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VIEWS: 11 PAGES: 50

  • pg 1
									                      REVIEW OF
                      “23 Minutes in Hell”
                         by Bill Wiese


               LOUIS E. DEBOER


                     TABLE OF CONTENTS
         1.   The Character and Promises of God                   2
         2.   The Physical Description of Hell                    9
         3.   More Misquoted Scriptures                           31
         4.   Conclusion                                          43




All scriptures cited by Bill Wiese are from the NKJV, unless otherwise noted.

All scriptures cited by the author of this review are from the King James Bible.
               Bold type and underlining are added for emphasis.
                                     FOREWORD
In 2006, California realtor Bill Wiese published a book describing an experience in which
he allegedly went to hell, saw first-hand what hell is like, and received a commission
from Jesus Christ Himself to warn others about hell. In order to evaluate the legitimacy of
his claims, let us first examine exactly what his claims are:

Wiese’s claims are as follows:
   • He was actually in hell for 23 minutes.
   • He saw fire and darkness and people in torment.
   • There are demons and frightening creatures torturing people in hell, and he was
      personally attacked by them.
   • He had no knowledge of God and no awareness of being a Christian while in hell.
   • He experienced feelings of worthlessness, shame, and humiliation.
   • He experienced the feeling of being lost forever.
   • He saw Jesus Christ in person, and Christ personally gave him a commission to
      tell others about his experience.
   • The Lord gave him this commission because there are people who do not believe
      in hell.
   • The Bible supports all his claims.

This last claim is the most important, and must ultimately be the deciding factor
concerning whether or not we accept Wiese’s story. The holy, inspired Word of God
must always be our Final Authority in all matters of faith and practice.




                                            1
                                                   1
                    THE CHARACTER AND PROMISES OF GOD
Consider the following statements, in Wiese’s own words, describing what he calls “the
worst part of hell”:

    The fact that I knew God was kept from my mind. 1

    I didn’t even possess the thought of calling on God for help, because, I was there as one
    who didn’t know God. The Lord didn’t even come to mind. 2

    He had removed the knowledge that I was a Christian. 3

    If I knew him there, as I have since 1970, I would have had hope that He would rescue
    me. To experience the feeling of being lost forever was by far the worst part of hell. 4

Wiese is very specific—he did not know the Lord as a Christian while he was allegedly
in hell. He specifically claims that he experienced the feeling of being lost forever. God
was kept from his mind, and he felt the shame and despair of the lost. Let us first
determine if this claim of Wiese’s is compatible with what we know from Scripture.

Rom 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence:
and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Here we have two of the most precious promises for all God’s people over the last 2,000
years. All those who believe in the Name of Jesus Christ “shall not be ashamed.” They
are forever delivered from the shame of the lost unbelieving world who reject Jesus
Christ. And God’s promises are eternal and unchangeable. He always keeps His Word.

Psalm 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt
glorify me.

Psalm 86:7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.

Psalm 91:15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him, and honour him.

Psalm 116:2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as
long as I live.

1
  Bill Wiese, 23 Minutes in Hell, p. 9. Emphasis his.
2
  23 Minutes, p. 13.
3
  23 Minutes, p. 31.
4
  23 Minutes, p. 37. Bold emphasis and underlining mine.


                                                   2
God has promised us numerous times throughout His Word that we can always call upon
Him, and He will always hear us. There is never a time when God’s child cannot call out
to his Heavenly Father. According to Wiese’s claims, God has broken His promises.

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by
these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in
the world through lust.
2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue
knowledge;
2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience
godliness;
2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither
be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath
forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and
election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
2 Peter 1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of
these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

“These things” are God’s divine power, His “exceeding great and precious promises,”
and the fruit of the Spirit, in verses 1–8. God’s will is for the Christian to be “always in
remembrance” of these things. These things are never taken away from us.

Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

There is never a time when we cannot rejoice in the Lord. God allows us to suffer many
trials and heartaches in this life, but never the despair of not knowing our Heavenly
Father and Blessed Savior. The whole point of our trials is for us to trust in our Lord and
show our faith in Him—this is the basis of our whole Christian testimony.

Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
Jesus Christ:
Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and
rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Rom 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation
worketh patience;

These three short verses contradict Wiese’s claims several times. We have peace with
God and access to God that can never be lost, broken, or even suspended for one
moment. And as Christians were are to glory in our tribulations. Our joy in the midst of



                                             3
tribulations is our testimony to God’s faithfulness and power before the unbelieving
world. This is the great purpose behind all the suffering we endure. And this is certainly
not compatible with Wiese’s alleged experience in which he felt only “worthlessness,
shame, and humiliation.”

Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

As children of God, who possess the very righteousness of Christ Himself, our access to
the Father is never denied. Christ was separated from the Father on the Cross, in our
place, so that we would never be separated from the Father again.

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that
he may abide with you forever;
John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him
not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The Holy Spirit abides with us forever, and He will never leave us without comfort.

John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the
sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
John 10:2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his
own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
John 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep
follow him: for they know his voice. …
John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

Wiese claims that he did not know the Lord and could not even have one thought about
the Lord during his experience. Yet here the Lord makes a crystal clear promise that He
is always known by His sheep. Does Wiese think he is an exception to all these
promises? The prophets and apostles had many visions, but there was never one moment
when any of them forgot they were a child of God and could not call upon His Name.
How special does Wiese think he is?

The Word of God is abundantly clear that every true believer has been forever delivered
out of darkness and into the light. The Christian will always know who his Lord and
Savior is, and can never walk in darkness and ignorance of Jesus Christ again.

1 Thess 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the
night, nor of darkness.

As children of God, we are always in the Light, and never in darkness.



                                             4
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that
followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

1 Pet 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar
people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness
into his marvellous light;

Col 1:12-13 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of
the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of
darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

As believers who have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have been completely and
forever taken out of the darkness and placed in the light. And this can never be changed.

Eph 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as
children of light:

John 8:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not
abide in darkness.

A child of God can never walk in darkness. The reason for our Lord becoming a man,
walking this earth, and laying down His life for us, was that we would be freed from the
darkness forever, and we would never have to walk without Him again.

God is always promising us that He is with us, to give us peace and assurance. But these
promises would do us no good if He removed any knowledge of Himself from our minds.

Matt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and,
lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such
things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from
the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What Wiese claims to have experienced is something that the Lord would never do to any
of His children. God’s children are promised that they will never suffer the pain or
despair of hell, in any degree whatsoever.

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of
God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name
of the Son of God.



                                            5
These promises of God’s Word were written in order that we would know that we have
eternal life. God would be contradicting His own Holy Word if He ever took this blessed
knowledge and assurance away from us. God would never remove the knowledge that we
have eternal life and have been delivered forever from the terror and agony of hell. And
to say that God would ever take this knowledge away is to totally disregard what God
Himself as already told us numerous times in His Word. Wiese states that the Lord
appeared to him, and “He wanted me to be able to tell others that there will be literal
pain in hell.” 5 However, this statement ignores all the Scriptural promises that God’s
people will never experience the horrors of hell, the darkness of being lost, or being
separated from God.

John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into
everlasting life.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall
never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him
that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed
from death unto life.

John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see
death.

Let us return for a moment to one of the quotes from the beginning of this chapter:

    The fact that I knew God was kept from my mind. This was explained to me later by the
    Lord Himself. In retrospect, I know that there are several scriptures indicating that God
    does sometimes hide things from man’s mind. 6

Wiese then tries to find scriptural support for this claim in a note at the end of the
chapter:

    Of course, God can do anything, but to give scriptural references, in Luke 18:34, when
    Jesus was telling His disciples about being crucified and dying, we read: “…this saying
    was hidden from them,” even though Jesus had told them. After King Nebuchadnezzar
    lost his sanity because of sin and lived like an animal in the fields for a time, we read in
    Daniel 4:34 that “…my understanding returned to me.” 7

Wiese is grasping at straws here. The Lord did not intentionally hide these things from
the disciples; it was simply their own ignorance and foolishness (which we see many
times throughout the Gospels), as well as the fact that they were expecting the prophesied
5
  23 Minutes, p. 103.
6
  23 Minutes, p. 9.
7
  23 Minutes, p. 17 (Note #16).


                                                 6
Kingdom. And no matter how we interpret Luke 18:34, it still does not prove that the
Lord would actually remove all knowledge of Himself from one of His children. We have
just noted numerous scriptural promises that would have been broken if what Wiese is
claiming is true.

Num 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should
repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it
good?

And any attempt by Wiese to find support in the story of Nebuchadnezzar is completely
unfeasible. Nebuchadnezzar willfully rebelled against God and elevated himself. He
chose to be deceived by his own pride, as we all do at times. His lack of understanding
was the result of his own choices, as it is with all those who reject the Word of God. But
God in His mercy allows us time to repent, as He did with Nebuchadnezzar. For Wiese to
try to compare this to his own alleged experience in hell is actually rather foolish.

Wiese also attempts to use Acts 10:34 in his defense, but again his argument falls far
short of its purpose.

       Now the Lord gave visions to these great men, and, although my experience is not in any
       way to be compared to them, the Bible says that “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34).
                                                 8
       He will give a dream or vision to anyone.

This is a clumsy misapplication and distortion of the verse. Wiese is trying to make the
spurious argument that since the prophets and apostles had visions, there’s no reason why
he shouldn’t have one too, since God does not show partiality. But if this were a
legitimate argument, then Christians today should also be able to perform miracles, heal
the sick, write inspired Scripture, and raise the dead, just like the prophets and apostles
did. If you’re going to try to make this argument, you have to be consistent. When men
today claim to have the same gifts as the prophets and apostles, it only results in apostasy,
as evidenced by the carnal modern health-and-wealth movement. Wiese also cites five
Biblical examples of men who had visions. Anyone with even the most rudimentary
knowledge of the Bible knows that God gave many visions back in those times, but this
in no way supports Wiese’s claim that God also gave him a vision.

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no
respecter of persons:
Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is
accepted with him.

The context of Peter’s statement here is God’s revelation to him that the Gospel was now
going out to the Gentiles, and not to Jews only. He is speaking to Cornelius the centurion,
the first Gentile the Lord sent him to. And in the following chapter, Peter is explaining to
his Jewish brethren that God is now sending the Gospel to the Gentiles: “When they
heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, ‘Then hath God also

8
    23 Minutes, p. 95.


                                                 7
to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life’” (Act 11:18). God shows no partiality in that
He loves everyone the same, and offers the free gift of eternal life to all who will believe
in His Son as their Lord and Savior. It does not mean that God gives the same spiritual
gifts or ministries to everybody and anybody. We see a progressive revelation of God’s
great purpose from Genesis to Revelation, and He gives different gifts and ministries to
His people in different ages, according to His own perfect wisdom and sovereign will. It
is very foolish of Mr. Wiese to say that God would give a vision to him or to “anyone,”
just because He gave visions to His holy, inspired prophets and apostles thousands of
years ago.




