Have you fulfilled God’s plan for your life?
When I was in my mid-thirties, I was invited to become the pastor of a main line evangelical church, even though I was a Pentecostal minister. The Lord blessed, the congregation grew and I received many invitations to address diverse functions in the town. Then everything changed when the Lord told me to speak to the church concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit with its initial evidence of speaking in other tongues. I told the Lord that the church would divide. He replied, “I know them, but I want to know you. Will you preach My message or those messages that they want to hear?” The congregation preferred messages that essentially consisted of simple gospel stories.
I then made a commitment to the Lord to preach His message and be His messenger. I started preaching and teaching the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Although many received the teaching, the church divided. Not only did many within the church oppose me, but also many in the town who did not even attend church. It went so far that people would cross over on the other side of the street to avoid meeting me.
The effect of this rejection produced tremendous pressure, which I felt in my mind and heart. This pressure was so great that at times I had difficulty breathing and concentrating on the work of the ministry. In my distress, I cried out unto the Lord, “Please take me!”
Some two or three nights later, I woke up around 3 a.m. There stood an angel above my bed. I came out of my body and stood by the side of the angel. I looked down at my wife, who was breathing normally but my body was lifeless. The reality that my life was over then gripped me. I could do no more for Jesus upon earth. It was sobering and sorrowful. It was an overwhelming experience.
Then without a word, the angel turned, and I turned. Then I realized that I was completely under the control of this angel. He looked upwards; I looked upwards. We then started to go up through the roof of the house, which seemed to dissolve before us. Quicker than the speed of light, we passed the moon, then the stars; we were heaven bound. Heaven’s gates became visible at first faintly and then more and more clearly. Yet as we got nearer and nearer, grief gripped my heart. It was no joy for me to see those gates of light. (I will explain why later on.) Then we arrived before the gates but did not enter. Instead with the angel by my side, I saw my life pass before my eyes. This occurred in a series of cameos on my left side. From the time of my birth to the end of my life, however, some cameos were blank. These I understood to have been instances in my life for which I had asked God for forgiveness, and therefore there was now no record.
My life had been shown me. All this I understood. I was going to heaven because I was saved by the blood, born again, baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, I was a preacher of righteousness and by His grace, living the life I preached; yet my heart was filled with grief.
Then I was given understanding of truth that had not at that time been revealed to me. Ahead before my eyes was God’s plan for my life that had been planned before the foundation of the world, and I was dying before my time. Therefore I had not fulfilled His purposes for my life. The grief was unbearable such that I cried out in my spirit, “Please, Lord, send me back, and give me another chance.” Apparently my cry was heard. Although I did not hear a voice, my angel did.
He turned; I turned, still completely under his control. We went together downward, downward towards earth that I could clearly see. And thus we arrived at the parsonage, after having gone through the roof that again appeared to dissolve. We stood above my bed. My wife was still sleeping peacefully and by her side, my dead body. The angel touched my body, touched me, and I entered back into my body.
Later when I asked the Lord why I had that experience, the response was, “It was so that you might warn my people concerning eternal judgment. They will not only have to give an account of things done in the flesh (which were illustrated by those cameos), but also of the degree to which they have fulfilled God’s plan for their lives which was determined before the foundation of the world.”
This plan unfolds to us to the measure that we walk daily in obedience to that which He has already revealed to us. There will be many who, with sorrow, will find on that Day of Judgment that they have fallen short of His plan for their lives.
The Blackness of Darkness
So often one is asked, “Where is hell?” The Scriptures give the answer: “In the nether parts of the earth.” In other words, it is below us under the surface of the earth. This experience that I had recently will illustrate this fact.
I was writing a book entitled “The Life of Christ.” I had come to a place where I felt an illustration of Christ would be very propitious. Being English, and with a moderate knowledge of the royal family, I was selecting an English king who had lived in the 14th century. I was in my apartment on the ground floor, about to write concerning him, when the floor suddenly opened up and I found myself in the Blackness of Darkness. (It was what the Apostle Jude named this part of hell.)
At this point I want to explain that there are many sections or parts of hell of which I have had visions; the Lake of Fire and the Bottomless Pit to name but a few. This, however, was no vision. I was in hell. The blackness was so thick it had texture and could be felt. It was impenetrable.
Even in the darkest of nights here on earth, one’s eyes can adjust to the darkness and one can navigate and discern form. However, it is impossible in this section of hell. It is truly the Blackness of Darkness. There is the sense of the so-called terror of darkness that grips one.
We have perhaps all experienced, at one time or other, either as a child or later in life, that terror which only night can bring. The dark impenetrable forests of Africa at nightfall, when the creatures of the night come forth are frightening but there is always the hope that the darkness will give way to the light of morning sunrise. You expect the rays of sunlight within a given number of hours. No such hope exists in these somber and foreboding depths of the Blackness of Darkness.
How long I was there I know not. Time seemed not to exist. While I seemingly walked on the very texture of that darkness, a figure came forth. He was clothed in the robes of a king with a crown upon his head. I knew who he was, although he was from centuries gone by. It seems whether in heaven or in hell, our senses become very keen and our knowledge of circumstances and people very accurate.
He addressed me in a manner of an educated and gentleperson. “Kind sir,” he said, “Can you show me the way to the light?” The only response I could give was to quote Scripture: “It is given unto man once to die and then the judgment.” At that he glided back into the darkness that seemed to simply assimilate and absorb him.
Then again I was alone in that impenetrable darkness filled with such foreboding. I felt hopelessly lost. This was no vision; it was reality. Oh the grief, the sorrow, the coldness in my heart. No comfort; just the agonizing pangs of a lost soul.
I cried out in my spirit, “Jesus, save me!” As I looked up my eyes could see the circumference of the earth’s surface and there stood Jesus. He seemed miles away. At that moment it was as though, still standing on the surface, He stretched forth His hand, which became elongated. He grasped me and pulled me towards Himself.
I found myself back in my apartment much shaken in spirit, soul, and body, but grateful, oh so grateful to the Savior of the world, who had died for me and was my personal Savior.
The reason for this experience is perhaps two-fold. First, we should be careful concerning our illustrations. We should not judge men with the seeing of the eye or the hearing of the ear. In other words, we are not to judge people as historians or others depict them. We should seek to know people as God does.
Then too the awesome reality of hell was made so clear to me and has engendered in me the desire to save souls. The great, as well as the small, are together engulfed in the misery and torment of hell. Incidentally, I have had other visions of the great men admired by their colleagues in the Blackness of Darkness forever. Being great while on earth does not qualify one for heaven. Only by being born again through accepting Jesus and walking uprightly does.
May these accounts put a burning desire in our hearts to save souls from hell.