A few youth in my Sunday School class gave some praise to the film ‘Heaven Is For Real’ (2014) based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name, written by Todd Burpo. The book and film documents the claim of a near-death experience and vision of heaven by Burpo’s then-four-year-old son, Colton.
John Piper explains why he would not enjoy a movie like this. In a recent podcast, Piper explains that Isaiah 8:19 forbids communicating with the dead and the reason God forbids it can apply to both communication with the dead or, in Colton’s case, the dead that come back to life. The reason God forbids communication with the dead is because God’s revelation in Scripture is sufficient.
And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? -Isaiah 8:19
In other words- Is God’s revelation not sufficient? Is it God honoring to seek revelation from anyone other than God? Has God not already told us what we need to know?
So even if you grant that Colton nearly died and had an experience in heaven, should we really take any interest in what he or his father has to say about heaven? God’s word is sufficient for our understanding of the hope we have in Christ. God has revealed exactly what we need to know about hope, heaven and the afterlife. In heaven, you will be with God in a perfect place prepared for those who love Him, forever and ever. And that’s it! There’s really nothing else that should be said about it (see 2 Cor. 12:3-4). Anyone in scripture that was raised from the dead had nothing to say about heaven. There were a few visions of heaven recorded in scripture but they were all prophetic visions that have no resemblance to Colton’s account.
That leaves us with little room to appreciate ‘Heaven Is For Real’. God forbids inquisition of extra-biblical sources, including young Colton. Such a thing diminishes our view of God’s word, something Satan schemes to do in every one of us.
I urge you, make the focus of God’s word the focus in your life. Seek the glory of God. Depend on His word alone, for His word is sufficient.