Kenneth Hagin thought that he had done all that was necessary to get a place in Heaven by the time he was nine. But, it was only later that he found out the truth. This is his story.
I was born and raised Southern Baptist. I thought the Lord Jesus Christ and all of His disciples were Southern Baptist. It came as a real shock k to me when I found out that they weren’t.
I read the Bible one day and decided that Paul couldn’t have been Baptist, because he said, “I thank my God I speak with tongues” (I Corinthians 14:18). I had never heard any Baptist say that!
Being born and raised Southern Baptist, I felt sorry for everybody who wasn’t Baptist. But you know you can be a church member and not be a Christian.
Even though I am a member of a church and believe in going to church, just going to church won’t save you or make you a Christian any more than going to the barn will make you a cow! Being a member of a church won’t make you a Christian any more than being a member of a country club will make you a Christian. You have to be born again.
We’ve got too many people who think that they are a Christians just because they are members of a church.
I joined the church when I was nine years old. The reason I joined was because my Sunday School teacher said to all of us boys, ‘How many of you want to go to Heaven?’ Well, every one of us wanted to go to Heaven. So the Sunday School teacher said, ‘When the pastor gives the invitation this morning, you just go down to the front.’
Since we all wanted to go to Heaven, when the invitation was given, several of us marched right down to the front and shook hands with the preacher. We joined the church and were baptised in water. And I really, actually, thought I was a Christian.
Later, when I was in an evangelistic-type service the Holy Spirit began to deal with me about being saved. I said say to myself, “I’m already saved. I belong to the church. I’ve been baptised in water. I’m already a Christian”.
I was born prematurely with a deformed heart. I weighed less than two pounds at birth. In my day, more than 75 years ago, they didn’t have incubators to put premature babies in, so the possibility of me living was practically none. Nevertheless, I did survive, but I never ran and played like other little children. I never had a normal childhood.
When I was 15 years old, I became very ill. Five doctors said that I would die, and that I couldn’t live. But it was there that I was born again on the 22nd day of April 1933 in my bedroom in the city of McKinney, Texas. It was 20 minutes before 8 o’clock on a Saturday night.
This south bedroom had a fireplace. Grandpa had a clock on the mantelpiece. My mother, grandmother and youngest brother, Pat, were sitting there in the room with me, for I had taken a turn for the worse. The doctor had been called. Remember, in 1933, doctors made house calls!
Just as Grandpa’s clock struck 7:30, my heart stopped beating within my chest. And I could feel, faster than you could snap your fingers, the blood cease to circulate down at the end of my toes. My toes seemed to go numb. This numbness spread to my feet, my ankles, my knees, my hips, my stomach, my heart – and then I leaped out of my body.
I did not lose consciousness. I leaped out of my body like a diver would leap off of a diving board into a swimming pool. I knew I was outside of my body. I could see my family in the room, but I couldn’t contact them.
I had it in my mind to say goodbye to Mommy, Granny, and my little brother, but I leaped out of my body before I could get the words out fully.
I began to descend – down, down, into a pit, like you’d go down into a well, cavern, or cave. As I was trying to say goodbye, I knew I was going down into that place. All three of my family members who were present later said, “When you said goodbye, your voice sounded like you were way down in a cave or cavern or something.”
I continued to descend. I went down feet first – down, down, down, down. I could look up and see the lights of Earth. They finally faded away. Darkness encompassed me, darkness that is blacker than any night. It seemed that if you had a knife, you could cut a chunk of it out. You couldn’t see your hand placed one inch in front on your nose.
The further down I went, the darker it became – and the hotter it became – until finally, way down beneath me, I could see fingers of light playing on the wall of darkness. And I came to the bottom of the pit.
This happened to me more than 60 years ago, yet it’s just as real to me as if it had happened last week. Spiritual things never grow old.
When I came to the bottom of the pit, I saw what caused the fingers of light to play on the wall of darkness. Out in front of me, beyond the gates or the entry into Hell, I saw giant, great orange flames with a white crest.
