website, Don Piper introduces himself with these words:
speaker, actor, syndicated columnist, former CBS & CBN Television
network executive, former youth minister, education minister, senior
adult minister, Baptist Student Ministry director, long-time single
adult pastor and senior pastor....
"Piper is in great demand in pulpits
across the United States and around the world as a conference leader on
effective prayer ministry, the reality of Heaven, single adult issues
and as an evangelist. He has led revival meetings and seminars all over
North America and Europe. Don Piper is a
dynamic speaker and the author of New York Times bestseller,
90 Minutes in Heaven - a True Story of Death and Life....
"Now in its
35th printing, 90 Minutes in Heaven has sold more than 1.6 million
copies in the United States. It also is enjoying worldwide success
as a bestseller in Sweden, Australia, Canada, South Africa and the
In spite of its
popularity, his book
prompts more questions than answers. Did Pastor Piper actually walk through the "gate" into
heaven during those 90 minutes? His own statements seem to rebut
that impression. Nor did he meet "Jesus." Actually, he
only mentions the name of Jesus three times in the book. (Those
references are marked in red below) In fact, Jesus seems almost irrelevant in
Pastor Piper's conflicting testimony. Instead, the center of adoration throughout
this "heavenly" experience was Pastor Piper himself. On pages 20-26, he writes,
died... In my next moment of awareness, I was standing in
heaven." (pages 20-21)
"As the crowd rushed toward me,
I didn't see Jesus, but I did
see the people I had known. As they surged toward me, I knew
instantly that all of them had died during my lifetime. Their
presence seemed absolutely natural. They rushed toward me,
and every person was smiling, shouting, and praising God.
"Although no one said
so, intuitively I knew they were my celestial welcoming
committee. It was as if they had all gathered just outside
heaven's gate, waiting for me. The first person I
recognized was Joe Kulbeth, my grandfather. He looked exactly as I
remembered him, with his shock of white hair. ...as I stared
into his face, an ecstatic bliss overwhelmed me. ... I
couldn't get past the joy of our reunion. How either of us
reached heaven seemed irrelevant."
"More and more people reached for me and called me by name. I
felt overwhelmed by the number of people who had come to welcome
me to heaven. There were so many of them, and I had never
imagined anyone being as happy as they all were.... I spotted two
teachers who had loved me and often talked to
me about Jesus Christ. ... Everyone continually
embraced me, touched me, spoke to me, laughed and praised God."
"Our conversations centered on the joy of my being there
how happy they were to see me."
years later, I can sometimes close my eyes and see those perfect
countenances and smiles.... Just being with them was a holy moment
and remains a treasured hope. When I first stood in heaven they were
still in front of me and came rushing toward me. They
and no matter which direction I looked, I saw someone I had loved and
who had loved me. They surrounded me....
"Coming out from the gate--a short
distance ahead -- was a brilliance that was brighter than the light
that surrounded us, utterly luminous."
"I paused just outside the gate, and I could see inside. It
was a like a city with paved streets. To my amazement, they had
been constructed of literal gold."
"I continued to step closer to the gate and assumed that I would
go inside. My friends and relatives were all in front of me,
calling, urging, and inviting me to follow.... Just as I reached
the gate, my senses were even more heightened, and I felt
"I paused.... just outside the gate. I
was thrilled at the prospect and wanted to go inside. I knew
everything would be even more thrilling than what I had experienced
so far. At that very moment I was about to realize the yearning of
every human heart. I was in heaven and ready to go in
the pearlescent gate.
"During that momentary pause, something else
changed.... I had become part of the choir.... I had arrived at a
place I had wanted to visit for a long time; I lingered to
gaze before I continued forward. Then, just as suddenly as I had
arrived at the gates of heaven I left them."
That's the end
of heavenly encounter! This mysterious "experience" occupied 16 pages (from 21 to 36) of the
entire book. The rest of the book deals with more earthly concerns and
let's return to that last statement for a moment. Pastor Piper tells us he
through the "pearlescent gate" -- the entrance into heaven.
Yet he supposedly spent 90 minutes in heaven. He had "arrived at
a place" he "wanted to visit" -- a place where he was
showered with human adulation -- yet he never met our Lord! Was he inside or
merely at the threshold of heaven?
prompts another question on page 31. He writes,
"As I stood before the gate, I didn't think of it, but later
I realized that I didn't hear such songs as 'The
Old Rugged Cross' or
'the Nail-Scarred Hand.' None of the hymns that filled the air were about
Jesus' sacrifice or death. I heard no sad songs and
instinctively knew that there are no sad songs in heaven. Why should there be? All were praises about
Christ's reign as King of Kings and our joyful worship for all he has
done for us and how wonderful he is."
