Multitudes of people around the world have reported near-death experiences. Some have reported visits to heaven, while some have reported visits to hell.
But do these near-death experiences prove the existence of a loving God? Author John Burke and founder and pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, is convinced of it. While interviewing people for his new book, “Imagine the God of Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God’s Revelation and the Love You’ve Always Wanted,” Burke says he has found a common thread through it all: What these people are saying lines up with Scripture.
“These people have such a difficult time explaining things that are beyond our three-dimensional understanding,” Burke told Charisma News in a recent interview. “It’s difficult, but they’re trying to put these things into words.”
Burke says he interviewed 70 people from every continent for this newest book, and it was an exhilarating experience for him because it involved such a variety of people from many diverse backgrounds.
“I believe that God is doing something in our globally connected world through these testimonies,” Burke says. “I’m trying to show that you’ve got Hindus from India, you’ve got Chinese atheists, you have Muslims from Tehran or even a Rwandan mom. You’ve got people from all over the world who are testifying about the God of light and love the God of the Bible.
“Most all of them that I’ve interviewed that I have in the book have come to faith in Jesus. It’s not all of them, because there are some that will interpret the same God that they’re experiencing in their own cultural worldview. I point out that it shouldn’t concern us that God wouldn’t show up to people who don’t know him yet because that’s exactly what he did with Paul, right? Look at Acts chapter 9. He’s going to kill Christians and this brilliant God of light shows up and he says, ‘Who are you?’ He says, ‘I’m Jesus.’
One particular individual amazed Burke by his testimony; an Indian man who was an atheist, not even a Hindu.
“He was the chief anesthesiologist at the Bakersfield Heart Hospital,” Burke says. “So, he had seen or had heard lots of stories of when people are brought back and he thought it was all psychotic. He would give them a shot of an anti-psychotic drug, and then he has his own. He cries out to God in a hellish experience. He said two Christian angels take him to this beautiful place before this brilliant, divine light brighter than the sun. He is given a life review and it shows him the things that need to change in his life, and they send him back.
“He later encounters the same God and He’s seeking he’s trying to understand. He’s like, ‘why did I not encounter the Hindu gods?’ And the second time, he encounters the same God. He says, ‘Lord, who are you?’ And out of this brilliant light steps Jesus in a beard, robe and sash, and he says, ‘I’m Jesus, your Savior.’
“So, what I’m showing through all of these people is that this is the God who, in Genesis chapter 12 who created a nation out of Abraham and Sarah, and he said, ‘I’m going to bless you to be a blessing to all the nations.’ I’m showing how the Bible is God’s love story for all the nations and it ends in Revelation. It says every tribe, tongue, language and people group are gathered around the throne worshiping God. It’s a great wedding. So that’s what I’m trying to share.
In essence, the Lord reminded Burke of his wondrous love for all nations—a love that has never wavered. Through these near-death experiences, God wants them to know what He has done for them in Christ so they can know and have confidence in salvation.”
For more of Charisma News’ interview with Pastor John Burke, click here. (eoa}
Shawn A. Akers is the online editor at Charisma Media.
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