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No Man Has
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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he words of Jesus are sadly misunderstood by the majority. Ironically, they are often misconstrued by Christians. The little text in John 3:13 is one example.
There, Jesus makes the seemingly contradictory statement that:
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man.
It seems to contradict two Old Testament accounts:
So, what did Jesus mean? If Enoch and Elijah were taken up to heaven, His statement conflicts with those accounts. Or does it? For, Scripture cannot be broken (Jn 10:35). It is reliable, not contradictory!
The Sabbatarians’ Concept
In the Sabbatarian churches (by ‘Sabbatarian’ I mean those who observe the seventh-day Sabbath according to the injunction of Scripture in Ex 20:8) the prevalent view is that Jesus meant that no one other than Jesus has gone to heaven. In fact, this teaching has become more than just a view or opinion. For most, it is unassailable dogma!
I used to believe it myself, some 25 years ago, until God revealed more understanding.
But so entrenched is this belief in the ‘Churches of God’ that it is well nigh impossible to convince these Sabbatarian Christians otherwise. They are adamant that nobody has gone to heaven after death, except Jesus.
They believe that our consciousness ceases when we die, and that the body goes to the grave and awaits a resurrection. While the latter part is true, the former is not.
The spirit which God has put in man gives him consciousness, memory, emotions, will, and other spiritual faculties. Those do not cease when the body does. They continue after death because your spirit lives on – not for eternity, but for a while, until the Final Judgement. Hence Jesus’ illustration in Luke 16:19-31 of a scenario in which the departed human spirit is very conscious.
But those who have been taught the lie that when you die you don’t go anywhere other than the grave, are believing a purely physical explanation. It is a ritualists’ viewpoint, because the perception of the Spirit is lacking. This erroneous belief is one outcome of Spirit-dead teaching. It does not grasp the things of the Spirit.
The Churches of God fail to see there could be another explanation. They have so much pride in their heritage that they can’t bring themselves to conceive they could have got something so basic so very wrong!
What Jesus Meant
To properly understand any biblical text, you must read it in context, not isolated from it.
John 3:13 follows on from Jesus’ statement that unless humans are born again – regenerated by the Spirit of God – they cannot see the kingdom of God.
You and I were born into an evil world, totally contaminated by satanic spirits and sin. They have filled us with wrong aspirations, wrong desires, and fuelled sinful tendencies in us. That fallen nature is abhorrent to God. So, unless your spirit is purified and changed you cannot enter God’s spiritual kingdom. God is so holy, so pure, that you and He cannot coexist while that evil exists.
So, you need to be born again. Nicodemus didn’t understand what Jesus was driving at, and nor do many Christians today! But the truth is very simple.
Because you and I have sinned, we need God’s cleansing. Jesus paid the price by dying in place of us to redeem us from sin’s penalty, which is death. Accepting, by faith, what He did, you and I can inherit the kingdom of God if we pursue righteousness.
In this process, we are cleansed by the water of God’s Word and by His Spirit, as Jesus said to Nicodemus:
...one is born of water and the Spirit... (Jn 3:5).
And as Paul wrote to Titus:
He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5)
You cannot ascend to God without that change that Jesus has made possible for us. You MUST be born again, your spirit regenerated.
But for Jesus it was different. He didn’t need to be born again, because He never sinned. He didn’t need regeneration. He could ascend directly to the Father because He was pure, sinless, undefiled. He was the only human who ‘ascended’ to heaven without needing to repent, to die – to ‘descend’ first.
We know that Jesus physically ascended to heaven. We have the historical account in the Bible (Acts 1:9). That was a physical type of His spiritual ascent. Jesus never sinned (Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 1:19). His motives were so pure, and His aspirations so heavenly, that He could ascend right up into the holy of holies to be with His heavenly Father.
What Jesus meant in John 3:13 was a spiritual meaning, not physical. When reading Jesus’ statements, always consider that any spiritual sense will be far more relevant than the obvious physical one.
Remember Jesus’ emphasis: "It’s the Spirit that gives life [and meaning], the flesh profits nothing" (Jn 6:63, not an exact quote). Look beyond the physical. Perceive the spiritual, and you will be closer to heaven.
Other Evidence That We Go To Heaven
Besides Jesus, Enoch, and Elijah, we have the testimony of one other biblical character who was taken to heaven, into God’s glory: the apostle Paul.
He astounded some by saying:
I know a man in Christ [he expressed it this way because he didn’t want to draw attention to himself, but rather to Christ, even though Paul was the one to whom he was referring] who, 14 years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know – such a one was caught up to the third heaven [the spirit realm where God resides – far beyond our atmosphere and outer space that we can see].
