What if these experiences are related to the condition of the experiencer’s soul? I’m speaking even of Christians. Now we all sin, even have pet sins and exhibit certain behaviors that is not beneficial to the condition of our soul. And so what if the condition of one’s soul determines what kind of NDE one has? The scriptures make it plain that we are going to go through some sort of judgment process, according to I Corinthians 3:11-15:
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
Now typically, one who is a Christian will believe that they are saved from the wrath to come. Yet this verse clearly speaks of some kind of fire that even the "saved’ will be subjected to. If that is the case, even Christian’s might experience what might seem like some kind of “hellish” judgement, though if one is a universalist, then of course these passages could apply to the whole gamet of humans, and not just Christians. This is evident be the tesimonies of those in other religions, as I pointed out in the other thread. Why do some Jews, Budhists, Muslims, etc, experience a change in their heart and subsequent behavior due to these experiences, even ones that include hell?
I think the question is one of “conversion”, if I may use that term for a moment. What makes one converted? Maybe God isn’t looking at the person’s religious affiliation so much as the willingness of the heart to change. That is what is meant by repentance, after all. Look at how John the Baptist explained repentance to those who came to him for baptism. C.S Lewis spoke of what he termed “anonymous Christians”, that is those who seem to exhibit the fruit of a Christian, but is apart from the knowledge or even the adherance in the belief of Christ. And this doesn’t necessarily stem from the result of an NDE, of course.
So what can is mean that one is “converted”? Since God searches the hearts of every man, then He’s not looking at a label, but the character of a person’s heart.
“I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” - Jeremiah 17:10
This isn’t to denigrate the Work of Christ, for I believe it is the Spirit of Christ that is at work in the hearts of those who seek the good. Anyone who exhibits the fruit of a Christian is one whose heart is changed. They are saved by the grace given by God who bestows it without partiality to those who are seeking, in not the knowledge of Christ, at least the principles of Christ found within them as the fruits of their labor* exhibit *Christ in their lives. They are saved by believing in those Christ-like principles that God desires to see in every man.
I think it is dangerous to solely adhere to the “saving knowledge of Christ” as your conversion, because I believe God works in a deeper level than just a belief in Christ. Nor am I denigrating grace as the means of salvation. The blood shed and the redemptive work on the Cross provides that grace for every person. For if it is not available for every person, then God shows partiality. What I believe is happening is that the Holy Spirit of God can evangelize a person within the confines of their heart, even with incomplete knowledge.
The “fires” of hell is a direct indication of the state of a person’s soul in relation to God. The person experiencing a negative NDE is experiencing the nature of their own soul, for which needs to be subjected to a purification proportional to relational “distance” to the Lord. In most cases of NDE, again regardless of religious affiliation, the person goes from hell-like to heaven-like state, and the tendancy is that the person develops a change of heart and life and a better hope when they return.
I think this make the most sense in regards to NDEs, if what they are experiencing has any basis on reality. And it gives me caution about my own spiritual condition. I can label myself as a Christian and indeed profess my faith in Christ. But it is far more important, IMO, that my life exhibit Christ-like workmanship that is the result of salvation that will transform my soul into the type of person God want’s me to be and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, rather than merely relying on Christ to passively save me. It give me pause and shivers to think that my soul might experince some kind of purification process in what can only be describe as a hellish process in order to be fit for a more heavenly-like state.
Does any of this make sense to you? I hope I’m explaining it right, because I don’t want to be misconstrude in people thinking that salvation is not in Christ.