10 “Heaven Is For Real” Discussion Questions

May 13, 2011 by
Filed under: Book Reviews, Salvation 

Is The Gag Order
On Reports Of Heaven Absolute

There are several recently published books that focus on the reality of heaven. The books are based on actual visits by people who temporarily died and report the sights, sounds and feelings they experienced while there.

Though this topic catches the interest of many people it evokes very diverse responses.

Some people believe there is no heaven and view the books as nothing more than hopeful thinking. A few of these types, however, are open minded enough to read the books.

There are many who believe heaven is a reality but they don’t all agree on how to view these reports.

  • Some read the books with a sense of hope, asking no questions at all.
  • Some approach the issue skeptically, not allowing the possibility of a temporary visit to heaven or at least not allowing any reports about it afterward.

It is interesting that these are the ones who are the least thoughtful. They dismiss the reports out of hand “claiming” the Bible does not allow such things, assuming the devil is behind it all, attempting to deceive the faithful.

  • Others are fair enough to ask important questions and search the Scriptures to see if the reports match what the Bible actually says.

One book that has become popular is Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo. I’ve listed a few questions to help stimulate questions about his son’s (Colton) visit to heaven, but since then more has been added.

The book became so popular the author decided to produce a DVD-Based Conversation Kit for families or small groups. It includes five sessions lasting 10 to 18 minutes each featuring Colton and his parents, Todd and Sonja, answering questions about heaven and their experiences.

To be honest, I think the videos are a bit preachy and often stray off topic. The questions asked aren’t always answered well but it does give you a glimpse of the people behind the story.

And the story is quite interesting.

Just under 4 years old when he visited heaven, Colton was quite a bit younger than most who report the same kind of experience. His book makes a great read and his experience, coupled with the Bible, makes a great study source and that is why I put a few discussion questions together specifically for this book. The questions are intended to explore:

  • Accusations undermining the validity of the experience.
  • Misunderstandings about Bible teaching on the subject.
  • Confusion around the differences between Colton’s experience and that of others.

Hopefully you will find the questions thought provoking regardless which category you fit in. And the DVD Kit will make the study personal. It brings the Burpos into your study group.

Questions

  1. If the devil is behind these reports, what exactly is his purpose? What deception is he trying to promote?
  2. Does the Bible say absolutely that visits to heaven are not possible? Has anyone been to heaven and come back to tell about it?
  3. How does Colton’s experience compare to that of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)?
  4. How does Colton’s experience compare to Paul’s visit to heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)? Note: some believe Paul was describing himself and some believe it was another person. I am taking the position that Paul was referring to himself in the third person.
  5. Does the Bible put an absolute gag order on reporting visuals of heaven or only on some of the things heard there? Exactly what is being disallowed?
  6. Does the book mention anything about Colton’s salvation before his visit to heaven? How does this influence your thinking on the age of accountability?
  7. Why was Colton allowed to see Jesus, even talk with Him, while other reports of heaven never mention seeing Jesus at all? Who would have greeted Colton on his arrival to heaven if Jesus hadn’t?
  8. Why did it take so long for Colton to reveal his entire story? Why didn’t he say something when he woke up in the hospital? From a child’s perspective how do you think he saw this experience?
  9. Is it reasonable to expect his experience in heaven to be exactly like every other person’s visit to heaven?
  10. How does his experience change the way you view heaven and this life?

These are just a few possible questions to spur your thinking and stimulate discussion. After you have read the book and given it some thought please share any other questions that come to mind.

Look here for a comparison of Don Piper’s and Colton Burpo’s experiences. It includes similarities and differences.

 

Heaven Is For Real is a bio of a “near death” experience (NDE) but without all the “weird” and “sketchy” images that usually accompany such stories.

It doesn’t focus on “long tunnels with lights at the end” or the sensation of watching medical personnel feverishly operate from a hovering out-of-body perspective. The details aren’t blurred and unanswered questions don’t abound. It is a matter of fact story shared from the perspective of an almost four-year-old child who had no preconceived ideas beforehand and explains everything casually.