And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter (2 Cor 12:2-4).
I don’t know what the ritualists, who don’t believe that humans have ever entered heaven other than Jesus, say about Paul’s claim. Do they reject it? Or perhaps they say it was merely a vision. But it was not. Paul says himself that it was so real that he was there in person, although he couldn’t tell whether he was in his body or out of his body.
Physically-minded people will probably find difficulty with that also. But thousands of people in our day, who died, testify to having been taken into the spirit realm. Their spirit left their body and travelled through a sort of tunnel at the end of which they encountered a bright light, a being of immense power and love, and before returning into their body.
These NDEs (Near Death Experiences) are so numerous it is obvious they are not making up stories.
Many of these people report meeting dead relatives, and are encouraged to live moral and upright lives motivated by love. Their experiences leave a profound effect upon them – for the better.
For us as saints we have further testimony of what lies beyond death, in heavenly realms:
You have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly [festal gathering – margin] and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, [and] to Jesus... (Heb 12:22,23).
This text describes the heavenly environment. It mentions God, angels and a festal gathering. It is not talking about things on earth, but things in heaven.
Have "just men" been made perfect on earth? No. They are made perfect in heaven. The process of sanctification is begun on earth, but completed in the spirit realm.
So, while some will argue, to my mind Paul was describing some of what he saw in his trip to heaven. The spirits of the saints are there, fully conscious – because spirit does not lose that faculty until God obliterates it at the Final Judgement (which He only does to the wicked).
"Psychiatrist George Ritchie has reported one of the most detailed Christ encounters... primarily a near death experience (NDE) – perhaps the most famous NDE on record...
"While Ritchie was ill with pneumonia, he was administered a drug to which he reacted so severely that he was considered clinically dead for several minutes prior to his resuscitation. During this interval, Ritchie experienced an encounter with Jesus, and, presumably, a detailed escorted view of the afterlife...
"This Person was power itself, older than time and yet more modern than anyone I’d ever met.
"Above all, with that same mysterious inner certainty, I knew that this man loved me. Far more even than power, what emanated from this Presence was unconditional love. An astonishing love. A love beyond my wildest imagining. This love knew every unlovable thing about me... and accepted and loved me just the same." (I Am With You Always, G Scott Sparrow, p 14: True Stories of Encounters With Jesus.)
It is unspiritual and physically-minded folly to think that we, as a spirit housed in a human body, cease consciousness when our spirit leaves the body. What is more important? The body? Or the spirit that God is fashioning in His image?! Is your body going to live with Him forever or your spirit? I trust you know.
When facing death, Jesus turned to his disciples to encourage them as they faced this hurdle. They feared death. But He said:
Let not your heart be troubled.... In My Father’s house are many mansions [dwellings]... I go to prepare a place for you (Jn 14:1,2).
That heavenly dwelling awaits you after death. It is out of this world – in manifold ways! (Ps 16:11.)
From that heavenly home, Jesus will muster His saints when He returns. They will come with Him (1 Thes 4:14; Rev 19:14) to rule the earth and bring it peace, restoring all things (Acts 3:21).
The Kingdom of God is in heaven now, but it will then rule the earth. That time is very soon! Get ready, so that you can be in that heavenly number. Malcolm B Heap
‘No One Has
Seen God At
Jesus inspired John to write this
What did he mean?
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son of God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (Jn 1:18).
Some ‘theologians’ maintain that this verse means that no one, except Jesus, has ever seen God at any time. Using this as the basis for their reasoning, they then myopically assert that if you claim to have had a vision of God, or an out-of-body experience when you were taken into the presence of God, that such an experience was not valid – that it was not real, or of God, but concocted by the devil.
They allege that the experience falls into the category of bogus occurrences which 2 Corinthians 11:14 classifies as masquerades:
...For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).
The trouble with their thesis is that it is so devoid of spirituality and discernment! It fails utterly to perceive what John meant in John 1:18!
John didn’t mean that mortals have never, and can never, have a glimpse of God, or a vision of His majestic being. Such a claim would be completely at odds with a number of biblical writers who relate their extraordinary encounters meeting with God.
Encounters With God
Here are just some of those affidavits:
Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and THEY SAW THE GOD OF ISRAEL. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity... So they saw God and they ate and drank (Ex 24:9-11).
God declared to Aaron and Miriam:
...My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with Him face to face, even plainly and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord... (Num 12:6-8).
Moses pitched the tabernacle outside the camp of the Israelites, and God would meet with him there:
So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp... (Ex 33:11).
Isaiah told of his shattering experience:
In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
And one cried to another and said, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!"
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I said, "Woe is me, for I am undone! [cut off, destroyed.] Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." (Is 6:1-5.)
Ezekiel was equally overcome by what he saw:
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God (Ezek 1:1).
I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire (Ezek 1:4).
The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the colour of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads... And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a Man above it (Ezek 1:22,26).
Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the colour of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud in a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord (Ezek 1:27,28).
Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears..." (Ezek 3:10).
Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there, and He said to me, "Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you." So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face (3:22,23).
What are we to make of these accounts? Do we presume that these men were ‘hallucinating’? Or lying? Or just daydreaming? (As sceptics assert.)
Do we dismiss them just because we read a NT text which seems to say – in our shallow, puerile, physical-mindedness – that no man has seen God with his eyes? (It doesn’t actually say that.)
Or do we question our comprehension of what was meant by seeing God?
Surely we must do the latter!
John meant that no human has properly comprehended God – ‘seen’ Him in a metaphoric sense. No one, other than Jesus, has penetrated His nature and really seen it for what it is! Full of love, full of holy purity, full of grace and truth! (Jn 1:14.) You’ve got to read it in context.
Sinners Can’t See God
A similarly misunderstood statement appears in John 5:
The Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form (Jn 5:37).
You do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe (Jn 5:38). ...you do not have the love of God in you (5:42).
Jesus did not mean that a human cannot hear the voice of God. He was castigating the unbelieving Jews, who, with sins of malevolence in their hearts against the Truth, rejected anything that did not fit their bigoted viewpoint.
Jesus bluntly told them that their sinfulness prevented them seeing God or hearing from Him.
A similar deep-seated prejudice motivates those who use – or rather, abuse – these scriptures to decry the true Spiritual experiences of believers to whom God has appeared in one supernatural way or another. Because of their pride, they don’t like to think that God would reveal Himself so amazingly to someone else when He hasn’t revealed Himself to them.
Their arrogance and pride does not permit them to accept the genuine appearances of the Almighty to inconsequential people today. But it happened to Daniel (Dan 7:9,13), because of Daniel’s humility and fear of God. And God has not changed. He is the same today as He was then (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8).
Why did God talk face to face with Moses? For the same reason as He appeared to Daniel:
Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth (Num 12:3).
Conversely, why do most people – even most religious folk – fail to perceive God in depth?
...your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you... (Is 59:2).
The Righteous See God
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt 5:8).
This principle is demonstrated every day, although you and I don’t see all that God does to show Himself to those who seek His face. By faith we know He does so, because He says so. And He has left us examples of it in His Word. (Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, apostles Paul and John and others.)
Besides this company of witnesses, there are numerous contemporary testimonies of people seeing God in NDEs, out-of-body experiences, and visions. (G Scott Sparrow relates many such experiences in his book I Am With You Always, and Raymond Moody describes some of the thousands of NDEs in his book Life After Life.)
It’s a shame that religious people tend to be amongst the most close-minded. If such testimonies don’t fit their bigoted view, they reject them. They prefer to cling to a distorted concept of God or warped reasoning and bent apprehension of Scripture than to admit their failings and accept truth. They are the Pharisees of our time, and they come in so many denominational cliques.
God will not be seen by the unholy. That is why you and I cannot see Him in His immaculate purity and entirety. His wholeness is too much for any of us as mortals to encounter.
Moses asked God:
Please show me Your glory (Ex 33:18).
Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me and live." (Ex 33:19,20).
And the Lord said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock [an analogy of Jesus]. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand as I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen." (33:21-23.)
And God did so, and Moses bowed himself to the ground and worshipped (Ex 34:8). Then he said:
If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance (Ex 34:9).
And Moses was there with God 40 days and 40 nights (Ex 34:28).
So, when you read what John wrote:
No one has seen God at any time (1 Jn 4:12),
read it in the context of God’s nature of purity, unlike man’s despoiled character. Then you will understand.
And you can have the love of God also (1 Jn 4:11), instead of the dreadful close-minded bigotry of religious diehards who cannot see God in His beauty. Malcolm B Heap
Woman in Paradise For 3 Days
From The Three Worlds, pages 246-249 by H. A. Baker
Originally printed in "The Latter Rain Evangel", June-July 1934
(Article by Mrs. Pauline Henry, Akron Ohio. U.S.A.)
"I started to pray and wait before the Lord, when a very strange power came over me. I had felt the presence of God before, but never so strangely; it seemed to loosen every nerve, and every joint seemed out of place. I tried to cling to the seat by which I was kneeling, but was unable to do so, and I slipped to the floor and became prostrate.
