out of heaven!”…
Dad: “Hey, Colton…” “Did you see Satan?”
“Yeah, I did,” he said solemnly.
The rest of the page goes on to describe how Colton shut down and never did want to talk about seeing Satan.

He also claimed that he saw the coming great battle known as Armaggedon—that, “in heaven, the women and the children got to stand back and watch” the future battle while the men fight.

Refuting these claims is a bit more involved, as doing so requires a comprehensive biblical theology about heaven, evil, Satan, and his eternal doom. But let me begin with Isaiah 14: 12, which says,

“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star,…You have been cast down to the earth…”
Some scholars believe this refers to Satan. Scholars also believe that Ezekiel 28 offers information about the fall of Satan, through allegory with the king of Tyre.

Jesus said in Luke 10:18 that He saw “Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12 about a time when he was caught up to the third heaven.

“Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows. And I know that this man—either in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
Paul refuses to speak of them but says they were wondrous. Would angels walking around on patrol to keep evil out be your version of paradise?

That is also certainly not the vision of heaven portrayed in John’s vision, recorded in the book of Revelation:

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down….Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short.’ When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child…Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 12:7-17).
Numerous passages present that Satan lost his place in heaven and was “hurled down” to the earth, along with his fallen angels. While he may be “roaming throughout the earth” (Job 1:7), Scripture also says that until he is bound for eternity, Satan maintains access to God. In the words of my pastor, Jack Olsen:

“Rev. 12:10 says he accuses the brethren before our God day and night. There is some debate about where to place this passage chronologically, but I believe this describes a yet future casting of Satan out of heaven for good. He was cast out of his original position in heaven (Ezek. 28:16), but still has limited access to accuse the brethren before God (also Job 1:6).”
For a clear picture of the eternal heaven, we can look at Revelation chapter 21:

“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21: 27).

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Rev. 22:14, 15).
In conclusion, I fully agree that heaven is for real. But since there are so many elements of his story that contradict Scripture, Colton didn’t take a real trip to heaven. Besides, his operative report (included in the book) shows he never left his body. This isn’t being passed off as a “vision,” or a possibly fictitious story from a then four-year old. (Besides, kids have great imaginations and have a hard time distinguishing fantasy from reality). It’s being passed along as fact. That’s where the problem lies. If you want a true peek at heaven, check out the Bible.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they will fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:16).

“Heaven is For Real” – But not because Colton Burpo says so

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Following article gotten here.

I know I’m going to be seen by some as a party pooper in this review – but bear with me. I think this little book raises from serious questions we DO need to ask.

That said – let me plunge on into it.

Heaven is For Real, is the (supposed) account of Colton Burpo – son of Todd Burpo, a pastor in Imperial Nebraska. When I use the word “supposed” in parentheses above, I do not wish to imply that there is any kind of fraud being perpetrated in this story. I use it only because a lot of what is reported in the book (beyond the verifiable historical facts), is all dependent upon what may or may not be the genuine experience, or dreams, or hallucinations or combinations of these – of 4 year old Colton Burpo. I do not use it either to impugn the sincerity of the Burpo family in any way. I use it because “experiences” are tricky things. And how we interpret our experiences may or may not be accurate. And herein rests a key problem with this little -quick reading and fun book.

The story line is pretty simple, and there appears to be no question regarding the general circumstances themselves. Due to an undiagnosed (for 5 days) burst appendix in little Colton (who by all accounts seems to be an utterly charming and normal little guy), the lad nearly lost his life. Sometime later, after his (by all accounts) miraculous recovery – Colton begins to let slip certain facts about an experience he relates as having had while so gravely ill. The experience ultimately being uncovered as some indeterminate (though by Colton’s reckoning – 3 minutes, be it Earth or Heaven time) amount of time spent in Heaven. I will not labor the reality that much is made of Colton’s high fever issues during his illness – but nothing of how such things effect dreams and perceptions.