                                             8
                                                  2
                       THE PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION OF HELL
After examining what the Scriptures declare, regarding this idea of God removing the
knowledge of Himself from one of His own children, there are very obvious problems
with the whole premise of Wiese’s story. Wiese, however, insists repeatedly that his story
is consistent with Scripture:

     I have since discovered that my story coincides with what Scripture details about hell. 9

He mentions one of his supporters who was impressed by all the Scripture references he
has in the book.

     Besides, he appreciated all of the Scripture references to validate the experience. 10

He specifically states that according to the Scriptures, an experience like his is possible.

     Yet the fact remains that this did occur to me, and Scripture supports that such an
     experience could take place. 11

He even goes as far as to claim that the Scriptures confirm everything he allegedly
experienced.

     To my surprise, I discovered that there are approximately 150 verses that reveal some
     aspect of hell, together confirming everything I had experienced. 12

One cannot make a greater claim than this. Wiese dogmatically states that the inspired
Word of God confirms everything he is telling us. And whenever we see anyone making
such claims, we are required as God’s children to diligently search the Scriptures to see
“whether those things are so.” Let us now review Mr. Wiese’s descriptions of what he
allegedly saw in hell, and see if Scripture does indeed confirm “everything” he saw.

Wiese talks about the Biblical descriptions of the lake of fire and “outer darkness,” which
are indeed mentioned in Scripture. But he also devotes much of his book to descriptions
of demons and other creatures tormenting people in hell. 13 It is quite obvious in the Bible,
however, that demons are not in a role of power in hell.

James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also
believe, and tremble.



9
  23 Minutes, p. xvii.
10
   23 Minutes, p. 69.
11
   23 Minutes, p. 87.
12
   23 Minutes, p. 81.
13
   23 Minutes, pp. 4-6, 13-14, 29-30, 97.


                                                   9
Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Why would demons want to go to a place that terrifies them and makes them tremble?
Any diligent Bible student knows that Satan is not in hell. Hell is the last place he ever
wants to go. He is very busy on earth.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before
the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the
LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down
in it.

Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before
the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
Job 2:2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered
the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in
it.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

2 Cor 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2 Cor 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe
not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine
unto them.

The Bible abounds with warnings about the work of Satan and demons on earth, but it is
completely silent regarding the idea of demons punishing people in hell.

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the
wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness
in high places.

Wiese tries desperately to make the Bible say what he wants it to say. And he goes to
great lengths to read foreign meanings into many scriptures, which are not even hinted at
in the actual text of the passage. At the beginning of Chapter 10, “Dealing with the
Demons of Hell,” he writes:

       The Bible states that there are demons in hell. I saw many by the pit, in the tunnel, and in
       the cell. They were all deformed and grotesque, and they ranged from small to enormous
       in size. The Bible says: 14


14
     23 Minutes, p. 123.


                                                   10
Wiese then lists the following scriptures on pages 123–124: Isaiah 14:15, Isaiah 14:17,
Matthew 25:41, 2 Peter 2:4, and Revelation 9:2-11.

Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Isa 14:16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is
this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
Isa 14:17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that
opened not the house of his prisoners?

Isaiah 14:15 specifically says, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the
pit.” This has not happened yet. It will not happen until Revelation 20, after the Lord’s
return. Until then, Satan roams the earth and deceives the world. Satan is not in hell right
now, which is very obvious from the scriptures we have just noted.

In Isaiah 14:16-17, Satan made the earth tremble, shook kingdoms, made the world a
wilderness, destroyed its cities, and “opened not the house of his prisoners.” This
obviously refers to Satan’s work on earth, not in hell. We are warned about falling into
“the snare of the devil,” and being “taken captive by him at his will” (1 Timothy 2:26),
but again these are obvious references to Satan’s work of deception on earth. Scripture
abounds with similar warnings about the attacks of Satan and his demons on earth, but it
is completely silent regarding any notion of Satan taking prisoners in hell.

Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

All this verse tells us is that the lake of fire was made for the devil and his angels. There
is nothing whatsoever in this verse to indicate that they are in hell now. And again, since
this is the place that was made for their eternal punishment, it is the last place they ever
want to go.

2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and
delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher
of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

These angels were “delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”
There are some of Satan’s angels who are imprisoned by God under the earth, against
their will, for certain sins they apparently committed during the wicked generation at the
time of Noah. But even these fallen angels (who are not hideous reptilian creatures) are
chained, and “reserved unto judgment.” They are not running around loose, tormenting
people in hell.

Rev 9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and
to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.




                                             11
Rev 9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the
smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke
of the pit.
Rev 9:3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was
given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. …
Rev 9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose
name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

These again are the imprisoned angels mentioned by Peter in his second epistle.
Revelation 9 is the account of them being released from their prison. But once again there
is not the slightest shred of evidence to suggest that they were able to torment people in
hell. This is merely an arbitrary assumption that Wiese tries to read into all these verses.

     Jesus said in Matthew 24:51, “…and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with
     the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (See also Luke 12:46.)
     The Greek word dichotomeo means, “to cut; to bisect; to cut asunder; 1) of the cruel
     method of punishment used by the Hebrews and others of cutting one in two; 2) cut by
     scourging, scourge severely.”

     These two verses are talking about the severe punishment inflicted on those in hell. Some
     theologians say that it does not literally mean cut in pieces or cut in two, but merely
     extreme torment or being cut off from God. That may or may not be. Either way, it
     defines the fact that hell is torment. 15

It is difficult to determine where Wiese is going here. After quoting Matthew 24:51, he
cites a Greek word definition 16 from Strong’s Concordance, stating that this means to cut
someone in two. This is really quite pointless, however, since the English text uses the
exact same wording: “cut him in two.” Quoting the Greek word definition is completely
irrelevant to the issue at hand, and one has to wonder why Wiese would even bother,
unless he is merely trying to make himself look studious. Secondly, the whole point of
citing these verses in this section of his book is to answer the question, “Can demons
torment people in hell?” 17 However, he states in the second paragraph that this may or
may not be literal, but “Either way, it defines the fact that hell is torment.” But again, to
simply demonstrate that “hell is torment” is not the point of this section of the book. He
has specifically stated that he is trying to show that “demons torment people in hell.” So
what has Wiese accomplished in these two paragraphs? Also, as is his custom, Wiese
only quotes part of the sentence and ignores the context. The last sentence of this parable
reads: “The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and
in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his
portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew
24:50–51). The passage specifically states that the Lord will do the “cutting asunder” in
His day of judgment; there is not the slightest hint here of demons inflicting ongoing
torment on people in hell.

15
   23 Minutes, p 131.
16
   Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, PC Study Bible V3.2F (www.biblesoft.com: BibleSoft, 1998), s.v.
dichotomeo.
17
   23 Minutes, p 130.


                                                12
     The next four verses describe what the Lord will do to those on earth who rebel against
     His Word. However, is it possible that these verses serve as an inclusive punishment of
     hell also? I say this particularly because in the first three out of the four verses we will
     look at, the first line of the verses does directly talk about hell or Judgment Day.

         For a fire is kindled in mine anger and shall burn unto the lowest hell [Sheol]....
         They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter
         destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with poison of
         serpents of the dust.
                                                         —DEUTERONOMY 32:22–24, KJV

     The first verse is about hell; the second is about torment on earth. However, “devoured
     with burning heat, and with bitter destruction” and “teeth of beasts” could be descriptive
     of hell also. 18

This paragraph abounds with careless errors, the most obvious being that Wiese is not
dealing with four verses here. Deuteronomy 32:22–24 is only three verses, and Wiese
only actually quotes 1½ verses. Normally I would not even mention a detail like this,
which in most cases would be a trivial technicality. However, this is not the only sloppy
mistake in Wiese’s book, and when one is making such great claims as his—even
claiming to meet Jesus Christ face-to-face and directly receive a divine commission—
then he should not be so careless when writing about it.

Wiese says, “…in the first three out of the four verses we will look at, the first line of
the verses does directly talk about hell or Judgment Day.” It is difficult to follow what
Wiese is saying here, but he appears to be referring to the following three phrases:
    1. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger and shall burn unto the lowest hell…”
    2. “They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter
        destruction:”
    3. “I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with poison of serpents of the
        dust.” [This is actually the second sentence of verse 24, but I cannot figure out
        any other way to interpret what Wiese is saying.]
Wiese says that all three of these lines “directly talk about hell or Judgment Day,” as if
hell and Judgment Day are the same thing. First of all, however, this passage is not even
about the “Judgment Day” when Christ returns. This is a warning given to the Israelites
by Moses during one of their many times of carnality and disobedience. Secondly,
Judgment Day is not hell. Judgment Day takes place on earth. The Scriptures abound
with prophecies describing in great detail our Lord’s future return, His personal invasion
of the earth, and His destruction of Antichrist and His enemies on earth. Even these
prophecies are not descriptions of hell. And Deuteronomy 32 is about God’s judgment on
an idolatrous people, 19 a “froward generation,” 20 and a “foolish nation.” 21 The phrase
“burn into the lowest hell” describes how inescapable and destructive the Lord’s wrath is.

18
   23 Minutes, pp. 131-132.
19
   Deuteronomy 32:16-17.
20
   Deuteronomy 32:20.
21
   Deuteronomy 32:21.


                                                 13
Wiese is making a long stretch here, trying to apply this passage to hell, when this is
obviously judgment taking place on earth. Wiese is merely looking for an excuse to apply
the phrase “the teeth of beasts” to his description of hell, in a vain attempt to find support
for demons attacking people in hell. Wiese is wrong on two counts here—these three
lines do not directly talk about hell, and hell is not the same thing as Judgment Day.
Wiese even admits that this passage is about God’s judgment on earth, but then asks,
“However, is it possible that these verses serve as an inclusive punishment of hell also?”
And when one has to grasp at straws like this, it means he has a very weak case. Over and
over again, we see Wiese trying very hard to read his own bias into the text. He tries to
turn a passage about earthly judgment into a passage about hell, and then tries to turn the
teeth of beasts into demons, based on nothing but empty assumptions on his part. One can
see these same unscriptural, self-serving methods at work from beginning to end in
Wiese’s book.

