Most New Age sects and Far Eastern religious groups insist there are many doors to an ultimate state of being (oneness with God). However, Jesus did not claim, “I am one of many doors to the sheepfold.” Promoting an exclusive approach, he asserted, “I am the door of the sheep.” (See John 10:1–7, emphasis by author.) He did not say, “I am one of many ways.” Unashamedly he insisted, “I am the way.” (John 14:6, emphasis by author)
Of course, as a yoga teacher, I professed to know what Jesus really meant by those statements—that achieving his “I AM” consciousness, his totally enlightened state, is the ‘door’ for all humanity and the ‘way’ to enlightenment. However, if Jesus meant that, he would have said so plainly. Instead of mincing words, he would have said plainly:
“You must walk through the door of your own Christ Consciousness, of an awakened ‘higher Self,’ in order to live in the realm where I abide.”
But instead, in simple language, he declared, “I am the door” and “I am the way…No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 10:9;14:6) Without controversy, Jesus was affirming that all must go through him personally to obtain an experience of salvation and to receive the gift of eternal life. This is simple, straightforward language that can only be interpreted in a simple, straightforward way. There are many profound reasons why Jesus could make such an astounding claim (his deity, his virgin birth, his sinless life, his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his promised return). The following unique insight enhances this concept greatly:
Three Heavens: Only One Door
The Bible speaks of three heavens, yet it only clearly identifies the nature of the third heaven. However, the following descriptions seem logical in the light of Scripture:
The first heaven is earth’s atmosphere and the universe beyond.
The second heaven is an intermediate, spiritual sphere.
The third heaven is the highest realm, the abode of the manifest presence of God, also referred to in the Bible as paradise. (See 2 Corinthians 12:2–4.)
These three heavens are apparently concentric: occupying the same space (yet in progressively higher realms) and sharing a common center. Consider this comparison. The soul and the spirit of a human being, though spiritual and invisible, occupy the same space as the associated physical body. So also, the invisible planes of existence (the second and third heavens), occupy somewhat the same area as the first heaven and yet are spiritual in essence. On one extreme is the natural world, the terrestrial abode of man, and on the other extreme is the celestial abode of God (the third heaven). The second heaven is most likely an intermediate sphere, bridging the gap between the two extremes. Possibly, this “second heaven” could be what Eastern mystics or New Age truth seekers refer to as the “Astral Plane.”
Though unseen to most human beings, the second heaven is full of demonic and angelic conflict that constantly overflows into this natural world. Understanding the true nature of these three realms reveals two highly profound mysteries:
1. Why many religions misinterpret and depersonalize God’s nature;
2. Why Jesus could make the astonishing claims showcased at the start of this article.
The life “of” God or life “from” God
Many who subscribe to a Far Eastern/New Age worldview claim that the life-essence underlying all living things, in both the physical plane and the first two heavens, actually is God—an all-pervasive, impersonal, cosmic life-force. Hindus and yoga advocates call this force prana; Taoists call it chi—and most advocates of these mindsets would readily suggest these terms are synonymous with what Christians call the Holy Spirit. Yet this cannot be the case. Prana or chi is described as an impersonal essence, while the Holy Spirit is God’s personal presence. There is a huge contrast between essence and presence, an irreconcilable difference.
Why is this important? Because correct revelation presents God as a personal and transcendent Being, existing apart from the physical creation. He dwells in the third heaven (the “high and holy place”—Isaiah 57:15). However, he has also filled the physical plane and the first two heavens with a ‘life-force’ that exists apart from him. This is not the life of God; rather, it is a life that comes from God. It is a gift from above that enables plants, animals, and human beings to ‘live’ in the natural plane; strangely, it also enables angels, demons, and other supernatural entities to exist in higher planes (so God’s enemies are dependent on Him for their existence—amazing).
There are two main Greek words translated “life.” Generally speaking, natural or physical life (life from God) is psuche (pronounced psoo-khay’), while divine life (the life of God) is zoe (pronounced zo-ay’).
When religious seekers in this world (Buddhist, Hindu, Jainist, Sufi, New Age, and so forth) try to penetrate higher spiritual realms through various techniques (like meditating on chakras, chanting mantras, visualizing yantras or whirling dances), they may actually experience the next supernatural level above the natural plane, but they are unable to pass through the veil into the third heaven. Experiencing this highest realm of the personal presence of God is impossible unless seekers approach God through the ‘door’ of his Son. Jesus is spoken of as the eternal “image of the invisible God” and the only “mediator between God and men.” (Colossians 1:15, 1 Timothy 2:5) Those who do not acknowledge this God-appointed “door” become ‘locked’ inside a lower spiritual realm—filled with an impersonal life—which they mistakenly identify as “God”—for that is all they have ever known.
