Recent days have seen a rise in controversy over supposed celestial journeys. Not surprisingly, they have proved to lack authenticity.
But there was one individual who did experience a trip to heaven that was authentic. Nearly 2000 years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote, speaking of himself:
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
Without seeking it out, the Apostle saw the real heaven; the dwelling place of God, angels, the exalted Christ, and those who trust in him as Lord and Savior. This truly was a supernatural experience beyond imagination; something of the extraordinary. And it really happened.
Moreover, we find the description of the event recorded in Scripture. If nothing else, we can learn that Scripture is sufficient (as opposed to 6-year olds, for example) on matters of heaven, and the like. And, what else can we learn from the Apostle’s experience? How did he speak about it after it happened? What did he say? What can we learn from him?
From the Apostle’s genuine experience, we can learn several things on how to speak of a visit to heaven. Here are a few observations from the way in which Paul described his unmatched and unrepeatable visit: