“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows.” -2 Corinthians 12:2

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It should be no secret to those who follow the Lord that there is indeed a supernatural aspect to our faith. The deeper our relationship with the Lord becomes, the more this is manifest within our lives. It does not follow the common course of things, causality and physicality, but rather surpasses it and our mystical (not in a pagan sense, indeed the word actually has its origins in Christianity) relationship with God becomes apparent.

A person who chases after these experiences alone, however, is in extreme danger of practicing that which belongs to the occult. Man should never initiate such experiences, but let them come at the Lord’s bidding and when He sees fit to make them manifest, and to what degree.

There are numerous supernatural manifestations that can occur when one is in the Lord. These range from prophecy, visions, dreams, miraculous healings, and even hearing, or speaking, directly from the Lord Himself. It should be mentioned there is a dualism concerning such things, for the occult has similar practices, but there is one major difference, one is perpetuated by man, the other by the Lord, and manifest in man or nature.

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Paul, no stranger to the miraculous, recounts the story of an unnamed man who was caught up to the third heaven. This, “Third Heaven,” doesn’t indicate that there are separate layers of paradise, but in this account, it suggests that wherever this person was taken, it transcends the upper atmosphere of the earth, the surpassing heaven, the firmament of the cosmos, and finally into that supernatural realm which is the dwelling place of God. What is therefore concluded by the mere existence of this third heaven is that it trumps all that is physical.

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Paul goes on to say that he doesn’t know if this person’s experience was in the body or independent of it. The interesting thing about this, among others, is that regardless, in Paul’s mind, it neither adds nor detracts from the reality of the experience. To Paul, either way, it doesn’t cease to be any less real.

There is a phenomenon some experience called, “waking dreams.” Though it has it’s ungodly representation in the occult, Christians too have these experiences, from God, where they neither know if they are awake or dreaming, or if they are of the body or a part from it. The question becomes if any of these categories negate the reality of the experience? My conviction is that it doesn’t necessarily follow that these encounters are any less real than the physical ground we walk on. In fact, they may represent to some degree true reality.

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As I have stressed before, the occult has similar practices. Apart from who initiates the experience, is there any way to tell one from another? I am convinced that there are some guidelines we should look to when approaching the subject.

The first is, who does it glorify? Realize the Lord does nothing arbitrarily and without purpose. For instance, He wouldn’t lift you up to the third heaven just to satisfy some personal curiosity you may have concerning it. Rather, the experience will be for not only your benefit, which is apparent by the mere personal nature of the experience, but the Lord will use it in order that you be a testimony before man. Thus, it will be to His glory.

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Second, where does it lead you? If one is led to a place of darkness apart from God, or if the experience makes you focus on the self, then one is in terrible danger. If such an experience leads one to become boastful of their own abilities to produce such a supernatural experience, than one can reasonably conclude it is not from God, and if it is not from God, than one is being deceived.

Deception wouldn’t be called such if it didn’t have the ability to put on a guise of something true and lead people astray. That’s why it is so effective. One should pray for discernment in the Spirit and protection of the Lord, that such deceptions may not lead you into believing a lie. We need to realize that the Great Deceiver never created anything himself, he only perverted those pure things that God set in place. Thus, there is a dualism about such things, the proper, and the sinful, or improper.

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If an experience produces fruits of a Godly nature, and it’s in perfect alignment with the Spirit and nature of God revealed in His scriptures, than one can induce that it’s from God.

Yet, on the antithesis, if an experience produces fruits of the self, pride and encourages sin, and leads people astray, along with not lining up with scripture, then one can deduce that it is not from God. Yet, it should be said that we need discernment in the Spirit, for the Spirit is capable of understanding the supernatural, while our minds are inept at knowing such things. Remember, such false supernatural occurrences are due to the actions of man and not the will of God.

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Finally, realize our God is not one of confusion. Chances are, He won’t let such experiences in your life, that are of Him, until you are ready. However, as we grow, use the faculties the Lord has given you, along with the weapons of righteousness, that in these supernatural manifestations, if they indeed occur, you may not be led astray.

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