On pages 132–133, Wiese makes a very weak attempt to further justify his statements
about demons from Scripture. He cites the following scriptures:

   He has set me in many dark places, like the dead of long ago. He has hedged me
   in…made my chain heavy. Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer…blocked
   my ways with hewn stone…made my paths crooked…been to me a bear lying in wait,
   like a lion in ambush. He has turned aside my ways and torn me in pieces.
                                                                 —LAMENTATIONS 3:6–11

   For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light. It will be
   as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him!...And a serpent bit him!
                                                                            —AMOS 5:18–19

   …therefore they forget Me. I will tear open their rib cage, and there will I devour them
   like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.
                                                                          —HOSEA 13:6–8

   The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces.
                                                                           —1 SAMUEL 2:10

   The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me.
                                                                           —2 SAMUEL 22:6

   …his soul draws near the Pit, and his life to the executioners.
                                                                                 —JOB 33:22

   …you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces.
                                                                              —PSALM 50:22

   …delivered him to the torturers.
                                                                          —MATTHEW 18:34

   …will cut him in two…shall be beaten with many stripes.
                                                                           —LUKE 12:46–47




                                               14
       …nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
                                                                    —1 CORINTHIANS 10:10

       …opened the bottomless pit…came out…locusts…teeth of lions…[description of
       demons out of the pit—they have the teeth of lions].
                                                              —REVELATION 9:2–8

At the end of this list, Wiese adds the following comment:

       Notice the repeated use of “lion” and “torn to pieces” and “tormentors” and “destroyers.”
       Who is doing the tearing in pieces, and who are the tormentors? Who is doing the “beaten
       with many stripes” or the destroying? 22

Lamentations 3:6–11 is about Jeremiah’s sorrow and struggle with God as his country is
being invaded and taken captive to Babylon under the Lord’s judgment. He compares the
Lord to a lion in ambush and himself to the one torn in pieces. How this can possibly be
construed as demons attacking people in hell, we may never know. We will further
examine Lamentations 3 later in our study. But now let us review the rest of the
scriptures that Wiese has listed here.

Amos 5:18–19 describes the folly of the Israelites who “desire the day of the Lord.”
These Israelites had once again fallen into backsliding and disobedience, but they refused
to acknowledge their own sin and their danger of coming under God’s judgment. For
them to desire the day of the Lord in their present state of rebellion was very foolish, and
Amos has been sent by God to warn them. Amos prophecies that, in the day of the Lord,
it will be as though the rebellious Israelite was surprised by a bear in the woods, or bitten
by a serpent in his own home. This is an illustration of the sudden, unexpected earthly
judgment that is about to come upon the nation. As usual, the passages Wiese is citing
have absolutely nothing to do with hell. Wiese is merely quoting scriptures that happen to
make some reference to “bitten,” “torn,” “broken,” etc., and tries to apply them to his
alleged experience, when none of these passages can possibly be construed as talking
about hell. Anyone can open a concordance and grab a list of verses that happen to
mention these words, but this does nothing to support his claims.

When he mentions 1 Samuel 2:10, Wiese does not even quote the whole verse: “The
adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon
them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his
king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.” Here we have another warning about God’s
coming judgment upon the earth, which has nothing to do with hell. And again Wiese
isolates one short phrase (“The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces…”),
and conveniently omits the rest of the sentence, which specifically shows that this is
about God’s judgment upon the “the ends of the earth.”




22
     23 Minutes, p. 134.


                                                  15
In 1 Samuel 22:6, Wiese quotes the phrase, “The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me.” Try
as I might, I cannot possibly see how this verse in any way supports his claims of demons
tormenting people. This verse does not even mention biting, tearing, demons, etc.

There is no proof that the “destroyers” (“executioners” in the NKJV) in Job 33:22 are
demons in hell. Job is describing the sorrows and trials of man on earth, and the
“destroyers” more likely refers to one’s enemies and oppressors on earth. The phrase
about one’s life drawing near the destroyers/executioners appears to be actually referring
to one’s physical death, and his body going into the grave. There is simply no clear
evidence that Job is making any reference to demons in hell. Job is lamenting over the
condition of his own life, and he has his own life in view as he is expressing these
sorrows and complaints. And as a believer, he was certainly not expecting to go to hell to
be tortured by demons. If this is the best Wiese can do, he is never going to actually
“confirm” everything he allegedly saw from the Bible.

As far as Psalm 50:22 is concerned, this Psalm is dealing with the evil of man on earth
(vv. 16–20). The Lord warns them that he will reprove them (v. 21). This is the context of
the warning, “Lest I tear you in pieces.” Again, Wiese tries very hard to twist earthly
judgment into judgment in hell.

In Matthew 18:34, Wiese again only quotes a few words from the verse; he is showing a
consistent pattern of completely ignoring the context and surrounding passage. Matthew
18:23–35 is a parable given in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness (vv. 21–
22). It is a parable illustrative of God’s judgment on those who will not forgive others.
There is no possible way that this verse can be used to prove that demons torment people
in hell.

Concerning Luke 12:46–47, verses 42–48 of this chapter are also a response to one of
Peter’s questions—this one concerning the Lord’s parable about His Second Coming (vv.
36–40). It is another parable illustrating God’s judgment, but in no way indicates that
demons are tormenting people in hell. See above comments on Matthew 24:50–51.

Hosea 13:6–8 describes the earthly judgment of Israel, and the tribe of Ephraim in
particular, for its idolatry. This passage has nothing to do with hell. In fact, the very same
passage promises their future restoration after the judgment. Consider these verses within
the full context of the passage (which Wiese, as usual, ignores and omits from his book):

Hosea 13:4 Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no
god but me: for there is no savior beside me.
Hosea 13:5 I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
Hosea 13:6 According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their
heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.
Hosea 13:7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I
observe them:
Hosea 13:8 I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the
caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.



                                             16
Hosea 13:9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.
Hosea 13:10 I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities?
and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?
Hosea 13:11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.
Hosea 13:12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.
Hosea 13:13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise
son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.
Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them
from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance
shall be hid from mine eyes.

Wiese’s reference to 1 Corinthians 10:10 is the most absurd out of this whole list. In 1
Corinthians 10:5–12, Paul is using the example of the Jews who committed idolatry and
fornication in Numbers 25:1–9, as a warning to the church at Corinth to avoid these same
sins. The “destroyer” here is the plague that the Lord sent upon the Israelites in the
wilderness to chastise them for their rebellion, in which a total of 24,000 of them died
(23,000 in the first day). This passage does not contain the slightest hint of demons
tormenting people in hell. It is about the Lord bringing destruction upon those who rebel
against Him on earth. Does Wiese actually think he can prove his case by merely listing
scriptures that happen to mention the word “destroyer,” regardless of the context in which
it is used?

In Revelation 9:2–8, as in many other scriptures cited by Wiese, these demons afflict
men on earth, not in hell. (See also previous comments on Revelation 9 on pages 12–13.)
Wiese himself even acknowledges this on page 129, where he lists this passage under the
question, “Can demons torment people on Earth?” 23 He also acknowledges on page 130
that hell was made for the eternal judgment of Satan and the demons. But in spite of these
obvious problems with his unscriptural theories, he still makes a weak attempt to justify
himself:

       However, I believe Scripture indicates that currently in hell (Sheol and Hades), God does
       allow the demons to torment the lost souls. I have listed the verses that seem to infer this
       torment. This may not be absolutely conclusive from Scripture, and some theologians
       may disagree; however, I believe there are enough verses to consider this torment to be
       more than conjecture. What Scripture states is all that matters, not what I have to say. I
       am simply reporting the events that took place. I did experience this torment, and you can
       choose to believe me or not. Examine the verses, as Acts 17:11 states, and then decide for
       yourself. 24

Wiese is totally floundering here. He is basically saying, “Yes, I know the Bible says this,
but I believe something else.” He says, “However, I believe Scripture indicates that
currently in hell…God does allow the demons to torment lost souls,” and, “…however, I
believe there are enough verses to consider this torment to be more than conjecture.” But
there is one thing he is right about—it is not what “I believe” that matters. What

23
     23 Minutes, pp. 127-129.
24
     23 Minutes, pp. 130-131.


                                                   17
Scripture states is all that matters. And there is absolutely nothing stated in Scripture to
indicate that God allows demons to torment lost souls. Wiese’s tactic is to simply quote a
plethora of irrelevant scriptures as a smokescreen to obscure the fact that he cannot find a
shred of support for his claims in the Bible. A few pages later, he writes: “I believe many
of these verses that describe the punishment of the rebellious on earth are also revealing
clues of what is entailed in hell’s sufferings.” 25 But he has not presented any Scriptural
evidence at all to support this. Wiese is demonstrating a fundamental lack of respect for
the authority of the Word of the God. He has no right to arbitrarily transfer Biblical
descriptions of earthly judgments to hell, while practically admitting that Scripture does
not actually state this. He has no right to make the Bible say things that it simply does not
say, just to support his own wild story. He is adding a doctrine to the Word of God, for
his own selfish ends. Wiese himself admits that this is a sin, 26 yet it has not deterred him.
Perhaps the most hypocritical statement in Wiese’s entire book is this:

     One thing I was sure of: if what I had experienced was true, then I should be able to find
     proof of it in the Bible. 27

Wiese says, “I have listed the verses that seem to infer this torment.” But in all honesty,
what verses “seem to infer” this torment? Wiese has not listed a single verse that even
“seems to infer” that demons can torment people in hell. He has only listed verses about
demons attacking people on earth. Not one of the verses Wiese has cited can provide the
slightest bit of support for his claim. This idea of demons torturing people in hell does not
come from Scripture, but rather from the medieval superstitions of the Dark Ages, as
portrayed in the Divine Comedy written by the poet Dante (c. 1265–1321). The Divine
Comedy was a poem of 14,000 lines divided into three sections—Inferno (hell),
Purgatory, and Paradise. A full third of this lengthy poetic work, which is still one of the
most famous writings of the Dark Ages, is devoted to that heretical medieval superstition
of purgatory—the false doctrine that even after believing in Christ as Savior, we must
still suffer in this so-called state of “purgatory” between heaven and hell, to be purified of
our sins. 28 The foundational theme of the New Testament, however, is that we are
completely and forever purified from all sin by the blood of Christ, and to require any
further sacrifice for sin is sheer heresy.29 This same medieval superstition is the source of
the foolish, unscriptural notion that there are demons in hell afflicting the lost souls of
humans. 30 (See pictures from the Inferno on the following page, depicting Satan in hell
and demons in various roles of power over the lost.) Wiese’s depictions of “the demons
of hell” are not based in any way on Scripture, but rather on the superstitious heresies of
the Dark Ages.

