Hi, I was wondering if anyone had any convincing approaches for proof of an afterlife?
@Dannyd That is a great question and a very interesting one. Here is a brief summary of my position:
- the resurrection is the best evidence of the afterlife
- the Spirit of God testifies to believers and gives them assurance
- near death experiences do not prove Heaven or Christianity, but they may pose a problem for naturalism
Hope these thoughts are helpful. May the Lord grant you wisdom as you study His Word. Feel free to ask any further questions or critique any of these ideas.
The Resurrection is the Best Evidence for Afterlife
I Corinthians 15:12-19 - But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
The Testimony of the Spirit
For the believer, the testimony of God’s Spirit is evidence that our hope in Christ is sure and that we will be resurrected with Him along with the new creation.
Romans 8:23-25 - Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Near Death Experiences Don’t Prove Heaven
As a researcher, I am naturally skeptical of claims that cannot be supported by very well substantiated evidence. So personally, I do not think Near Death Experiences (NDEs) prove anything whatsoever, even though my great grandfather is said to have had them. However, there are some big names, like Sean McDowell, who admit that they do pose a problem for naturalism. I like the following statement from McDowell.
“NDE’s don’t prove the existence of God, or even uniquely the Christian worldview, but they do pose significant problems for naturalism and strongly confirm that consciousness continues after death”
I have encountered a few articles like this one from Psychology Today, that point out that near death there is a surge in brain activity that could explain people’s vivid experiences.
“These findings also suggest that the mammalian brain is highly activated at near death as evidenced by the ordered release of neurotransmitters in multiple brain regions, and a previously unreported surge in neurophysiological coherence between the cortex and heart at multiple frequency bands in the final moments of life.”
“In all of them high-frequency gamma waves (the ones associated with meditation) became more intense after the heart stopped—more coherent and organized, in fact, than they are during ordinary wakefulness. Maybe this is what NDEs are, the investigators wrote, a “heightened conscious processing” that occurs during the limbo period before death becomes permanent.”
Discussing these brain activity based explanations for NDEs, an article from equip.org says that they are meaningful but fall short of explaining all experiences.
“Psychological, physiological, and pharmacological explanations of the NDE have been reviewed in this journal and elsewhere The conditions described by each of these explanations may stimulate the brain in such a way that bears some resemblance to part of the NDE, yet none affords an adequate overall explanation.”
With respect to the subject, I would like to offer my experience. I can not call my experience a near-death experience. As far as I am aware, I was never in any medical despair. My surgery was to remove cancer from my body.
In the last conversation of the night before surgery, my aunt prayed with me. In the prayer, she asked the Lord to grant me peace, and safety. In my heart I added, if I must walk through the valley of death, may I see a new thing? Something I have never seen before.
In pre-opt the fear was so stark upon the faces of the patient’s waiting with me, I closed my eyes to shut out that presence. I had never seen such naked fear on anyone’s face. I felt an assurance I did not want fear to take from me.
It was my turn and I was wheeled into the surgical theater. During their preparation, the medical team soon realized my hospital grown had been placed on backward. They wondered aloud who had dressed me. So, I cleared my throat and said; “I don’t want anyone to laugh, but I dressed myself!” Of course, we all laughed.
The Anesthesiologist introduced himself and advised me on what to expect. My Surgeon soon entered. I remember us bantering back and forth when I begin to get sleepy. My surgeon noticed the slowing conversation and yawning. In my last conscious moments, I heard him ask the anesthesiologist, “have you given her anything?” “No,” he replied. "I haven’t turned the gas on yet!’
I now stood upon a grassy knoll, soft breeze gently blowing the garments of the people around me. We were gathered across the yard before a rustic and quaint cabin. We were waiting for the son to a appear. In my mind, I was not sure if we were waiting for the son or the sun. But it did not matter, there was no darkness.
All about me even the blades of grass emanated their own life. Each blade had its own light within. I saw living colors. The green of the grass, yellows, the bluest of blue sky. Colors alive from within.
From each of the people, all about me radiated love. No lips moving, no deliberate conversation with me, just a communication of complete acceptance, complete love. I knew I was home. I knew I was with family.
From the people about me emerged a young white woman. I knew instantly she was an old mother from my childhood church and one of my Godmothers. I did not know why she had this appearance, again, it did not matter. Her appearance was secondary, who she was I easily recognized. Her spirit her essence I knew.
She said, “Its time to go.” I responded, shaking my head back and forth. “No Mam, I’m not going anywhere. I’ve been looking for this place all my life! I’m not leaving!”
Suddenly my Mother’s mother stood before me. Again her appearance was not as I expected but this time I took no notice of her outward appearance. I knew my Grandmother when I saw her, and I knew I had to obey. My Grandmother said, “Its time to go, daughter.” I begin to cry, and then to plead. “But I don’t want to go!” My Grandmother replied, “it is not your time, you aren’t meant to be here now.”
The grief upon me felt unbearable and the tears gushed from my eyes. My Grandmother asked, “what about those you have left behind? What about your family?” I looked back and saw life on earth moving at breakneck speed. I saw their sadness and their continued living. I said to my Grandmother, “oh they’ll be alright.” They will be joining me in a few weeks. They will barely have time to miss me."
My Grandmother smiled and shook her head back and forth. “You aren’t meant to be here yet. But you can come again someday if you are prepared. If you will live a life that allows you to return”
At that point I became resolved, I accepted the inevitable. I had to go back. I tried to get my Grandmother to give me some idea of when I would return. I wanted something to hold too, some hope to sustain me. “How long will it take me to get back?” I asked. “40, 50, years?” My Grandmother just smiled, shook her head like she was sidestepping the inquiries of a little child.
Suddenly, I was rushing through a tunnel of light, I knew this tunnel was me. I became conscious of the Surgeon gently slapping my face and repeatedly calling my name.
Years later while watching the movie Stargate, when they entered the Stargate, I sat straight up heart pounding. It was similar to the tunnel I had traveled on my return. My surgery took place in April 1989. The Stargate movie debuted on October 28, 1994. I first saw the movie on cable tv. The movie debuted on HBO March 2009.
I’m so sorry I am long-winded. The good news is that I am closing my tale before I shared what came next. (smiles)
Maybe Science would classify my experience as out-of-body, or near death. But I know, death was never an issue for me. Perhaps this will not convince anyone of life after death. But, it forever changed my perspective on life in this World. It took away my anxiety for the future. It focused my intent and desire for living in harmony with GOD now, right here.
I am determined to get back home.
Wow! Such an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing that. As a lover of supernatural aspects and realities of Christianity, I believe some things cant be reasoned extrinsically and objectively. Its just between you and him ; intrinsic and subjective and yet such a profound reality that happens between the mighty creator of the universe and His children !
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. For me personally, I felt overwhelmed reading it… and emboldened to share. Thank you for giving me courage.
When I was born, my mom tells me that my heart beat was lost in the womb and so I was delivered dead. The doctors had resuscitated me but all she remembers from than was how they had to pull me out of her and only my bluish purple color.
Years later when I was 14, I was diagnosed with a condition which the doctors attributed to the fall out radiation from the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl. I had to have surgery. I was the very first kid to be admitted in the hospital for this kind of surgery. I was so scared. My life leading up to that was full of pain. I mean physical, mental, and emotional pain coupled with me unexpectedly passing out wherever it may be - in the bus, on the balcony. Moreover, I grew up during some dark times - communism and its collapse in Eastern Europe.
It was April 1994. I remember being wheeled in the operating room and the anesthesiologist, giving me the anesthesia. The next thing I remember was that I was standing by the operating bed, looking at myself laying on the bed and the surgeon slapping my face, saying “Wake up! Wake up! She is not waking up. She is not waking up!”
Then all of a sudden - SWOOSH! I was caught up in the air and I found myself, as if in a cloud of brilliant light. My arms opened up to the side - I was bathing in the brilliance of the Light. All my pain was gone. My tears were gone. I was breathing but I was not breathing air. Every time I breathed in, I was breathing in peace. Every time I breathed out, I was breathing out peace. But not peace as we know it. It was peace that surpasses human understanding and knowing. There was no more pain, no more of my suffering, and I was so happy… There was so much happiness; joy that I have never experienced before. And then I knew - I was home. I started joyfully “yelling” - “I am home! I am home! I am not going back there! I am not going back!”
In that moment, two hands pushed me and a Voice said “It is not your time yet.” Suddenly, I was in my physical body on the operating room, opened my eyes, and asked the surgeon, “Why are you hitting me?” He froze.
There was this deep knowing that this was Jesus as He was my Lord and Savior. For many many years I treasured this experience in my heart. I knew Jesus but I didn’t know what all of this meant. I left Bulgaria when I was about 22, never having read a Bible. There were no Bibles to be seen and during Communism they were forbidden. I actually didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a Bible or what the Bible was. When I landed in the US, it was straight into Los Angeles which is very a anti-Christ city, and that’s where I was hearing a lot about the Bible. Everybody was telling me never to read it and that it was a book made up by the Catholic church to fool and manipulate the masses.
