Christian Correction Should Be Done With Gentleness And Respect

“But when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will hallow my name.” (Isaiah 29:23)

I taught a Sunday school class several years ago during which time I recounted a testimony that had been given at another church.

A young man, barely in his 40’s, had sustained a massive heart attack, died and was resuscitated. When he regained consciousness, he was angry that the doctors and nurses revived him because he had seen a glimpse of heaven and did not want to come back. He used his experience to reassure other believers that death is exactly as the Apostle Paul described, “the last enemy that will be destroyed.” (1 Corinthians 15:26)

When I finished telling that story, a woman asked how I balanced that account against Scripture and quoted Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men to die once, but after this the judgment.” That question haunted me for some time.

Seven million Americans claim to have had near-death experiences. I guess the characterization, near-death, is an accurate description for Bible-believing Christians because the Bible does not support the conclusion that a man can die more than once. That’s exactly what Job meant when he said, “As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, so he who goes down to the grave does not come up.” (Job 7:9)

The Bible also does not support the claim that someone can die and later live to tell a story about their death experience. In fact, God’s Word repeatedly insists that such claims cannot be true. Ecclesiastes 9:5 emphatically states, “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing.”

My point is not to sit in judgment and tell you that near-death experiences don’t happen. I’m afraid that any doubts we may have about those claims will not be cleared up before we get to heaven.

It is, however, very important how we relay these accounts. When I told that Sunday school class about one man’s experience, I said he had died. The fact is he may have been clinically dead, but he was not dead because the Bible says, “But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last.” (Job 14:10)

I am grateful that a godly woman who knew God’s Word better than I kindly offered me a question in the spirit of correction. I was teaching a principle that contradicted Scripture and she knew it. The Bible warns all Christians, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Thank you, Lord, for sending people our way who help us to grow in Christian understanding. Indeed, we should all remember your instruction when we hear something that is not in keeping with your word: “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)

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