25
   23 Minutes, p. 135. Bold emphasis mine.
26
   23 Minutes, p. 81.
27
   23 Minutes, p. 81. Bold emphasis and underlining mine.
28
   The earliest historical record of the idea of purgatory dates back to the ancient pagan Egyptians and their
worship of Osiris and other gods. The most prominent promoter of the doctrine of purgatory after the time
of Christ was the second-century pagan Gnostic philosopher Origen from Alexandria, Egypt.
29
   Rom 3:24-28, 4:1-4, 5:8-11, 10:3-4, 11:6; 1 Cor 6:11; Gal 2:21; Eph 5:25-27; Col 1:12-14, 2:13-14; Titus
3:4-7; Heb 9:26-27, 10:10,14,17-18; 1 John 1:7, 2:12; Rev 1:5.
30
   Interestingly, Holly McClure, who is a strong supporter of Wiese and wrote the foreword for his book,
actually makes reference to Dante’s Inferno as if it is a legitimate depiction of hell. See 23 Minutes, p. x.


                                                     18
19
God never provided one warning in His entire Word that tells us demons can torment
people in hell, and then He waits 2,000 years to have Bill Wiese tell us? As Bible-
believing Christians, we should beware of those who claim to have personal revelations
of things that are not found in the Bible. This has been the basis of every destructive cult
that has appeared over the last century. And Wiese’s personal claims actually contradict
what the Bible does say about demons and hell. In the description on the back cover of
Wiese’s book it says, “Wiese’s visit to the devil’s lair lasted just twenty-three minutes,
but he returned with vivid details etched in his memory.” But hell is most definitely not
the “devil’s lair.” Hell was created by God for the eternal punishment of Satan and his
angels. It is the last place he ever wants to go. He will not be going there until Revelation
20:10, at the end of human history.

Wiese’s physical descriptions of these “demons” are also totally foreign to Scripture.
Satan and his followers are fallen angels—they are not hideous, grotesque, deformed
reptilian creatures, as Wiese claims:

     I saw two enormous beasts, unlike anything I had ever seen before. These creatures were
     approximately ten to thirteen feet tall. … The creatures weren’t animals, but they weren’t
     human either. Each giant beast resembled a reptile in appearance, but took on human
     form. Their arms and legs were unequal in length, out of proportion—without symmetry.
     The first one had bumps and scales all over its grotesque body. It had a huge protruding
     jaw, gigantic teeth, and large sunken-in eyes. This creature was stout and powerful, with
     thick legs and abnormally large feet. … The second beast was taller and thinner, with
     very long arms and razor-sharp fins that covered its body. Protruding from its hands were
     claws that were nearly a foot long. 31

     As I looked at the walls, I saw that they were covered with thousands of hideous
     creatures. These demonic creatures were all sizes and shapes. Some of them had four legs
     and were the size of bears. Others stood upright and were the size of gorillas. They were
     all terribly grotesque and disfigured. It looked as though their flesh had been
     decomposing and all their limbs were twisted and out of proportion. Some displayed
     immense, long arms or abnormally large feet. They seemed to me to be the living dead.
     There were also gigantic rats and huge spiders at least three feet wide and two or three
     feet high. I also saw snakes and worms, ranging from small to enormously large. 32

     The Bible states that there are demons in hell. I saw many by the pit, in the tunnel, and in
     the cell. They were all deformed and grotesque, and they ranged from small to enormous
     in size. 33

     In his book Caught Up Into Paradise, Dr. Richard Eby mentions an experience where God
     gave him a two-minute vision of hell in which he was placed in a pit. … In this pit, small
     spider-like demons were crawling all over him in total darkness and isolation. 34




31
   23 Minutes, pp. 2-4.
32
   23 Minutes, pp. 29-30.
33
   23 Minutes, p. 123.
34
   23 Minutes, p. 97.


                                                 20
Wiese describes huge, strong reptilian demons, with a grotesque, disfigured appearance
and rotting flesh, like “the living dead.” He then says he saw big, nasty, scary creatures
like rats and spiders. And he also quotes Richard Eby who supposedly saw “small spider-
like demons.” 35 But where in the entire Bible is any such thing even hinted at? This
sounds more like a cheap Hollywood horror flick than the Word of God. Does Scripture
really confirm everything Wiese is telling us? Wiese himself says, “If what I had
experienced was true, then I should be able to find proof of it in the Bible.” But where is
the proof? Wiese does not even attempt to verify any of this from Scripture, yet he has
the audacity to claim that Scripture confirms everything he experienced. What foolish
superstition to believe that demons are ugly reptiles and spiders!

Wiese also claims that he was placed in a stone cell with bars at the beginning of his trip
to hell. 36 And he tries very hard to find some basis for this description of hell in
Scripture, but again there is none to be found. Wiese’s method is to cite scriptures that
happen to contain references to “prison cells” and “bars,” and try to read these scriptures
into his own alleged experience. In the following excerpt 37 we will first examine Wiese’s
references to “prison cells.”

     There are several scriptures that speak of prison cells and bars. In Proverbs 7:27, the
     Word indicates that hell is an inner room, a chamber that holds the sinner.

        Prison Cell

        …descending to the chambers of death.
                                                                           —PROVERBS 7:27

        They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut
        up in the prison.
                                                                               —ISAIAH 24:22

        …who did not open the house of his prisoners?
                                                                              —ISAIAH 14:17

        He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone [could be prophetic of hell]
                                                               —LAMENTATIONS 3:9, KJV

        …out of the low dungeon.
                                                                — LAMENTATIONS 3:55, KJV

Prov 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of
heart. …
Prov 7:21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her
lips she forced him.
Prov 7:22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to
the correction of the stocks;
35
   Richard Eby, Caught Up Into Paradise, pp. 229-230.
36
   23 Minutes, pp. xiii, 2, 116.
37
   23 Minutes, p. 116.


                                                  21
Prov 7:23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth
not that it is for his life.
Prov 7:24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my
mouth.
Prov 7:25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.
Prov 7:26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain
by her.
Prov 7:27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

Again, Wiese is reading all kinds of his own assumptions into the text. There is nothing
here about prison cells or bars. This passage is describing the destruction that comes upon
a man’s life when he gives in to the temptations of the harlot. Wiese states that, “In
Proverbs 7:27, the Word indicates that hell is an inner room, a chamber that holds the
sinner”; but the Word does not specifically indicate what Wiese claims. Proverbs 27 is a
passage full of vivid and figurative descriptions of the temptations of the harlot: “He
goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction
of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and
knoweth not that it is for his life.” There is no way Wiese can prove that “the chambers of
death” refer to the prison cells and bars that he claims to have seen in hell; yet he
dogmatically states that this is the meaning of the verse. The word “hell” in Proverbs 7
here is actually being used the same way as in Proverbs 9:

Prov 9:13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.
Prov 9:14 For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,
Prov 9:15 To call passengers who go right on their ways:
Prov 9:16 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth
understanding, she saith to him,
Prov 9:17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
Prov 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the
depths of hell.

Again, death and hell are used figuratively to warn us about the dangers of temptation.
Obviously, the foolish woman’s house is not literally full of dead people, and her house is
not literally hell. It only takes a little common sense to see how hell and death are being
used in these passages. But common sense is very lacking in Wiese’s approach to
Scripture.

Isa 24:21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the
high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
Isa 24:22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and
shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
Isa 24:23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of
hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.

Isaiah 24 is one of the many Old Testament prophecies of our Lord’s glorious return to
earth to destroy His enemies and the kingdom of Antichrist, to deliver His persecuted



                                             22
people, and to establish His perfect Kingdom on earth, where He will reign in Mount
Zion on the throne of David. There is more Scripture dedicated to this future event than
any other subject. And the most obvious fact that Wiese consistently ignores when
referencing these prophecies is that they are descriptions of what takes place on earth,
when Christ returns to establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth. They are not
descriptions of hell. 38 This passage does tell us that God will imprison “the host of the
high ones,” but there is nothing here to support Wiese’s claims of individual stone cells in
hell, like the one he allegedly saw.

As far as Isaiah 14:17 is concerned, we have already dealt with Wiese’s abuse of this
verse on page 11.

Lam 3:9 He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.

Lamentations 3:9 cannot possibly be “prophetic” of hell. First of all, Jeremiah is
describing his own experience—something he already went through (Jeremiah 38). This
is not “prophetic” in any way, and Jeremiah was not going to be taking a trip to hell.
Secondly, Jeremiah is describing his anguish as he watches his beloved Israel destroyed
and taken captive under God’s judgment; he does not make any reference whatsoever to
going to hell. Thirdly, his conclusion in verses 21–23 is this: “…his compassions fail not.
They [the Lord’s mercies] are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” There is no
possible way that Jeremiah could be referring to hell.

Lam 3:52 Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause.
Lam 3:53 They [Jeremiah’s enemies] have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a
stone upon me.
Lam 3:54 Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.
Lam 3:55 I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon.
Lam 3:56 Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
Lam 3:57 Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.

In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah is talking about the persecution he experienced at the hands
of his enemies—not hell. He is describing how his enemies pursued and imprisoned him.
His enemies literally threw him in a dungeon, and the Lord delivered him (Jeremiah 38:6-
13). In the dungeon he called upon the Lord’s Name, and the Lord said, “Fear not.” This
can hardly be a terrifying experience of hell, without knowledge of God, like Wiese
claims to have gone through. And it is absurd to say that this passage is “prophetic” of
hell. What exactly does “prophetic of hell” mean? Did Jeremiah expect to take a trip to
hell? Wiese does not offer any satisfactory explanation for this foolish assumption that he
has created out of thin air. Anyone can get a concordance and rattle off a list of scriptures
that happen to mention bars and dungeons, but this proves nothing. Wiese is simply
looking up verses that mention prisons, and then making a vain attempt to turn these
verses into a description of hell. And he uses the same tactics with his list of verses that
happen to include words like “bars”: 39

38
     See also comments on Deuteronomy 32:22-24 on pp. 14-15.
39
     23 Minutes, p. 117.


                                                  23
   Bars

   They shall go down to the bars of the pit.
                                                                         —JOB 17:16, KJV

   Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
                                                                              —JOB 38:17

   You who lift me up from the gates of death…
                                                                            —PSALM 9:13

   …to the gates of death.
                                                                         —PSALM 107:18

   I shall go to the gates of Sheol.
                                                                          —ISAIAH 38:10

   The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You have brought up my life from
   the pit.
                                                                              —JONAH 2:6

   …and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
                                                                       —MATTHEW 16:18

   …the keys of Hades and of Death.
                                                                      —REVELATION 1:18

   …having the key to the bottomless pit.
                                                                      —REVELATION 20:1

Job 17:13 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
Job 17:14 I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my
mother, and my sister.
Job 17:15 And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?
Job 17:16 They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.

