Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Date: 08 April 2012

For more sermons and other writings check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

Revelation 06 – Heaven Open

 

When Jesus died, he did not remain in his grave but – after three days – rose from the dead. This happened in Jerusalem – 2000 years ago. As he was hanging on a cross – suffering torture and dying – he promised the dying person next to him – a criminal – (who was also hanging on a cross) – Luke 23:43: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus knew that there would be new life – eternal life – in a place that was prepared by God the Father – paradise – free from sin and pain – where God would wipe away all tears from our eyes. For this Jesus – the Son of God – had come to earth – to make a way for all of us to get there – paradise – which is the perfect garden of heaven.

The criminal – dying on a cross next to him – had said to Jesus – Luke 23:42: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus had answered him – Luke 23:43: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus responded to the man next to him – (a criminal presumably deserving the death penalty) – immediately – with acceptance and love. Jesus promised him everything – new life in an awesome place – today.

This morning – before I talk about anything else – know this: If you – for yourself – want the same future in paradise – the perfect garden in heaven – do what the criminal did. Copy his words. Say to Jesus also: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Right now – sitting in the pew or on your chair – be serious about talking to him. Mean the words: “Jesus, remember me in heaven. I am not better than the criminal that died next to you but – please – like him – take me with you. My body is aging and dying. Remember me.” The promise is: He will! He loves you. For this reason Jesus had come to earth so thatwhoever believed in him would not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). [Expand on the message of salvation with the need for repentance.]

On the same day – that Jesus and the criminal next to him died – they entered paradise – the perfect garden in heaven. Therefore – in another dimension – away from earth – free from sin and corruption – filled with the presence of God – his glory and holiness – there is a place which – 2000 years ago – had been waiting for Jesus and the criminal and is also waiting now – so the promise – for all of us. And this place is real. Heaven is real – a current reality – and it is absolutely fascinating that not everyone dies before they get there. Some people – even before their time – (maybe even you) – seem to drop in for a visit and – from them – we actually have a description of the place. According to them – there is not only the greenery of paradise – places of glorious nature – but also a city – the heavenly Jerusalem.

If you take another look at the Bible, you can read numerous accounts of people who have made visits to heaven and then returned to tell the story. I point you to three people: 1) the church leader John; 2) the prophet Ezekiel and 3) the apostle Paul:

 

John

 

Revelation 4:1-2: After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here ... ” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it ...

 

Revelation 21:2: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem ...

 

Paul

 

2 Corinthians 12:2-4: I know a man in Christ [Paul modestly referring to himself] who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. [First heaven = earth; second heaven = invisible realm of Ephesians 6:12; third heaven = heaven.] Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

 

Ezekiel

 

Ezekiel 1:1: In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

 

These three people had amazing – “out there” – experiences but – and this is also fascinating – the Bible does not treat them as fringe phenomena. John, Ezekiel and Paul had been in heaven but – in the understanding of the Bible – this was not strange. Everyone was to believe them and trust their experiences.

Thus, the Bible book of Ezekiel is nothing else but the result of Ezekiel’s encounter of heaven – Ezekiel 1:1-2:10: “ ... the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God ... Then there came a voice from above ... what looked like a throne of sapphire ... He said to me: ‘ ... I am sending you ... Say to them ... Do not afraid of them ... ’ Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.” Likewise – the Bible book of Revelation is nothing else but John’s report from his visit to heaven – what he heard and saw in heaven concerning the future – Revelation 22:7-8: “‘ ... Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this book.’ I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things ... ”

Then – Paul – in the midst of intense church conflict – Galatians 2:11: “ ... I opposed Peter to his face ... ” Galatians 3:1: “You foolish Galatians ... ” – made these claims:

 

Galatians 1:11-24: I want you to know ... that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ ... when God ... was pleased to reveal his Son in me ... my immediate response was not to consult any human being ... I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie ...

 

If Paul did not receive the gospel – the content of his preaching – from any man – from any human teaching – where did his message come from? It must have happened during his visit to heaven:

 

2 Corinthians 12:2-4: I know a man in Christ [Paul modestly referring to himself] who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. [First heaven = earth; second heaven = the spiritual realm of Ephesians 6:12; third heaven = heaven.] Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things ...

 

How could Paul expect to prevail in a conflict over teaching matters in the church by appealing to personal revelations which he had received in heaven? Imagine that I preached a sermon that you did not like and – instead of arguing the case from the Bible – I simply told you: “You must believe me because I was with the angels in heaven and this is what I was taught in heaven.” What – do you think – would be your reaction? (This pastor must be on some strange medication.)

It is absolutely fascinating that the Bible makes so much of human visits to heaven and declares them to be of the highest prophetic order. However – even more stunning for us today – great news on Easter Sunday – these visits to heaven continue among Christians and people – according to many testimonies – see the same sights in heaven as the people in the Bible. What about you? Would you want to have an experience where God gives you a tour of heaven – before you die on earth? Do you want to hear and see the sounds and sights of heaven? Be open to this morning’s preaching because God is going to confirm his word.

I will tell you about the experiences of three living people today – you may know them – Jesse Duplantis, Roberts Liardon and Todd Bentley – and compare their experiences with the Bible testimonies of Ezekiel, Paul and John.

Pastor Jesse Duplantis – based in the USA – is the founder of Jesse Duplantis Ministries and his books have been translated into thirteen languages. He had his visit to heaven in 1988. Roberts Liardon is aworldwide recognized author [e.g.: “God’s Generals”], public speaker, an influential Pentecostal spiritual leader, church historian and humanitarian.He visited heaven as an eight -year-old in 1974. Todd Bentley was and is an international Healing Evangelist and he had several experiences of visiting heaven.

Maybe one more comment about Todd Bentley. He fell into sin in 2008 and divorced his wife. However, I concur with the following quote from Bill Johnson and think that his sin – like the sins of many Bible characters and authors – does not invalidate his previous experiences: “If you're afraid of reading about those who later fell into sin and deception (some of these people ended in disaster), stay away from Gideon, Samson, Solomon's Proverbs, and the Song of Solomon. The author of those books also ended in tragedy. We must learn to eat the meat and throw out the bones” (Bill Johnson: When Heaven Invades Earth, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2003, p103).

First, I relate to you a general impression of heaven:

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p45: As I stepped out of the chariot, everything I saw was so beautiful. I had always thought that when I went to heaven I would see only a city. But the first place I saw was Paradise; it hadn’t been destroyed. Paradise is a big place, completely surrounding the Holy City. It is like being on another planet.

 

Roberts Liardon: We Saw Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2000, p26: The third Heaven is where God dwells, and due to my experience there, I refer to it as a “planet” called Heaven. It produces the feel­ing of a geographical location, a definite place at the top of the universe, from which all else proceeds ...

 

Then, all three men experienced a more detailed tour of heaven. The following is from Roberts Liardon’s testimony:

 

Roberts Liardon

 

Roberts Liardon: We Saw Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2000, p26-27:

That afternoon ... In a matter of a few moments, I landed on a flat space no larger than the average living room floor, outside an enormous gate, the biggest I had ever seen – or have ever seen since. It was very tall and wide and bore no cut or blemish. In fact, it was made of one solid pearl, immense, glossy, and glowing white. The edges of the gate were carved with a design. And it had a presence to it – its own glow and its own life.

I remember as a little boy looking at this gate and trying to figure out what in the world had happened! I shook myself to see if I was dreaming because it had all had happened so fast. I then realized the gate was real when I reached out my hand and touched it. As I did so, I heard these words: “This is one of the gates.”

I turned around to see who had spoken to me, and there stood Jesus Christ. All the glory that was about Him began to move toward me, and it came upon me. I recognized Him immediately, although He did not look like any of the pictures I had ever seen painted of Him ...

