Question: "Is Angelica Zambrano's testimony of experiencing heaven and hell biblically sound?"
Answer: Angelica Zambrano, a young Ecuadorian, claims that she was dead for 23 hours, during which time she met Jesus Christ and was led through hell and heaven and sent back to warn people about the realities of the next life. She claims to have visited heaven and hell four times and to have received numerous revelations from God.
Angelica says that, as Jesus prepared her to visit hell, He told her, “‘Daughter, I will be with you. . . . I am going to show you that place because there are many who know that hell exists, but they have no fear. They believe it’s a game, that hell is a joke, and many don’t know about it. . . . When He said that, I could see tears streaming down to His garments. I asked Him, ‘Lord, why are you crying?’ He replied, ‘Daughter, because there are more that perish, and I will show you this, so that you will go and tell the truth and so that you will not return to that place.’”
It is absolutely true that hell is real and not a game or a joke, and it is also true that many people are going there (Matthew 7:13; 25:46). It is true that Jesus laments over lost people (Matthew 23:37). We know that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). However, the fact that there are some true principles in Angelica’s vision does not make her a true prophetess or her visions divine.
Some of the elements of Angelica’s revelations are unbiblical. For example, Angelica says that, in her second visit to hell, she met a former Christian leader who was there because he did not tithe. In her first vision, she met someone in hell who failed to forgive. In her third vision, she saw people in hell for committing suicide and for playing secular music styles in church. There are many other sins that, according to Angelica, Jesus named as responsible for sending people to hell. It is true that sin is a symptom of an unsaved heart, and unrepentant sin will indeed result in an eternity in hell. But Angelica Zambrano clearly teaches that many people in hell were once saved but lost their salvation when they sinned, a doctrine that denies the believer’s security in Christ (John 10:27–30).
One of the more bizarre claims that Angelica Zambrano makes is that, in her third visit to hell, “God showed me people’s spirits in Hell who are still alive on earth. These people are bound and appear to be in cells.” According to Angelica, someone “bound in sin” on earth is also imprisoned in hell—his or her spirit is already there. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible about people’s spirits being locked in hell before they are dead.
A blatantly unbiblical detail of the visions of Angelica Zambrano regards the role of Satan and the demons in hell. In her second purported trip to hell, Angelica sees a ring of demons surrounding someone (who turns out to be Michael Jackson). As she watches, the tormented singer “extended his burning hands and was yelling, ‘Help! Help!’ . . . I could see how the demons would raise him up and force him to dance and sing as he did on Earth. The demons mocked him and threw him into the flames. They would pick him up and whip him. He screamed in terrible pain. Oh, how horribly he was being tormented.” In Angelica’s visions, Satan is the master of hell, and the demons are free to exercise their authority in tormenting the damned. This picture of hell directly conflicts with Jesus’ statement that “the eternal fire [was] prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Satan and the demons are not in charge of hell. They are not the tormentors, but they will be among the tormented.
Any Bible-believing Christian should be wary of those who purport to have a new message or revelation from God. What’s at stake in Angelica Zambrano’s testimony is the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is all we need to make us spiritually mature and fully equipped (2 Timothy 3:16–17). We do not need extra-biblical revelations in the form of dreams, experiences, or “testimonies” such as Angelica Zambrano’s to add to the Bible. We know the glories of heaven and the terrors of hell are real because the Bible teaches the reality of those places, not because someone went there and came back. Angelica Zambrano’s vision is not Scripture but is a dangerous mix of truth and error, an attempt to combine faith and works.