But I held precious into my heart the knowledge that the Lord has given me and one day I had a dream in which the Lord told me to go to Jerusalem. I bought my plane ticket and went. I was born again there. When I came back to LA, I vividly remember that as I was opening the door of my apartment the Voice of Lord spoke into my ear: “I know you love me, Natalia but if you want to love me right, pick up a Bible and never depart from it.” That was it. I didn’t need the testimony of men. If God tells me, it is so. And so I got my very first Bible when I was 33 and read the whole thing in few months. It is only than that I was able to understand my let’s call it supernatural experience.
Mrs. Rhodes, your last paragraph is exactly how I feel. I don’t mean to sound weird or anything but ever since than I am looking forward to death, knowing that it tried to claim me two times but the Lord knows when my time is. I am indeed eagerly looking forward to when my time comes. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But remaining in the flesh, I pray that the Lord gives me full courage as to honor Christ with my life.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I know where home is, and I look forward to being there with you…
@Natalia_Love. As I read your story I thought of the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Phillippians church. [For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is]gain (https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Philippians-1-21/). What a wonderful story of grace, what an amazing experience with the Lord! I kept thinking as I read, “me too, me too.”
Now, words fail me. But, I feel as if I was there with you. What excites me is that the half has never been told! With you, I am loving the Lord, excited to walk with Him, here. But, knowing with you, the best is yet to come!
May His grace, His presence, His favor continue to embrace your life. I love you little sister!
Amen, my sweet sister, amen! My heart rejoices with you. I love you dearly.
Also, thank you @SeanO for such a great, well-researched reply! This has been such a fruitful conversation already!
I wonder, @Dannyd, if you might be able to chime in again and let us know what your thoughts are about the responses are so far? Do they spur some more questions for you?
How might we be able to attempt to communicate the reality of an afterlife to the people around us without being able to reference a NDE?
@jspare. “How might we be able to attempt to communicate the reality of an afterlife to the people around us without being able to reference a NDE?” I pondered your question all day. I kept coming back to the individual’s ability to receive.
When I tried to pin down a certain route that would prove the After Life, it actually returned to a position of Faith each time. This made me wonder if it was possible to convince anyone who did not have some confidence in the existence of GOD, despite their doubt? Would anyone demanding proof, be ready and willing to address the real question?
The scriptures are resplendent with references to the After Life. Even giving the physical description. I stopped writing after I surpassed 45 references. One of my favorites being, I Corinthians 15.
Sean is correct, the Resurrection of Christ provides clear and powerful proof. But unless you are searching for GOD, or realized your need for something more; why would you or how could you accept that proof?
I have no doubt that the Lord can save to the utmost. And, GOD’s reputation proceeds him. The references to the After Life are there, but it requires that the proof be coupled with prayer, in order to breach the individual walls people have constructed in their hearts.
Wow Natalie! Thank you so much for blessing us with your testimony! Please continue to share as much as you can. I believe your testimony will touch many as it sis me. Thanks again
Thank you very much for your response @SeanO I really enjoyed the NDE argument it really does silence the voice of the Atheist who claims “Once your dead, that’s it”
@jspare the above is a very good point which leads me to another question. “I don’t need God I have a good job, I’m married with 3 children and a car, I am also involved in various charities, I don’t need God in my life”
@jspare I think I would say to that person; the reality of our lives is always harsher than we disclose in passing conversations. When we are not trying to impress or win an argument, and we are honest; acquiring people, places, or things is double the effort to maintain. The getting is just the beginning, not a status report on happiness.
If your family, friends, or co-workers were asked, they would surprise you with their criticism of what you do wrong, or selfishly, or accidentally. Relationships whether with animated or inanimate objects require a lot of work. Somebody is caring the load you do not. If it is your kids, they may very well hate you in the near future. We were purposely created to need balancing, that’s why we marry, procreate and etc.
That balance was meant to come from GOD. You may very well have found another way to balance yourself, but if it is not GOD; someone else is suffering under the burden of your contentment. Who are you willing to burden with the responsibility of your peace and joy?
@Dannyd Thank you for the kind words. Personally though, I do not think NDEs are proof of anything. They are too subjective and can easily be fabricated. In fact, among my unbelieving and intelligent friends, I am quite sure that NDEs would seem like little more than old wives’ tales or folk legends, if not attempts by individuals to gain attention or distort reality. I do think the resurrection of Jesus is still the best evidence. I am not saying NDEs have no value or cannot be true, but to the skeptic I think they mean little.
2 posts were split to a new topic: How can we best defend the resurrection of Jesus?
Your story is truly a blessing! Please keep sharing.
Thank you for sharing such a personal and life changing experience. God bless you
Grace, favor and powerful blessings rest upon you as well! So grateful for your prayer.