Summary: The movie "Heaven is for Real" has reopened the conversation of the validity of near death experiences (NDEs). This message looks at what NDEs are, the controversies about them, and the confirmation that they can be for God's Word.
VALIDITY OF NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES
“Heaven is For Real” Commentary
A. HUMOR: WHEN NOTHING HURTS
1. Renee and Daniel had been married for over 50 years. One morning, they both awoke from a good night’s sleep. As usual, Daniel reached over and took her hand in his.
2. "Don't touch me," says Renee. "Why not, my dear?" replies a shocked Daniel. "Because," says Renee, "I'm dead."
3. "What on earth are you talking about?" says Daniel, "We're both lying here in bed together and we’re talking to one another. How can you be dead?"
4. "But I am, Daniel," says Renee, "I'm definitely dead. I’m sure of it." "So what makes you think you're dead?" asks Daniel.
5. "Because I woke up this morning and nothing hurts."
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…4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.” 2 Cor. 12:2-4.
[This is not a NDE, but describes a trip to heaven & back.]
C. “HEAVEN IS FOR REAL” MOVIE
1. “HEAVEN IS FOR REAL” movie trailer ************
2. "Heaven is for Real" is a $12-million Christian drama about Colton Burpo, the 4-year-old son of a Nebraska pastor who comes close to death during an emergency appendectomy, only to recover and tell a tale of visiting heaven, where he speaks with characters from his family's history.
3. They include the great-grandfather he never met and the older sister he never had (his mother miscarried before he was born, an agonizing ordeal his parents had kept to themselves).
4. He also describes seeing John the Baptist and meeting Jesus, who rides a rainbow-colored horse and lets the boy sit in his lap.
D. FASCINATION WITH NDE’S. Fascination in the afterlife has become a national pastime. Some Books:
1. It all started with Weiss's 1972 book, The Vestibule and Dr. Raymond Moody's 1975 book, Life After Life. He coined the term, “Near Death Experience” (NDE).
2. In 1978, Maurice Rawlings, M.D., described the experiences of people he resuscitated in the operating room in Beyond Death’s Door.
3. In 1981 the International Association for Near-Death Studies was begun and “scientific” journals began to study the subject.
4. In 2004, Don Piper wrote his 90 Minutes in Heaven that stayed on The New York Times best-seller list for four years. In 2006 Bill Wiese told his story of 23 Minutes in Hell.
5. In 2010, Kevin Malarkey, a Christian therapist in Columbus, Ohio, writes about what his 6-year-old son described to him as a short visit to the afterlife after a paralyzing car accident; The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.
7. In 2012, Eben Alexander's book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife; an account of his being turned from an atheist to a believer during his seven-day coma battling meningitis.
8. And now comes Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back (movie version).
9. Why are we so attracted to this subject? Because we know we’ll all die someday or we have a loved one who has gone, and we want to know about what comes next.
1. Every day in the U.S., an average of 774 people have a near-death experience, according to the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation.
2. A 1997 Gallop Poll found 35 percent said they’d had an NDE -- approximately eight million Americans .
3. So due to the movie coverage and frequency, and because it borders on the Bible, we’re going to take a look at NDEs, the controversies surrounding them and the confirmations they may be real.
4. The title of this message is “The Validity of Near Death Experiences.”
I. WHAT IS A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE?
A. DEFINITION: [Wikipedia]
“An experience associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light, reported after an individual has been pronounced clinically dead or has been very close to death.”
1. Medical Field treats them as hallucinations.
2. Parapsychologists & some scientists see them as evidence of an afterlife and mind-body dualism.[5-8]
3. Religious believers are divided on NDEs, since some aspects verify their faiths while others go against them.
C. CLASSIC NDE TRAITS
1. The notice of unpleasant sound/ noise .
2. Awareness of being dead. 
3. A sense of peace, well-being and painlessness.
4. A sense of removal from the world. [26-27]
5. An out-of-body experience. Sometimes observing doctors and nurses performing medical resuscitation efforts.[26-28]