Movie: Miracles From Heaven?

Question
I saw the movie "Miracles from Heaven," staring Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, and Martin Henderson. Is it true that people can be translated to Heaven and see God and come back like in the movie?
Answer

Thanks for your question. Let's look at some of the biblical facts:

Heaven:

The Bible has some factual events of people going to Heaven, but not returning to earth: (1) Enoch (Gen 5:22-24) and (2) Elijah (2 Kings 2:11).

Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up in a vision (Isa 6:1-4). Ezekiel saw visions of God (Ezek 1:1). Paul was caught up into Heaven (2 Cor. 12:2-4), had numerous other visions (Acts 9:3-12; 16:9-10; 18:9-10; 22:17-21; 23:11; 27:23-24), and the Gospel was preached to him by revelation (Gal 1:11-12). The apostle John was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day and saw visions of Heaven and wrote about the end times (Rev. 1:10; 4-6, et. al.).

Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John all focused upon the glory of God in their Scriptural accounts. They each mention their own humility, fear, or unworthiness in such experiences (Isa 6:5; Ezek 1:28; 2 Cor 12:1-10; Rev 1:17). Micah (2 Chron 18:18) and Stephen (Acts 7:56) had glimpses of Heaven, but essentially did not describe it.

Of course, there is a difference between a vision of Heaven and God and literally going there seeing them. John 3:13 says, "No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man." And John 1:18 says, "No one has seen God at any time." So, the incidents in the above two paragraphs are visions, not literal physical encounters.

And what about death and traveling to Heaven, seeing God, and then returning home to earth? Lazarus died and was buried and then brought back to life (John 11:38-44). However, there is no descriptions of Heaven or God from Lazarus. The same could be said of the widow's son whom Elijah raised (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Eutychus who was healed by Paul (Acts 20:9-12).

So, except for the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:13), there is no biblical record of dieing, going to Heaven, seeing God, and then coming back to the earth.

Miracles:

God does work miracles (Psa 77:14; cf. Job 5:9). God heals illnesses - even today (Acts 14:3). All genuine healing is from God. See "Do Miracles Happen Today?" and "Why Do Christians Need Doctors?" below.

A significant outpouring of the gift of miracles and healings appear to come for specific periods of time throughout redemptive history: (1) the time of Moses and Joshua; (2) the time of Elijah and Elisha; (3) and the time of Christ and the Apostles. God moved in tremendous ways during these ages; however, none of these periods lasted more than 100 years. Note, that there were some isolated miracles not during these periods (2 Kings 19-20, Dan. 3), and I personally believe that isolated miracles of this sort are still possible today. There is no limit to God's sovereignty.

However, miracles are "signs." A sign points to something other and greater than itself. When one observes a McDonald's sign ("Golden Arches") we don't go up to the sign and stare in awe and wonder and end our journey there. Rather, we go to where the sign points - the restaurant. A miracle should point us to the person performing it. In every case they should point to God alone (Exod 14:30-31; Acts 3:8; 9:3-35; 40-42). Of course, there are false signs too. Any sign which does not point one to God is from Hell itself (2 Thess 2:9).

The Movie:

Miracles from Heaven is a well acted movie. I especially enjoyed the parts of the mother played by Jennifer Garner and the father played by Martin Henderson. The doctor played by Eugenio Derbez was absolutely incredible.

The emotional story is about "Anna Beam," the little girl in the movie played by Kylie Rogers, who had a very serious life-long medical illness (pseudo-obstruction motility disorder). Unless there was a miracle or a medical breakthrough she was going to die. While being treated for the illness but at home playing, she fell 3 stories inside a hollowed out tree. While many prayed, it took firefighters hours to rescue her. Amazingly, she suffered no serious injuries, not even a broken bone.

However, during her unconscious state she says she went to Heaven. She allegedly sat upon Jesus' lap and was told everything was going to be all right. "Heaven was very bright and it was very peaceful," Annabel recalled. "There was no pain, and that's why I wanted to stay. And I sat on Jesus' lap and I asked Him if I could stay." A short time later her serious medical situation reversed itself. This was confirmed by MRI, CT scans, and other tests. She was healed and has been for years.

This story is alleged to be true.

However, there are some problems. While I believe God healed Anna Beam, I don't believe she went to Heaven or sat on Jesus' lap. First, there are no witnesses or other evidence or other confirmation. Second, there was no fear or unworthiness expressed as there was with Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John. Third, there is no biblical record of going to Heaven and seeing a God face to face, sitting on his lap, etc. (John 3:13). Fourth, others that have had visions of Heaven were humbled and gave all glory to God; not making 18 million gross in 5 days on a movie.

In real life, Anna Beam was on heavy legal doses of Tramadol which is known to cause vivid hallucinations. The biblical record does not include anyone on narcotics going to Heaven and seeing God. In addition, her fall upon her head could have been used as a secondary cause of God (WCF 5, see "Does God Change His Mind?" below) to in essence restart her nervous system to begin operating properly. This would be a miracle and account for her wonderful recovery. However, while all healing is from God, going to Heaven and sitting on Jesus' lap just isn't biblical.

Related Topics:

Movie: Heaven is for Real.
Do Miracles Happen Today?
Why Do Christians Need Doctors?
Proof of Miracles
Does God Change His Mind?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).