Question I received in an email from one of our readers: My young daughter went home to be with Jesus three months ago. When receiving counseling prayer about this, God showed me a vision of her in heaven with Jesus. They were playing and laughing together and she told me she was happy and not sick anymore. This encounter has brought my husband and me tremendous peace and comfort, but someone told me that it wasn’t “safe”. I’m just wondering… is it okay?
Answer: During inner healing prayer times, we have been blessed to see Jesus give people glimpses of their loved ones in heaven and allow them to interact with them. This has provided powerful healing to the wounds in their hearts and changed their lives. The transformation is instantaneous and you can see their countenance change right before your eyes.
You are right that some folks may caution about this, because they may think it is "calling up the dead." It isn't. There is a distinction. Let us share several examples of godly heavenly encounters and then we will follow these stories with a chart showing the distinctions between conversing with the dead and Jesus-initiated heavenly encounters.
My 9-year-old granddaughter created the following animation to illustrate this blog. Click the green flag to watch it. (If you are reading this in your email and it doesn't come through, click the "Read in browser" link at the end of this blog post.)
What Happens When a Christian “Dies” or “Sleeps?”
When a Christian dies, the New Testament says they “sleep” (1 Cor. 11:30, 1 Thess. 4:14). Our understanding of this is that while their body is in the grave and will be resurrected when Christ returns (1 Cor. 15:51), their spirit is still alive and has gone on to be with the Lord in heaven. The Bible says their spirit "returns to God who made it" (Eccl. 12:7) and being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).
So gathered in heaven is a vast multitude, which John saw in Revelation worshipping before the throne (Rev. 4:1-11; 7:9) and they appeared to have spiritual bodies. In Hebrews 12:22-25, the writer tells us that we come into the presence of God through the blood of Jesus and there we find God, Jesus, angels, and the spirits of righteous men made perfect.
Examples of Amazing Spiritual Encounters
One pastor's wife was in terrible emotional pain over the stillbirth of her child. She just could not get over the loss of never having held her baby. One day during her prayer time, Jesus granted her a vision of heaven. He was walking toward her holding a little baby. She knew it was hers.
Jesus handed the baby to her and told her that he is her son. She did all the things a mother longs to do: She held the baby, counted his fingers and toes, nursed him, and just loved him. Then the Lord said, “It is time to go back.” So she handed the baby to Jesus, Who placed the child lovingly into a bassinet. She turned and was back on earth. She experienced a tremendous healing through this powerful vision.
Patti Virkler lost her mother a few years ago and the last months were very difficult as she watched her mom lose her health and become bedridden and in great pain. The last picture she had of her mother was of her reduced to a bed and in agony, and with considerable memory loss.
In her prayer time, the Lord showed her a picture of her mom and her dad in heaven, in the prime of their life, dancing together in a field, heads thrown back in joyous laughter. Wow! Talk about healing the heart through replacing pictures. This vision from God powerfully healed and transformed Patti. Now she sees her mother as she truly is, together with her husband and Jesus, in health, celebrating glory.
The story below is shared by Renato Amato, a Biblical Life Coach & Trainer who lives in Italy with his wife Patrizia and has a ministry of “Healing Broken Hearts”
- Website: http://biblicalcoachingonline.com/en/
- Healing Broken Hearts blog: http://healingbrokenhearts.com
My dear mother died in 1995, at the age of 75, while my wife and I were away in the mission field of Bulgaria, leaving my father a widower for 11 years after that.
Six months after my mother died, while he was alone at home, my father had a brain stroke and remained unconscious until the next day, when my brother went to check on him and found him lying on the floor. Because of this, my father lost his capability to speak and to take care of himself, so he was later placed in an elderly home where he could be cared for. It was not an easy decision for our family, but my brother did not have the space to take him into his family, while my wife and I lived far away, fully immersed in our missionary work.