Wiese’s continual twisting of Scripture to his own ends becomes more and more
tiresome. To try to read hell into Job 17:16 is just foolish. In this passage, Job is in great
despair over his severe adversity, and is even contemplating death. In verses 13–14, he is
brooding over the decay of his body with the worms in the grave. He then goes on to say,
“They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.” The
“bars of the pit” and “our rest together in the dust” can only be referring to Job’s grave—
not hell! The wording in this passage is so clearly dealing with one’s grave, tomb, burial,
etc.; it has nothing to do with going to hell. And even if we did somehow force this
interpretation upon the passage, we would have to say that Job would be going to hell
when he died! This is the folly that men fall into when they distort the Word of God.
Wiese is using the age-old tactic of all those who try to make the Bible say what they
want it to say. He isolates one phrase (“They shall go down to the bars of the pit…”) and


                                                24
reads his own meanings into it, while completely ignoring the surrounding passage, in
fact ignoring the rest of the very same sentence. In this short, isolated excerpt that Wiese
quotes, we cannot actually tell who “they” are. From the things Wiese has been
discussing, one could easily assume that “they” refers to unbelievers going to hell. But in
this passage it actually refers to Job’s body, its “corruption” (decay), and the worms of
the grave. To quote short phrases like this, in an effort to support his own personal story
about hell, is very misleading on Wiese’s part. There are short quotes of isolated phrases
like this throughout Wiese’s book. And when one isolates a few words or a short phrase
by itself, he can apply virtually any meaning to it that he wants.

We will deal with Wiese’s misinterpretation of the story of Jonah momentarily. And
concerning the other scriptures he cites here, which mention the “gates of death,” the
“gates of Sheol,” the “keys of Hades and death,” etc., there is simply nothing here
actually describing individual prison cells and bars in hell. Whether there is actually a
literal physical “gate” to hell or not, these scriptures still provide no support at all for
Wiese’s claims.

Wiese also cites other writers in search of support for his claims, as in the following
quote from Billy Graham: 40

     Billy Graham said:

     The description of Satan’s great power ends with the words, “who opened not the house
     of his prisoners” (Isa. 14:17). This undoubtedly refers to the prison house of Satan, Hades
     or the abode of the dead so clearly pictured in Luke 16:19–31. 41

Satan has no power over hell. It is God alone who determines who goes to hell. With all
due respect to Graham’s evangelistic work, it is completely unscriptural to say that hell is
a prison house of Satan where he actually has control and can hold prisoners. As we have
already seen, Isaiah 14 describes the work of Satan on earth. Satan holds people prisoner
through deception on earth, but he has no power in hell whatsoever.

Wiese then cites an excerpt from a sermon 42 by John MacArthur:

     On an audiocassette recording of John MacArthur, He quotes a comment from the great
     saint John Bunyan, saying, “In hell thou shalt have none but a company of damned souls,
     with an innumerable company of devils, to keep company with thee.” 43

John Bunyan is absolutely correct. The unbeliever’s only company in hell will be other
lost souls and devils. This is something that Christian churches have always generally



40
   23 Minutes, p. 117-118.
41
   Billy Graham, Angels: God’s Secret Agents, p. 105.
42
   John MacArthur, “Hell—the Furnace of Fire,” Tape #GC2304
http://www.jcsm.org/StudyCenter/john_macarthur/sg2304.htm (accessed September 19, 2005).
43
   23 Minutes, p. 124.


                                                 25
agreed on. But it does nothing to support Wiese’s story or his claims that demons can
inflict punishment on the lost. This is followed by a quote from Erwin Lutzer: 44

     Erwin W. Lutzer points out, “If it is true that angels await those who have been made
     righteous by Christ, it is understandable that demonic spirits would await those who enter
     eternity without God’s forgiveness and acceptance.” 45

It is difficult to determine from this short excerpt if Lutzer is trying to say that demons
can torment the lost, but if he is, it is mere conjecture. The fact that it is “understandable”
to Lutzer means nothing as far supporting Wiese’s story is concerned.

One of the most preposterous sections of Wiese’s book is his comments on the prophet
Jonah.

     Some theologians think that Jonah was in hell. Others think he was only at the “gates of
     hell.” In Jonah 2:2, Jonah states, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and
     he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice” (KJV). Then he
     continues: “The earth with her bars was about me forever: yet hast thou brought up my
     life from corruption, O LORD my God” (v. 6, KJV). The word bars in Greek is bariyach,
     which means, “a relatively long, ridged piece of any solid material used for support or
     barrier.” Whether he was at the gates or inside the gates is not the important issue. The
     fact is that he was there; that is what is relevant. 46

Wiese attempts yet again to make himself look studious with a reference to the original
language. And again it is completely pointless, since the word for “bars” means the exact
same thing in English as it does in the original. Secondly, Wiese has the wrong language
here—the book of Jonah was written in Hebrew, not Greek, and bariyach is a Hebrew
word. And again, when one is making such fantastic claims as Wiese’s, he really should
not be so careless.

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,
Jonah 2:2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me;
out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
Jonah 2:3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods
compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
Jonah 2:4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy
temple.
Jonah 2:5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round
about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
Jonah 2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was
about me forever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.
Jonah 2:7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer
came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.


44
   Erwin W. Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, p. 25.
45
   23 Minutes, p. 124.
46
   23 Minutes, pp. 96-97.


                                                   26
First of all, to point out the obvious—Jonah has just been swallowed by the great fish
(Jonah 1:17). Jonah 2:1 specifically states that Jonah prayed to God “out of the fish’s
belly”; he is talking about his experience in the belly of the great fish. Yet Wiese is trying
to say that Jonah was actually in (or at) hell? Are we to believe Jonah saw hell itself in a
fish’s belly? Or are we supposed to believe that the fish swam all the way down to hell?
Or did God supposedly take Jonah out of the fish, send him to hell, and then stick him
back in the fish? If Jonah had actually gone to hell itself, isn’t it strange that he doesn’t
mention a single word about what hell is like (blazing fire, people in torment, cruel
demons, giant creepy spiders, etc.)?

What Jonah is describing here is his voyage through the depths of the ocean in the fish’s
belly, and the total despair he experienced during these three days and three nights. Jonah
says, “Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods
compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.” It doesn’t take a
scholar to figure out that Jonah is talking about the ocean here. “The waters compassed
me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped
about my head.” Again, an obvious reference to the sea and its plant life that surrounded
Jonah during his journey. “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with
her bars was about me forever.” Jonah says he went down to the bottoms of the
mountains—he descended to the lowest depths of the ocean, perhaps to the ocean floor
itself. All around is the vast ocean and the sides of the mountains, and he is helpless to
escape. This is what surrounds Jonah during his experience; it is not hell. Jonah went into
the depths of the ocean and to the bottom of the mountains, but there is not the slightest
indication that he actually went to the center of the earth (3,700 miles down? 47 ) and saw
hell.

Matt 12:38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we
would see a sign from thee.
Matt 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation
seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet
Jonas:
Matt 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall
the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matt 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall
condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than
Jonas is here.

Our Lord Himself confirms Jonah’s testimony that he spent three days and three nights in
the whale’s belly—not in hell. Many of the most vivid descriptions of hell were given by
our Lord during His earthly ministry; yet He Himself does not even hint that Jonah was
ever in hell. And in all His warnings about the torments of hell, He never once mentions
demons torturing people.

We should also note that when the word “hell” is used in the Bible, it does not always
refer to the literal physical location of hell, but can also be used to describe the suffering
47
     23 Minutes, p. 107.


                                             27
and sorrow that people endure in this life—in fact, it is still used this way in common
speech today. We have the example of King David in Psalm 86.

Psalm 86:6 Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my
supplications.
Psalm 86:7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.
Psalm 86:8 Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any
works like unto thy works.
Psalm 86:9 All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O
Lord; and shall glorify thy name.
Psalm 86:10 For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.
Psalm 86:11 Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear
thy name.
Psalm 86:12 I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy
name forevermore.
Psalm 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from
the lowest hell.

David wrote many psalms in which he calls upon the Lord for deliverance in his trials
and suffering. And he uses the phrase “the lowest hell” to describe the heartache and
despair that he endured—he is not saying that he literally went to hell. This is just plain
common sense and obvious from the context. Hell can also be used this way in the Bible,
and this is the way Jonah is using it. He cannot be referring to the literal, physical hell
because in Jonah chapter 2 he is talking about being in the fish’s belly.

We also see hell being used the same way again in Psalm 116.

Psalm 116:1 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
Psalm 116:2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as
long as I live.
Psalm 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon
me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Psalm 116:4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver
my soul.
Psalm 116:5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
Psalm 116:6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

Obviously, the Psalmist did not literally die, and he did not literally go to the physical
place of hell, even though he talks about the “sorrows of death” and the “pains of hell.”
He is using these phrases to vividly describe his “trouble and sorrow” on earth, just as
Jonah did. Again, any diligent Bible student reading this Psalm with the least bit of
common sense can see how “hell” is being used here. Incredibly, Wiese actually cites the
second half of Psalm 116:3 in “Appendix A” under the category “Torment in hell.” 48



48
     23 Minutes, p. 153.


                                            28
Wiese claims that the Lord’s reason for sending him on a trip through hell was that
people don’t believe in hell. 49 But Wiese also says that the Bible is “very clear that hell is
a place of eternal torment.” Then why would people who reject the holy, inspired,
inerrant Word of God accept Wiese’s fantastic personal claims? There have been many
great missionaries and evangelists who won many souls to Christ with only the Word of
God as their testimony, and no wild stories like Wiese’s. Wiese makes great claims of
scriptural support for his story. But the Bible is very clear that if men reject the Gospel,
and they refuse to listen to those who proclaim the Word of God, they will never be
persuaded, even if someone came back from the dead to witness to them—something even
more miraculous than Wiese’s alleged experience. Wiese cites Luke 16 to back up his
descriptions of hell, but this is actually a passage that completely discredits his story.

Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen,
and fared sumptuously every day:
Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate,
full of sores,
Luke 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table:
moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into
Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar
off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send
Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am
tormented in this flame.
Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy
good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art
tormented.
Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that
they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would
come from thence.
Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him
to my father’s house:
Luke 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also
come into this place of torment.
Luke 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them
hear them.
Luke 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the
dead, they will repent.
Luke 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither
will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Wiese references this passage five times in his book. On page 11, he writes, “Like the
man in torment in Luke 16:23, just one drop of water would have been so precious to
me.” And on page 105, where he describes hell as a “literal, burning place,” he cites the
49
     23 Minutes, p. 33.


                                              29
last phrase of verse 24: “…I am tormented in this flame.” On page 110, where he talks
about having a physical body in hell, he cites about half the verse: “…that he may dip the
tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” He then
goes on to say:

   Luke 16:23-24 describes a man who had a tongue, eyes, and a mouth with which he
   spoke. He had some type of body. In addition, he recognized Abraham and Lazarus, so
   they must have had bodies to be seen and recognizable.

