Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 19, 2 Corinthians 12, Ezekiel 26, Psalm 74.
“2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-6
I sure would like to know what Paul means by “the third heaven.” Don’t you?
I sure would like to know what he saw when he was “caught up into paradise.” Wouldn’t that be helpful?
It would be nice if he could have added a couple of verses, or a chapter, or a letter outlining for us what he saw. I would love that Sunday School class!
But he didn’t. Indeed, he couldn’t (see verse 4). In fact, you could argue (see verses 6-9) that the Lord Himself kept Paul from giving us more information about what he saw when he was taken up to “paradise” and “the third heaven.”
Though we could wish he would have written more, and though we don’t have all the reasons why he didn’t or was prevented in doing so, we do have all that we need.
Had the Lord wanted us to know more about “paradise” prior to our going there, He would have told us. If anyone had reason to writee so we would have more information – it was the APOSTLE Paul. If God wanted to give us more insider information about “the third heaven” (and whatever that means), he would have through someone like – oh, say – the guy who wrote half of the New Testament. But He didn’t.
God specifically told another Apostle to write about that . . . and that is sufficient.
Christian, be careful when someone talks about an experience he or she had in heaven or hell. Be very, very careful.
I don’t want to discount what happened, or what they claim happened. Perhaps it did. I hope, for their joy and God’s glory, that it did. But be careful to put more value in what they claim, forgetting that we already have all that we need to know and be assured of.
Let’s not be quick to leave the rock solid conviction that God has told us what He wants us to know about heaven and hell and it is enough . . . it is sufficient. Had He wanted us to know more – He had a really good chance by giving Paul just another verse or two in 2 Corinthians 12. But He didn’t.
Let’s be diligent to do all we can to understand and know and teach and do what He has made clear to us. And let us do it in the hopes that our reward in glory will be so incredible – we will be struck speechless . . . except to praise the One before us.