Since then, however, every summer we would bring him home with us for a month and I would try to spend as much time as I could with him. Although he could not speak nor write anymore, he was able to understand everything he was told and would simply communicate back with his smiles, nodding of the head, looks of understanding, etc. It was a precious time for me.
However, during the last summer of his life, in 2005, I didn't get a chance to spend much time with him, because of some "urgent" deadline that I didn't feel could be put aside for that month. Although we did bring him home with us, I would only see him at dinner time and I could read in his eyes his disapproval. I would try to apologize for not being able to spend more time with him, and he would pretend that it didn’t matter, but I could tell his heart was broken...
Without realizing it, the entire month passed by and suddenly I had to bring him back to the elderly home, without having had a chance to spend any time with him, which was disheartening for both of us. I promised him that next summer we would catch up for the time lost and that I would spend the whole time with him, but little did I know ...
The next summer never came for my father, as he passed away during spring. When the phone rang and I was told that he had passed away during the night, my heart sank! I felt tons of guilt falling over me! So I got in the car and drove 700 km nonstop to get to his coffin before it would be closed and buried.
When I finally made it to his open coffin, I sent everybody out of the room and fell on my knees, crying and sobbing like a baby, while touching his frozen and empty body.
I finally lifted my eyes to Jesus in worship and asked Him to please tell my father that I was deeply sorry for not being able to keep the promise I had made.
With the eyes of my spirit, I saw Jesus smiling at me and telling me to look up! I did, and in the vision I saw my father, waving at me from the golden streets of Heaven, hand in hand with my smiling mother, and telling me that he was happy to finally be there with her.
Although during the last 10 years of his life my father couldn't speak any more, now he was able to communicate with me in a very clear and vivid manner. He told me: "Son, I love you and I have forgiven you. Just remember one thing: what you 'do' is important, but even more important is what you ‘are,’ especially when you ‘are’ there for those who love you." - I will never forget those words!
I experienced a true healing that changed my life right there and then! I was later able to comfort the rest of my family and to even lead the funeral prayer service, simply because I knew my father had forgiven me and I had learned from him a lesson that I would cherish for the rest of my life!
I have never written this testimony before, because of the theological issues it could raise, but your chart (below) has been a great encouragement to me, Dr. Mark, to know that there are other men of God who share the same view. Yes, I believe that, while worshiping the Lord and focusing our eyes on Jesus, He can let us see and talk with others who have gone on before us, especially if it will cause our hearts to be healed.
Points of Distinction Between Heavenly Encounters and the Sin of Calling Up the Dead
God is strict in commanding us not to “call up the dead” through occult means that are opposed to God–the sin of necromancy (Deut. 18:11, 12; Isa. 8:19; 19:3). God forbids it. It is not of Him. It leads one into encounters with demons and/or familiar spirits. It is a sin.
Therefore every Christian needs to avoid this at all costs! The Scriptures are clear: Do not seek the dead! Seek Jesus and allow Him to lead you into heavenly encounters if He chooses.
What is the difference between the sin of calling up the dead and the wonder of Jesus showing us around heaven and introducing us to those who have gone before? Following are some points of distinction.
Satan's Counterfeit God's Truth
The Sin and Deception of
|Jesus-Initiated Heavenly Encounters|
|Initiated by||Man or satan||God|
|The goal||Get information apart from God|
Receive revelation and healing
Connect with a demon/familiar
Communication with Jesus and
|The conversation||With a demon/familiar spirit||With Jesus and those gathered in heaven|
|The purpose||To gain knowledge on one’s own||To come before Christ to receive revelation|
|The attitude||Self seeking||Humbly seeking God|
|The control issue||Man and demons control||God controls|
In Mark Virkler's Journaling the Lord Said...
Calling up the dead is something you are to speak against. It is not proper. This is a serious issue, and I have spoken seriously about it in My Word. However, what I will allow to happen is for My children to have encounters with those who are before My throne. This is a very different thing. It is in My presence, before My throne, and under My guidance. It is Me leading rather than man or satan leading. It is life rather than death.