"Sad songs?" Are
those precious old hymns about the victory through the cross really "sad"? Does God's heavenly chorus of praise,
like Pastor Piper, consider the message of the Lamb and the cross too
"sad" to remember?
Not according to
the Bible! What Pastor Piper
"instinctively knew" clashes with God's unchanging
Word. It shows us that Jesus -- the Lamb that was slain for us --
became a central theme of angelic
certain "knowledge" with these choruses of heavenly praise:
"And I looked, and
behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures,
and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been
"And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals;
For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood..."
"I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living
creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand
times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud
voice: 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom,
and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
"All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not
been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the
foundation of the world."
The victory of the Cross
Do you wonder if Pastor
Piper would consider the verse below too "sad" for heaven?
"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the
the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony
which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How
long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on
those who dwell on the earth?”
That Scripture exposes another major error in Piper's "vision" of heaven.
Notice that it refers to "the souls of those who had been slain," not
their identifiable bodies. Though the conscious souls of believers (God's redeemed
children who are eternally part of His family) will be with Jesus
immediately after death, our souls will not be "clothed" in
"spiritual bodies" until God's scheduled time for "first resurrection." Yet, Piper claims to be welcomed by friends and relatives
already wearing their resurrection bodies.
And what about Piper himself? Was he not only dead, but also
resurrected, "changed" and clothed in his heavenly body? Not according to the Scriptures!
Notice in the following verses that the souls of faithful believers (now with Jesus) will not be clothed
in heavenly bodies until the time ordained by God -- a time to be
announced when the "last trumpet... will sound."
the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, 'If You
are the Christ, save Yourself and us.' But the other,
answering, rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not even fear God,
seeing you are under the same condemnation?...' Then he said
to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your
kingdom.' And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to
you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'"
"But I do not
want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have
fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no
hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even
so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
"For this we say to you by the word
of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming
of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven
with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the
trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together
with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And
thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one
another with these words."
will say, 'How are the dead raised up? And with what body do
they come? Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive
unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that
body that shall be, but mere grain -- perhaps wheat or some
other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases....
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in
corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is
sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness,
it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised
a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is
a spiritual body....
"...flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we
shall 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 incorruptible, and we shall be
changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption,
and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this
corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on
immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is
written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'"
The final and glorious new heaven and new
earth are part of our future, not present. Today we are still bound by
time, and God's scheduled order must be fulfilled.
"Now I saw a new heaven and a new
earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city,
New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a
bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven
saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will
dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be
with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear
from their eyes; 'there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor
crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things
have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said,
'Behold, I make all things new.'”
"...the creation itself also will be
delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious
liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole
creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not
only that, but we also who have the first-fruits of the Spirit,
even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the
adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in
"And there shall be no more curse, but
the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants
shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name
shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there:
They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives
them light. And they shall reign forever and ever."
In the book of Revelation, we can read the
visions shown to the apostle John. In those visions, John didn't meet
or hug his beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. He didn't recognize
any of his fellow apostles who had been tortured and killed for their faith.
Human relationships were not the focus of John's vision. Instead, God
showed Him heavenly events and earthly judgments that would serve His specific purpose.
These were consistent with both Old Testament prophecies
-- and with the prophetic message of Jesus in Matthew 24 (also in
Luke 21 and Mark 13). They also add new details and warnings that would help prepare
God's people for the times ahead.
Don Piper's vision is more in line with
today's emerging church:
It's feeling-centered, not fact-centered.
It focuses on self, not on God.
It includes some old information (i.e. streets of gold), but no
It emphasizes human emotions, not God-given
Discernment is sadly lacking in churches
today, and no wonder! Many call themselves Christians but reject God's
absolute, unchanging truth! Apart from that truth, we cannot know
whether a vision or message brings truth or deception.
Please consider the following Scriptures.
They can help you discern the nature of Pastor Piper's message:
"Beloved, do not
believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of
God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1
"They speak a vision of their own heart,
not from the mouth of the Lord." Jeremiah 23:16-17
“Woe to the foolish
prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You
have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house
of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord. They have
envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the
Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word
may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you
not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have
not spoken.” Ezekiel 13:3-7
"Behold, I am
against those who prophesy false dreams,' says the Lord, 'and... cause My people to err by their lies and by their
Yet I did not send them or command them...."
"Beware lest anyone
cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the
tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world,
and not according to Christ. "
Finally, to avoid
deception, "put on the whole armor
"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the
whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the
devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this
age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to
withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians