Friday, August 19, 2016

The Spiritual Meaning of Works in Scripture, and Why Protestants have it Wrong



The Protestant churches have committed a major error which is the foundation of their theology, in which they have misinterpreted the meaning of the "works of the law" in the letters of the apostle Paul.  The end result is that many (not all) have made religion one of belief alone, and that they do not have to do anything with their lives.  And yet scripture says all will be judged according to their works (see Matt. 16:27).  If all are judged according to their works, how is it that Paul says we are justified by faith without works of the law? I bring this up because this became a matter of discussion for the "life review" we will all experience after death, which I describe in the previous blog post The Life Review of the Near Death Experience and the Visions of Swedenborg, as well as The Christianity of the Being of Light of the Near Death Experience.  What the Near Death Experience shows is that God cares about what we do with our life, and we will be held accountable for what we do with our life.  It is not about one's belief. It is about how we love others.

This issue of "works" comes up repeatedly in discussion with Protestants. What many do not understand is the word "works" is used in different contexts in scripture, and in each context it has a completely different meaning.  There are three main definitions of works, and the same word is used in all contexts:

  1. The works of the law refer to the rituals of the Jewish or Mosaic law.
  2. Works refer to self-meritorious works, works done for the sake of one's self or for the sake of appearance towards others.
  3. Works refer to acts of love and charity based on faith, or one's love towards God and others.

I will repeat this again: in the letters of Paul, Paul speaks of works of the rituals of the Mosaic law, which have been abrogated.  Unfortunately a large number of Christians thinks that Paul is speaking about all works in general, and thus they have made religion one of praise and lip service only.  Many Protestants in particular think all works are by nature self-meritorious or hypocritical (#2 above) and they completely forget about works done out of faith.

PREVIOUS POSTS EXPOSING THE ERROR OF PROTESTANT THEOLOGY

Instead of completely repeating myself, I recommend for anyone interested to explore the following posts in which I discuss Protestant theology:

The Fallacy of Salvation and Justification by Faith Alone - explains how Jesus condemned belief alone. How "faith" is not just merely belief, but means "living by the truth." How Protestants falsely teach the will of each person is passive instead of active.

Is Salvation a Free Gift? - explains the fallacy of the teaching that one must do nothing to enter heaven.  A covenant is a TWO WAY relationship, and is based on love and doing God's commandments.

The False Theological Definition of the word "Grace" - Grace does not mean "unmerited favour." This is a false theological definition invented by Protestants.

The Fundamental Error of the Protestant Faith - this lists multiple quotes from scripture, showing that a spiritual life is not just a belief system in the memory. It is a life of works according to faith.

The Error of the Protestant Churches - this again explains what Paul meant by "works of the law."

A New Perspective on Paul and the New Church Perspective on Paul - Protestant theologians have comes to realize, from indisputable research on Jewish religion of the first century A.D., that Paul was talking about the rituals of the Mosaic law. But Swedenborg pointed this out over 250 years ago.

The Prophecy of Pauline Christianity - this discusses how scripture foresaw how the false teaching of belief alone would come to invade and destroy the church from within.

IS NEW CHURCH THEOLOGY PELAGIAN?

One interesting view I have heard from a Protestant is that New Church theology is a blatant form of Pelagianism.  This was new to me.  So I looked up what Pelagianism was, I had never heard of it.  From Pelagianism:
Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid. This theological theory is named after the British monk Pelagius (354–420 or 440), although he denied, at least at some point in his life, many of the doctrines associated with his name. Pelagius taught that the human will, as created with its abilities by God, was sufficient to live a sinless life, although he believed that God's grace assisted every good work. Pelagianism has come to be identified with the view (whether taught by Pelagius or not) that human beings can earn salvation by their own efforts.
Note the last sentence: opposition to any effort by someone to obtain salvation.  Swedenborg did not discuss Pelagianism directly, but merely lists it as a heresy in Apocalypse Revealed.  Anyone familiar with what was taught in the New Church theology knows that it has nothing to do with Pelagianism.  Here is what the New Church teaches:

  1. All good is from God alone.  God alone is good.
  2. Man of his selfish ego is nothing but evil. All of one's evil comes from the selfish ego.
  3. Inasmuch as one turns against one's selfish evil, and repents, one opens oneself to receiving God's love.
  4. God's love flows into us inasmuch as we act from the will according to love.
  5. Although we do good as if from ourselves, we must always acknowledge it is God who allows us to do good.

