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NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES AND DAMNATION

 

 

 

 

 

Most people are probably curious about what lies ahead after death, beyond the border of death. This may be a reason why they seek knowledge from spiritism sessions or books that discuss this issue. Many have also had personal close-to-death experiences – i.e., experiences when their heart has stopped in the hospital or in connection with an accident and when they may have seen themselves as if from the outside; they may have seen the operations done to them or the entire operating room. Some may have also seen in connection with their experiences a being of light that seems to be full of ‘love and compassion’.

   The major topic as comes to this conversation is indeed generally connected with the question of whether all near death experiences are positive and will everybody end up fine beyond the border in spite of the way they have lived on the Earth. Many researchers want to believe this but is it true? We are going to study this issue below. Several observations and examples seem to indicate that not everyone will necessarily end up well.

 

Not a final death. The first thing to be noted is that a close-to-death experience is not a final death but a visit to the border. Those people who tell about their experiences ‘on the other side of death’ have not really died, but have returned into their body (unless it is a question of visions, where they have seen themselves outside the body, as a separate person). So, these people have not returned from the dead but have just been saved after having been close to death. Their experience outside of the body – in case of a this kind of a situation – is not the same as real death, from where there is no return.

   Doctor Michael Sabom discusses the same issue in Recollections of Death. He says that visiting the border is not the same as actual death. He separates these two from each other:

 

Naturally, I cannot say for sure whether the close-to-death experiences are a foretaste of what will happen at the time of physical death. They have been experienced when someone’s life power has been fading. The narrators of these experiences have not returned from the dead but have been saved when they were very close it. So it is actually a question of encounters with the border of death, not death itself. I think that the experience of the border of death reflects the separation of the mind and the brain from each other but the puzzle is why this occurs when death is approaching. Could the mind that separates itself from the physical brain actually be the ‘soul’ which according to some religious doctrines still lives after the death of the body? (1)

 

Not everyone experiences them. Another important fact to note about the near death experiences – if experiences outside the body really do occur in connection with these experiences – is that not everyone experiences them. Even though the hearts of many people have stopped and they have been in the same physical condition, still only a little over 20% of the patients have experienced experiences outside the body. Even fewer of them have seen beings of light.

   So why is the figure not 100%, why do all people not experience them? What is the reason, or are some of these phenomena only internal, as some have suggested? This alternative cannot be ruled out because some people really have the ability to see themselves from the outside as a separate person (actually, ordinary dreams also resemble this state because we may see ourselves flying or doing other spectacular things in them). They might have experienced these as a result of parapsychological experiments but have usually been freed from them once they received salvation:

 

For example, a young man living in my neighbourhood called me and requested help for a problem involving so-called out of body experiences (OOBE phenomenon). These experiences began after he took part in a program which according to an advertisement could help a person to develop his or her latent abilities and to achieve their goals in life. The leader of the course assured in the first meeting that it was not a heretical cult and actually did not involve religion in any way. (…) But the deeper the young man went in the teaching of the group, the stranger experiences he started to have. When he asked the leader of the group about these strange phenomena, he was told not to care about them – they are common.

   The young man confessed that he was a victim of delusion and he rejected those powers that he had unknowingly called into his life. He gave himself again as a subordinate to Jesus Christ and the truth of the Bible. Then, the out of body experiences ceased. (2)

 

The identity of the being of light. As comes to the identity of the being of light which seems to be full of ‘love and compassion’ appearing in some close-to-death experiences, many people do not consider the possibility of deceit. They do not think that the being of light that seems to be loving could betray them.

   However, it is good to take this possibility into account because the Bible speaks in many places of the evil spirit world and Satan who can betray us. Satan can appear as an angel of light and lead us astray in this way. In addition, it is possible for this deceit to happen in the condition outside the body, and not only under a normal condition – there does not seem to be any difference between them. Obviously, the purpose of it all is to lead us into the delusion that everything is right in our life and that we will go to Heaven no matter how badly we lived on the Earth. In other words, the purpose is to lull us into false belief and illusion.