Companion books are:


A similar book is “90 Minutes in Heaven”. A true life story that covers 15 years of Don Piper’s life and is best described as a tragedy with an unusual twist. We know what is happening in Don’s life now and where his journey eventually ends. What is surprising is the beginning.

 
 
 
 

A great companion book is “The Shack,” a fictional story of one man’s experience with tragedy and God’s compassionate response. The book is theological in a very down to earth way.

These are books to read more than once and discuss with family and friends.
 

Comments

19 Comments on 10 “Heaven Is For Real” Discussion Questions

  1. Tina fragile on Tue, 29th Nov 2011 2:52 am
  2. Colton, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your wonderful experience with us. I have always believed in God and heaven. I talk a lot to God. I am a very spiritual person although not sold on church. My dad and sister have both passed and I miss them a lot. I also talk a lot to them and I have had many awesome things happen to me that I feel is them contacting me. I read your book at a time in my life that I was really doubting God. Your book has given a renewed sense of hopefulness. Thank you so very much! I have shared your book with a couple co workers too. Colton, you were truly blessed to have this experience and sharing it with others. Thank you again. I hope you have a wonderful life as you were given this gift to do great things!!
    God bless!!!

  3. EnnisP on Tue, 29th Nov 2011 7:48 am
  4. Thanks for the visit and the comment, Tina, but I’m not Colton. If you would like to send him a message his facebook page is here.

    Glad you enjoyed the book.

  5. d on Fri, 28th Dec 2012 4:45 pm
  6. Animals do not go to heaven-read Genesis
    King David, Sampson are not in heaven. Only after Jesus died did the heavens receive. If they did go to heaven there would been have no need for Jesus to die!
    Children are never mentioned in heaven only masculine references are mentioned!
    Please look into the Bible before infecting others with wrong info.

  7. d on Fri, 28th Dec 2012 5:25 pm
  8. Another side note. Medically one can recall or have dreams from the subconscious And probably this boy has seen images or talk from his parents on various subjects, especially Family or biblically.It is a nice story but is not accurate from a bible stand point. The picture of Jesus he might have seen before this experience. Human bodies cannot enter the spiritual area, so the human looking Jesus is his subconscious.

  9. EnnisP on Fri, 28th Dec 2012 8:16 pm
  10. Thanks for the visit and the comments d but we’ll have to disagree. Since Jesus and the army He leads out of heaven are riding on white horses my guess is there will definitely be animals in heaven. The ones we lived with here? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not.

    And if you think neither David nor Samson went to heaven before Jesus died do you believe they are there now?

    I agree that Colton’s exposure to Bible images and teachings probably influenced his report to some degree but there are still too many unexplainable twists to his experience which don’t add up outside of an actual visit to heaven.

    But if you think this is all a lie and I’ve “infected” people with my posts, exactly what harm do you think has been done? Please explain.

  11. D on Sat, 29th Dec 2012 1:24 am
  12. Revelation is not to be taken literally. Just as it talks of dragons and beast, all stand for something else. David, Sampson and other God fearing men who have died are still dead. John 5:28-29 talks of a resurection yet to come. When one acts like a authority of a subject there should be some real facts to back up ones statements as others who read or listen think that it is truth if so or so says it is. It is too bad that people do not seek out the answers themselves but sad to say most Christians do not. The Bible at Proverbs chapt. 2 tells to search for the truth as if it was treaure.Once again why did Jesus have to die if David, Sampaon and others had already went to heaven. Also human bodies do not occupy the spirtual realm as the youing boy said.

  13. d on Sat, 29th Dec 2012 5:23 pm
  14. Reply to ?1. If the devil can get people to believe in non-truth material he pulled people away from God, which is his goal, 1 Peter 5:8 Isaiah 5:20. ?5 the Bible does say that all one needs to know is in Gods word, 1 Corth.13:9, 2 Tim.3:16-17. The Bible has Gods stamp of approvall in that it harmonizes, is accurate and has never been eliminated as some has tried thru the years.
    A young person is accountable when he or she knows right from wrong on most issues untill that time a young person would be judged according to the parents deeds.The time of Noah or Sodom & Gomora give us an example that young people may not survive Gods judgement.
    The rich man and Lazarus is symbolic Their deaths were also symbolic, representing a change in circumstances. The people who were looked down on now became beautiful iand the ones who thought they had Gods blessing now were look down on. Nothing to do with the book. Acts 5:33; 7:5The young man might had thought it was real as dreams some times do.His Father being a minister, a person represented to teach the people the correct information of the Bible, I think should have told the boy it can not happen.

  15. EnnisP on Sun, 30th Dec 2012 6:24 am
  16. I’m not getting your point.

    Colton’s experience highlights belief in heaven, Jesus, faith, salvation, the Bible, God’s watch-care in our lives, life after death, even resurrection in a way, hope and more.

    I’m assuming you believe those things. How can any of that pull us away from God or truth?

  17. d on Mon, 31st Dec 2012 3:47 am
  18. Yes their is a heaven,Jesus,faith,salvation,Bible and other facts written in the Bible. It is the idea of Jesus being a man in heaven, animals in heaven, trees grass in heaven. No one has written of such in the Bible. Yet it seems many are willing to believe this book as if was as good as the Bible, Gods word. Yes it would be good as non-fiction but a fiction,one that really happened, no! As I said, if Satan can get one to believe that it is good to believe that a young boy visited heaven and was blessed to see all this it destroys the need for the Bible, or if nothing else takes one away from the Bible to gain accurate knowledge. All of htis would had to been a miracle from God and why would that be needed when we all have the Bible to gain accurate knowledge. Read John 17:3.

  19. EnnisP on Mon, 31st Dec 2012 5:45 am
  20. The Bible doesn’t specifically say grass, tress and animals are not in heaven so how can you be so sure they won’t be there. Personally, I would be very surprised if these things were missing. In fact, and again, Revelation does mention a tree of life from which those in heaven eat. And before you say it isn’t literal remember that this tree is also mentioned in Genesis and Ezekiel so it is more than just symbolism.

    Regarding Jesus being a man, have you ever heard of the hypostatic union? It is the word we use to refer to the fact that Jesus is both completely God and completely man. He was eternally God before and became completely man also in the incarnation. As I understand it, it was His manhood that qualified Him as an appropriate sacrifice for the sins of humanity. So we shouldn’t be surprised that Colton saw Him as a man.

    So, my question remains. What, if anything, in Colton’s story misrepresents God, the Bible or truth?

  21. d on Mon, 31st Dec 2012 4:03 pm
  22. All these trees you mentioned in Ezekiel and Revelation are not literral but are symbolic of something else. Genesis trees were used as Gods right to have man obey him.Genesis account was not a vision as the others are.
    This word you used, hypostatic, is not found in the Bible. Yes Jesus had to be a man to die for us. He had to be of an accountable age. But man in the flesh do not go to heaven.
    Where in the Bible does it say children are there?
    For me, I see misrepresentation of Gods word in this book.

  23. EnnisP on Mon, 31st Dec 2012 4:18 pm
  24. So the tree of life in Genesis is not the tree of life in Revelation, Jesus doesn’t have a body in heaven and children don’t go to heaven. You have some very interesting beliefs.

  25. d on Mon, 31st Dec 2012 8:15 pm
  26. You did not answer my points. Where in the Bible does it say children are in heaven?
    Do you agree that 2 of the accounts mentioned above were visions and the Genesis account there was a real tree?
    Do you think that there is a real tree that can give you life?
    When Adam & Eve ate of the fruit did they die right then, or did they die later because they sinned, perfect people who disobeyed? Did that tree give them life? This tree is symbolic in that do you want to follow God or do want to be diobedient as SATAN DID And his followers. Your choice to symbolicaly to choose.
    And no I do not believe that God and Jesus are the same as many accounts Jesus referred to his Father, not doing his will but his Fathers. We do not agree..

  27. Sue on Fri, 23rd May 2014 10:31 pm
  28. Just letting you know that our Youth attended a viewing of “Heaven is For Real” this week and as I was studying (the bible) and preparing for the questions and discussion we will be having on Sunday, I found your site. Our Youth have found the movie very thought provoking and I look forward to using some of the bible verses I’ve researched and the verses the students have looked up to answer at least a few of their questions. I found your discussion with “d” quite interesting. One of our goals for our Youth is to help them understand the bible for themselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit. I found many of “d’s” observations just enough “off” to make me think this is someone who is not studying for themselves, but regurgitation things they have been told. If nothing else, the books and movies you describe could lead people to ask questions and, hopefully, seek the answers from the bible. Thanks for you comments.

  29. EnnisP on Sat, 24th May 2014 9:09 am
  30. Thanks for stopping by Sue. And for taking the time to encourage your youth to think through this for themselves. Hope all goes well in your discussion time. Would love for you to share what the kids thought about Colton’s experience. In fact, I would be willing to post any details of their conversation and conclusions here (without naming names or giving personal details, of course.) KIds might have a better perspective on this than many preprogrammed adults. “Out of the mouths of babes!”

    By the way, some people do take a skeptical approach not because they don’t think it’s biblical but because this isn’t an everyday occurrence and it focuses on something (the after life) that we have very limited experience with. Even the Burpo’s church had a difficult time accepting it at first.

    All the best on the discussion.

  31. Sue on Thu, 29th May 2014 11:33 pm
  32. Discussion with our Youth went just great! They brought in many, many verses about heaven so we categorized them as to: What is heaven like? Who is in heaven? What will we be doing in heaven? How does anyone get to heaven? We also talked about the difference between Abraham’s Bosom and heaven. We had great discussion about how the verses compared to the movie as well as the book. (isn’t that what we are suppose to do? Hold the scripture up as our measuring tool?) God is amazing … I’m an artist, so when the question was raised why the horse of Jesus is white in the scripture, but was all colors in the movie, I knew that “pure white” is, in fact, all colors, while black is the absence of all colors! The Holy Spirit continues to guide and amaze me! Thank you for the insights raised in your site. I was able to assure the students who had not yet read the book about the unquestioning stance that a acceptance and repentance leading to a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to be allowed in heaven with a Holy God. We had just finished a series of bible studies and “how to’s” of witnessing, so it was a GREAT way to round up the study! Thanks again,

  33. EnnisP on Mon, 2nd Jun 2014 6:16 am
  34. Thanks Sue. I’m very glad the discussion went well and appreciate you sharing this.

    If you have the time and are interested in doing a write-up summarizing the discussion, I would love to post it on my site. I’m sure it would be helpful to others also.

    Well done on giving the kids a chance to read and think through the topic!

  35. Sue on Mon, 2nd Jun 2014 6:21 am
  36. Hmmm not sure how I would write it up. It was a free sharing of verses having to do with facts listed in the bible about heaven. We categorized them with discussion about where they fit and what they said (also if it was something mentioned in the movie). I could list the topics and verses we came up with. AS always, the verses are almost all self explanatory. We did talk about the difference between the heavens, i.e. the sky and heavens i.e. the throne room of God!

  37. EnnisP on Mon, 2nd Jun 2014 6:44 am
  38. Well, if you send me the topics and verses, I’ll see what I can do with that and maybe ask a few questions if needed. Whatever I do, I will share with you and make sure you’re happy with it before I post it.

    I think seeing how kids deal with the topic could be interesting and helpful.

    It might be best if you use the contact form on this site to send anything.

Speak your mind...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!




 
  • Enter your email address.

 

 
Tim Pepper: Beautiful Frustration
 

Tim Pepper - Beautiful Frustration

This text will be replaced by the flash music player.