This is spelled out in more detail in the works Doctrine of Life and Doctrine of Faith, which are both found in the work Doctrines of the New Jerusalem.

Protestant theology, in its worst form, declares the will of a man passive, that God does everything through the Holy Spirit.  But we are not passive, our will is active.  There is an influx of Divine good into our will inasmuch as we receive it, and do it.  For that is the nature of love: it desires to do good, to make others happy, in outward act.

ARE WE CAPABLE OF GOOD?

Having been introduced to Protestant theology, I can tell you that most Protestants are introduced to Christianity through the writings of Paul, especially the book of Romans and Galatians.  And here it is not understood that Paul was writing against the Judaizers, who kept trying to get the early Christians to follow the rituals of the Mosaic law.  But there is an interesting quote that Protestants will use, to indicate that each person has no capacity to do good:
For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
And not [rather], (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
What then? are we better [than they]? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one
. (Rom. 3:7-12)
This passage is interesting. Throughout the letters of Paul, Paul is constantly defending himself against being a liar, but in verse 7, he actually admits to having committed a lie.  There is actually a bit of historical evidence of a big conflict between the apostle Paul and the apostle James - for more information on this, see Christus Victor, Pauline Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Another interesting point here is that in Rom, 3:13-18 Paul is quoting the Septuagint version of Psalm 14, which contains 8 lines not found in the Masoretic and were a later addition. But besides that, what of this verse from the Psalm:
There is none who does good, no, not one. (Ps. 14:3)
Does this mean that no one can do any good, and that thus works are of no account?  No.  This is an example of how a verse taken out of context can be distorted.  Psalm 14 begins as follows:
The fool has said in his heart, there is no God. (Ps. 14:1)
Thus the Psalm is speaking of those who do not believe in God, and do everything for their own self.  These become self-meritorious or hypocritcal works, depending on the intent. Thus they are incapable of doing good, for actions are judged according to intent, and anything done for selfish purposes is regarded as evil, not good.  That this is so, is shown by other passages:
Many say, Who will show us good?Jehovah, lift up the light of Your face upon us. (Ps. 4:6)
This speaks of those who deny that anyone can do good.  But the second half speaks of the Divine truth (the light) from the Lord's face, which signifies Divine love and mercy.  Divine love and mercy flows into all people who do according to God's will.  God's light flows into our understanding through faith, and God's mercy flows into us through our will.  We have no good apart from God:
You have said unto Jehovah, You are my Lord,My goodness is not beyond You. (Ps. 16:2)
This is an acknowledgment that one's good originates from God.  We are but recipients of it.  But we are not passive recipients, for the will by nature is active.  Jehovah is Divine Love, which flows into the Lord as to the Divine Human (Heb. Adonai), and from the Lord flows into us through our will.  One must seek good from the Lord, and not from the selfish ego:
They who enquire after Jehovah shall not want any good. (Ps. 34:10)
And who says we should not do good?  That is against all of scripture, and destroys Christianity from within.  That it is not true, and a false teaching, can be shown from this verse:
Depart from evil and do good (Ps. 34:14)
So telling people that they must do good, by refusing evil, and following the commandments, is not Pelagianism.  It is the Christian way of life.  It is an active effective Christianity, one that is useful not only in this life but the life to come.  When one understands that one's good and truth are from the Lord alone, he or she then give glory and honor to the Lord alone:
By giving to the Lord glory and honor nothing else is meant in the Word but to acknowledge and confess that all truth and all good are from Him, and thus that He is the only God; for He has glory from the Divine truth and honor from the Divine good. These things are signified by glory and honor in the following passages: Jehovah made the heavens; glory and honor are before Him (Ps. xcvi. 5, 6). O Jehovah God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with glory and honor (Ps. civ. 1). The works of Jehovah are great; glory and honor are His work (Ps. cxi. 2, 3). Glory and honor Thou layest upon Him, blessings for ever (Ps. xxi. 5, 6). These things are said of the Lord. Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O mighty in glory and honor; in Thine honor mount up, ride upon the Word of truth (Ps. xlv. 3, 4). Thou hast made him little less than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor (Ps. viii. 5). The glory of Lebanon hast Thou given unto it, the honor of Carmel and Sharon: they shall see the glory of Jehovah, and the honor of our God (Isa. xxxv. 1, 2). These and the foregoing are concerning the Lord; besides other places, as Ps. cxlv. 4, 5, 12; Apoc. xxi. 24, 26. Besides, where the Divine truth is treated of in the Word, the word glory is used (n. 629); and where the Divine good is treated of, honor.” (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 249)
If you have been taught otherwise, examine the scriptures, and determine what you have been taught is according to the truth.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Life Review of the Near Death Experience and the Visions of Swedenborg