 

- (2 Cor 11:14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

 

- (1 John 4:1-3) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

2  Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

3  And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

 

Randall N. Baer talks about the same issue in Päättymätön painajainen (original edition: Inside the New Age), p. 82, 83. He writes how his special experiences that were full of light may have been from the fountain of evil:

 

Then came the time to deal with the shock that I experienced: that the light which had seemed so heavenly was actually an imitation of the all-devouring darkness. How was it possible? Could all the teachings of the spirit guides I so greatly respected, all the wonderful mystical experiences, and the fine books that I had read; all the experiences of my enlightened, respected eastern mystical friends; could it all have been a great delusion?

   (…) Most New Age people do not want to admit that there is anything wrong with their experiences. I myself was one of them, but because of my horrible experience I was ready to accept the possibility of deceit.

 

Also negative experiences. The fact that some researchers think that everyone will end up fine after death and that everyone will get into a better place, Heaven, is not consistent with all close-to-death experiences. Even though many death-bordering experiences along with their beings of light seem to be positive, there are also negative experiences among them.

   For example, Maurice Rawlings who has revived the clinically dead for decades says in his two books that almost one out of two patients who have been interviewed after recovery has had painful experiences (the same issue is discussed also by Doctor Charles Garfiel in Robert Kastenbaum's Is There Life after Death?). He stated that these painful experiences often sink quickly to the subconscious but if the patients were to be interviewed immediately after the recovery, there would probably be just as many bad experiences as good. He writes about one of these cases in Kuoleman tuolla puolen (Beyond Death's Door) p. 12,13:

 

Before I collected material for this book, I personally regarded most of the after-death experiences as the products of imagination or guessing. I believed most of the cases that I had heard or read to have been euphoric delusions, caused by a lack of oxygen. Then, one evening in 1977 I revived a terrified patient who said he was in Hell. He begged me to pull him out of Hell and prevent him from dying. When I realized how real fear he was experiencing, I was frightened as well. The patients I have ran into later, who have had these kinds of experiences, have aroused in me a compelling urge to write this book. Now I am sure that there is life after death and that all conditions after death are not good.

 

Deathbed experiences. A reason to doubt the identity of the being of light and many positive experiences is that many experiences on the deathbed have been negative and some have even seen damnation. In historical books we can see that well-known people, such as Voltaire, king of France Carl lX , Queen Elizabeth (1603), Ethan Allen, Thomas Payne, David Hume, and Edward Gibbon, have experienced a horrible death. For example, Voltaire is known to have spent his last months in such a condition that the nurse taking care of him swore never again to care for a dying atheist.  One description like this is found from a book (Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 59,60) written by an evangelist Charles G. Finney who lived in the 1800s. He wrote about a certain woman:

 

During the revival, my attention was focused on a certain sick woman who had been a member of the Baptist church and was very well known in the locality but in whose piety people did not trust. Tuberculosis was rapidly weakening her and I was called to meet her. So I went and had a long conversation with her. She told me of a vision she had seen as a girl which made her think that her sins had been forgiven. This was her argument and no evidence could shake her. I tried to convince her that this dream was by no means a sign of her conversion. I told her directly that her friends had assured me that she had never lived a Christian life or displayed a Christian disposition. I had come to try and get her to give up her wrong hope and to see whether she would like to receive Jesus Christ into her life so that she could be saved. I was very kind towards her but made my purpose very clear to her. She was, however, very insulted and when I left she complained that I only wanted to take her hope away from her and make her anxious, and that it was cruel to harass a sick person like this and disturb her peace of mind. Shortly after that she died. As her death approached, she received such a vision of God and the holiness that the inhabitants of Heaven must have that she cried in anguish and said that she was going to Hell. In this condition she died, as I was later told.

 

Returning back. It has sometimes happened that people have been dead for longer periods of time and then returned to life. An example of a case like this is told by Mel Tari in Kuin väkevä tuulispää (Like a Mighty Wind) p. 77-80. He tells of a man who had been dead for two days and whose body had begun to rot, but who still came back to life:

 

When we arrived, we noticed that there were over a thousand people. The deceased had been dead for two days and had begun to smell heavily. In our tropical land, the dead start to rot six hours after death. But after two days – oh, it is almost impossible to be closer than thirty metres from the body. The smell is awful. In America, you cannot understand this because your funerals are organized so well. But they also cost you 2,000 dollars. In Indonesia we do not have the possibility to make the dead look attractive. The local dead look terrible two days after death. (…)

   We went and stood around this dead man. We started to sing. (…)

   Nothing happened even after the fifth song. But during the sixth song, the man started to move his toes – and the group was afraid. There is a story in Indonesia that sometimes the dead may wake up and come back to life. They will suffocate some person between the lid of their coffin and then die again. Despite of that we continued our singing. When we were singing the seventh and eighth songs, the dead brother woke up, looked around him, and smiled.