On page 115, in answer to the question “How could I see in hell?,” Wiese writes:
“Remember that in Luke 16:23 the rich man lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham and
Lazarus ‘afar off,’ across a ‘great gulf fixed.’” And finally, he cites this verse again on
page 141 in “Appendix A.” In every instance, Wiese conveniently ignores and omits the
rest of the passage, which directly contradicts his personal claims. It is obvious that
Wiese is intentionally avoiding the clear statements of verses 27–31, which expose his
story for what it is—an outright contradiction of God’s holy Word.

2 Cor 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint
not;
2 Cor 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in
craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth
commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.




                                            30
                                                   3
                            MORE MISQUOTED SCRIPTURES
Throughout his book, Wiese continues to enforce meanings on the text of Scripture that
aren’t there. His book abounds with Scripture quotes that are completely irrelevant to
what he is saying. His handling of the Scriptures is sloppy and self-serving. Anyone can
rattle off a list of scriptures and claim that they support what he is saying. Even the most
heretical cults will give you a list of “prooftexts” for their teachings. But this by itself
proves nothing. You have to actually demonstrate how those scriptures support your
statements. And Wiese consistently fails to do this. He is desperately searching for
Scriptural support where there is none.

Following is a list of scriptures cited by Wiese that he misinterprets or that simply have
nothing to do with the statement he is making. Some of his statements in this section are
true and some are not, but the purpose of examining these excerpts is to show how
careless and haphazard Wiese is in his treatment of the Scriptures.

       In Psalm 140:10 we read: “Let burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the fire,
       into deep pits, that they rise not again” (emphasis added). 50

Psalm 140:1 Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent
man;
Psalm 140:2 Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered
together for war.
Psalm 140:3 They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under
their lips. Selah.
Psalm 140:4 Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the
violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings. …
Psalm 140:8 Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked
device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah.
Psalm 140:9 As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their
own lips cover them.
Psalm 140:10 Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep
pits, that they rise not up again.
Psalm 140:11 Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the
violent man to overthrow him.
Psalm 140:12 I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right
of the poor.

Here we can quite clearly see that the Psalmist is asking the Lord for protection from his
enemies on the earth. He desires for his enemies to be defeated and rendered powerless.
But there is nothing in this Psalm specifically indicating a reference to hell.



50
     23 Minutes, p. 11.


                                                   31
While describing hell on page 25, Wiese makes the statement, “There is never any peace
of mind”; and he includes a note at the end of the chapter to further comment on this
point:

       “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked’” (Isa. 57:21). “Destruction comes;
       they will seek peace, but there shall be none” (Ezek. 7:25). 51

Isa 57:17 For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and
was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.
Isa 57:18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore
comforts unto him and to his mourners.
Isa 57:19 I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him
that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.
Isa 57:20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters
cast up mire and dirt.
Isa 57:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

This again is another passage about how God deals with the righteous and the wicked on
earth. The Lord promises He will restore comfort and peace to his people, and then
contrasts this with the unrest of the wicked.

Ezek 7:21 And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked
of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it.
Ezek 7:22 My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place: for
the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it.
Ezek 7:23 Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of
violence.
Ezek 7:24 Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their
houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be
defiled.
Ezek 7:25 Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none.
Ezek 7:26 Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then
shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and
counsel from the ancients.
Ezek 7:27 The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the
hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them after their way,
and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

It is incredible how often Wiese makes the same obvious mistake. Once again, we have a
passage that is so obviously describing events on earth, yet Wiese tries to apply it to hell.
His statement about the lost having no rest in hell is certainly true, but these two passages
have nothing to do with hell. Even when Wiese is saying something true, His handling of
the Word of God is still foolish and sloppy.



51
     23 Minutes, p. 28 (Note #8).


                                                32
       To the right of the large inferno were thousands of small pits, as far as I could see. Each
       pit was no more than three to five feet across and four to five feet deep—each pit holding
       a single lost soul. Psalm 94:13 refers to these pits by saying, “…until a pit is dug for the
       wicked.” 52

Psalm 94:10 He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man
knowledge, shall not he know?
Psalm 94:11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.
Psalm 94:12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of
thy law;
Psalm 94:13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be
digged for the wicked.
Psalm 94:14 For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his
inheritance.

Wiese dogmatically states that verse 13 specifically refers to pits in hell, but there is no
proof of this whatsoever in the passage. This passage, like so many others we have
already looked at, is a description of the Lord’s dealings with man on earth. This phrase
“a pit is dug for the wicked” is the same analogy as a snare being laid for the wicked. It
is about the wicked reaping what they sow on earth. Wiese makes another futile attempt
to find scriptural support in a note 53 at the end of the chapter, where he cites Psalm 88:6,
Psalm 140:10, Psalm 40:2, Proverbs 1:12, Ezekiel 32:18, and Ezekiel 32:24. We have
already looked at Psalm 140, and we will see Psalm 88 later in this study. Proverbs 1:12,
Ezekiel 32:18, and Ezekiel 32:24 each make a reference to “going down to the pit,” but
there is nothing in these verses specifically indicating individual little pits for each
unbeliever. And the reference to Psalm 40:2 is the most absurd out of all of these.

Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
Psalm 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my
feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
Psalm 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many
shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

At this point, I am becoming weary of repeating myself, but Wiese continues to use the
same tactics over and over again. He is simply listing a few scriptures that happen to
include the word “pit,” and claiming that they support his description of what he
supposedly saw in hell. He makes no effort to show how these verses actually support his
claims, and is basically expecting us to take him at his word. Here, once again, the
Psalmist is describing his adversity on earth and the Lord’s deliverance on earth. (How
many times have I said this now?) David describes his suffering as a “horrible pit” and
being stuck in “miry clay.” But he was not literally in a pit or in miry clay. Anyone with
the least bit of common sense can see that David is describing his adversity and the
Lord’s deliverance, as he does many times throughout the Psalms. And even if he had


52
     23 Minutes, p. 30.
53
     23 Minutes, p. 39 (Note #4).


                                                   33
been referring to a literal pit or literal clay, there is still no reason at all to think that he is
referring to hell! Does Wiese actually think that David went to hell?!

Wiese claims that when he asked Jesus about the demons, “He said, ‘All you have to do
is cast them out in my name.’” 54 He then attempts to back this up with several scripture
references, in a note at the end of the chapter:

     “In my name they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:17). “Behold, I give you the authority
     to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing
     shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). “He who is in you is greater than he who is in
     the world” (1 John 4:4). 55

1 John 4:4 does not specifically mention casting out demons and does not prove or
disprove Wiese’s statement. Mark 16:17 and Luke 10:19 are about the special miraculous
gifts given to the disciples in the Gospels and early period of Acts.

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast
out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not
hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are
subject unto us through thy name.
Luke 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over
all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

During this period of our Lord’s own earthly ministry and the early chapters of the book
of Acts, when the Gospel of the Kingdom was being preached to the Jews, and the
prophesied Kingdom was being offered to Israel, there were many miracles and special
gifts provided for the disciples. These gifts, however, ceased to function as Israel rejected
the Lord’s final offer of the Kingdom, and the Gospel was sent to the Gentiles to form the
Body of Christ. None of these miraculous gifts still exist today, and those who think they
can still exercise these gifts fall into serious errors. The apostasy of those who claim
miraculous healing power has become rampant, with hundreds of false preachers who
give their listeners false hope, and rob them of their money with false healings and
miracles. And there are even radical groups who still try playing with snakes and
drinking poison, with serious consequences. Mark 16 and Luke 10 do not provide any
support for Wiese’s claims.

It is also noteworthy that Wiese’s account of this experience, in his speech at Kansas
City, 56 was slightly different. He claimed that the Lord said, “You just have to bind them
and cast them out in my name.” Transcripts of Wiese’s speech can be found at numerous

54
   23 Minutes, p. 36.
55
   23 Minutes, p. 41 (Note #21).
56
   See 23 Minutes, p. 65.


                                                34
websites promoting his book (just run an internet search for Bill Wiese Kansas City),
including the following:

   http://www.spiritlessons.com/Documents/BillWiese_23MinutesInHell_Text.htm
   http://www.freecdtracts.com/BillWiese23MinutesInHell.htm
   http://www.insightsofgod.com/downloads/Bill_Wiese_23_Minutes_in_Hell_EnglishPDF.pdf
   http://www.askthebible.com/hell25mins.htm
   http://www.detailshere.com/hell2.htm
   http://lit4ever.org/revivalforum/index.php?topic=45.0
   http://www.freewebs.com/ablazingfaith/truelife.htm

We must keep in mind that Wiese is allegedly quoting the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
These are supposedly the divine instructions he personally received face-to-face from the
Son of God. These words should then be handled with the utmost reverence and humble
obedience. But in the transcript of his speech posted online, we see something added that
he did not include in his book; apparently the Lord also told him to “bind” the demons.
So the first question that that arises here is: did Wiese forget something when he wrote
about it, or is there something added in this speech that the Lord did not actually say?
Again, these are allegedly the very words of God Himself, and they are not to be trifled
with. Wiese claims that the Bible backs up everything he experienced, but there is no
such thing as Christians “binding” demons anywhere in Scripture. There is only one
reference to Satan being bound in the entire Bible:

Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless
pit and a great chain in his hand.
Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan,
and bound him a thousand years,
Rev 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him,
that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and
after that he must be loosed a little season.

Not once does the Bible even allude to believers “binding” Satan or demons. Satan is not
bound until the angel throws him into the bottomless pit after the Lord’s return. We are
commanded to “resist” the devil (James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:9), to “stand” against his attacks
(Ephesians 6:11), and to be aware of his “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11), but never to bind
him. According to Wiese’s claim, the Lord is contradicting His own Word. Wiese is
continually quoting scriptures, whether they are even relevant or not. But there are no
verses cited on any of these websites to support the idea of “binding” demons. Wiese is
either intentionally lying, or he actually had a vivid dream in which Jesus made specific
statements contradicting His own Word, and he is foolish enough to believe it was true.
In either case, Wiese has fallen into the deception of the enemy.

Some of Wiese’s misquotes are just plain bizarre. Consider the following excerpt:




                                            35
     I remember being amazed as I looked at the water in the glass Annette handed to me. It
     was life in a glass. I gulped it down and asked for another—I never wanted to be thirsty
     again. 57

After describing the terrible physical thirst he allegedly experienced, Wiese adds a note
on this at the end of the chapter:

     “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whosever drinks of the water that I
     shall give him will never thirst” (John 4:13-14). “And let him who thirsts come. Whoever
     desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). 58

Obviously, both of these scriptures do not refer to literal physical thirst; they refer to
eternal life and eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ. Why Wiese would quote these
scriptures in regard to his own physical thirst is impossible to tell. Quite often, Wiese
appears to be quoting scriptures just for the sake of quoting scriptures—perhaps for no
other reason than to make himself look like an actual Bible student.

