3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NASB)
What does it mean to be poor in spirit? We know from this teaching of Jesus that those who are poor in spirit are blessed, and that theirs is the kingdom of heaven. So, what does it mean to be poor in spirit? When I think of someone who was poor in spirit, my mind immediately thinks of the prophet, Isaiah when He saw the Lord…
1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.5 Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” (Isaiah 6:1-7 NASB)
When Isaiah saw the Lord, he didn’t boldly stand and claim his rights. He didn’t demand anything of God. He didn’t seek special favor from God. Instead, in the presence of the Holy God, he was struck both by God’s holiness, and his own unworthiness.
Isaiah was poor in spirit. He recognized his own sinfulness in the presence of God. Isaiah knew that to God, our good deeds are nothing more than filthy rags…
6 But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV)
To put this into perspective, let’s look at the Hebrew word for filthy rag:
filthy rag, stained garment (fig. of best deeds of guilty people)
It sounds disgusting, but to God, our attempts at righteousness (i.e. – good deeds) are like handing Him a filthy menstrual pad. Isaiah recognized this, and when he found himself in the presence of the Lord, he realized how dirty he was, and it humbled him. In his humility, he didn’t try to justify himself. Instead, he cried out for mercy, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
How do you respond when you enter the Lord’s house? How do you enter in His presence? Do you recognize His worth? Do you recognize your own weaknesses? Do you have a haughty spirit or are you poor in spirit? If we want to enter God’s holy presence, we must be poor in spirit…
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:17 NKJV)
Do you want to be a part of the kingdom of heaven? Become poor in spirit…
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10 NKJV)
My daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters and I watched “Heaven is for Real” a couple of nights ago, and though many have said how wonderful it is, I can only assume they were watching a different movie with the same title, because the movie my family and I watched was far from wonderful. Indeed, I was saddened because the film makers, who produced this movie, showcased heaven, while ignoring Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. To ignore the King of kings, who reigns over both heaven and earth, is to negate His kingdom, for if the King of a kingdom is overlooked, then the kingdom itself has very little value.
As a born-again believer and follower of Christ, I do, indeed, believe that heaven is for real. Therefore, I am in complete agreement with the title of both the book and the movie. However, that is where my agreement with this low-quality film ends. You see, my belief in Jesus Christ, Messiah and Son of God, also known as the King of kings and Lord of lords, is based on what the bible says about Him and His kingdom, but sadly, this movie and the book fall short of the truth recorded in God’s word.
I could have tolerated the poor acting and the poorly written script, which placed the movie on par with other “B” movies…
However, what I could not tolerate, was a supposedly “true” story about heaven that failed to glorify God.
1 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will worship Him.4 And they will see His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads.5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.~ Revelation 22:1-5 NLT ~
This description of heaven, revealed by the Apostle John, who visited heaven while imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos, describes heaven, the place, however, his main focus was on God and His Son, for their thrones are front and center, and all things flow from their midst. Not only that, John also tells us that the servants of God will be worshiping Him, and that His name will be written on their foreheads. The movie mentioned nothing of these things. Also missing from the movie’s description of heaven were the Crystal Sea, and the trees of life on both sides of the river.
In the book and the movie, the boy claimed that everyone in heaven had wings, including him. However, while the Lord and some angelic beings are said to have wings in the scriptures, it never once says that humans have wings in heaven. Furthermore, the saints who have visited heaven, either in a vision or a dream, have never done so while having a near death experience. And what’s more, in scripture, those who truly have visited heaven, were either prophets or apostles, who had a close relationship with the Lord, not children or people with no prior relationship with God. In fact, according to Jesus, you cannot even see God’s kingdom, unless you are born again. Therefore, every person who has ever claimed to see heaven prior to or without being born again is either lying or else they have been deceived…
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”~ John 3:3 NLT ~
6 And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes.7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of His mouth and destroy him by the splendor of His coming.
9 This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles.10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies.12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12 NLT ~
In addition to what I’ve already shared with you, there were many other things about this movie that troubled me. However, to me, the most disturbing scene was when the embittered mother of a son (who was killed while in the military), questioned her pastor. “Do you think my son went to heaven?”
His answer to her question was a typical Hollywood answer. While it seemed like a nice and comforting answer, it clearly went against the bible’s teachings, thus rendering it untrue. In the movie, Pastor Todd Burpo gently asked her if she loved her son. Then, when she replied affirmatively, he told her that he loved his son too, and that God did as well. Then, he told her that God didn’t love her son any less than He loved Colton (Burpo’s son who had supposedly visited heaven), implying that since God had allowed Colton to go to heaven, He would also allow her son to go to heaven.
Without a doubt, God truly does love us and our children even more than we are able to, however, that God’s love for mankind does not guarantee our entrance into heaven. There was no mention of Christ or the need to be born again in Pastor Burpo’s response to this sad mother, and this is what both saddened and outraged me.
For Pastor Todd Burpo, who is supposed to be a servant of God, and therefore responsible for sharing the gospel of Christ with mankind, approved this movie, which deceives people into thinking that everyone has access to heaven, regardless of whether they have been born again or not. In fact, Todd Burpo is not the only minister to approve this deception, for T.D. Jakes, self-proclaimed Apostle/Bishop of The Potter’s House, a megachurch with a membership of close to 30,000 people, located in Dallas, Texas, was also one of the producers of this deceptive film. Remember, as a religious leader, these men are held to a higher standard than those who are not…
17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.~ Hebrews 13:17 NLT ~
2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. ~ 1 Peter 5:2 NLT~
1 Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. ~ James 3:1 NLT ~
Beloved readers, those who are called or appointed to be leaders of the church must be careful in doing so, for they will be judged more strictly. Leaders of the church must be above reproach, sharing the gospel of Christ truthfully, boldly and lovingly. They must know and love God and His word, and they must never preach, teach or minister for financial gain.
Beloved, God would not have us ignorant. Therefore, it is also our responsibility to know and understand His word, so that we will not be deceived. Though the writers and producers of both the book and the movie, “Heaven is Real,” claim this story is being shared to bring comfort and hope to people, and though this sounds like a good thing, let us look at this realistically.
The authors and producers of this film and book did not participate in this venture simply in order to minister to men, women and children, but for their own financial gain. Pastor Todd Burpo has had much financial gain since publishing his story, and you’d better believe that T.D. Jakes wouldn’t have taken part in the production of this movie had it not been a lucrative venture.
Beloved readers, let us remember these words of Jesus…
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” ~ John 14:6 NLT ~
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”~ John 3:3 NLT ~
If I were to grade this movie, I would give it an F, because though it was supposed to be a true story, when you hold it up to what God’s word says about heaven, it becomes clear that this story holds no truth. And though the movie attempted to glorify heaven; by failing to glorify God and His Son, Jesus Christ, the heaven presented in the movie held no splendor or appeal. Furthermore, although heaven is real, the heaven revealed in this movie was nothing more than a low-quality, fictitious fable.
To know what heaven in all its splendor and glory is truly like, I suggest you read the following scripture passages…
These are just a few of the scriptures that describe the only true heaven, created by Almighty God, for His glory. After reading of God’s glorious heavenly home, why would anyone want to settle for a low-budget imitation like the one presented in this movie?