Note: I write both in defense of revelation experiences that included appearances of people no longer alive and exposure of “Gnostic creep” in false, super-spiritual flights of fancy that misrepresent the BIble’s “how things really work in the spirit” foundation for revelatory ministry.
I had a discourse and discussion in social media about the question of talking to dead people in revelation experiences, going to heaven to talk with the cloud of witnesses, and the general misconception of spiritual travel.
Here’s part of it.
Question: Was John’s revelation writing a report on a Holy Spirit encounter or a visit to another realm? Serious question.
Excellent question. Let’s examine the Scriptures.
John is recording what he experiences in the spirit by visions. That is clear.
Did he “visit another realm?” The term “realm” has come to mean something other than the territory under a King’s authority to become a term invested with meaning about alternate realities.
We look for a “how things really work in the spirit” context for this idea in the Bible. We are imposing a perspective upon the Scripture unnecessarily by using this phrasing. It is Gnostic phrasing, not Bible thinking.
It is like asking, “Where is my spirit?” And, answering that question with, “Anywhere it wants to be.”
My spirit is part of me. I am not standing around with my body and soul, while my spirit is off doing universal cruises and flights into realms. I am one. I perceive with my spirit in spiritual reality just as I do physically with my physical body. I am not a take-apart potato man.
We mispresent Paul’s meaning about “whether in the body or not” by deciding he was not. That really misses the point badly!
When I experience spiritual reality, I do not come apart. When I am picked up in one physical place and arrive in another, as one person was in the Bible record, I went spirit, soul, and body. It is unbiblical to assume my spirit can separate from me and then come back. That is so obviously not what the Bible says that we might start there to get our thinking in line with God’s.
All the “visit to another realm” stuff is a poor effort to explain an experience. It is not a Bible principle. We have had some authentic mystic attempting to explain their experiences with phrasing that should have passed through a bit more filtering so that the wording was more clear. However, it is not the fault of these precious people that the wording was taken into extremes that crossed over into Gnostic thinking.
All the efforts to explain how we are not doing astral travel miss the point that we are not traveling at all.
We read the Revelation, and the opening verses say God sent an angel to show John this Revelation. He didn’t go anywhere. An angel came to him to reveal in visions a message for us all.
Question: Rev. 1:2 can, according to some scholars, be translated “And He sent and signified, by his angel, his servant John.”
Answer: I’m aware of commentary to explain angelic participation in revelation. I’m also aware that those that choose this way of interpreting – and it is a choice – do so to prove a point that requires no proving. It is an attempt to explain “how things really work in the spirit” that fits the commentator’s doctrinal idolatry.
We should have no problem with the involvement of angels in this revelation collection and John’s communication with and revelation perspective gained in coordination with angels. That is a Bible idea that makes perfect sense to the presuppositions of the Bible about “how things really work in the spirit.”
Angels deliver messages. Angels carry the voice of God.
To the point of John going to heaven: God’s revelation comes to man. No man goes to God. The Revelation clarifies this from the beginning, and this clarification is important to Jesus and John so that the very error perpetrated is avoided.
In visionary experience, we see, hear, and experience. We do not require any other place to travel to do so. There is no higher revelation explained by this idea of “entering realms or any other experience. We can experience God or angels in the physical because beget can manifest. The idea that we can find a way to the heavenlies and travel about like angels is just not a Bible idea. It is a super saint notion.
The fact that we can have intense experiences as Daniel, John, Paul, and many people I know do, including myself, is not explained by Jesus told me Himself, so that’s a higher revelation.
This conclusion represents prophetic immaturity or worse. It often leads to the unhealthy elevation of people who are asked to speak and lead beyond their character and metron of assignment with “he goes to heaven” embellishments. That is, when you buy the idea that God gave them “special revelation” in a “special way” you think their revelation is higher or more accurate when they are actually asking you to ignore the prophetic process and make them more than they really are.
Prophetic insecurity and ambition lead to these “I should be recognized as special” conditions. I went to heaven and talked with God face to face like Moses, so you shouldn’t bother with judging the word or me about my motivations.”
Nope. The revelation is often excellent but the use of it is immature or even fraudulent, and it corrupts the messaging by merchandising it for the benefit of the career prophet or the sales receipts of published products or television and platform invitations.
Then, that person’s opinions are invested with higher insight status when they are nothing more than opinions. The assumption begins and ends with false premises that the person has special access to God. They do not.
Attempts to become the next great prophetic voice often come with these embellishments.
Question: Explain John’s “open door in heaven” and the invitation to “come up, followed by an “in the spirit” response and entrance… looks pretty clear cut to me. Thanks for a great and civil conversation.
Answer: This is often the main verse quoted to “prove” that John went somewhere when he was in vision.
In the vision, he sees Jesus, then Jesus walking on Earth and Ecclesiae of Asia Minor among the lampstands that represent the Ecclesiae. This is obviously visionary. So is everything else John sees. It is visionary, often mixing past events or eternal conditions that never change with scenes that depict a mixture of spiritual events and manifestations of them in history or the physical Earth. All of this is written in code. All of this is a visionary experience.
John sees this vision of things on Earth in spiritual reality.
Then, instead of seeing Earth in vision, he sees from a different perspective, from God’s point of view, or more specifically, he is experiencing spiritual reality without the context of time and space – not that spirit has no context of time and space – and the perspective or point of view is altered in the vision.
We cannot say that John saw Jesus walking on Earth because He came to Earth any more than we can say that John saw from a heavenly perspective without the context of sequential time because he was “taken somewhere else.” In neither instance is the issue about John going somewhere in the spirit or soul or body or some part of himself peeling off into a “realm.”
These ideas about alternate realities do not come from anywhere but the imagination f man attempting to communicate “how things really work in the spirit.”
We are asked by God to never attempt to explain “how things really work in the spirit” outside the Bible revelation He gives us.
John was in vision all the time without reference points to geography or universal location. He sees with spirit. He sees what is real in a visionary code. What he sees is a way of explaining to the human experience the spiritual reality by sharing God’s experience. It is not a way for humans to become God to experience as God does. We see a massive difference between those two existential viewpoints.
“Come up” has nothing to do with John physically or spiritually traveling about to different places.
In a dream or vision, we have perspective. We see from our perspective, or we are in the scene from another perspective.
Things are brought to us in the experience. This is stuff and strategy of revealing.
John’s perspective changes.
This is common to vision, trance, and revelatory experience. What we do not have is John entering into realms for traveling about in the spirit to arrive in Heaven or ride galaxies. That is a Gnostic “how things really work in the spirit” that is as phony baloney as it can get, and as dangerous to the authentic prophetic process as it can get.
It rides the border with witchcraft so closely that many cross over. When they cross over, they use revelation as frauds or false, pseudo prophets instead of being used by God to represent His heart.
That is just a misunderstanding or misreading of the experience that leads to mixtures of how things do not work in the spirit superstitions.
Nothing about what I am saying diminishes authentic experiences but leads to a healthy prophetic process.
All the exaggerations and extra-biblical superstitions about visionary experiences lead to a short circuit of the prophetic process at some point. This has led to advertisements for oddities and fed errors in revelatory experiences.
We do not go to Heaven and talk to dead people. That is where we started and where we end up in this discussion. When we encounter people no longer alive, we are not actually conversing with them. They are not sent back by God. We are not sent up to encounter them. The appearance is visionary, real, authentic, and subject to prophetic process for its meaning.