Before My Throne are riches untold, blessings I have prepared for My children, beyond their wildest imagination. Some of the things cannot even be spoken of in this age. So come explore My kingdom, with Me at your side and I will show you all things for which you have need of. I do all things well.
The Bible Speaks about Heavenly Encounters
The following passages can get you started in exploring this phenomenon in Scripture:
- All 22 chapters of the book of Revelation
- Many places in Daniel and the prophets (one example is Isaiah 6)
- After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. . . . Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:2-7)
- God made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:5,6).
- Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:1-3).
How Do We Test Spiritual Experiences, or Any Doctrine, for that Matter?
What are the fences which keep us safe as we have spiritual experiences?
- You openly, honestly seek God, Jesus, and Truth, and are willing to lay down your life in this pursuit (Matt. 5:6).
- Obviously, anything we embrace must be compatible with Scripture. (Isa. 8:20; Acts 17:11; 1 Thes. 5:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19-20; 3:16).
- Two to three spiritual counselors need to affirm it came from Christ (2 Cor. 3:1) - a bulwark against delusion.
- It needs to bear good fruit in our lives (fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace... Matt. 7:15-27; Gal. 5:22).
- It should line up with the names of God (Comforter, Teacher, Healer, etc.).
- It will “edify, exhort and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3).
- It needs to point us to Jesus and glorify Jesus (Rev. 19:10).
How to Do It Wrong
This is what you absolutely must stay away from as you pursue spiritual encounters.
"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. (Deut. 18:9-13)
- Playing with Ouija boards, practicing divination, or witchcraft, participating in any occult practices, or owning any occult items.
- Hallucinogenic drugs provide illegal access into the spirit world and can easily open you up to demons or familiar spirits.
- Extreme attention to and interest in movies or television programs about ghosts, witches, or goblins, and coveting the power they seem to possess.
- Casting spells, going to psychics, mediums, spiritists, sorcerers or one who calls up the dead.
- Praying to the saints who have gone on before is not endorsed in Scripture. Our prayers should be to Jesus, the one and only heavenly mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim. 2:5). Apart from Jesus and His Holy Spirit, saints in heaven and we saints here on earth can do nothing (Jn. 15:5; 14:16-20; 2 Cor. 3:17).
- Making covenants or oaths with false gods.
- Trying through your own striving and effort to encounter spirit beings.Trying to get in contact with a relative or friend who has gone on to heaven before us is not the focus we should have. Trying to initiate heavenly encounters out of our own soulish self-will, apart from Jesus, can open us up to the demonic deception of familiar spirits (1 Sam. 28:5-11; Isa 8:19b).
We should focus on Jesus alone and only respond to His direction, whether or not He decides to allow us to have a heavenly encounter with someone who has gone before us into heaven, as Jesus and three of His disciples had at the Transfiguration (Mk. 9:4), as He led multiple disciples in Jerusalem to have after His resurrection (Matt. 27:52-53), and as He led the apostle John to have in Revelation with angels (Rev. 1:1; 5:2; 7:11; 10:9; 11:1; 17:7; 19:10; 22:8) and the elders before God's throne (Rev. 5:5; 7:13).
A Prophetic Gesture which Rends the Heavens
Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation with a prophetic action when he posted his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenberg in 1517. As God continues to reveal truth, and as His light grows in our hearts we see ever more clearly the workings of His grace toward us who believe (2 Pet. 1:19).
Luther demanded that grace be honored and that there be no more sale of indulgences. Today we demand that grace be honored and there be no fear of experiencing our position in Christ, which is that we are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6) and He is free to show us the amazing resources He has provided for us in His heavens (Col. 3:1-2; 2 Cor. 4:18).
