A near-death experience (NDE) is when a person is at the brink of death and, upon recovery, reports an unusual occurrence, generally an out-of-body experience or some sort of vision of heaven or hell. There is no specific scriptural support for near-death experiences. Many people use 2 Corinthians 12:2-5 as a biblical proof text of near-death experiences. However, this is taking great liberty with interpretation and makes the assumption that the man (presumed to be Paul) was either near death or actually dead when he found himself in heaven. The passage nowhere states that the man had died or come close to death. It was a vision that God gave the man of heaven, not a near-death experience.
That being said, it is not impossible for God to give someone near death, or anyone for that matter, a vision of heaven. However, with the completion of the biblical canon, visions are not a normative experience for Christians.
We need to be extremely careful in how we validate our experiences. The most important test of any experience is comparing it with the Bible. Satan is always ready to cause deception and twist people’s thinking. “But I am not surprised! Even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light. So, it is no wonder his servants can also do it by pretending to be godly ministers. In the end, they will get every bit of punishment their wicked deeds deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
Because the Bible is silent regarding near-death experiences, and scientific research has not been able to be performed reliably, we simply cannot accept the legitimacy of near-death experiences on their face value. It would be too strong to state that all near-death experiences are faked, imagined, or Satanic, but there are still serious concerns, biblically, about the validity of near-death experiences. Again, any description of a near-death experience should be validated against the truth of Scripture. If such an experience comes from God, it will line up with what He has already revealed in His Word and ultimately bring Him glory in the name of Jesus Christ.
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