"Some of the people carried me down to the basement of the church and there they put hot water applications to my face, and tried every way they could to bring me back to a state of consciousness. I was in this state fully three days and two nights – about sixty hours.
"My parents were sent for, and they took me home and put me to bed. My father called the family physician who examined me and did everything possible to bring me back to consciousness but failed. He called another physician and the two worked over me and they finally called the third physician, an eminent doctor from New York city who was visiting in Akron at the time. He too examined me but finally gave up the case.
"All of this time I was in my bedroom at home, lying there unaware of the fears and anxiety around me. The saints of the church came and prayed; others also fasted and prayed that God would in some way undertake, for they feared that I would pass away. But I was in an entirely different sphere. I did not hear the voices of my parents or loved ones, and did not know of these friends moving about me. . . .
"As far as my eyes could see I beheld the most wonderful things. Heaven is a wonderful place! John tried to describe it, but his words were insufficient, and I feel I could not begin to describe it even as John did; but in my own words I shall try to paint for you a picture of heaven as I beheld it.
"It seemed the streets were of beautiful, glistening gold and yet, as I walked on the streets, they were so soft that my feet never tired. I could see the trees with all kinds of leaves and all sorts of fruit; there were streams and a river flowing through the city and it seemed the grass was about a thousand times greener than it is down here. The flowers were so much more beautiful.
"As we walked along I noticed the beautiful mansions side by side with beautiful lawns beside them. These mansions seemed to be made out of some sort of silver stucco, and it seemed that God had opened up a large bucket of jewels and poured them out over this silver stucco — I call it that because I can think of no better way to describe it. As the jewels fell they rested on the stucco and glistened most beautifully in the light. I thought, "Oh how beautiful these mansions are and how wonderful heaven is!" There was not one dirty object, not one piece of dirt. Sometimes we get discouraged with these cities when the dust comes in by thousands of pounds, but in the city of our God there will be not dirt, no filth, nor any sin.
"As I walked along, I noticed that Jesus was the center of attraction: people bowed at his feet, little children threw flowers and he would smile back at them. Oh if I could only picture that smile of Jesus! Even the trees seemed to sway back and forth giving praises unto God.
"Heaven will be a city of praises to our God and we need to praise him more down here. There were the glories of heaven and Jesus stood before me and spoke to me saying, "Do you want to stay here or do you want to go back?"
"As I looked at him I said to myself, "Oh the earth is cold and far away! There are no pleasures there!" I thought of heaven with all its beauties, and of Jesus there, and I longed to stay. And then I thought of eternity, of those thousands of souls that were crying, "Why?" "Why?" and thousands who would rush into the flaming hell, and I answered, "Lord, I will go back." Then it seemed he laid his hand on my head and said, "Go back and warn the people and preach the Gospel."
"About an hour before I returned to consciousness my family had all gathered about my bed in the room. They noticed a change in my body; my finger nails had turned purple and my eyes had a glassy stare. They thought I was surely dying.
"My brother and sister, who were unsaved then, were kneeling at my bedside and crying out to God. My father was in the dining-room weeping; the church people were there too, and they all thought I was dying.
"Then suddenly strength came into my body, and I sat up in bed; those who were with me were frightened and didn't know what to think. Those who were there said, "It is just a reaction of the nerves, and she will pass away soon." But I didn't. Instead I went into a natural sleep. When I awoke the next morning, I was not even weak."
Human Life Before Heavenly Life
Jesus said: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms (John 14:1,2, NIV).
This life we have as humans is a training ground before the next stage of our development in the spirit realm.
Each person has a spirit, which imparts life to the body. "The body without the spirit is dead" (James 2:26). When a person dies, their spirit returns to the spirit realm, where God resides, which is why Solomon wrote of death: ...the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
Luke records that when Jesus raised a little girl from the dead, her spirit returned to her body (Luke 8:55). This spirit is the energising force in each person’s life. Without it we would all be inert carcasses.
This is a very brief introduction to this abstruse subject. More is explained in Spirit, Soul? and Body (£1) and Life After Death (£1).
Bible quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise stated
Contemporary Revelations, Parts 1-3 (CON1-CON3)
These contain various prophetic revelations and visions a number of individuals have r
eceived about end time events and life after death.
Contains some detailed descriptions of paradise in the spirit realm.
The Near Death Experience (NDE)
These NDEs reveal some of what lies beyond death for the spirit of man.
Life After Death (LAD)
Why Human Life? (WHL)
Spirit, Soul? And Body (SSB)
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