As the next several years unfold, Colton relates to his parents how he saw his long deceased grandfather there (ending long speculation on whether or not he ever became a Christian), his miscarried older sister he presumably knew nothing about until he saw her there and wrestled with why she had no name (but whom later he has a very emotional sense of missing), Jesus, Jesus’ horse, lots of other children and animals and even (inserted with special reference by Todd for his Catholic friends) the Virgin Mary, assorted animals and lots of people with wings.

The book goes on to catalog the blessing all of this has been to Todd, his wife and many others. Why? And please – I need to say this firmly, but completely without malice: Because Colton’s “revelations” seem to meet some need in them, that God’s own Word through the ministry of the Holy Spirit cannot or does not. They seem to need categories of information God does not seem to have found necessary to reveal previously. And this makes me ask a lot of other questions.

Now I read a lot of books. I do so for various reasons. Some I read just for personal enjoyment. Others because I think they are important to the ministry. Still other because they simply interest me – but quite a number because people either ask me about them, and/or I think they may be books which will become part of the Evangelical landscape and thus need perused and analyzed somewhat given my own pastoral role. Heaven is for real fits this last category. I had no interest in the book personally, and would have passed it over but that I’ve been asked by several people what I think about it. It is a book also that is gaining a lot of pop-Christian attention, and thus it seemed prudent.

To be honest however, I come to books like this (dealing with near-death, death or supernatural experiences) with a load of skepticism. Why? Simple. Because the only authoritative book on these subjects – especially Heaven, has already been written – by God. And if we needed something more on this topic, the proper way to proceed (on safe ground anyway) is to carefully study what the Scripture has already revealed on it. I would suggest something like Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven”; or drawing from an earlier age – Richard Baxter’s “The Saint’s Everlasting Rest.”

You see, we are never to draw our theology from experiences. Instead, it is God’s Word, and the theology in it which is to be used to interpret our experiences. Whenever the experience cart gets in front of the Scriptural horse – speculation, rather than revealed truth rules the day. And when that happens, we slowly undermine the authority of Scripture, and will inevitably undermine our own faith. How so? Because faith, real, Biblical, saving, soul-affirming faith, can only be a by-product of the revelation of God and His character, or trust in His promises IN His Word.

This then is THE primary problem I see with this (in and of itself) innocuous little tome. The problem is NOT whether Colton might have had some genuine sort of experience of Heaven or not. The problem is (as is evidenced both in the book itself several times – AND by one or two people I’ve spoken with personally) that we are willing to find more comfort and encouragement about the reality of Heaven and some of its supposed features – from the subjective experience of a gravely ill little boy – than we are from the Bible and God’s own revelation of these things. It is as though the Holy Spirit’s revelation is inadequate for us.

The problem isn’t as much with the book and its material itself – the problem is what it reveals about us! That we know so little of what the Bible teaches about this subject, and are so little interested what God has to say about it – or are so little comforted by it – that we will find our hope rather in Colton’s experience.

So, if you have read the book, and have found your “faith” bolstered by it or your soul encouraged by it, my question to you is – Why? Why not the Bible? Why this story – and not the authoritative one? What does this say about your own attitude toward Scripture? What does it say about your understanding of Scripture? What does it say about your approach to truth – and how it is found, discerned and processed? Why does this strike a chord with you God’s own Word to you does not?

So, would I recommend the book? Not really. But neither would I say one shouldn’t read it. While it is truly light on the Gospel (especially in light of its declaration that the meaning of the Cross – indeed the gospel is summarized by Jesus saying “I had to die on the cross so that people on earth could come see my Dad” – true enough but notice how it side-steps the sin issue altogether) – I reiterate that it is not its content I find disturbing. That is – IF – one takes it for what it is – just a 4 year old’s subjective experience. Perhaps a fever, or medicinally or physiologically induced experience. Who knows?

The BIG question one must ask themselves is HOW do I respond to this – and WHY?