I was pulled toward Hell just like a magnet pulls metal unto itself. I knew that once I entered through those gates, I could not come back. I endeavoured to slow down my descent, because when I came to the bottom of the pit, there was still a slope downward.
I was conscious of the fact that some kind of creature met me at the bottom of that pit. I didn’t look at it. My gaze was riveted on the gates, yet I knew that a creature was there by my right side.
I didn’t know until many years later that the Bible says, “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee,” Isaiah 14:9.
That creature, when I endeavoured to slow down my descent, took me by the arm to escort me in. When he did, away above the blackness and the darkness a voice spoke. It sounded like a male voice, but I don’t know what he said. I don’t know whether it was God, Jesus, an angel, or who. He did not speak in the English language, but in a foreign language.
That place just shook at the few words he spoke! And the creature took his hand off of my arm. There was a power like suction to my back that pulled me back. I floated away from the entrance to Hell until I stood in the shadows. Then, like suction from above, I floated up, headfirst, through the darkness.
Before I arrived at the top, I could see the light. It was like you were down in a well and could see the light up above. I came up on the porch of my Grandpa’s house. We lived in one of those old fashioned houses they used to build down in Texas, with a porch nearly all the way around the house. I came up on the south side of the house. I could see Grandpa’s porch swing there. I could see the giant cedar trees in the yard. I stood there on the porch just for a second.
Then I went through the wall – not through the door, and not through the window – but through the wall, and seemed to leap inside my body like a man would slip his foot inside his boot.
Before I leaped inside my body, I could see my grandmother sitting on the edge of the bed holding me in her arms. When I got inside my body, I could communicate with her.
When I said ‘I want to say goodbye to Mommy’, my grandmother called to her “Lillie!” but she couldn’t make her hear her, because Mommy was praying so loud.
If you’re not ready to die, you want somebody with you. You’re afraid! I said, ‘Granny, don’t leave me! Don’t leave me! I’m afraid I’ll go while you’re gone! I want somebody with me! Don’t leave me!’ And so she gathered me in her arms again. And I said, ‘Tell Mommy I said goodbye. Tell Mommy I love her’. I felt myself slipping. I said, ‘Granny, I’m going again’.
My heart stopped for the second time. It’s almost as real to me today, over a half a century later, as it was that day. I could feel the blood cease to circulate. The tips of my toes went numb – then my feet, ankles, knees, hips, stomach, and heart. I leaped out of my body and began to descend: down, down, down. I know it was just a few seconds, but it seemed like an eternity.
Down, until the darkness encompassed me. The lights above faded away. The further down I went, the hotter and darker it became, until I came again to the bottom of the pit and saw the entrance to Hell. I was conscious of that creature again.
I tried to slow down my descent – it seemed like I was floating down – yet it seemed like there was a pull that pulled me downward. And that creature took me by the arm. When he did, that voice spoke again – a man’s voice. It was a foreign language. I don’t know what he said, but when he spoke, that whole place just shook. That creature took his hand off of my arm.
It was like suction to my back. I never turned around. I just came floating back into the shadows of darkness. And then I was pulled up, headfirst. I could see the lights of Earth above me before I came up out of the pit. The only difference this time was that I came up at the foot of the bed.
The first time I had come up on the porch. This time I came up at the foot of the bed. For a second time I stood there. I could see my body lying there on the bed. I could see Grandma as she sat there holding me in her arms. I seemed to leap from the foot of the bed inside my body through my mouth. When I got back inside my body, I could communicate with Granny. I said, ‘Granny, I’m going again, and I won’t be back this time.’
She said again, ‘I thought you weren’t coming back that time.’ I said, ‘Granny, where is Grandpa? I want to tell Grandpa goodbye.’ She said, ‘You know your Grandpa went down to the east part of town to collect rent off of some of his rent houses.’ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘I remember that now’.