There are many who have clinically died and were revived by doctors in the last 50 years, and there is now a wealth of testimony of a common "Near Death Experience" that everyone follows after they die.  Many report seeing a Being of light at the end of a tunnel, and in the 18th century Emanuel Swedenborg had waking visions of the spiritual world of heaven and saw a "central sun" in which God dwelled in heaven.  This is confirmation that Swedenborg did indeed receive a heavenly revelation, for this was long before doctors had the medical expertise to revive people after they had died (see The Christianity of the Being of Light of the Near Death Experience).

In the previous blog post, I concentrated on Being of Light or the central Sun of heaven.  Here I want to focus on the life review that people have, in which they see every moment of their life flash before their eyes, in which they see how their actions have effected other people.  We can learn a lot from reports of this life review: one is, the Biblical doctrine of judgment after death is not a myth, it is real. The other is, we can learn how to review our lives NOW, in fact review it every day, and think how our actions effect others. We can learn that it is love which is most important in life, that we should rise above our own selfish desires and love others. This is what is important to the Being of Light: love is the answer.

First I will give a summary of the life review of the Near Death Experience, and then I will quote passages where Swedenborg was able to describe the exact same phenomenon in his waking visions of heaven.  The comparison is interesting, for it describes how the life review takes place in more detail. While most NDEs only last several minutes, imagine having an experience lasting 27 years.  So we can learn a lot from the writings of Swedenborg on this matter.

THE LIFE REVIEW OF THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE

There are many testimonies to choose from for Near Death Experiences.  It was once a taboo subject.  It also was once a foreign and unknown topic to traditional churches whose ministers and priests did not understand it, but even that is beginning to change. Now there is a flood of information on the subject.  There is a good summary at The Life Review and the Near-Death Experience and I will be quoting portions here.

The purpose of the life review is to learn, gain insights, and grow as a spiritual being.  We essentially see how we effect others.  The Golden Rule is the essence of it all.

Here is a list of the mechanics of the life review:

a.Viewing a movie of your entire life.
b.Viewing a movie of important segments of your life.
c.Viewing a video of knowledge concerning your entire life.
d.Viewing a panoramic view of your entire life.
e.Viewing a vivid, three-dimensional color display of your entire life.
f.Viewing hundreds of television screens with each screen showing a home movie of one event in your life.
g.Viewing a three-dimensional hologram of your life in full color, sound, and scent.
h.Viewing scenes of your life in little bursts.
i.Viewing scenes of your life flitting from scene to scene.
j.Viewing scenes of your life at a tremendous speed.
k.Viewing scenes of your life in fast-forward.
l.Viewing scenes of your life in a way that can be slowed down or paused in order to focus on a particular detail of your life.
m.Reliving your entire life with scenes of your life projected around you.
n.Having a feeling like a dam has burst in your mind and every memory has flowed out.
o.Having a religious figure or higher being initiating the life review.
p.Having the life review occur when getting in close proximity to the Being of Light.
q.Having a higher being reading from a Book of Life (for Christian experiencers).
r.Having a higher being reading from the Akashic Records (for Hindu experiencers).
s.Having a life review before a Council of Elders who are seated at a table.
t.Having a life review take place in a domed room with square screens up and down the walls and on the ceiling.
u.Having a life review take place in a amphitheater the size of a sports stadium filled with light beings who will observe your review.