When I was a yoga teacher, one night, I experienced my soul being drawn into “white light”—what seemed to be an extremely intense, timeless, radiance. I thought it was God. I thought it verified that ultimate reality was an impersonal force. Only after I was born again did I comprehend that it was not a true experience of God, but a substitute, counterfeit experience. It may have partially been the result of becoming sensitive to the impersonal “life” that fills the second heaven. However, it was also coupled with demonic deception. Once I encountered the true God, His loving, personal presence, I realized the vast difference between the two.
Entities inhabiting the second heaven
It is also important to understand that when Adam and Eve fell, Satan became the ruling force in this world. As “the prince of the power of the air,” along with his demonic underlings, he succeeded in surrounding the globe with a suffocating layer of impenetrable spiritual darkness. (Ephesians 2:2) No one is exempt from facing such overpowering, negative influence. According to Revelation 12:9, Satan has succeeded in deceiving “the whole world.” Though this “prince of darkness” and his subordinate demons cannot be observed literally moving through the physical atmosphere (the first heaven), they constantly travel through the second heaven, its spiritual counterpart. In this dimension of existence, angelic forces from God oppose satanic activity and work to establish God’s purposes in the lives of those who are surrendered to the truth. (See Hebrews 1:13–14.) Various orders of angels populate the third heaven, while demons are apparently restrained from entering that highest celestial sphere (even though, apparently, in the past, Satan was allowed to enter God’s presence in the third heaven to accuse the servants of God—Job 1:6-12).
The satanic strategy
The Bible teaches that Satan can be transformed to appear as an “angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) In other words, he and his associate spirits are very adept at granting false supernatural experiences that appear to be of the “True Light.” In the beginning, part of his rebellion against God included an attempt to be “like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14) Undoubtedly, he is still endeavoring to accomplish this goal—providing a counterfeit experience of the Divine. Those who open their hearts to the realm of the supernatural, but do not use a proper approach to God (like calling on the name of Jesus and claiming the cleansing effects of his blood) invariably come under this deceptive influence. Let me emphasize this—if you illegitimately penetrate the spiritual realm above the earth you will inevitably come under demonic influence.
Even those who love God and are sincerely searching for understanding are subject to this predicament. This is exactly why God outlawed various occult practices in the Old Testament such as: necromancy (contacting the dead), astrology, fortune telling, sorcery, channeling, divination and the like. (See Deuteronomy 18:10–13.) He was not denying the children of Israel valid experiences in the supernatural realm; he was trying to guard them from demonic deception. He knew such spiritual subterfuge would draw them into false doctrine, and eventually rob them of spiritual reality and the power of truth.
The following diagram illustrates what happens when seekers from various religions attempt to reach God, using non-biblical methods, and why biblical methods alone are successful.
The awesome power of spiritual rebirth
As the illustration indicates, the experience of being born again originates from the third heaven. Jesus said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:7) The Greek word translated “again” is anothen (pronounced an´-o-then), which means “from above.” When seekers call on the name of Jesus and ask the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) to come into their hearts, he does so, simultaneously creating a “new spirit” within them. For this reason, any ‘saved’ person is biblically referred to as a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When this inner transformation takes place, newborn believers are delivered from “the power of darkness” and translated into “the kingdom of God’s dear Son.” (Colossians 1:13) From that moment onward, sons and daughters of God are ‘connected’ with the third heaven and can live in an atmosphere of the presence of God.
Ephesians 2:6 even explains how true Christian believers “sit together in heavenly places.” In other words, though still existing in a natural plane, those who are saved can maintain a daily, supernatural awareness—a blessed sensitivity to the overflow of the kingdom of heaven in their lives. They are filled with divine life (zoe) and because of this, able to experience communion with God daily.
Unfortunately, men’s religious bridges always stop short of this goal. Construction always ceases once the builders penetrate the next realm above us. Satanic powers will not allow them to progress any further. That is why truth-seekers of good intention and great spiritual fervor can claim to have life-changing supernatural revelations and visionary insights—and yet be wrong. Only God’s bridge completely spans the gap between time and eternity. The axiom is so true:
“Religion is man’s effort to reach God, but Jesus Christ is God’s effort to reach man.”
No wonder the Scripture reveals: “He who has the Son has LIFE (zoe); he who does not have the Son of God does not have LIFE (zoe)…This is the true God, and eternal LIFE (zoe).” (1 John 5:12, 20, emphasis by author)