CNLP 077: What Near Death Experiences Tell Us About the Biblical Heaven: An Interview with John Burke

What can church leaders learn from the thousands of near death experiences people have reported?

Are they consistent with biblical depictions of heaven?

John Burke shares years of research he’s done comparing NDE’s and scripture to bring us a vivid and fascinating account of what happens after people die.

Welcome to Episode 77 of the podcast.



Guest Links: John Burke

John Burke

Gateway Church 

ImagineHeaven.Net – Get 2 Free Chapters of John’s book!

Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God’s Promises, and the Exhilarating Future That Awaits You

No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the ChurchJohn on Facebook

John on Twitter

John on Facebook

Links Mentioned in this Episode

100 Huntley Street

Here’s the Thing

Kenny Conley

Don Piper

Howard Storm

23 Minutes In Hell: One Man’s Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in That Place

3 Takeaways from this Episode

John read 1000 stories of near-death experiences and discovered that people are having real encounters of something that is difficult to describe, but he found several commonalities that align with scripture.

  1. Near death experiences aren’t true death, but a preview of it. An NDE is when someone clinically dies, but in other cases, it’s very near death and the person has some of the same experience. In each instance, every single person came back. It’s not biological death, and it’s not resurrection. When people die, they leave their physical body, but they still have a body, and they didn’t feel dead. In fact, they felt more alive than before. Each person who had these experiences knew that there was a boundary they couldn’t cross, and if they did cross, they were told they couldn’t go back.
  2. Descriptive language is difficult to find. John started to notice a reoccurring theme of the encounters he explored. They were being described as if they occurred in a unique dimension where senses and feelings were substantially embellished. From a Biblical perspective, he also noted that he saw how John, Isaiah or Daniel struggled to explain the same thing. It’s easy to think of these descriptions as metaphors because it’s difficult to wrap your mind around, but they can be perceived as God’s gift of giving us one more piece of evidence of eternal life.
  3. Hellish experiences are just as real and under-reported. John also interviewed individuals who believed they had temporarily crossed over and given a glimpse of hell. One was Howard Storm, a known atheist and university professor. After a horrific experience with an NDE, he was convinced that he was taken into hell briefly and given a second chance to repent and change his life. He became a pastor and has detailed his story in John’s latest book. He believes that God has mercifully given us a reduced experience of how great Heaven could be and how horrible hell could be.

Quotes from this Episode


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1 Comment

  1. OutsideTheGate on March 2, 2016 at 4:10 am

    I love this site. So useful.
    I believe miracles happen.
    I believe people have visions.
    I believe God speaks to people.

    – But sadly, I think this is off-topic twaddle, and out of place on this site.

    Most of all, because these experiences can be explained even more categorically and accurately by Psychology, Neuroscience, and Pharmacology, than so-called ‘Charismatic’ phenomena, and so to use them as something faith- or biblically-related, is to give more evidence to the naysayers and skeptics that we’re out of our minds (literally), than providing any ‘proof’ of anything. It’s in the realm of Revivalist Preachers, Charlatans, and Snake Oil Salesmen. It makes PT Barnum look amateur, and so to be ridiculed, or at best, seen as as a very unhelpful sideshow.

    Especially as, like the sudden ubiquity of Charismatic experiences since the Bethel College Phenomenon, and Agnes Ozman receiving the gift of tongues New Year’s Day 1901, God suddenly started giving out gifts to all and sundry, even if they’ve just walked into a revival meeting of the street, when in the Bible, God reveals himself in these intimate forms only to his ‘nearest and dearest’, and not in the form of hysteria or some other pseudo-spiritual phenomena.

    How much of it just comes down to wishful thinking and the scandal of the ‘Malarkey Phenomenon’? People crave hearing about, or experiencing, these things, so they search them out or interpret a psychosomatic event as something spiritual or revelatory, so there’s a market out there for publishers and con-men?

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