Here is a list of the characteristics of the life review:

a.Instantly becoming everyone you came in contact with in your entire life (feeling their emotions, thinking their thoughts, living their experiences, learning their motives behind their actions).
b.Reliving every detail of every second of your life, every emotion, and every thought simultaneously.
c.Re-living the way you dealt with others and how others dealt with you.
d.Viewing a few special deeds in your life.
e.Replaying a part of your life review to focus on a particular event for instruction.
f.Viewing past lives and/or your future.
g.Feeling a strong sense of responsibility.
h.Feeling a sense of judgment or self-judgment (often these feelings transform from judgment to self-judgment).
i.The review is a fact-finding process rather than a fault-finding process.
j.Your motives for everything will be as visible as your actions.
k.The negative events you expected to see did not show up because you had a change of heart.

What is important here to note: all of our memories are recorded.  And not just the external actions, but also our motives and intentions for each of our actions.  This is important to note, because many of these same features were described in the visions of Swedenborg in the 18th century.  This again is evidence that Swedenborg was indeed given an accurate account of heaven and hell, and that the spiritual teachings concerning the Bible and Christianity are indeed correct.

Here are some insights gained from the life review:

a.Deeds which we might consider to be unimportant may turn out to be more important than we can possibly imagine on the Other Side.
b.Deeds which we might consider to be important may turn out to be insignificant on the Other Side.
c.Deeds which we might consider to be "very good" may not be considered as such on the Other Side if the deeds were done solely for self.
d.Deeds which we may have given "no second thought about" might amaze us when we learn how much they meant to God and the Other Side.
e.Deeds which are considered most valuable on the Other Side are those which express love in a greater, purer and unconditional manner.
f.Deeds which are considered to be "greatest" on the Other Side are usually those which are not done with great fanfare, but are small acts of kindness toward others.
g.Deeds which are considered "greatest" on the Other Side are often the little things we do out of kindness and love because they are more spontaneous and reveal our true motive behind the deeds. Such deeds demonstrate in a better way who we really are.

What this shows is God cares about what you do with your life, what are your deeds and works - and the intentions behind them.  Deeds that are self-aggrandizing, to promote one's selfish interest, are not important. Small acts of kindness are what are important.  It is one's life, not one's belief system, is what influences one's life review.  And we see there is no man is an island, we all effect others in one way or another.  We are all part of the butterfly effect.



THE INTERNAL MEMORY OF THE SOUL

So we have all these reports of a life review after death, how does it happen?  Swedenborg was given an interesting explanation: in addition to an external memory, the physical one, we have an internal spiritual memory.  Everything is recorded in this spiritual memory, what we do is written in our very nature.  Despite all the research on the Near Death Experience, scientists cannot go as far as Swedenborg in providing an explanation.  I thought it was interesting enough to quote Swedenborg in full on this matter:
"It is to be known that all the good a man has thought and done from infancy even to the last of his life, remains; in like manner all the evil; so that not the least of it altogether perishes. Both are inscribed on his book of life, that is, on each of his memories, and on his nature, that is, his disposition and genius. From them he has formed for himself a life, and so to say, a soul, which is such after death. But good is never so mixed up with evil, and evil with good, that they cannot be separated; for if they should be so mixed, the man would perish for ever. The Lord provides for this. When a man comes into the other life, if he has lived in the good of love and charity, the Lord then separates his evils, and by what is good with him elevates him into heaven. But if he has lived in evils, that is, in things contrary to love and charity, the Lord then separates from him what is good, and his evils bring him into hell." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2256.2)
The life review actually comes from the internal memory of the soul.  And note that, there are two results from the life review: a life in heaven, or a life in hell, depending on what course of action the person chose of his or her own free will.
"Whatever things a man hears and sees, and by which he is affected, are without the man's knowledge inserted as to ideas and ends in his interior memory, and remain in it, so that not anything perishes; though the same things be obliterated in the exterior memory. Such, therefore, is the interior memory that particulars are inscribed on it; and indeed the very least particulars which the man has ever thought, spoken, and done, even what has appeared to him as but a shadow, with the minutest particulars, from earliest infancy to the last of old age. The memory of all these things the man has with him when he comes into the other life, and he is led successively into full recollection of them. This is his Book of Life, which is opened in the other life, and according to which he is judged. Man can scarcely believe this, but still it is most true. All the ends, which have been in obscurity to him, and all the things thought; also all that were spoken and done therefrom, to the smallest point, are in that Book, that is, in the interior memory, and whenever the Lord grants, are made manifest before the angels as in clear day. This has several times been shown to me, and has been attested by so much experience that not the least doubt remains." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2474)
The internal memory of the soul is the "Book of Life" which is mentioned in scripture, but more on that later.  Note that Swedenborg reported all of this, even though he knew at the time few people would believe it.  Thus no one should think that their own thoughts are hidden from view in the other life:
"Before I had been instructed by living experience, I imagined with others that no spirit could in any way know the things in my memory and in my thought; but that they were solely in my possession, and were hidden. But I can attest that the spirits with man know and observe the smallest things of his memory and his thoughts, and this much more clearly than the man himself; and that the angels observe the ends themselves, how they bend themselves from good to evil, and from evil to good, and many more things than the man knows; as those which he has merged in his enjoyments, and thus as it were in his nature and disposition; for when this is done, they no longer appear, because he no longer reflects upon them. Let man, therefore, no longer believe that his thoughts are hidden, and that he is not to render an account of his thoughts, and of his deeds according to the thoughts that were in them; for deeds have their quality from the thoughts, and the thoughts from the ends." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2488)
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE BOOK OF LIFE


