by Dave Miller, Ph.D. of Apologetics Press
It was 2004 when 6-year-old Alex Malarkey was plunged into a coma by injuries sustained in a car accident. After waking two months later, he claimed he had seen angels who took him to heaven to meet Jesus. Six years later, Tyndale published a book by the boy, co-authored with his father, titled The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, which became an instant bestseller, even spawning a documentary DVD. Now, at the age of 16, Alex has retracted his claims and, thankfully, is urging people to return to the Bible for the only reliable source for information on the afterlife (Zylstra, 2015).
Manmade religion typically relies heavily on subjective experience that the perpetrators expect people to accept based solely on personal “testimony.” However, such an approach to arriving at truth is in stark contrast with Bible teaching. God has always insisted that humans must weigh the evidence and draw only those conclusions warranted by that evidence (Miller, 2011). When God revealed new information, He never expected anyone to merely accept the word of another—even a prophet from God—without confirmation by an undeniable miraculous sign that demonstrates divine authenticity (John 10:37; see Miller, 2003a).
What’s more, the Bible speaks definitively concerning the afterlife. Since the Bible can be shown to be the inspired, infallible Word of God (Butt, 2007), it can be relied on to provide accurate information regarding life after death. It does not answer all our questions, but it gives sufficient information by which one can know with certainty the general parameters of life beyond the grave. The Bible teaches that for all individuals who died in Bible history, in every case, a miracle was necessary to restore the separated spirit of the individual to the body. This return of a person’s spirit constituted a resurrection. But miracles served a very specific purpose in Bible times—a purpose no longer needed (Miller, 2003a). Since God has chosen not to work miracles today (1 Corinthians 13:8-11; Ephesians 4:8-13), and no resurrections will occur until the general resurrection (John 5:25-29; Luke 14:14; 1 Corinthians 15:12ff.), there is no such thing as an “out-of-body experience” (for more discussion, read Miller, 2013).
Further, the Bible lays out a fairly complete treatment of afterlife (see Miller, 2003b). Briefly, God gives people this life on Earth to prepare their spirits for their eternal abode. When a person dies, his or her body goes into the grave, while the conscious spirit enters the hadean realm to await the final Judgment. At the Second Coming of Christ, all spirits will come forth from hades and be resurrected in immortal bodies. All will then face God in judgment, receive the pronouncement of eternal sentence, and then be consigned to heaven or hell for eternity (read Luke 16:19-31; cf. Miller, 2003b).
As usual, people could spare themselves a lot of hype and sensationalism that ends in embarrassment, disillusion, and resentment if they would simply consult the sure Word of God and order their thinking and life according to its precepts.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11, emp. added).
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Miller, Dave (2003a), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation–EXTENDED VERSION,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1399.
Miller, Dave (2003b), “One Second After Death,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1188&topic=74.
Miller, Dave (2011), “Is Christianity Logical? Parts 1&2,” Reason & Revelation, 31:50-52,56-59; 31:62-64,68-71, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=977.
Miller, Dave (2013), “What About ‘Out-of-Body Experiences’?” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=4694&topic=74.
Zylstra, Sarah Eekhoff (2015), “The ‘Boy Who Came Back from Heaven’ Retracts Story,” Christianity Today, January 15, http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/january/boy-who-came-back-from-heaven-retraction.html?paging=off.