 

Roberts Liardon: We Saw Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2000, p28: ... And the glory of that presence engulfed me. I buckled to my knees, and tears began to stream from my eyes, running down my face. I could not have stopped them if I had tried. They were not provoked by any human emotion such as sadness or excitement, but His very presence. When He spoke to me, it was as if arrows of faith propelled by love shot into me and exploded inside. My only reaction was to weep.

Then He spoke again, “I want to give you a tour through Heaven, this place I have made for all who believe, because I love you so much.” And he does not love me anymore than He does you! Acts 10:34 reveals that God is not a respecter of persons ...

 

Roberts Liardon – at the age of eight – saw one of the gates of the city in heaven – the heavenly Jerusalem – and he saw exactly what John saw and described in the Bible book of Revelation:

 

John

 

Revelation 21:10-21: And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem ... It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb ...

The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length [about 2200 kilometers], and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick [about 65 meters]. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

 

[When you preach, only read the following segments: ... and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem ... It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel ... The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb ...

                 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide ... The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass ...

                 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.]

 

[The book of Revelation features an eye-witness account of the geographical reality of heaven but there are also symbolic visions (e.g.: Revelation 12:1-6; 17:1-18) and Jesus himself can appear in different forms (e.g.: lamb, rider on a horse).]

 

Roberts Liardon saw one of the gates which were made of a single pearl and – when he entered the gate into the city – he realized something else. He was walking on streets of gold – exactly as John wrote down in the book of Revelation:

 

Roberts Liardon

 

Roberts Liardon: We Saw Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2000, p29-30: As I entered Heaven, the first thing I saw was a street, and it was made of gold. As I continued to walk through Heaven, I saw that all the streets looked as if they were literally made of pure gold. Even the curbs were made of gold. In some places the streets looked just like the gold we have on earth, which is how I recognized what it was. Yet, in other parts, the streets were transparent, and the gold looked as clear as crystal.

I thought to myself, If this is Heaven, then these are gold streets I’m standing on. And with that, I raced for the curb.

From a distance, I saw that Jesus had continued to walk ahead. He then turned to say something to me, but I had moved. Looking over at me, He inquired, “What are you doing over there?”

I stood on the grass alongside the curb with both my eyes and my mouth wide open in surprise. I answered Him with two words: “Gold streets!” At that, Jesus laughed and laughed. He has a wonderful laugh that comes from deep within, similar to what we call a “belly laugh”. I thought He would never stop. Then He said, “Come over here.”

I replied, “No. Those streets are gold. I can’t walk on them!” ... But Jesus beckoned me. “Come on,” He said and kept laughing as He walked over to where I was and led me back onto the street ...

 

Roberts Liardon: We Saw Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2000, p32: We walked up what looked like an unpaved dirt path. Being a small boy, I did what small boys everywhere enjoy doing – I tried to kick up dirt and make little dust clouds as I walked along. But the path stayed where it belonged!

 

Jesse Duplantis picked up another detail from John’s description of the heavenly city. He actually saw and recognized the foundation stones which had on them the names of the twelve apostles:

 

Jesse Duplantis

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p55-56: As we walked up to the city, we came to the jasper wall described in the book of Revelation. That wall is huge! According to Revelation 21:17 (AMP), the wall is 144 cubits, (about 72 yards). We don’t know whether that is the height or the thickness. But the city is 12,000 stadia (about 1,500 miles); its length and width and height are the same (v. 16 AMP). I wanted to see the names on the foundations of that wall described in Revelation chapter 21 which says:

“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb ... And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones ... And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” Revelation 21:14,18,19,22,25.

The angel started inside, but I said, “Stop! I’ve read about this. I want to see the names of the apostles.” So I looked at the pillars. The first name I saw on the foundations of heaven was Peter. I thought the second name would be John, but it was Paul. The names I saw listed were Peter, Paul, James and John. I just started shouting with joy because I was so excited to see those names which I had studied.

The angel said, “Come quickly. You must have your appointment.” But I wanted to see all those names. I said, “I can preach about this on the earth. Let me get all these names in order in my mind.” But the angel took me by the hand and said, “Come.” So we got back into our chariot and went into the city.

 

When John entered heaven, he first saw the throne room of God and gave the following description:

 

John

 

Revelation 4:1-11: After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here ... ” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven-fold Spirit of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty’ ... Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever ...

 

[When you preach, only read these segments: ... A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder ... Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

                 In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle ... ]

 

According to this Bible testimony – there is sea of glass in front of the throne of God, flashes of lightning and thunder, and four living creatures – with six wings – who are covered with eyes and have the appearance of a lion, ox, man and eagle.

Todd Bentley experienced the following:

 

Todd Bentley

 

Todd Bentley, The Reality Of The Supernatural World, Ladysmith: Sound Of Fire Productions 2005, p1: “In December 2001, I had a prophetic experience in Fairfield, Iowa. I found myself in an ocean that went further than my eyes could see. I felt the pull of the tide, like an invitation, drawing me deeper into this huge sea. I resisted for a moment because of fear of the unknown. As I ventured out a little deeper, the water flowed over my head. It was overwhelming.

“God, what’s this?” The Lord said, “Todd, this is the sea of glass.” He continued, “The knowledge and the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. You’re in the waters of knowledge. You’re in the waters of revelation. You’re in the waters of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.”

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal ... ” [Revelation 4:6]. This sea before God’s throne is like crystal; it’s transparent. This is a prophetic picture of God’s ability to see and know all things at once. Everything is before God’s eyes. Nothing is hidden from His knowledge ...

 

Todd Bentley, The Reality Of The Supernatural World, Ladysmith: Sound Of Fire Productions 2005, p210-211: One day as I lay on my carpet waiting on the Lord, I woke lying on the sea of glass like crystal. I felt hot breath on my neck. I turned and looked into the face of a lion. His breath was like fire on my neck. At first, I thought it was the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but then I understood it was one of the four living creatures.

It had a face on both sides of its head – on the front and on the back. Although its head was round, it rotated like a Rubik’s Cube – do you remember those? The creature’s head revolved sideways so fast, I couldn’t see anything but swirling, rapidly moving faces. It was a blur. Every time the creature moved, its face would change to that of an ox, lion, man, or eagle.

The body had small stubby legs, which reminded me of the haunches of a pit bull dog, but it was about the size of a hippo. It didn’t have hair. It had what looked like a rhino skin. Two wings protruded straight out from its side and two wings from under its belly – they were covered in eyes. Underneath its belly were many sets of human hands. I am talking about a winged creature that walked up to me on all fours, stood over the top of me and breathed in my face ...

In my vision, these creatures zipped from place to place like a flash of lightning. I didn’t even see them move – they just appeared here and there and their faces changed every time. Their flapping wings made sounds like thunder. As you’ll soon see, the thunder was also the sound of the Almighty, or the voice upon the waters.

I know this is a really wild vision. However, Ezekiel saw these creatures long before I did. Then the Lord actually showed me to live the prophet’s encounter before I read the following Bible account: “As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning” (Ezekiel 1:13-14).

They ran back and forth, and when they moved I didn’t see the creatures, I saw lightning. Then they would appear someplace else. When they moved their wings, I heard thunder. Let’s look at verse 24 of the same chapter: “When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like a noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings.” What does the voice of the Almighty sound like? It sounds like thunder. And guess what? “The God of glory thunders” (Psalm 29:3).

Part of the reason we have thunders and lightning before the throne is because the four living creatures create it when they move ... Heaven is a very noisy place!

Beneath the sea of glass are the living creatures that provide a chariot for God’s throne to move from city to city, from room to room, from nation to nation. These living creatures are called cherubim (the plural of cherub), and God doesn’t move without them. [See Ezekiel 1-10.]

 

Todd Bentley first had this experience of the living creatures (four wings like in Ezekiel [cherubim] and not six wings [seraphim] like in Revelation – they may be “close relatives” to each other or refer to the same beings) – the lightning and thunder of their movements – and only later discovered that the Prophet Ezekiel had already given an adequate description in the Bible:

 

Ezekiel 1:4-12: I looked, and I saw ... in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.

Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body. Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went.

 

Ezekiel 1:13-14: As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.

 

Ezekiel 1:24: When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like a noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings.

 

[When you preach, only read the following segments: I looked, and I saw ... four living creatures ... each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands ... Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.

     ... Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces ... Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went ... 

     ... their appearance was ... like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning ...

     When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like a noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings.]

 

[Ezekiel’s account further mentions the sea of glass, the throne of God and the rainbow above the throne which are also described in the book of Revelation (see reading above). The various testimonies line up with each other and sometimes a group of people are actually experiencing these visits to heaven together (see H.A. Baker: Visions Beyond The Veil):

 

Ezekiel 1:22-28: The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the colour of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads. And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one toward another. Each one had two which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body. When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings. A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings.

And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the colour of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it ... ]

 

Then, the testimonies of the three men include experiences of the River of Life and the trees that line up along this river – Revelation 22:1-3: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” This is what some of the men saw:

 

Roberts Liardon

 

Roberts Liardon: We Saw Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2000, p52-53: When Jesus and I walked up to the river of life, we didn’t just look at it, but walked into it. It was knee-deep and perfectly clear. Unlike a river on earth, it doesn’t just flow around you. It flows through you, and you feel a surge of energy come up out of that water and into your being.

Then Jesus did something that is quite personal and extremely precious to me. I love to tell this part of the story.

The Lord Jesus, the Holy Son of God, reached over and dunked me under the water of the river of life. So I got up, splashed Him, and we proceeded right there to have a water fight, splashing each other and laughing.

This is not easy for some people to understand, and I have sometimes received the response, “How dare you splash the Lord Jesus in the river of life!” My only answer to this is, “Well, He started it!”

As unexpected as it might be to hear this, or for me to experience it, it meant something really profound to me. Jesus, the King of Glory, the Holy Lamb of God, took time out for little eight-year-old Roberts Liardon to play with him in the river of life. He related to me in a way that I could particularly understand and respond to as an eight-year old boy.

When my time on earth is done and I return to Heaven forever, I want to put up a historical marker on that spot, which will say: This spot is where Jesus Christ became not only Roberts Liardon’s Lord and Saviour, but his Friend ...

After Jesus and I played in the river of life for a while, we got out. It was as if a giant hair dryer then began to blow and dried our clothes instantly. We put on our shoes and departed, and we began to walk past more buildings, seeing other people ...

 

Jesse Duplantis

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p45: Looking around me, I realized that God has with Him in heaven some of the things He created on the earth. I was surrounded by lush, gorgeous valleys, lots of mountains and streams of water. I even saw snow, yet it wasn’t cold. I was amazed.

There were flowers in heaven that I have never seen before in my life and fragrances I have never smelled. I have never seen colours quite like those I saw there, either. There were reds, greens, purples, blues, yellows. The gold looked gold, yet it was transparent like crystal.

It was a beautiful land. Trees were lined up alongside the River of Life as it flowed throughout Paradise ...

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p49-50: There was a big, barrel-chested man across the riven He said, “I shall bring it to him.” I saw that he had a gold goblet in his hand. He reached down and dipped it into the river. That river didn’t look as big as the Mississippi River—it was more like a bayou or a big stream, a creek—only it was pure and clear.

I noticed the man’s large size. He seemed of great age, yet he was young looking. There were no wrinkles in his face. It was obvious he was a patriarch. When I saw him, I knew in my spirit who he was and thought, That is Abraham and I’m the seed of Abraham. This is my great-great-great-grandpa, If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.

Paul taught in Galatians 3:14 that the blessing given to Abraham was made available to us (the Gentiles) through Jesus that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. And our relationship to Abraham as his seed is explained in Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV):

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

I watched as Abraham walked over to us. He gave the goblet to me and said, “Hey, Jesse! Drink this.” I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. To be sure, I asked, “Who are you?” He said, “I’m Abraham. Paradise is my place.”

I felt I knew him like my own father. I fell down on my face before him; but he said, “Stand to your feet. The only One you worship is the Lord God. I’m a servant. I have come to help you. I meet all the people who come here because Paradise is my bosom.” When I stood to my feet, Abraham said, “I shall help you.” Then he asked me how I was. I said, “I’m fine, Glory to God.”

When I said that, Abraham said, “Glory to God!” Then the angel said, “Glory to God!” It started a chain reaction as other people near us stopped and praised God. The sound of their praises seemed to ripple through Paradise.

He said, “Drink this water. It shall help you.” So I did. It was so cool and refreshing; and it was being served to me in a gold goblet. I was impressed it wasn’t a little plastic cup. Then he told the angel, “Take him. He must stand before the Most High God.”

But I wanted to talk to Abraham some more. My favorite Scripture in the Bible is Romans 4:17, which, speaking of Abraham, says, he calleth those things which be not as though they were. Like Abraham, I wanted to consider not, to stagger not and to be fully persuaded. (See Romans 4:19-21.) Abraham said to me, “I’ll see you again. I have to meet the others who have come to this land of blessedness.”

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p89: When I was in heaven, I felt dehydrated like you are (if you’re a motorcycle rider) after being on a motorcycle all day long in heat. Your body can start trembling when you get that dry. I was given water from the River of Life at least five times. It tasted like cold water and it quenched my thirst. I was so refreshed when I drank that water. The fruit sustained me, too, but at the Throne of God I drank water again and felt wonderfully refreshed.

 

Jesse Duplantis’s experience of the River of Life includes an encounter with Abraham who served him with a goblet of water. In 1988, Jesse not only conversed with Abraham in heaven but also came back with a description of him. Do you believe him? Is this getting too far?

Maybe we are not yet used to these kinds of testimonies but they are in the Bible. The disciples Peter, John and James – as young men – already met the Bible figures of Moses and Elijah on a mountain with Jesus:

 

Mark 9:2-6: ... Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “ ... Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

 

The people that have died before us are not of reach and – in the book of Revelation – John even talks to one of the highest ranking humans in heaven:

 

Revelation 4:4: Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.

 

Revelation 5:4-5: I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

 

If – according to the Bible book of Mark – (also Matthew and Luke) – the disciples Peter, John and James can meet Moses and Elijah – previous giants of the faith – and if John can converse – receive information – with one of the twenty-four elders around God’s throne, then Jesse Duplantis may have very well received a goblet of water from Abraham and talked to him in heaven.

Friends – let your faith grow. Expand your vision. Do not lower the standard of the Bible to the standard of your current experience. There is more from Jesse Duplantis and Todd Bentley:

 

Jesse Duplantis

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p56: As we were going down the streets, I saw a man with a crown on his head, who I later discovered was David. I said to the angel, “Stop. Who is this?” He said, “You shall meet him shortly.” Then we passed him by.

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p61-66: Jesus put His arm around me as He watched a man walking toward us who was wearing a crown. Then He said to me, “I want you to meet another king.”

I recognized him as the man that I had seen earlier. He had reddish hair and a red beard. I knew immediately it was David. As he approached us, he spoke to Jesus, “To the great King of kings I bow.”

Jesus said, “Jesse, I want you to meet the king of Israel.” The Lord said, “Take Jesse to his home. Show him what I have prepared for him. Then bring him to My Throne. I must go. My Father wants Me.” Then He turned and walked off.

I looked at the man Jesus had introduced and said, “Hello.” I didn’t know what else to say. “Your name is David, isn’t it?” He answered, “Yes.” Bowing down, I said, “Oh, king!” “Don’t bow to me,” he said. “You just looked at the King of kings. I’ve been assigned to take you around.”

I asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” He replied, “You don’t understand; we’re servants here. We’re here to serve you. What do you want, Jesse? What do you need?”

I looked again for shadows around the angel. He asked, “What are you looking for?” I said, “You don’t have a shadow.” (I was still amazed by the fact that there was no darkness whatsoever. None! It’s all light! That amazed me.) The angel looked at me and explained as he had before, “No, there are no shadows here. God is Light, in Whom there is no darkness, nor shadow of turning.”

Then David said, “I’ve been instructed by the Lord to take you to your house.” “My place?” I said. I wanted to stay at the jasper wall. I wanted to talk more to Abraham and to Jesus. I was interested in that angel. I wanted to look at those gold streets and smell all the flowers. But there was a schedule to keep.

David took me into a house—I don’t know who it belonged to. We walked into a beautiful foyer and by the wall in the corner I saw the Apostle Paul sitting with several men. I can’t tell you about the house because my eyes were on Paul. He and the men were discussing the Word of God. Paul was short! I noticed as he was sitting on the bench that his feet didn’t touch the ground. He looked up at us and said, “Jesse!”

I said, “He knows my name!” Paul asked, “Jesse, what are they saying about my gospel?” (He still calls it his gospel.) I said, “Man, I preach everything you said. Everything! If you came back, you could get me for copyright infringement. I do, I preach everything you said. The Pauline epistles are wonderful!”

He smiled at me. I wanted to talk to him for a long time. He is still a teacher, and I sensed that Paul knew of deeper revelations that we will enjoy learning once we are in heaven. I was attracted to Paul’s knowledge. He’s still explaining and teaching others about God.

I said to Paul, “You were caught up in the third heaven. I read in the Scriptures that you were caught up.” I was thinking of 2 Corinthians 12:2: “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth such an one caught up to the third heaven.”

“Just like you,” he interrupted. “Yeah, this is a wonderful place!” I said. Paul agreed saying, “I spent my whole life to be here.” I had so much to say to him. I told him, “I think you are the greatest intellectual mind that was ever drawn to Christianity.” “Thank you,” he said. “The Lord has been gracious to me.”

He was so humble! His humility ministered to me. I guess if I had a hero in the Scripture, it would be the Apostle Paul. He kept the faith in spite of great afflictions. He was born into a family of prominence; he was conscientious of social law and was a Pharisee in the tribe of Benjamin. He was climbing an ambitious ladder, but when he met Jesus, he went as high as a man can climb. He kept the faith, fought a good fight and finished the race. I am also determined to fight a good fight like Paul. I want it to be said of me, “He kept the faith.” And I have done that. I don’t say that arrogantly because we all can make a decision and set ourselves on a course to do something we’ve determined to do.

I said to Paul, “You went through great persecution.” “Yes,” he answered, “but I kept the faith. I focused my life on faith. That’s how you get things done.”

The next statement he made is one I have used in sermons. He said, “Our affliction is but for a moment. People have made it a lifetime. Change it back to a moment.” I get goose bumps when I think about that! It’s a moment, not a lifetime. “Change it back to a moment,” he told me. I have used Paul’s statement in seminars and people compliment me for the message, but that word didn’t come from me. It came from Paul. Look at how Paul said it in 2 Corinthians 4:17,18:

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Paul continued to speak to me, “Change it back to a moment, Jesse.” Then he whispered, “Change it back to a moment. Don’t leave it a lifetime. I’ve kept the faith, and that’s how it’s done. And it worked.” I’ll never forget Paul’s words for as long as I live. All the troubles I have had since that trip to heaven in 1988 just roll off my back.

Then he smiled at me and said, “Never change the message because of the hearers. Speak what God gives you.” I wrote those words down when I came back so that I wouldn’t forget what he said to me. I was able to speak with him awhile longer before David and the angel told me to keep moving toward our appointment. I will share more of what Paul said to me in a later chapter. David seemed to want to let me take my time, but the angel kept reminding me that I had more places I needed to go.

As David walked along with me, I said to him, “You’ve always been an interesting character to me. I was prophesied to as a child that I would have a life similar to yours.” He laughed and said, “You’ve got some things ahead!” I laughed, too.

I told David that I was a musician. He seemed to light up because music is his gift. “Of course, I haven’t written songs like you have,” I added. David laughed again. I felt like I had known him all my life. His personality was strong and commanding. But he was a servant because of the work that God has done in him. He seemed like a friend, yet he was a king. He was the only one I saw with a crown on his head other than Jesus.

He had an awe about him, and great respect was shown to him by the people who walked by. He had an infectious smile. Now I’ve had people tell me that I have pretty teeth, but his teeth are beautiful. He had a hardy laugh. He shook when he laughed. I felt so comfortable with him.

I asked him how he got his ideas for his songs because I know that musicians get ideas from all kinds of creative ways. “From the Lord,” he answered. We both laughed again.

He continued, “I did write songs of my experiences, like a lot of other people do. But the better ones are when I allowed the lordship of God in me to come out more than the trouble that I spoke about.”

He didn’t say this, but I knew that he meant that some people picked up his trouble as something they had to go through, too. But what he was saying was that when he allowed God to come through him, he was able to write anointed messages like, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

He did use Psalm 23 as an example as he explained, “I allowed God and the anointing to come through in that song. In other songs I sang strongly about my troubles. I think I should have allowed more of the answer to come through, instead of the complaining.” Those weren’t his exact words, but I knew that was what he meant.

Then he added, “I wish I had written more songs about God’s answers than about my problems. If I had listened to the Lord, there are some things I would have never gone through. Now you have my record, so follow the record God told me and you won’t walk through some of the places I walked through.”

I’ll never forget those words. He asked me what instrument I played and I said the guitar and the piano. “The piano is like the harp,” I explained because I didn’t think they had pianos in David’s days. “I know,” David replied. I laughed because I realized that he knew much more than I did about everything, but I didn’t stop asking questions that seemed to have obvious answers.

 

Todd Bentley

 

Todd Bentley: Encounter With Heaven: Then the Lord did two things to me. He walked up to me and He put His hand inside my belly and He gave me a supernatural enablement to live through what was about to take place. He was establishing me so I wouldn’t die. I say that because when I saw heaven I wanted to pass the Lord and go into heaven. But the Lord said, “If you pass Me right now, you will die. Todd, you are not just having a vision, you are in heaven and this is real.” The Lord said, “I am the gate, I am the door, I am the ladder. There is no heaven without Me.” He said if you pass Me, you will die.

Something sustained me. He put His hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes and said one word, “Peace I give you, not as the world gives,” and this peace came over me like a vibration and my whole body vibrated while I received the peace of God.

Then the vision faded and I was numb, honestly. I was still behind the platform. Remember, I was in a meeting and I was going to preach soon. Yet I was so overcome by the glory of God I just laid on the floor behind the stage, behind the curtain. Then as I was lying there, all of a sudden I was caught up instantly into the spirit. I was no longer aware that I was in a conference setting. All of a sudden I was standing on a grassy hill and I saw still waters, a river flowing, I saw river banks. It was like Psalm 23, green pastures, and I was looking down. I thought the (flowing) river was going to be pure living water but as I looked I saw that it was a river of oil and honey. Next the colours changed from pink and rainbows, white light and the colour of gold, to orangey red. Everywhere I looked was the appearance of amber. Everywhere, it was like a sunrise or a sunset, red or ruby or orangey red.

I looked up to my left and there was a bridge, and my first thought was: What a secret place. Still waters, I am in paradise, this is Ps 23. Look at that beautiful bridge! I just want to sit up on the bridge. That’s what I was thinking.

The butterflies were flying by and I felt the peace of God, I was overcome by the Shalom, wow. I thought: Look at that bridge. Now, when you think something in heaven, you are there, so although I don’t actually remember moving, the next thing I knew I was actually sitting on the bridge.