In the other life, one's internal memory, and what is written on it, is represented by books, or the "book of life" or the Akashic Records, depending on one's background.  Swedenborg confirms this in the visions he received.  For example, one's name that is written is not literally one's name, but rather one's spiritual quality as to good and truth:
"Names written in heaven do not mean their names, but the quality of their faith and charity. So is it with names written in the book of life, in the Apocalypse: Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments. . . . He who overcometh shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels (iii. 4, 5)." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6674.6)
One's internal memory is represented in heaven by books:
"Concerning the book of life it is thus written in Daniel: The Ancient of days did sit . . . the judgment was set, and the books were opened (vii. 9, 10). Again: At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book (xii. 1). And in David: Add iniquity unto their iniquity; and let them not come into Thy justice. Let them be blotted out of the book of lives, and not be written with the just (Ps. lxix. 27, 28). In John: He who overcometh shall be clothed in white garments; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life (Apoc. iii. 5). Again: There shall not enter into the New Jerusalem any but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life (Apoc. xxi. 27). Again: I saw . . . and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. . . . They were judged all according to their works. . . . And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire (Apoc. xx. 12, 13, 15; and also, xiii. 8; xvii. 8).
"He who does not know from the internal sense what the book of life is, also what the books are out of which the dead are to be judged, cannot form any other idea than that in heaven there are such books, and that in them are written the acts of all, whereof the memory is thus preserved. When yet by books in the above passages are not meant books, but the remembrance of all things which have been done; for every one carries with him into the other life the memory of all his acts, thus the book of his life (n. 2474). But no one save the Lord alone can judge any one according to his acts; for all acts proceed from final causes, which lie deeply concealed within. According to these causes man is judged, and no one knows them but the Lord." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8620.1-2)
And one other quote:
"That the book which Jehovah wrote, which in the following verse is called My book, or the book of Jehovah, and in other places the book of life, is the internal, is because the internal of man is in heaven, thus where the Lord is, and therefore those things which are in his internal are from heaven of the Lord, all which things are Divine celestial and spiritual things. These can be received by the internal of man, but not by his external separate from the internal, since the external is in the world and is formed to receive the natural things which are in the world and which without influx through internal things have no heavenly life and thus are called dead.
"From these things it may be evident what is meant in the Word by the book of life, and who they are who are said to be written in that book, namely, they who are in the life of truth and of good, thus who do the Divine commandments from love and faith. For a life according to those commandments opens the internal man and forms him, and what is therein inscribed is inscribed by the Lord and remains to eternity. These are meant by those who are written in the book of life" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10505.2-3)
DID SWEDENBORG SEE SOMETHING SIMILAR TO THE LIFE REVIEW?

The answer is yes.  And like the life review, it was presented visually for all to see.  Nothing was kept secret.  One man had secretly poisoned another and was condemned to hell.  A woman maintained her innocence, and then all her adulteries and whoredoms were presented in full view to others.  Even minor things, such as one withholding and stealing property, and even what one had written in their own private diary.  Only when one was in denial and did not confess were these memories brought out in full view.  Accounts of this are described in detail in Swedenborg's work Heaven and Hell and others in Heavenly Arcana. As in some Near Death Experience reports, Swedenborg also reports some of these review are done by angels:
"When man's acts are disclosed to him after death, the angels to whom is given the office of searching, look into his face and the search is extended through the whole body, beginning from the fingers of each hand, and thus proceeding through the whole. Because I wondered as to the reason of this, it was made known to me, namely, that as all things of the thought and will are inscribed on the brain, for their beginnings are there, so also they are inscribed on the whole body; since all the things of thought and will extend thither from their beginnings, and there terminate, as in their ultimates. Hence it is that the things which are inscribed on the memory, from the will and its thought, are not only inscribed on the brain, but also on the whole man, and there exist in order, according to the order of the parts of the body. Thus it was made plain that man in the whole is such as he is in his will and its thought, so that an evil man is his own evil, and a good man his own good. From these things also it may be evident what is meant by the book of man's life, spoken of in the Word, namely this, that all things, both what he has thought and what he has done, are inscribed on the whole man, and appear as if read in a book when they are called forth from the memory, and as if presented to sight when the spirit is viewed in the light of heaven." (Heaven and Hell, n. 463)
There you go - the panoramic life review was seen by Swedenborg in his visions.  Again, this is very strong testimony that Swedenborg indeed receive heavenly revelations.  It was this kind of material that made me reassess what I had been taught to believe.

So what to take from all of this?  Do your life review now, every day.  Don't wait until it is too late.  Self examination is actually a spiritual exercise of self repentance.  Don't just examine your actions, examine your intentions - do you do things for your self, or for others?  Ask yourself the question, What have you done with your life? How can you improve it?  What can you change?  At first it may be hard, but if done repeatedly, it can become a matter of habit, and one small change will have a ripple effect that would not have been foreseen.


Monday, August 8, 2016

The Christianity of the Being of Light of the Near Death Experience




Since the advances in medical science in the 20th century, more and more witnesses have come forward and have reported a common set of experiences that indicate that there is indeed life after death.  Although experiences vary between individuals, there is a common process that people undergo during death:
  1. The person will have an out of the body experience, and can see their body as a third person.  Witnesses have reported events and conversations, even outside of the operating room, that were later verified.
  2. At some point their spirit withdraws from this world and goes through a tunnel.  They may encounter friends and relatives who passed away earlier.
  3. At the end of the tunnel there is a bright white light.  Sometimes people encounter a Being of Light.  This light, or Being of Light, is pure Love.
  4. A person then goes through a three-dimensional life review, seeing how their actions have effected others. This happens in an instant, with complete understanding. One goes through a process of learning and self judgment.  Nothing is hidden, not even one's thoughts.
  5. The important point from the life review: that our purpose in life is to love others. Love is the answer to the meaning of life.  We all have a specific purpose in this life. Even the smallest acts of love is what matters most. The Being of Light is most interested in the love we have shown to others.
  6. At some point the witness is told either they must go back, or have a choice of staying or going back.  When they come back, they have a completely different view of life: one that is more caring of others, one where there is more empathy and love.
  7. A small number of witnesses have reported going beyond the life review and entering the light, and enter a vast realm of light with gardens and buildings of light.
There are some who attempt to explain this phenomenon away by oxygen deprivation of the brain. But that does not fit the entire experience: it is a life transforming experience, and even brain neurosurgeons who have died have stated it is completely different.  Those who seek naturalistic explanations always ignore step #1 in the process, where witnesses have clairvoyant experiences that are later verified. 


IS THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE REPORTED IN THE BIBLE?

The Bible in many cases is written in the form of a parable, in a manner that people could understand at the time.  But certain aspects of the Near Death Experience are found in the Bible.  One is that the gospels clearly state that Jesus is the light of the world:

"I am the light of the world." (John 9:5)

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4)

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:19-21)

Some witnesses have actually reported encountering Jesus in the center of the light.  According to one study, the experience may be adapted to one's cultural influence.  From Near Death Experience:
Studies that have investigated cultural differences in NDEs summarized by (Augustine, 2003) have argued that the content of the experiences do not vary by culture, except for the identity of the figures seen during the experiences. For example, a Christian may see Jesus, while a Hindu may see Yamaraja, the Hindu king of death.
So is the experience adapted to one' cultural background, or is Jesus indeed the Being of Light of the Near Death Experience?  There is truth in both viewpoints, but let's explore this a little further.

THE BEING OF LIGHT IN THE VISIONS OF EMANUEL SWEDENBORG

There is an odd and interesting parallel between the Near Death Experience that was (re-)discovered in the 20th century, and the waking visions of Emanuel Swedenborg of the 18th century.  Swedenborg was a brilliant scientist estimated to have an IQ of over 200, who late in life had his vision opened to explain the spiritual sense of the Bible.  He claimed that for a full period of 27 years, he was allowed to have complete full waking visions of heaven and hell, while still fully present in his body.  He fully documented his experiences, which are reported in over 30 volumes.  From this one can see that those who have had a Near Death Experience have experienced just a small portion of the life to come.

The interesting aspect about Swedenborg's visions of heaven, is that in heaven God appears as the central Sun, and it is from this Sun that all of heaven receives its light.  Within the light is God Himself. And indeed, Swedenborg confirms that the God in the center of this Sun is the Lord Himself.  For this I will quote from a passage that I used to interpret Psalm 72 in a forthcoming commentary on the Psalms:
“That the Lord is seen as the sun in heaven before the angels, and that His Divine love together with His Divine wisdom appear thus, may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell, published at London, 1758 (n. 116-125); and in the Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom (n. 83-172). It remains here only to prove from the Word, that the sun, when relating to the Lord, is His Divine love and at the same time His Divine wisdom. This may be evident from the following passage: In that day the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days (Isa. xxx. 26). That day is the Lord's coming, when the old church is destroyed, and a new one is to be instituted. The light of the moon is faith from charity, and the light of the sun is intelligence and wisdom from love, from the Lord at that time. Thy sun shall no more go down, and thy moon shall not be withdrawn; for Jehovah shall be an everlasting light (Isa. lx. 20). The sun which shall not set is love and wisdom from the Lord. The rock of Israel spake to me, as the light of the morning when the sun riseth (2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4). The rock of Israel is the Lord. His throne shall be as the sun (Ps. lxxxix. 36, 37). This is said of David, but by David the Lord is there meant. They shall fear Thee as long as the sun endureth; and in His days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace until the moon be no more: His name shall be continued as long as the sun, and all nations shall be blessed in Him (Ps. lxxii. 5, 7, 17). This also is concerning the Lord. Since the Lord appears as the sun in heaven before the angels, therefore, when He was transfigured His face shone as the sun, and His garments became as the light (Matt. xvii. 1, 2): and it is said of the mighty angel coming down out of heaven, that he was clothed with a cloud, and his face was as the sun (Apoc. x. 1); and of the woman, that she was seen clothed with the sun (Apoc. xii. 1). The sun here also is love and wisdom from the Lord; the woman here is the church which is called the New Jerusalem.” (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 53)
In passage after passage, Swedenborg shows that the word "sun" in scripture does not refer to the physical sun of our solar system, but the central Sun of heaven, which represents Divine love.  And multiple independent witnesses have stated that this Being of light is full of love, if not love itself.  Swedenborg also confirmed that God in his very essence is Love itself.  The central sun of heaven is described in more detail in Swedenborg's most famous work, Heaven and Hell:
"The Sun of heaven is the Lord, the light there is Divine truth, and the heat is Divine good, which proceed from the Lord as a Sun. From this origin are all things that exist and are seen in the heavens." (Heaven and Hell, n. 117)
How one sees the Lord in the central Sun of heaven depends on how one receives Him:
"He is seen by every one according as He is received by him, thus in one manner by those who receive Him with the good of love, and in another by those who receive Him with the good of faith. By those who receive Him with the good of love, He is seen as a sun, fiery and flamy according to the reception. These are in His celestial kingdom. But by those who receive Him with the good of faith, He is seen as a moon, white and beaming according to the reception."  (Heaven and Hell, n. 118)
At times the Lord is present in angelic form among the heavens, but differs from angels in that the Divine presence is within Him:
"When however the Lord is seen in the midst of heaven, which is often the case, He is not seen encompassed with the Sun, but in the form of an angel, yet distinguished from angels by the Divine beaming through the face; for He is not there in person, since in person the Lord is constantly encompassed with the Sun, but is in presence by His look. ...I have also seen the Lord out of the Sun, in the form of an angel, a little below the Sun in its altitude; and again near by, in like form, with beaming face. Once too He was seen in the midst of angels, as a flame-like radiance." (Heaven and Hell, n. 121)
HOW GOD ADAPTS HIMSELF TO EACH PERSON

God is perceived according to how He is received by each person, and this is also confirmed by the visions of Swedenborg.  There are different levels of heaven, according to one's spiritual perception:
"The doctrine of the inmost heaven is more full of wisdom than the doctrine of the middle heaven, and this more full of intelligence than the doctrine of the lowest heaven; for the doctrines are adapted to the perception of the angels in each heaven. The essential of all the doctrines is, to acknowledge the Divine Human of the Lord." (Heaven and Hell, n. 227)
That the Lord became incarnate in human form is not something everyone can receive right away, so this truth is adapted to each person, sometimes in obscure form. This adaptation can be seen in the progressive revelations given in the various religions on this earth.  For the Jews, Swedenborg states in Heavenly Arcana that they were not ready to receive internal spiritual truths, but could only receive external symbolic rituals.  As they were expecting to sacrifice animals, so animal sacrifices were instituted.  This was only abrogated when a higher revelation was given by Jesus. Moreover, God has given different religions at times to different nations. Islam is one of them, although it is a more obscure revelation than that of Christianity:
"Christians are instructed from heavenly doctrine, which is in entire agreement with the internal sense of the Word. All others, as the Mohammedans and the heathen, are instructed from doctrines adapted to their apprehension, which differ from heavenly doctrine only in this, that spiritual life is taught by moral life in agreement with the good dogmas of their religion, from which they have derived their life in the world." (Heaven and Hell, n. 516)
There are even means of revelation given to other planets, but that is another topic altogether.  While truth is manifold, love is one.  Love is simple.  The principles of love and truth is the foundation of all true revelation.

WHAT WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE

The main point here, is that multiple witness testimony combined with clairvoyant experiences is a strong indication that we live after death in a higher spiritual form.  The other point here is that we will be held accountable in our life, and what is important in life is how we love others.  Belief systems are only useful inasmuch as they are applied to one's life in loving others.  The secret meaning of life is very simple: it is love.  Moreover, the Near Death Experience, combined with the testimony of Emanuel Swedenborg, indicates that Jesus really is who He said He was.  For a more in depth comparison between one Near Death Experience and the waking visions of Emanuel Swedenborg, see A Journey to Heaven by Richard Sigmund and Emanuel Swedenborg.

Here is another Near Death Experience, which I pulled at random, of Kathy Baker who wrote a book on it entitled A Room Nearby.  She was clinically dead for 8 minutes.  She describes the out of body experience where she can see and hear everything going on after died on the table, and interestingly, noted that there was a silver cord between her soul and her body - this is actually described in the Bible (see Eccl. 12:6).  She also describes the tunnel, the light at the end of the tunnel, and the life review.  But after it, some light beings gave her some future prophecies for the earth, and describes a future of massive earth changes: volcanoes setting off, earthquakes, as well as a war unlike we have ever seen, and a depression worse than we have ever known.  A lot of lives would be lost, but in the end, the world will be different, at a higher spiritual level. She was told she would not remember everything given her. Again, she learns that one must live a life of unconditional love: