In case you haven’t heard, the subject of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven has recanted his claim that he visited heaven after a car crash in 2004. “I did not die, I did not go to heaven … I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention,” wrote Alex Malarkey this week. His publisher, Tyndale House, had promoted the book as “a supernatural encounter that will give you new insights on Heaven, angels, and hearing the voice of God.” Tyndale announced this week that it is taking the book out of print. You can read more about this sad story here.
I understand why these kinds of stories grab our attention. In a world that doubts what we believe, that openly mocks the content of our faith, it feels like vindication when miraculous stories like this come to our attention. We can say, “Look, world! We’re right! What do you say about THIS, huh?” Books like this one do well – very well.
But is our faith in God and His word truly so flimsy that it needs the support of a 6-year-old kid to give it credibility? Is what the Bible says about heaven MORE true when a child says the same thing? If so, what does that say about us? The image looking back at us in the mirror is troubling, but this is not the time to look away.
Our gullibility is embarrassing, and sadly it is ongoing. In 1986, televangelist and faith healer Peter Popoff was exposed as a fraud, when “the voice of God” that supposedly gave him details about the lives of people at his crusades turned out to be the voice of his wife speaking into a transmitter backstage. He disappeared for a while. But while I was laid up with cancer last year and scanning some late-night television, I discovered that he is back on the air, making similar claims to miraculous insight and power. And people attend his meetings.
Church, we can be better than this. We MUST be better than this.
Jesus knew our tendency to be drawn to the spectacular. At times He graciously granted that power through healings and signs and wonders. But He also included a warning about them. In a parable in Luke 16, when a rich man asks permission to rise from the dead to warn his loved ones about the consequences of their sin, he is told “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
Church, we have the words of Moses. We have the words of the prophets. Even more, we have the life and words of Christ and all the inspired writings of the New Testament. They are dependable, they are true, and they need no further confirmation.
Heaven is real, and God knows all about us, not because a boy or a preacher say so, but because the Bible does.
Church, that ought to be enough for us.
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