Now it could have been anyone, or any thing, but by God’s design as unbelievable as it may sound, I actually saw the apostle Paul come walking toward me onto the bridge. You might be wondering how I knew immediately that it was Paul. I just perceived it by divine knowledge and revelation. Some things you just know. People have asked me what he looked like, and so I will attempt to describe his appearance. He was short, not more than 5’1” or 5’2” (I’m 5’6”). He was bald except for a little crown of hair that came around his head. Looking very Jewish with a short, trimmed, white beard, my first thought was of a monk in a monastery! He actually had jolly cheeks and I thought: Paul you’ve got a little weight on you! I mean he wasn’t fat but he looked a little pudgy! Funny,eh? But that’s what I was thinking!

He sat next to me and he took his hand and placed it across my chest not saying anything. But I felt like I was receiving an apostolic blessing from a father—”For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established” (Rom. 1:11). While he touched my chest, Abraham and David appeared out of the cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1). Although they were very close (and yet somehow at a distance), they weren’t the main focus. They were simply there as witnesses to an encounter.

Next, Paul spoke to me without words spirit to spirit. I never heard one word but I had instant knowledge of what he was saying. He said that David and Abraham are true fathers—”These are the apostolic fathers”—and I thought to myself: Why Abraham and David? He answered me by saying that there would be no gospel without Abraham. People forget that without Abraham there would be no Israel, or Jewish people (Ps. 105:6–11; Gen. 15:1–5, 18–21; Gen. 17).

Just so you know too, Abraham was taller than David and Paul, about 6’5”. He was a very big rugged looking man, very big boned, large hands, having a long black beard and hair. In fact he looked quite East Indian or Pakistani (in skin colour); not like an African man (in blackness), but closer to an East Indian man. He actually didn’t look Jewish at all!

Now David’s appearance was much different from Abraham’s. Having seen Jesus before, I noticed that David’s features were similar to Jesus, the Son of David. Both Jesus’ hair and David’s hair were alike—long brown reddish, locks that hung to their shoulders. David’s eyes were blue and he wore a purple royal robe but when he lifted his arm, inside his robe I saw the colour blue; it was very kingly. He was very handsome with a short beard and he was really well kept.

As I just stated, Paul told me that essentially there would be no gospel and there would be no Israel without Abraham. He said too, that there would be no gospel without David because there would be no divine Son of David (Jesus Christ) in order for the kingdom and His throne to be built upon the throne of David (Luke 1:31, 32). Jesus came through the lineage of David and with Jesus’ coming, the gospel was released.

Paul also said that—in the sense of the revelation of the gospel to the Gentiles—he was the greatest carrier of that revelation to them. He took what Jesus brought and made it available to the rest of the world, and the global evangelism that’s taking place today comes as a result of the revelation of the gospel by the apostle Paul.

Because he didn’t actually walk with Jesus Christ when He was alive on earth like the other apostles did, Paul said that people doubted he was a true apostle. So, he had to fight against that doubtful mindset, because he really was a true apostle. We can read in First Corinthians Chapter 15 where Paul begins to describe why he was an apostle and he says, “Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (v. 8). Paul did see Jesus, and I’ll discuss this in more detail later.

What’s more, Paul said, “Todd, I want to share with you how I received the revelation of the gospel and I want to share with you some of the encounters that I had in the third heaven.” Thinking: This needs to be in the Bible, Paul, I said “okay” to that. Then, as Paul began pointing out passages of scripture, the Bible opened up to me – boom!

Certain scriptures literally jumped off the page; for starters, two verses from the Book of Galatians: “ But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ “ (1:11, 12, emphasis mine).

After Paul highlighted those scriptures, he asked, “Do you want to know when that (Gal. 1:11, 12) happened?” Of course I did! And so he told me it occurred when the events described in Second Corinthians 12:1–4 took place: “It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

Yes, Paul didn’t preach the gospel according to man, nor did he get revelation in the same way that the other apostles did. Paul’s revelation came through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the third heaven! “

Jesus Christ was with me when I was here in heaven, and He shared the revelation of the gospel Himself,” said Paul. Friends, that’s essentially what it says right here in Galatians 1:11, 12 which I just quoted! In fact, the Bible says that Paul emphasized once more (to the Galatians) that he did not preach the gospel according to man—”. . . that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me ; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days” (Gal. 1:16–18, emphasis mine).

To paraphrase, he was saying, “When I got saved I did not talk with flesh and blood and not one single man taught me. I didn’t go to any Bible school and I didn’t hang out with any other apostles. Instead, I spent three years in Arabia in the desert by myself. During those three years I had a third heaven encounter (2 Cor. 12:1–4). That’s when I was taken up into heaven and had visions and revelations of the Lord. I heard inexpressible words which were unlawful to utter.

So let’s track the context of these events. After Paul’s encounter in the third heaven he went up to Jerusalem and visited with Peter for fifteen days (getting to know him better), and he saw James as well (Gal. 1:18, 19). But much later, after an interval of fourteen years, Paul returned to Jerusalem (with Barnabas and Titus) because he had something important to tell the other apostles (Gal. 2:1). And what did he have for the other apostles to hear? It was the revelation that he received in the third heaven which he preached among the Gentiles (2:2)!

In fact, I believe Paul’s apostleship was born in the third heaven when he walked with the Lord there. So, bearing in mind Paul’s third heaven encounter, I want to challenge some of you by asking a few questions. Is there a greater realm than just conferring with other apostles and disciples [even though I believe in all that]? Is there a greater realm than just what man teaches? Is it possible that today by revelation, by the Spirit of revelation, God is teaching believers? Look. ... I believe in mentoring, discipling, releasing and raising men and woman up for ministry. But I believe that there are those that can be literally taken into heaven and in one moment in heaven God can give them more than anything they can learn by being with other apostles and disciples.

Furthermore, think about this: Jesus Christ put his hand inside my belly (see Part Two: Heaven is much more than we think), and Paul laid his hand on my chest to give me a father’s blessing. Listen! We need more blessings like this from Jesus Christ and the true apostles. I believe that similar experiences need to happen to you for your encounter in heaven and also for the church today . . . which brings me to my final crucial question. Do you want this?

Back to Paul! I discovered while conversing with Paul that it wasn’t only Jesus Christ who taught him in heaven. I say this because Paul told me: “Abraham taught me, in heaven, and that’s how and why I wrote the book of Hebrews. What I heard was from the lips of Abraham himself.”

I know I’m stepping out on theology now; however, I want you to understand that Paul always made it clear when he authored an epistle—”Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ” or “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ.” Always! Yet, for the Book of Hebrews, although most Bible scholars believe that it was authored by Paul, there are those that really can’t say it was him because the authorship is never clear. Paul told me why. Here is what he said to me. “Do you know why I know so much about Abraham?” [So much of Hebrews is based on other things that you just can’t pull from in other scriptures.] He said, “Abraham himself shared (information) with me and I simply wrote it” (in the Book of Hebrews). “The authorship isn’t clear because it was Abraham and I; Abraham shared with me.” [Much of Hebrews is about Abraham; i.e. Hebrews Chapter 11.] Paul said, “When I was in the third heaven, Abraham was with me like you are with me now.”

Then Paul emphasized that the beginning of First Corinthians Chapter Two contains the most important passage of scripture for the church in this hour. Do you know how it begins? With the message of the cross—”And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (vv. 1, 2). In fact, when you read First Corinthians Chapter Two, yes, Paul begins by preaching the cross, but he also speaks about the hidden mysteries and he ends with preaching about revelatory gifts and the deep things of God (vv. 7–16). So it’s like Paul was saying (paraphrase): “I was never just (only) a preacher of the gospel and I was never just a man of the gospel and salvation. I was a prophet of visions and revelations. I was a man of prophetic encounters and prophetic experiences. I was a man of the open heavens. I was a man that believed in the revelatory gift of the Spirit of God searching the deep things of God and revealing it to me. We have the mind of Christ!”