Throughout Scripture God provides heavenly encounters and He is still doing so today! So we declare no fear as we enter before His throne of grace in time of need (Heb. 4:16) and receive ALL the riches and resources God has available for those who love Him (Eph. 1:18-23; 2:5-22; 3:9-21).
Luther’s Prophetic Action
|Today’s Prophetic Action|
|2||Attribute||95 Theses – Martin Luther||95 Signatures, 495 years later|
|3||Location||Posted on Door at Wittenberg|
Posted on the Internet – the door to society
|4||The Key Issue|
Demands God’s grace be honored through
Demands God’s grace be honored through NO fear of supernatural encounters through use of Spirit-led, biblical means of testing and discerning all experiences and revelation
|5||Negative Result||Indulgences cheapen God's grace and say "it is not sufficient, and more needs to be added"||Fear opens me up to satan's kingdom and closes me off from the Kingdom of God|
|6||Value||Restored the role of the Bible in correcting doctrine and practice||Restores the role of the Holy Spirit in leading us into all truth in harmony with the Bible|
“Sola Scripture” which has come to mean “living out of my interpretation of Scripture”
|The Bible says to “Live by the Spirit” which means to “live out of Divine Initiative” in harmony with His Word in Scripture|
“Lord, Show Me My Inheritance as I Sit with You in Heavenly Places”
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion (Eph. 1:18-21) And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6-7).
“Lord, I Seek Your Resources in the Heavenlies - Holy Spirit, Lead Me"
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:1-3). For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Rom 8:14).
"Lord, let Your wisdom and power be revealed through me in heavenly places”
…So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have BOLDNESS and CONFIDENT access through faith in Him. (Eph. 3:10-12)
Boldness and Confidence Involves:
- Me commanding, "Fear be gone NOW, in Jesus' Name!"
- Me seeking things above, where Christ is seated...
- The Holy Spirit leading me into the heavenlies
- Me coming boldly before His throne!!!
- Me using the eyes and ears of my heart, making this is a living encounter
This Presentation Has Been Affirmed by the Following Spiritual Leaders
The pattern of utilizing elders to confirm spiritual truths is found in Acts 15. The following elders have contributed to and affirmed the book from which this article was taken. As a group, they have walked with God for over 500 years. We believe that we are to experience ALL that God has for us, while creating clear, strong, biblical boundaries which protect us from satan's schemes, and we are to live with NO FEAR (1 Jn. 4:18).
We are not to shy away from biblical experiences and biblical truth just because satan tries to steal them. We are not copying the counterfeiter; he is copying and distorting the truths of God's word. We choose to walk and live in the revelation of God's Word and not in reaction to satan's counterfeits. We endorse the motto:"In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity" and we would view the "Apostles' Creed" as essential.
Dr. John and Carol Arnott (Founding Pastors of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship), Dr. Gary Greig (former associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Regent University), Dr. James W. Goll (Founder and President of “Encounters Network), Drs. Mark & Patti Virkler (President of Christian Leadership University), Rev. Morris Fuller (Retired Pentecostal Assembly of God Pastor), Ray Fisher (Prophet), Renato Amato (Founder of “Healing Broken Hearts” with his wife Patrizia), Rev. Mike Rogers (Pastor of The Church at New Burn), Dr. Vince & Laura Rizzo (President of AMES Christian University), William Dupley (President Kingdom Heart Publishing), Rev. Nicholas Kusmich (Founder of the SOZO Commission and the EQUIP Academy), Micah and Benjamin Williams (Founders of Life Ministries International), Max Flynn (President of Covenant Theological Seminary),Cheryl McKay (Screenwriter-The Ultimate Gift, Author- Never the Bride & Finally the Bride),Tony and Margaret Cornell (Founders and co-pastors of Ely Christian Fellowship for 25 years), Dennis and Lynnie Walker (founders of Dunamis Apostolic Resource Center), Eric & Karin Morgan (Senior Leaders of Open Gate Ministries).