Hi Vic and Firenze,
I suppose it all depends upon what one classifies as a "near death experience." Yes, many people have been "near death" and have been revived. No doubt, many of them were believers who knew of God and heaven -- and many may be non-believers, that in Sunday School and some other venue, have heard of God and heaven. In those cases, is it extreme to think that they could be dreaming or that their minds are playing a trick on them -- making them believe they saw God and/or heaven?
But, to say that one does have a "near death experience" and actually enters heaven, or even actually is given an inside preview of heaven -- is not Biblical.
1 Corinthians 15:50-53, "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality."
To "inherit the kingdom of God" means to enter heaven. This Scripture passage tells us clearly that man in his mortal body CANNOT enter heaven. The only way man's body can enter heaven is through Jesus Christ at the Rapture -- when our mortal bodies become immortal, eternal bodies, cleansed of the curse of all sin.
Before the Rapture, all believers, in spirit, enter heaven immediately upon death. But, no mortal body can enter heaven. And, I do not believe there is any doubt that the person who claims to have experienced a "near death experience" is still in his/her mortal body -- even though unconscious or in a coma.
We know from Luke 16:19-31 that Abraham, all the Old Testament believers, and all the New Testament believers who died before Christ was crucified and resurrected, even the repentant thief on the cross -- were all in Hades/Paradise because they COULD NOT enter heaven without Christ.
In Ephesians 4:8 we see Christ leading "the captives free" -- in other words -- He closed Hades/Paradise forever and led those saints who had been waiting for Him -- into heaven. Now, Paradise is in heaven -- and all believers who die before the Rapture enter Heaven/Paradise in spirit -- but, not in either their mortal or immortal bodies.
So, how do we get our immortal bodies? Glad you asked. Jesus Christ ascended into heaven in His immortal body (Acts 1:9-11). After His resurrection and before His ascension -- His body, even though it was immortal, appeared like His mortal body -- in that He could fellowship, talk, and eat with His disciples.
He could enter their presence, i.e., in the Upper Room or on the road to Emmaus, without coming through a door, etc. In His immortal body, which appeared like His mortal body -- He could appear and disappear at will -- as though coming from a different dimension.
And, 1 John 3:2, tells us that we when we meet Him at the Rapture, we will be made to be like Him, in our immortal bodies, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is."
Will we be God, or gods, at that time? No. Absolutely not. We will be like Him in that we will be in our immortal, eternal bodies -- in which we will exist eternally -- in the presence of God.
John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."
John 3:3, "Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
No one gets into heaven -- except through Him. Not Abraham, not Moses, not Mary and Joseph, not His apostles or His disciples -- not Vic, Firenze, Bill, or anyone else. And, most certainly not the person laying on an operating room table who appears to have died momentarily. There is one Gate, one Way, -- and it is Jesus Christ. We enter that Gate, that Way, only upon final death in this mortal body -- or at the Rapture.
Hebrews 9:27-28, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."
This Scripture passage makes it very clear. Man will die once. Then, comes the Rapture of the church -- then, the Judgment.
The Believers' Judgment (Bema Seat Judgment - 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, 1 Peter 5:4) will occur in heaven during the seven year Tribulation and before the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, i.e., the Believer's Judgment is the final preparation of the Bride for her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
The Non-believers' Judgment (Great White Throne Judgment - Rev 20:11-15) will occur at the end of His Millennial Reign on earth and before the end/change of this earth and the creation of the New Earth, New Heaven, and New Jerusalem. In other words, just before Jesus Christ leads all believer into Eternity to be with Him forever.
So, is the "near death experience" real to the person who has this experience? I am sure it seems to be very real. However, if this person will really study what Scripture teaches -- he/she will find that it has only been that, an experience, a sort of dream -- and that he/she did not really enter or see inside heaven.
My Friends, this is not just Bill Gray's view -- this is the Biblical view.
God bless, have a wonderful, blessed day,
Hi Vic and Firenze,