He was saying that, above all, God is releasing the message of the cross, the gospel, in power (preaching and salvation), but not without hidden mysteries and not without revelation. So the message of the hour is actually a twofold message. One: the message of the cross. Two: the message released with hidden mysteries revealed by revelation.

 

[H.A. Baker: Heaven And The Angels, (free ebook), p56: That the saints of both the Old and New Testament are now in heaven is also the testimony of the “cloud of witnesses”. When caught up to heaven John Bunyan saw and talked with Elijah and other saints, some of present times. Sundar Singh also saw Elijah, Moses and other Old Testament saints and saints of present times. General Booth saw “the patriarchs and apostles of ancient times the holy martyrs—and an army of warriors who had fought in every part of the world and—myriads and myriads of spirits who were never heard of on earth outside of their own neighbourhood.” Talmage saw departed friends in heaven, “all well, and ruddy, and songful, and abounding with eternal mirth.” Another who was permitted to visit the New Jerusalem and sent back to earth to tell about it saw “A multitude which no man could number, amongst whom she recognized patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and missionaries who had died in the colony, besides many others whom she mentioned; and, although the parties were not named by the angel that attended her, yet she said that seeing them was to know them.”

Without quoting further, suffice it to say that it is the general testimony of those who have been caught up to heaven and come back to tell us about it that in heaven they saw Old and New Testament saints and that they also mingled and talked with their own friends who had died and are now in heaven.]

 

All of these testimonies may stretch our current understanding of what is possible in God but I do not believe that these men of God are lying and their testimonies line up with the Bible. What is more: whatever they have experienced – whatever experiences are recorded in the Bible – are – at least in theory – available to us. God grants us spiritual gifts and experiences not as rewards for maturity – (even though he waits with some of his gifts until we have the maturity to handle their power) – but he grants them to us out of mercy and grace – undeserved love – Romans 12:6: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us ... ” These prophetic encounters – visits to heaven – operate out of the generous heart of God who loves us more than we will ever know – Ephesians 1:3-10: “ ... [the] Father [in heaven] ... has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ ... he has freely given us in the One he loves. In Jesus Christ [original: him] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us ... he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ ... ”

Everything that matters in our lives depends on God and his goodness – not on our performance or merit. God the Father has freely given us the One he loves who is Jesus Christ. We did not deserve redemption through his blood and the forgiveness of sins but – in the words of this Bible reading – God simply lavished upon us the riches of his grace. God is better than you think and – of importance today – the Bible reading concludes by saying: “ ... he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure ... ” Therefore, why should you not go for a visit to heaven? If these glorious encounters happen according to his good pleasure – if God enjoys making known to us the mystery of his will by taking us for little visits to heaven – because he loves to lavish grace on you – why should you not experience the heavenly city and paradise?

This morning – I encourage you: Do not stand in the way of experiencing more in God. The Bible teaches – this is probably the most important lesson that you can learn – that we receive everything from God by faith:

 

Hebrews 4:2: For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

 

Ephesians 2:4-9: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

Can there be better words to express the goodness of God? You cannot save yourself by works – by any disciplined performance – it would never be good enough for the God’s perfect standard of holiness – but – “the incomparable riches of his grace” – God’s mercy – his kindness – the gift of God – are available to you as you exercise faith – trusting him with your life. Salvation comes to you – by God’s grace – through faith and everything else from God – every other good gift – is also received by faith:

 

Romans 5:1-2: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand ...

 

Therefore, choose to exercise trust – allow God to prompt you and stretch you into growing faith – live with expectations which are in alignment with God’s promises. The experiences of Ezekiel, Paul, John, Jesse, Roberts and Todd are not out of your reach because you are one with them – not better or worse but also a forgiven and loved child of God. You have permission to have faith and hunger for all of God – including sneak previews of heaven. In Paul’s case – these sneak previews may have been rather frequent – 2 Corinthians 12:7: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh ... ” Make the following Bible verses your own:

 

Jeremiah 33:3: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

 

1 Corinthians 12:31: Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

 

1 Corinthians 14:1: Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.

 

[God gives us permission – commands us even – to seek more of him – especially the gift of prophecy – which can include prophetic experiences like being taken up to heaven.]

 

Ephesians 1:18-19: I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe ...

 

[The eyes of our heart are the imagination of faith which need to be opened in order to receive.]

 

Ephesians 3:16-21: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

[A growing awareness and faith in the expansiveness of Christ’s love releases the fullness of God which is immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.]

 

[Colossians 3:1-4: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

 

2 Corinthians 4:18: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.]

 

As we have seen earlier – the Bible makes much of the experiences of heaven in the life of Ezekiel, Paul and John. Ezekiel and Johnboth wrote a Bible book – Ezekiel and Revelation – in response to their experiences and Paul learned the content of his preaching message in heaven. It seems as if God grants visits to heaven for the purpose of commissioning people and this was also the case for Jesse Duplantis, Roberts Liardon and Todd Bentley:

 

Jesse Duplantis

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p58: Then He put His hand on my shoulder. I’ll never forget it. He looked at me and said, “There are many things you shall see and learn here, but I have brought you here so that you will go tell My people I’m coming.”

I said, “They know that.” “No, they don’t know that. I brought you here so that you would go tell them I’m coming. Do you hear Me? I’m coming. Go tell them.”

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p 77: As we were going down that street of the prophets, all of a sudden I heard that familiar Voice saying, “Jesse.” I turned around. It was Jesus. I said, “That was a great message. It was wonderful.” He was gleaming as He said, “It is a true message. That’s why you were sent here. You are to tell My people.” I said, “They won’t believe me.” His Voice was firm, “You just tell them. When they think it not, so shall I come.” Then He said firmly, “Go tell My people I’m coming.”

My destiny was for this lesson. I thought, That’s it? That’s why He brought me here? I was disappointed to learn that my trip to heaven was for this lesson. I thought I was going to learn something nobody had ever heard. My purpose for going to heaven was to hear Jesus say that He’s coming back for us, and I am to tell others.

I must have had unbelief written all over my face. I said, “Lord, they know that.” And He became stern with me and raised His Voice as He said, “No, they don’t! You go tell them I’m coming.”

 

Roberts Liardon

 

Roberts Liardon: We Saw Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2000, p63-65: Jesus stopped, faced me, and took both my hands in one of His, placing His other hand on top of my head. He said to me, “Roberts, I am calling you to a great work. I am ordaining you to a great work. You will have to run like no one else and preach like no one else. You will have to be different from everyone else.”

In other words, He was telling me not to copy others, not to try to fit into religious attitudes and patterns, but simply to do and be only what He wanted.

“Hard times will come,” He warned me, “but take them as stepping stones, not as stumbling blocks. Go with power and with faith. I will be beside you wherever you go. Go, Go, Go, God and do as I have done.”

The first time Jesus said, “Go,” the anointing and the fire of God began to flow from Him into me. It felt as if I were burning. Now, every time I talk about God, whether it is to one or three thousand, I am set afire all over again, just as Luke 3:16 says: “John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

God’s people, the Church, need to experience the “fire” of God, which is what burns out all the “chaff”, the impurities, in your life. Hebrews 12:9 tells us: “For our God is a consuming fire.”

I cannot tell all that He said to me that day for it is too personal. However, I can say this – if you will let the fire of the Holy Spirit shoot through your being and make you pure, you will be able to walk boldly before God with a clean heart and a clear mind. You will know you can walk into His presence where you belong without being destroyed by His glory.

After praying for me and ordaining me to His work, Jesus took a step backward. I then looked at the palms of my hands. Their appearance seemed almost as red as blood.

As Jesus stepped back from me, it was as if He pulled down a large screen out of the air. On this screen, He began to show me my past life. Of course, at eight years of age, I did not have much of a past life.

