When people come forward with claims that they’ve been to Heaven or Hell, I often find Christian media and Christian publishers have a disappointing instinct to believe the stories uncritically, perhaps because the prospect of book sales and clicks is simply too enticing to resist.
Any such claims need to be measured first against biblical teaching on the matter. The four-year-old boy who says he went to Heaven and sat on Jesus’s lap during a near-death experience needs to be assessed on more than just his wide-eyed innocence, especially when his father is pushing hard to garner fame and money off his son’s story.
So when I heard of Bill Weise’s story titled “23 minutes in Hell,” my red flag went up immediately. Another one of these guys who claims he “died” and got a taste of Hell, only to be miraculously revived and snatched out of the hands of eternal perdition?
But as I looked into Weise’s story and the teaching he brought out of it, I quickly realized that his story was credible. Here’s a recent video he’s released that teaches about the nature of Hell:
The first thing that won me over was the soundness of the teaching. Weise doesn’t overdramatize the story or claim he met terrifying monsters or anything like that. He makes it very simple: Everything good comes from God, so if you want nothing to do with God, there’s a place where you can get your wish. But you won’t like it because there is nothing good there.
Nothing. And you don’t fully realize what that implies until you experience it. No love. No peace. No strength. No light. No mercy. No joy. No wisdom. No hope. No beauty.
All of that comes from God, and in the place where you are completely separated from Him, you are completely separated from all of that too.
The other reason I believe Weise is that the nature of the experience as he describes it is biblical and consistent with other experiences I know people have had.
It wasn’t a near-death experience. It wasn’t a dream. It was a vision God gave him. Someone I know was taken to Eden in a vision and described it to me beautifully, even though it was clear the words behind the description couldn’t do it justice.
Paul was taken to Heaven in a vision. God has chosen this method of revelation selectively with particular people throughout time. And He is sovereign, so He can use whatever method He wants, whenever He wants.
Weise says he understood as all this was happening that He hadn’t died and that He had no reason to fear, although he still urgently implored his wife to pray for him. There’s more about that here:
This is why Weise is able to be so specific about what happens in Hell, and what the experience of being there is like. He’s seen it. He’s a witness to it.
Also, I have pretty good discernment in recognizing blowhards who are seeking attention. There is none of that spirit in Bill Weise.
I also appreciate the way he addresses the question of whether it’s better to avoid discussions of Hell and “focus on God’s goodness” because it’s more appealing to people. If Hell is real then we should want to know about it. Skipping pertinent truth because it doesn’t seem like a good marketing strategy is not good theology and it’s not intellectually honest.
Yes. God is wonderful and loves you. Yes, hell is real and it’s beyond awful. If you don’t want to be bothered by anything but the positive side of the story, I can’t respect that. Here, we deal with all truth because it’s true and we should know it.
Now, as to the question of whether Hell is eternal conscious torment, we’ll deal with that soon enough here. But Hell is real, and it’s complete and total separation from God. And once you’re assigned there, the loss of all hope is eternal.
But don’t take it from me. Bill Weise has been there in a vision, because God wanted you to hear from him about it.
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Powers and Principalities (2009): Twenty years ago, Clay Bender saw the face of spiritual evil with the naked eye while attending a party. Now, Clay’s terrifying spiritual gift returns, showing him that a supernatural threat is looming – one that could threaten everyone in Royal Oak. As the community grapples with bizarre electrical disturbances and a horrible train derailment, only Clay can recognize the true nature of the strange events, and he and his two closest friends have little time to battle the city’s demons – even as all three are forced to face their own. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)
Pharmakeia (2010): Kyla Spears is being warned – in terrifying dreams – of grisly and violent tragedies looming for young people in Royal Oak. But her spiritually gifted friend Clay Bender is reluctant to help, and her feelings for one charming young man threaten her newfound spiritual integrity and her ability to face the truth about what’s really behind the threat. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)