Sermon Nuggets:- Near Death. - Acts 7:55-60
October 4, 2023, 8:47 AM


Near Death Experiences

Acts 7:55-60

55. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

56. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

57. At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

60. Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Paul’s inspired writing also implies that the saints in heaven today are incomplete because there will also be the resurrection of a new body. When we die now, we will be keenly aware that we have arrived in the presence of Jesus. He welcomed Stephen into the glories of His presence while Stephen was being stoned to death. It was an encouraging vision while he was being stoned. For those in Christ there is no death, you move from this conscious experience immediately into a better one.

This raises other questions of what we might call near death experiences. As a chaplain, I have heard numerous stories similar to what is on TV portraying someone in a hospital room and declared dead. The medical team work frantically on that person to keep him alive. The person arouses. He or she has sometimes described it as, they left the body and looked down upon themselves lying on a hospital bed. There was a feeling of peace, joy, light, and wonder. There was a struggle to stay away from their body, but they were forced back into their body. The medical team congratulated themselves and family thanked the Lord that he or she was brought back to life. The patient told me later, he didn’t really want to come back. However, other people have been asked what they experienced after their heart stopped and they have been brought back. Most commonly they say they don’t remember anything.

Some have reported conversations that they could not possibly have heard that occurred while they were pronounced dead. Some could even identify family members in the hallway outside their room and what others said and were doing. I have heard other stories of a tunnel-like experience where there was a bright light beaconing them to come. Many will say they do no longer fear death after having that experience. It was peaceful and wonderful.

Another man was in a near death experience. He described it as just the opposite. There was fear and fire and he sensed demonic presence. When he recovered it was very easy for me to lead him to accept the Lord.

What about these folks, who are non-Christians, who confess to the bright light and tunnel as do some Christians? What about people of different religious backgrounds talking about leaving the body and coming back into it, now at peace with death?

Regardless of people’s experiences, all of them must be examined in the context of the Bible, God’s revealed Word. That is the final authority above dreams, visions, and experiences. Personally, I am much more concerned about what I will experience after death, than what I will experience when I am near death. It is not the transition, but the destination that really counts.

Many believe that the Apostle Paul was describing this experience when he was left for dead fourteen years earlier (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Is that why Paul could say with confidence “for me to live is Christ, to die is even greater.” There was no longer any fear for him.

As Erwin Lutzer shares in his book “One Minute After You Die”, our minds and our memories will be clearer than ever before. Our personalities will go on yet without sin. We will still have our uniqueness and distinctiveness that makes us different from one another, not just physically, but more importantly in our very beings. You will know more then than now. Things that were confusing will be made clear.

There is no indication in Scripture that focuses the attention on the people who are living. I don’t know if grandpa is watching me now or not. I do know it is against the teaching of the Bible to try to contact the dead or pray to the dead. That is reserved only for the Lord. When people do try, they are involved in cultic and demonic activities. The Old Testament is very clear not to contact spirits. The New Testament teaches there is only one to whom we pray. It isn’t our loved one. It is not Mary or the saints. It is only God as the revealed Father, by the Spirit, through the Son.