2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body, I do not know—God knows. 2 Corinthians 12:2
I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter. Winston Churchill
Humans have been fascinated with the idea of a life beyond this life since the beginning of civilization. Despite this, is there any concrete evidence to support the existence of an afterlife? Is there a realm that exists beyond the limits of our consciousness, a place where the mind’s eye cannot see? Some people believe that Near Death Experiences (NDEs) could be the evidence they are looking for. NDEs are often described as an out-of-body experience where a person feels heightened consciousness and travels to an unknown destination before returning to life. Individuals who have been resuscitated after clinical death often retain vivid memories of their experience, leading to questions about whether the mind can exist separately from the brain and transcend the physical body’s limitations. While some skeptics argue that NDEs are simply the result of drug-induced hallucinations, illusions, or mystical experiences, a wealth of experimental data suggests that they are indeed a real phenomenon.
Dr. Sam Parnia of NYU Longhorn health system explains that their recent large study recorded recalled experiences and brain wave changes that could be the earliest indications of a near-death experience. Their findings provide evidence that when people are on the verge of death and in a coma, they undergo a distinctive inner conscious experience that includes awareness without distress. According to Parnia, “These lucid experiences cannot be considered a trick of a disordered or dying brain, but rather a unique human experience that emerges on the brink of death”
LET US PONDER
The human brain is a complex organ containing 100 billion neurons, each with 100 trillion connections and accompanied by 10 to 50-fold more glial cells. It is fascinating to note that almost 10,000 different types of neurons are present in our brain, enabling it to perform various functions. The brain operates using a mere 25 watts of electricity, which is equivalent to the energy needed to power an LED light bulb. Neurons in the brain convey information from our body and surrounding environment and program our reactions, including conscious and unconscious movements, memories and thoughts, etc. These signals are referred to as brain waves and are detected using an electroencephalogram (EEG).
The question of whether human consciousness persists after death is an intriguing one. Some speculate whether the brain replays our life at the time of death or if the mind can transcend to other dimensions and return to consciousness. People who have been resuscitated after the cardiac arrest report vivid memories of life after death, including memory flashbacks and recalls. Studies spanning over many decades have examined the possibility of the mind transcending the physical boundaries of the brain, and experiments suggest that it can.
Is it possible to catch a glimpse of our future abode while we are still alive on this planet? When it comes to the question of NDE, The Bible says that the dead “are conscious of nothing at all.” “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” Ecclesiastes 9:5. Similarly, when Lazarus died, Jesus described Lazarus’ death as being like sleep, indicating that while Lazarus was dead, he was conscious of nothing at all. That being said, it is not impossible for God to give someone a near-death experience or a vision of heaven. For example, Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5.
“ I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself except about my weaknesses.
The passage does not explicitly mention a near-death experience but rather describes the vision of a man in Christ ascending to heaven. Regardless of whether this was a vision or an NDE, the concept of heaven as our ultimate home is not up for debate. The crucial question is how to get there, and are you ready?