When Jesus began to show me my future ministry and the people who would be saved through it, however, I did not want to miss reaching a single one of them – even if it did mean living to be an old man.

He said, “I want you to return to earth, and not be like anyone whom you’ve ever met or known, and do exactly what I’ve called you to do. I’ve placed inside you the ability and the strength to do it.” ... As he spoke these things to me, I saw myself preaching in various places. The screen disappeared. Then, I knew it was time to go.

 

Todd Bentley

 

Todd Bentley: Encounter With Heaven: ... I actually saw the apostle Paul come walking toward me onto the bridge ... He sat next to me and he took his hand and placed it across my chest not saying anything. But I felt like I was receiving an apostolic blessing from a father—”For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established” (Rom. 1:11). While he touched my chest, Abraham and David appeared out of the cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1). Although they were very close (and yet somehow at a distance), they weren’t the main focus. They were simply there as witnesses to an encounter ...

Then Paul emphasized that the beginning of First Corinthians Chapter Two contains the most important passage of scripture for the church in this hour. Do you know how it begins? With the message of the cross—”And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (vv. 1, 2). In fact, when you read First Corinthians Chapter Two, yes, Paul begins by preaching the cross, but he also speaks about the hidden mysteries and he ends with preaching about revelatory gifts and the deep things of God (vv. 7–16). So it’s like Paul was saying (paraphrase): “I was never just (only) a preacher of the gospel and I was never just a man of the gospel and salvation. I was a prophet of visions and revelations. I was a man of prophetic encounters and prophetic experiences. I was a man of the open heavens. I was a man that believed in the revelatory gift of the Spirit of God searching the deep things of God and revealing it to me. We have the mind of Christ!”

He was saying that, above all, God is releasing the message of the cross, the gospel, in power (preaching and salvation), but not without hidden mysteries and not without revelation. So the message of the hour is actually a twofold message. One: the message of the cross. Two: the message released with hidden mysteries revealed by revelation.

 

1 Corinthians 2:1-16: When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power ...

... we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived— the things God has prepared for those who love him” —  these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God ... What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us ...

 

Todd Bentley, The Reality Of The Supernatural World, Ladysmith: Sound Of Fire Productions 2005, p15: Shortly after I started in ministry, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Todd, I want you to start speaking on the reality of the supernatural. I want you to make it available to everyone. Take the spookiness out of it. Build a platform of faith and expectation so that everyone can have a greater experience of Me.”

 

Todd Bentley, The Reality Of The Supernatural World, Ladysmith: Sound Of Fire Productions 2005, p234: I believe that God is releasing the supernatural upon the church today so we can step into the marketplace carrying such a level of God’s manifest presence that everyone around us receives words from heaven and is saved and healed. I believe that in this next season, there’s going to be a great release of signs, wonders, and revelation in your life as you walk by faith into the supernatural dimension and allow the Holy Spirit to hover over your life.

 

In closing, can I encourage you again to be open – to exercise faith – to have an expectation – that God may grant you the same privileges as Ezekiel, Paul, John, Jesse, Roberts and Todd. God made use of these visits to commission his servants and set them up with their life’s message. Why should this not happen to you? He loves you and made you for a purpose. In the Bible and in these modern testimonies – God demonstrated that experiences of heaven are not out of reach but belong to his ways of communication with us. If you want, exercise faith – position yourself – to hear from God in the same way – in heaven.

Listen to what Pastor Jesse Duplantis and another pastor – Shawn Bolz – observed on their tours of heaven:

 

Jesse Duplantis

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p45: ... It was a beautiful land. Trees were lined up alongside the River of Life as it flowed throughout Paradise. Thousands of people were standing around under the trees. They all had been brought there in those chariot-like vehicles, the same as I was.

 

Shawn Bolz

 

Shawn Bolz: The Throne Room Company, New Hampshire: Streams Publishing House 2004: [His experience happened in 2002.] The angel directed me to look around the throne room. As much as I didn't want to take my eyes off the Lord, I obeyed. Only then, I noticed three groups of people and spirits in the throne room. The first group seemed to be made up of humans who had passed on into eternity. Somehow I understood these were the saints of old who were still labouring for the purposes of God to come forth on the Earth. Many wore living robes of light that were alive with purpose and embedded with specific markings on them. Some garments seemed so much a part of the person, they appeared to be joined to the person's flesh.

The second group consisted of angels and other heavenly beings. I saw groups of angels who resembled human beings. I also saw a fantastic host of heavenly beings who were flying, floating, running, standing, and lying prostrate. The magnitude of angelic beings God created around Himself was simply stunning. Millions of them were in the throne room. Never before have I been part of such a vast crowd on Earth, and I found it intimidating in the throne room.

Amazingly, the third group was by far the smallest group. It comprised four hundred Christians—mere visitors like myself. These were not people who had passed on to eternity by dying. Instead, they were actual living Christians who were experiencing Heaven at the same time as I, although not everyone realized the fullness of the experience. Each individual was being led into shafts of light that would fill him or her with revelation about the very heart of Jesus. I knew there was an end-time purpose to each person's visit as well as a divine union with the Lord.

Angels were assigned to each visitor, but not just any angel. Many were angels who had spent thousands of years in the throne room worshiping and communing with Jesus. These angels were sent to carry the atmosphere of the throne room into the very lives of this small company. As I watched these visitors return to Earth, they were literally surrounded by a heavenly atmosphere that came from these angelic assignments. The holiness and glory of the heavenly realm followed them back in token experiences.

These four hundred visitors were getting clear glimpses of Heaven. They were able to see into the mysteries of ages and touch what only a few have touched while living. This group included people of all ages and both sexes. Some in this circle were Christians from the persecuted church, and some were from the Western world. I was surprised to know several by name.

What amazed me most was seeing several children in the group. One was a little boy who was only seven years old. Although it wasn’t until I was a late teenager that I had a heavenly experience, I began to see revelation when I was only four years old. Children have the same invitation that we do—to experience the depths of the Holy Spirit’s work. In the coming days, I believe that many children on Earth will be invited into a much higher realm of revelation than many of us can imagine.

In the midst of this heavenly scene, I realized that my angelic companion had left me and now the Angel of the Lord was standing near me. He spoke to me about the four hundred Christian visitors:

“This is the throne room company—those Christians who are called to see and better understand the high calling of eternity, and to bring that message back to the world. What they have seen will set them apart, and it will provoke many to jealousy, yearning for a glimpse.”

I knew this experience would set this group apart from other Christians on Earth, not only because of the heavenly revelation, but because of the angels that would be assigned to them from the throne room of God. In addition, they would have tasted the heavenly realm in such a way that would ruin them for anything natural. Encountering this eternal realm would cause a holy and accelerated drive toward it when they returned to Earth.

Even though we numbered only four hundred, the angel said this company would soon multiply; it is the Father’s goal to have a whole generation of heavenly minded believers who long for Jesus to return to Earth and claim His reward. Therefore, in our generation an access would be given to encounter Heaven experientially by the Spirit of Revelation.

All of us in the throne room were powerfully drawn into the presence of Jesus Christ. As we looked into this heavenly realm, a supernatural expansion was given to each of us, to carry back the virtue of what we had seen. This virtue of Jesus would bring an expansion that would manifest in each person's character, understanding, relationships, and ministry.

 

This morning – be available to God. Judging by the growing number of books which testify to people’s visits to heaven (e.g.: Don Piper & Cecil Murphey: 90 Minutes In Heaven; Mary Baxter: A Divine Revelation Of Heaven; Choo Thomas: Heaven Is So Real; Todd Burpo & Lynn Vincent: Heaven Is For Real; Capt Dale Black & Ken Gire: Flight To Heaven), this is on the cards right now – as it was in the past and led to the Bible books of Ezekiel and Revelation. Be hungry – put your hand up – eagerly desire spiritual gifts (especially the gift of prophecy including visits to heaven) – position yourself in faith and wait for God to reveal his mysteries to you. He loves you. Become certain of his love – grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ – the love that surpasses knowledge – and you will be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Amen.

 

Ephesians 3:16-21: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

[A growing awareness and faith in the expansiveness of Christ’s love releases the fullness of God which is immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.]

 

[Return back to the beginning – the criminal on the cross next to Jesus – and give an altar call for those that also want a future in paradise.]

 

I am going to pray over you: Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. Thank you that there are immeasurable riches of your grace. Your love knows no bounds. This morning, I ask you to strengthen our faith so that we trust you and your promises to do far more than all we ask or even imagine. You said to us in the Bible that “what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived,” you have prepared for us and you are revealing to us by your Spirit. Please, do this for everyone here. Speak to us by your Spirit. Give us knowledge and wisdom – and then – by your Spirit – also grant us glimpses of heaven. We desire the highest prophetic experience. We want to hear and see the sounds and sights of heaven – our home. Draw us close to you. Let us experience the glory of heaven already now to serve you. Give us the spiritual senses to experience heaven.

Heavenly Father – in the name of Jesus Christ – I release these experiences in our midst right now. We are in agreement with your works and step into this church season with faith. I speak experiences of heaven over us this morning. I release your powerful word that creates what it says and does not return empty. You are the same today as you were yesterday and you have always granted people visits to heaven. We love you. Let us be among them. Amen.

 

 

Appendix: Further Testimony Snippets

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p56-57: All of a sudden, the angel stopped our chariot and said, “Kneel. He’s here.”

I felt weak then and fell to my knees. The angel handed me some fruit and said, “Eat this.” So I did. As Jesus walked toward me, those children ran up to Him. They sang praises to Him, and He just hugged them. As the kids sang, He rejoiced with them.

To me, He looked like a shaft of light. He was so glorious! He turned toward me, and I fell at His feet. I said, reverently, “Oh, God!” He said, “I’m here.”

As I was kneeling down, I noticed Jesus’ feet looked like burnished brass. I thought there would be scars in His hands and feet. But it wasn’t like He had been cut and scarred. I could see the holes in His feet. They were so big—about the size of a nickel—that light was shining through them. I realized then just how big the nails were that had been pounded into His feet and hands at His crucifixion.

We don’t realize how much Jesus suffered on the cross. There are no adjectives to describe what He really went through. He put His hand on my shoulder and said, “Jesse, stand to your feet.”

I stood and looked at Him. There was a brilliance coming out of Him that seemed like waves of glory. The light was emanating from Him. His clothes were beautiful and looked like solid diamonds that were sparkling. Jesus was taller than I thought He would be. I would guess Him to be from five feet eleven inches to six feet one inch. I thought at first His hair was white; but when He turned His head, I caught a glance and saw that it was light brown. When He looked at me, the glory of God was emanating from Him.

I said, “Jesus!” He said simply, “Do you like this place?” I said, “Yes, Sir.”

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p51: I was amazed that the flowers were not crushed as we stepped on them, but I realized there is no death in heaven. Instead, each blossom popped back up and seemed to turn towards us as we passed so that we could always see their beauty. I noticed there were no brown leaves on any plants. And there is no dust in heaven. Nothing breaks down or corrupts there.

Walking along with the angel, I noticed that I didn’t cast a shadow. I kept looking down, so he asked, “What are you looking for?” “I don’t have a shadow.” “In this place,” he said, “there is no darkness. God is Light in Whom there is no darkness, no shadow of turning.”

The angel wasn’t quoting Scriptures to me, but I knew that what he was saying was in the Bible. First John 1:5 says, God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. James 1:17 (Niv) explains that every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows.

I said, “Wait a minute; let me see if I can make a shadow.” “I told you there is no darkness. This is a place of light—all light. God encompasseth all.” I looked on mountains. I looked in streams. I looked in all kinds of places trying to find a shadow. But I could find no darkness at all. Everything was light. The light was phenomenal, beyond human reasoning.

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p56: Right inside the city I saw the Book of Life. It is huge, about five feet five inches vertically and one and one-half inches thick. It looked like it is bound in a gold lame cloth. It has an inscription in it, etched in deeply. There were people standing around it, but I don’t know what they were doing. The angel wouldn’t let me stop there.

 

Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996, p45: Everybody seemed headed toward God’s Throne in the Holy City, which I could see way off in the distance. His Throne was high and lifted up, and it could be seen from every direction.

 

Shawn Bolz: The Throne Room Company, New Hampshire: Streams Publishing House 2004: [From the foreword of John Paul Jackson:] This hunger for more intimacy is a hallmark of what God yearns to release on the Earth in the realm of spiritual leadership. In 2002, 1 had an encounter with the Lord and His Holy Spirit that disintegrated many former opinions I had held. In this encounter the Lord spoke to me and said, “The pecking order in the Church is about to topple. I am going to start promoting unknown people to the fourth row.”

To fully understand the gravity of this simple word spoken to me, you must understand what God was referring to about promoting leaders to the fourth row. Several years ago, I had an encounter with a heavenly messenger who took me to the third Heaven. While there, I saw and heard about a great move of God that was coming to the Earth.

Entering an expansive white room, I saw four tiers of pure white rock bleachers on one side of the room. The first three rows were filling up with church leaders. All of the leaders on the third row were very famous, but those leaders on the first two rows I did not know at the time. The angel looked at me and said, “The key to the next great move of God in the Earth is found in the book of Romans and in particular, chapter four. Contained therein is an unembraced truth that will mark and distinguish this coming move from all other moves of My Spirit.”

Suddenly, I understood that each row represented the established pecking order in the Church, and that one day there would be a sudden and great change. The angel told me that one day the Lord would suddenly catapult leaders on the first two rows over those on the third row, who had lorded their ministries over the others. These unknown leaders would then stand on the fourth row, where no one had stood since the early Church ...

These leaders will not be recognized for their titles or ministries, but for the presence of God evidenced in their lives. They will have an intimate and beautiful relationship with their heavenly Father. In addition, many of these will be a company of people who will be taken to God's throne room.

When this happens, supernatural power and miracles will return to the Church. It will not be limited to one person, one church, or one geographic area. God will scatter His manifestations of miraculous power over many cities and nations ...

 

Roberts Liardon: We Saw Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2000, p111-112: [Testimony by Rebecca Springer] Not too long after Rebecca’s encounter with Mary Bates, Frank told her that they were to go to the great auditorium to hear Martin Luther speak about the Reformation, followed by a talk from John Wesley ...

Rebecca had already visited this auditorium; it stood on a hill, constructed of an immense dome supported by columns of amethyst and jasper, with a platform of inlaid marble in the centre.

Seats of polished cedar wood ascended on three sides to form the auditorium; behind the platform were purple drapes. Near the centre of the platform stood an altar made of pearl. The dome overhead appeared dark so that only the gold carvings at its base were visible.

Entering the building, Rebecca and Frank found the congregation eagerly waiting as an invisible choir provided soft music. Soon, Martin Luther ascended the steps. She noticed that his intellect and spiritual strength amplified his physical presence; even in Heaven, he appeared to be a capable leader. He spoke with power and eloquence, and when he finished, John Wesley took his place, speaking on the theme of “God’s Love,” demonstrating what it had done for mankind and how praise and thanks even into eternity could never repay that love.

After Wesley finished, a silence fell upon those present, until the purple curtains behind the platform parted. Jesus stepped out upon the platform, and all those present burst forth in a hymn of praise to Him. Above the voices of the redeemed, an angel choir could be heard, and the glory of God filled the auditorium. Then, the hymn came to an end and all sank to their knees in worship. As their praises died away, they quietly made their way back to their places ...

 

See also the visions of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.