I said, ‘Granny, tell Grandpa goodbye’. Then I left a word for my sister and my brother. I said, ‘Where’s Pat?’ Pat was my little brother, aged nine. Granny said, ‘Well, he ran next door and called the doctor again.’ I left a word for each of them, and my heart stopped for the third time.
I could feel the circulation as it cut off. Suddenly my toes went numb. Faster than you can snap your fingers, my toes, feet, ankles, knees, hips, stomach, and heart went dead – and I leaped out of my body and began to descend.
Until this time, I thought, this is not happening to me. This is just a hallucination. It can’t be real!
But then I thought, ‘This is the third time. I won’t come back this time! I won’t come back this time!’ Darkness encompassed me, darker than any night man has ever seen. The Bible talks about men and women being cast into ‘outer darkness’ where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).
And in the darkness, I cried out, ‘God! I belong to the church! I’ve been baptised is water!’ You see, I was telling Him, ‘I shouldn’t be going this direction. I am going in the wrong direction!’
I waited for an answer, but there was no answer, only the echo of my own voice through the darkness. The second time I cried a little louder, ‘God! I belong to the church! I have been baptised in water!’
I waited for an answer, but there was no answer, only the echo of my own voice through the darkness.
I would scare a congregation out of their wits if I ever imitated the way I screamed the third time, although if I could scare them out of Hell and into Heaven, I would do it.
I literally screamed, ‘God! I belong to the church! I’ve been baptised in water!’ But you see, although being baptised in water is right, although belonging to the church is right, it takes more than belonging to the church and more than being baptised in water to miss Hell and go to Heaven!
I came again to the bottom of that pit. Again I could feel the heat on my face. Again I approached the entrance, the gates into Hell itself. That creature took me by the arm. I intended to put up a fight, if I could, to keep from going in. I only managed to slow down my descent a little, and he took me by the arm.
Thank God that voice spoke. I don’t know who it was – I didn’t see anybody – I just heard the voice. I don’t know what he said, but whatever he said, that place shook. It just trembled. And that creature took his hand off my arm. It pulled me back, away from the entrance to Hell, until I stood in the shadows. Then it pulled me up headfirst.
As I was going up through the darkness, I began to pray. My spirit, the man who lives inside this physical body, is an eternal being, a spirit man. I began to pray, ‘O God! I come to You in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and to cleanse me from all sin.’
I came up beside the bed. The difference between the three experiences was that I came up on the porch the first time. I came up at the foot of the bed the second time. And I came up right beside the bed the third time and leaped right back into my body.
When I arrived back in my body, my physical voice picked up my prayer, right in the middle of the sentence. I was already praying from my spirit, and my physical voice picked up my prayer and continued to pray.
Now this happened in 1933. I want you to know that it was just like a two-ton weight lifted off of my chest. I felt peaceful. I looked at Grandpa’s old clock on the mantelpiece, and it said 20 minutes till 8 o’clock. All that I experienced happened in 10 minutes. So I was born again at 20 minutes to 8 o’clock on April 22, 1933 in the south bedroom, and I’ve been saved ever since.
I was still bedfast, and the doctor said that I would die. In fact, five doctors said that I would die. But I will tell you what I did. I praised myself to sleep every night. All the lights would be out in the house, and everybody would be in bed. I was left alone, just a boy aged fifteen, with my own thoughts.
I said, ‘They may find me dead in bed in the morning, but, oh, I’m so glad that I didn’t go to Hell!’ At night I started saying quietly to myself, ‘Thank you, Jesus. Glory to God. Praise the Lord. I am going to put a smile on my face.
This story has been reproduced with the kind permission of:
Kenneth Hagin Ministries
PO Box 50126
Web site: www.rhema.org
The true story of Kenneth Hagin is included, with kind permission, in the free e-book BEYOND THE FINAL FRONTIER which includes 27 similar true stories, and may be freely read and downloaded from this web site.