  He did not suffocate anyone. He opened his mouth and said, 'Jesus has brought me back to life. Brothers and sisters, I want to tell you something. Firstly, life does not end when you die. I have been dead for two days and I have experienced it. Hell and Heaven are real. I have experienced it. The third thing that I want to tell you is that unless you find Jesus in this life, you can never get into Heaven. You will then certainly be judged to hell.’

 

We can find one description of the life after death in the book of an evangelist who lived in the 1600s, John Bunyan, Näkyjä taivaasta ja helvetistä. (He has also written the well-known book Pilgrim's Progress, which is one of the most widely spread books in the world.) This book mentions a damned person who says:

 

"Why was I given the chance? Why had I been equipped with an immortal soul? Why did I not care about it? Oh, how my own neglect pierces me so dreadfully and I still know that I cannot and will not die. But to live a deadly life is worse than ten thousand deaths, and I still could have been helped once but I did not want to! Oh, this is the gnawing worm that never dies. Once, I could have been happy; once I was offered salvation but I rejected it. If it had happened only once and I would have rejected it, even that would have been unforgivable foolishness, but it was offered to me a thousand times, and I resisted it as often (so lousy I was). Damn the sin which with its deceitful enjoyment enchants mankind to eternal destruction! God called me often but I resisted Him as often. He reached out his hands but I did not care. How often did I go against His commands, how often I resisted His reprimands! But now, the situation has changed, for now He follows my accident and mocks the ruin that has come for my part. He could have helped me then, but I did not want His help. Therefore, these eternal pains are just a reward for my own deeds and I am condemned to suffer."

  

SUMMARY

 

We have discussed above the possibility that damnation really exists. Widespread religions refer to this issue. (Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam are examples of religions that believe in damnation. Also the concept of karma that appears in Hinduism and in which many researchers believe refers to judgement and is in conflict with ‘the loving and all forgiving being of light’.) Also Jesus' words that were spoken almost 2,000 years ago refer to it. Therefore, it is worthwhile to take this matter into consideration. Jesus spoke about this but also about how His purpose was expressly to come and save people:

 

- (Matt 7:13) Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

 

- (Matt 13:40- 42) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

41  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

 

- (Rev 20:12-15) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15  And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

- (John 12:47) And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

 

- (Luke 19:10) For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

 

The question is: how probable do we deem this issue, and the issue of wrong-doers having to answer for their deeds. In other words, is the probability maybe 10% or 30% or even more? Or if the probability is somewhere around 1% is it still not best to take this possibility into consideration, as it is a question of our eternity?

 

THE WILL OF GOD IN MAN'S LIFE

 

Even though damnation does exist, there is also another side to the issue: that no one needs to go to damnation but we can be saved from this place and gain access to Heaven. God who loves sinners – as we have all been – does not want anyone to go to damnation but He wants everybody to come to salvation and repentance. He wants people to turn to Him and let themselves be saved:

 

- (1 Tim 2:3,4) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;

4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

- (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

- (Luke 15:3-7) And he spoke this parable to them, saying,

4  What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

5  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

6  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

7  I say to you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

 

- (Eze 18:23,32) Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? said the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

32  For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, said the Lord GOD: why turn yourselves, and live you.

 

EVERYTHING IS A GIFT

 

Because God wants everyone in Heaven – that means also you – He has prepared everything for that purpose: He sent his Son Jesus so that we might be saved (John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.). So if you personally turn to Him and ask Him into your life (you can say, for example, "Lord Jesus, come into my life and forgive my sins..."), you will receive eternal life and be a child of God; these will be given to you as a gift. The only condition is that you first turn to Him and do not reject the grace that has come through Him:

 

- (John 5:40) And you will not come to me, that you might have life.

 

- (Acts 13:38) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:

 

- (John 1:17) For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

 

- (2 Cor 6:1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

1. Quote from Kuolemastako uusi elämä (LIFE AFTER DEATH) D. Scott Rogo, p. 92,93

2. TIMOTHY M. WARNER, (SPIRITUAL WARWARE) Taistelurukous, p. 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jari Iivanainen

 

 




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