Consider also the following quote 59 regarding the nature of hell:

     Both the Old and New Testaments provide evidence that hell is a literal, burning place.

         But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of
         lamb: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
                                                                   —PSALM 37:20, KJV

         For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea,
         and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn
         them up, saith the Lord of hosts.
                                                                    —MALACHI 4:1, KJV

Psalm 37:1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the
workers of iniquity.
Psalm 37:2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily
thou shalt be fed. …
Psalm 37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently
consider his place, and it shall not be.
Psalm 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the
abundance of peace.
Psalm 37:12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
Psalm 37:13 The LORD shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming. …
Psalm 37:16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
Psalm 37:17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the
righteous.

57
   23 Minutes, p. 47.
58
   23 Minutes, p. 52 (Note #9).
59
   23 Minutes, p. 105.


                                                36
Psalm 37:18 The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for
ever.
Psalm 37:19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they
shall be satisfied.
Psalm 37:20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat
of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
Psalm 37:21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth
mercy, and giveth.

And yet again, we have another Psalm full of references contrasting God’s dealings with
the righteous and wicked on earth. “…they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and
wither as the green herb.” “…yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou
shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.” “…the arms of the wicked shall be
broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.” “The LORD knoweth the days of the
upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil
time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish, and
the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke
shall they consume away.” There is no reference to hell here; these are all illustrations of
the Lord’s preservation of the righteous and destruction of the wicked on earth. Here it
says that the wicked “shall not be,” and they will “consume away.” But the wicked will
not consume away and disappear in hell; they will be in torment forever, as Wiese
himself even acknowledges in his quote of Charles Spurgeon: 60

       Charles Spurgeon said:

       There is a real fire in hell, as truly as you now have a real body—a fire exactly like that
       which we have on earth in everything except this—that it will not consume, though it
       will torture you. 61

Wiese’s own quote of Spurgeon contradicts his quote of Psalm 37:20.

Mal 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud,
yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them
up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
Mal 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with
healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
Mal 4:3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles
of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.

It is difficult to fathom Wiese’s constant misapplication of scriptures and his lack of
understanding of such a prominent Biblical subject—the Day of the Lord. Again, this is a
prophecy of a specific day that will come in the future. This has nothing to do with what
is going on in hell. This is the Day of the Lord, when He will destroy Antichrist and His


60
     23 Minutes, p. 106.
61
     Wiese cites the following source: Morgan and Peterson, eds., Hell Under Fire, p. 28. Emphasis mine.


                                                      37
enemies on earth, and bring deliverance, healing, and victory to His persecuted people on
earth.

Wiese says that hell is located at the center of earth, and this is certainly a viable
interpretation of Scripture, which is widely held among Christian churches and
theologians. But even in these cases, Wiese will still grab scriptures that are completely
irrelevant, such as the following: 62

       And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up…they…went down alive into
       the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
                                                                      —NUMBERS 16:32–33, KJV

This is the account of the death of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who had rebelled against
Moses. All this passage tells us is that the ground split open beneath them, and they fell
into the pit and died. This passage tells us nothing about the location of hell. Even when
Wiese is saying something that is legitimate, he continues to misquote and mishandle the
Scriptures.

       Some people have asked me how I could see the fire, pits, and desolate areas at all, since
       Scripture mentions, “…the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13; cf. 2 Pet. 2:17; Ps.
       49:19). 63

Jude 13 and 2 Peter 2 are indeed relevant to this subject, but Psalm 49 most definitely is
not.

Psalm 49:14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the
upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in
the grave from their dwelling.
Psalm 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall
receive me. Selah.
Psalm 49:16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is
increased;
Psalm 49:17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend
after him.
Psalm 49:18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when
thou doest well to thyself.
Psalm 49:19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.
Psalm 49:20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.

This passage is about the folly of those who trust in riches and how fleeting and
temporary the earthly glory of the rich is. When the rich die, they cannot take their riches
with them, and their riches will do them no good in the grave. They will die, just as their
fathers did, and they cannot come back from the grave. This is the context of the
statement, “He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.” The

62
     23 Minutes, p. 108.
63
     23 Minutes, p. 115.


                                                  38
Psalmist says that “their beauty shall consume in the grave.” He does not specifically say
where they go after they are in the grave. There is nothing in the context that alludes to
hell in any way.

One of the many problems with Wiese’s misinterpretations of Scripture is that he seems
to automatically assume that the grave means hell. But to point out the obvious, “grave”
and “hell” are two different words with different meanings. The grave is not necessarily a
connotation of hell; it generally refers to an earthly tomb where a body is laid (e.g.,
Genesis 37:35, 50:5; 1 Samuel 2:6; 1 Kings 2:6,9; Job 3:22, 5:26, 7:9, 10:19, 14:13,
17:13, 21:32; Psalm 6:5, 88:5,11, 89:48; Eccl 9:10; Jeremiah 20:17; Nahum 1:14;
Matthew 27:52-53; John 5:28). There are many references to God’s own people going to
their grave or tomb, which of course simply refers to their physical death—not going to
hell.

While discussing the subject of degrees of punishment in hell, Wiese proceeds once again
to rattle off a list of verses, 64 without considering whether they are actually relevant to
what he is saying.

       During my experience, I remember sensing that there were varying degrees of
       punishment. Some people were in worse situations than others—even though no area in
       that place would be even remotely tolerable. …

           This is the portion from God for a wicked man. [God is the one who appoints or
           assigns those who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior to their rightful position
           in hell.]
                                                                                —JOB 20:29

           …the sorrows God distributes in His anger…
                                                                                —JOB 21:17

           You have delivered my soul from the lowest depths of Sheol.
                                                                             —PSALM 86:13

           You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths.
                                                                              —PSALM 88:6

           Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways and
           according to our deeds, so He has dealt with us.
                                                                      —ZECHARIAH 1:6
           …

Out of these first five scriptures in Wiese’s list, Psalm 86:13 is the only one that may be
in any way relevant to his statements. Wiese specifically states that Job 20:29 is about
God appointing an unbeliever to a certain position in hell, but as usual the passage has
nothing to do with this. Job chapter 20 is the discourse of Zophar the Naamathite in
which he is criticizing Job. Zophar seems to think that since all this earthly suffering has

64
     23 Minutes, pp. 118-119.


                                                   39
come upon Job, he must have done something evil. His entire discourse is about the
earthly consequences of man’s evil, as he reaps what he sows and is chastised by God.
His whole purpose is to argue that this is the reason for Job’s earthly suffering. Zophar is
not saying anything at all about hell. Let us do once again what Wiese consistently fails
to do—consider this passage in its context:

Job 20:18 That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down:
according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein.
Job 20:19 Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath
violently taken away an house which he builded not;
Job 20:20 Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which
he desired.
Job 20:21 There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his
goods.
Job 20:22 In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the
wicked shall come upon him.
Job 20:23 When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon
him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating.
Job 20:24 He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him
through.
Job 20:25 It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out
of his gall: terrors are upon him.
Job 20:26 All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume
him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle.
Job 20:27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.
Job 20:28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the
day of his wrath.
Job 20:29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto
him by God.

Zophar is obviously describing “the portion of a wicked man from God” in this life, since
this is the whole basis of his argument against Job. But Wiese has either completely
missed this, or simply chosen to ignore it.

Job 21 is Job’s response to Zophar.

Job 21:16 Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
Job 21:17 How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft cometh their
destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows in his anger.
Job 21:18 They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away.

Wiese only quotes the last few words of verse 17 (which should be no surprise to us by
now). Job says that “the counsel of the wicked is far from me”; he is obviously referring
to the wicked on earth. In verse 17, he is talking about the many judgments that God
brings upon the wicked in this life, not in hell.




                                            40
In the above excerpt from Wiese’s book, he cites Psalm 88:6 in relation to the subject of
degrees of punishment in hell. Earlier in his book, he also cites verse 4 in relation to the
lost having no strength in hell. 65 But, as he has done numerous times throughout his
book, he has selected a passage that does not have hell in view at all.

Psalm 88:1 O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
Psalm 88:2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
Psalm 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
Psalm 88:4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no
strength:
Psalm 88:5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou
rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.
Psalm 88:6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
Psalm 88:7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves.
Selah.
Psalm 88:8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me
an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.
Psalm 88:9 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon
thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.

Psalm 88 is obviously the Psalmist’s description of his earthly sorrows, and his pleas to
the Lord for deliverance. This is a frequent theme throughout the book of Psalms. When
he says in verse 6, “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps,” it is
just plain silly to think that the Psalmist is saying he actually went to hell. Wiese is just
blindly grabbing any scriptures he can find that happen to mention “pits,” “depths,” etc.,
and trying to apply them to his experience, with complete disregard to any actual
relevance (or lack thereof).

Zech 1:1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD
unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
Zech 1:2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.
Zech 1:3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me,
saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
Zech 1:4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying,
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil
doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.
Zech 1:5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?
Zech 1:6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets,
did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of
hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath
he dealt with us.

Here the Lord is giving the prophet Zechariah a commission to warn the Israelites to
repent, and to remind them of how He dealt with their fathers in the past: “But my words
and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of
65
     23 Minutes, p. 4.


                                             41
your fathers? and they returned and said, ‘Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us,
according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.’” This last
phrase, which Wiese quotes here, was spoken by the Israelites’ fathers when the words of
the Lord “took hold on them” and they “returned”—this was actually something said by
living people on earth! This is the simple principle of reaping what we sow in this life. It
is sheer folly to try to apply this passage to hell, even if the point you’re making may be
accurate. Wiese is either completely oblivious to who is speaking here, or he is
intentionally disregarding the context. But again, this is what happens when you isolate
one short phrase and read your own personal bias into it.

Wiese may very well be the poorest Bible student I have ever read. In all the theological
and Christian books I have previously read, I have never seen so many scriptures abused
and taken out of context in such a short book (169 pages). None of these numerous verses
throughout Wiese’s book prove his case one way or the other. So why quote so many
verses that really do not have any effect on the issue at hand? Perhaps to give the
appearance of being a Bible student? There is really only one service that Wiese may be
providing for us here. If nothing else, he is at least giving us an ideal example of what it
means to take scriptures out of context, and he has given us numerous examples of what
we should beware of when reading and listening to others. If I wanted to show other
Christians what to watch out for, as far as mishandling the Scriptures is concerned,
Wiese’s book would be a great illustration to show them.

Wiese claims divine authority for what he is doing. He claims to have received a
commission directly from the Lord Himself in person. He is therefore responsible to
show far more Scriptural support for his claims. If he had truly been so traumatized by
experiencing hell, and had been so overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ
Himself, he would never take such a careless, irresponsible approach to our Lord’s holy,
inspired Word.




                                            42
                                           4
                                    CONCLUSION
Wiese has an entire chapter in his book dedicated to “Confirmations”—stories of people
who allegedly benefited from his story. 66 However, Wiese does not offer any tangible
evidence to back up these stories, and these stories by themselves do not legitimatize his
claims. Every religious leader/speaker/author can give examples of people and their
“testimonies,” no matter how apostate their claims and teachings may be. Wiese says,
“…I believe time is getting short, and there are some unusual things God is doing in the
earth today to help people awaken to the truth.” 67 This is a popular cop-out for many
who are making unscriptural claims. It is a popular trend today to claim some kind of
special revelation or experience because we’re in the “last days.” However, Scripture
never once speaks of any special revelations given in the last days; on the contrary,
Scripture is very clear that God’s revelation is complete, and Scripture itself is all-
sufficient.

Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the
fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed
heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…

2 Tim 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured
of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
2 Tim 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able
to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2 Tim 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good
works.

Wiese claims that after Jesus came and delivered him from hell, “It was then that I truly
understood how much God loves us.” 68 But millions of Christians have understood God’s
love without an alleged experience like Wiese’s. Is Wiese claiming to have a unique
understanding of God’s love that can only be found in an experience like his? An
understanding that the rest of us do not and can not have? We do not need an experience
like Wiese’s to “understand how much God loves us.” The Cross and the Word are all-
sufficient to reveal these things to our hearts.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.



66
   23 Minutes, pp. 55-71.
67
   23 Minutes, p. 98.
68
   23 Minutes, p. 31.


                                           43
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God. …
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his
glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have
seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the
Word of life;
1 John 1:2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew
unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

To know the Word is to know Christ and His love. The great sixteenth-century Christian
scholar Desiderius Erasmus said it well:

     These holy pages will summon up the living image of His mind. They will give you
     Christ Himself, talking, healing, dying, rising, the whole Christ in a word; they will give
     Him to you in an intimacy so close that He would be less visible to you if He stood
     before your eyes. 69

What Scripture does tell us about the last days is that there will be false Christ’s and false
prophets, and many will follow them.

2 Tim 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after
their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2 Tim 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto
fables.

We are also warned about those who will take advantage of the brethren to make
themselves rich.

Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the
circumcision:
Titus 1:11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things
which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be
false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the
Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 Peter 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of
truth shall be evil spoken of.
2 Peter 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise
of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation
slumbereth not.

69
   T. Robertson, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, p. 54. Cited by John
Cereghin in his article “In Defense of Erasmus,” posted online at http://www.angelfire.com/la2/prophet1/
erasmus.html#Quest7.


                                                  44
Wiese specifically states in his speech at Kansas City that he is not in it for the money. 70
He claims his only motivation is to save as many people from hell as possible. But then
one has to wonder why it costs about thirteen dollars to purchase a small paperback copy
of 23 Minutes in Hell? Wiese’s book is turning into a Christian bestseller, and he is
already financially very well off. So if money is not his motivation, why is he charging so
much for his book and continuing to make such enormous profits? If his motivation is so
pure, and he only wants to reach as many lost souls as possible, why does he not make his
book more easily obtainable?

                                     www.borders.com (November 16, 2008)




                            books.barnesandnoble.com (November 16, 2008)




                                 www.amazon.com (November 16, 2008)




                                 www.walmart.com (November 19, 2008)




70
     See webpages listed on p. 35.


                                                     45
We are commanded as God’s children and ambassadors for Christ in this world to
diligently compare everything we hear with the Word of God.

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the
word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those
things were so.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of
God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1 The 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

We are exhorted by John and Paul to “try the spirits whether they are of God” and to
“prove all things.” And there are far too many things about Wiese’s story that are at best
very questionable and in many cases outright obvious falsehoods. His treatment of the
Scriptures is inexcusable and his claims are wild and fantastic. And when one is claiming
to have received a commission directly from the Lord Himself, there is no excuse for all
the inaccuracies and inconsistencies in his story. To provide just one more example, at
the beginning of his book, Wiese writes:

       My horrifying journey felt like it lasted an eternity, but, in actuality, it lasted less then
       half an hour. Those twenty-three minutes were more than enough to convince me that I
       would never, ever want to return, not even for one more minute. 71

But then later he writes:

       One day after the November 22, 1998, experience, I was going to drop off some business-
       related paperwork at a friend’s home. Coincidentally, this was the same house my wife
       and I were at the night before, just prior to my journey to hell. While driving to their
       home, I voiced to the Lord, “Lord, can You simply confirm that I truly was there last
       night? It’s just so wild to think I actually went to hell. Could you show me just a
       glimpse of that place again for just a few seconds?”

       I pulled up in front of their home and parked. Suddenly I was in hell once more. … This
       time, I was there only as an observer. Even so, just being there was enough to terrify me
       again. 72

Which of these statements are we to believe? Was Wiese so terrified by his first 23
minutes in hell that he would “never, ever want to return,” or did he ask God to send him
back again for a moment?

The realm of professing Christendom in this generation is infested with unscriptural
sensationalism. So many are claiming to have had some form of sensational, extra-
biblical “spiritual” experience. Some claim to have seen heaven, some claim to have seen
hell, and some both. Most Christians today do not read their Bibles faithfully and

71
     23 Minutes, pp. xv-xvi. Emphasis mine.
72
     23 Minutes, p. 56. Emphasis mine.


                                                    46
diligently, and will not put in the effort to thoroughly examine the validity of the claims
of someone like Wiese. They are easy prey for manipulation and deception. And these
foolish, sensational stories ultimately serve to discredit Christianity rather than promote
it. They only provide more ammunition for worldly skeptics and unbelievers. There are
already numerous foolish stories being circulated by naive Christians (especially in this
age of communications technology), such as the following popular internet myth:

     Geologists working somewhere in remote Siberia had drilled a hole some 14.4 kilometers
     deep (about 9 miles) when the drill bit suddenly began to rotate wildly. A Mr. Azzacov
     (identified as the project’s manager) was quoted as saying they decided that the center of
     the earth was hollow.

     Supposedly, the geologists measured temperatures of over 2,000 degrees in the deep hole.
     They lowered super sensitive microphones to the bottom of the well, and to their
     astonishment they heard the sounds of thousands, perhaps millions, of suffering souls
     screaming. 73

There are way too many silly, untrue stories like this one being promoted by Christians,
even though many of them may have good intentions. And again, all this does is give the
unbelieving world a reason to criticize and mock Christianity.

     There are others who were taken to hell or have had a glimpse of hell on their deathbed. 74

There are indeed others who claim to have seen hell. There are also many who claim to
be apostles, prophets, and even messiahs. But this is because we live in an age of
apostasy and departure from the Word of God. And the more vulnerable God’s people are
to these con artists, the more successful (and numerous) they will become. Richard Eby,
the first one who Wiese cites, makes claims that are every bit as fantastic and unscriptural
as Wiese’s. Wiese, however, attempts to downplay the sensationalism of his story:

     It’s very interesting to see how young people react to this story. To be honest, I’m not the
     type of person to whom they would naturally be drawn. There are many who are more
     dynamic, more exciting, more charismatic, and who would seem to better fit the part. But
     I think that’s just another confirmation that God is behind the message.

     Normally, younger people have a short attention span and need constant entertainment if
     you want to hold their interest. Nevertheless, almost every opportunity I have had to
     speak to that generation has been very fruitful. They always seem to listen intently and
     absorb every word. 75

Wiese is absolutely right on one point here—this modern carnal generation does indeed
crave entertainment. But that’s the whole appeal of Wiese’s story—it is a fantastic,
incredible, entertaining story. It is nothing more than an interest-attracting gimmick.
After all, what could be more fantastic than a man claiming to have been to hell and
back? This is exactly what we see happening in Wiese’s story about the woman who was
73
   http://www.snopes.com/religion/wellhell.asp.
74
   23 Minutes, p. 97.
75
   23 Minutes, p. 63.


                                                  47
trying to get her husband to come to church: “She thought the story was unusual enough
to get her husband’s attention and that he might be willing to hear us.” 76 And this next
story is similar:

     There is a gentleman who works at a rental car agency in Kansas City as a service agent.
     One day he found a CD on the ground in his service bay. It had been removed from one
     of the rental cars and was headed for a trash can since there was no way to identify which
     car it came from. The CD was titled, “23 Minutes in Hell.” The service agent was
     intrigued by the title and thought he’d listen to it. 77

This is what Wiese’s gimmick is designed to do—to grab people’s attention through
sensationalism. He is scratching their itching ears with a wild, sensational story. The
integrity of the ministry is vitally important, as is the Biblical accuracy of the message.
And even those who do speak some truth are not necessarily from God. Consider how the
Apostle Paul handled the following situation:

Acts 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a
spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
Acts 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants
of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
Acts 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the
spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out
the same hour.

Paul would not allow his ministry to be associated with anything that violates the Word
of God, even if it appeared to be supporting his message. This lesson has been mostly
forgotten by the Church in this generation.

Bill Wiese and his wife Annette both appear to be very Christian and very religious.
Annette Wiese travels with her husband and speaks at his conferences. She even has a
small section in the book recounting her alleged experience in which she supposedly
awoke to her husband’s screams when he came back from hell.78 But let us never forget
that we walk by faith and not by sight. 79 The Word of God is our standard, and not overt
appearances, especially the appearances that other people present to us. Ananias and
Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11) also appeared very spiritual, but they were actually very deceitful.
They appeared to be ministering to their needy brethren, but they were telling lies. And
before God’s judgment fell on them, Peter told them, “Thou hast not lied unto men, but
unto God.” Bill and Annette Wiese would be wise to heed this warning.


     “Even if you don’t believe my story, I hope you will believe the Scriptures and avoid hell
     just the same.” 80

76
   23 Minutes, p. 67. Emphasis mine.
77
   23 Minutes, p. 69. Emphasis mine.
78
   23 Minutes, pp. 46-47.
79
   2 Corinthians 5:7.
80
   23 Minutes, back cover.


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Yes, I do believe the Scriptures, Mr. Wiese. And this is why I cannot possibly believe
your preposterous story.


                                          §


                                   ISAIAH 8:20
                            To the law and to the testimony:
                      if they speak not according to this word,
                        it is because there is no light in them.




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