“But Abraham says to him, They have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them. But he said, Nay, father Abraham, but if one from the dead should go to them, they will repent. And he said to him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, not even if one rise from among [the] dead will they be persuaded.” (Luke 16:29-31)
Many people think lightly of such passages in the Bible; they think what such verses express is just an optional opinion, or they assume that they can attach to any biblical passage any interpretation they like and that that will be believing God’s Word… What a disrespect for God’s Word and for His absolute authority! This is the Word of God! This should not be interpreted wishfully, according to the desires or experiences or dreams of the reader: “knowing this first, that [the scope of] no prophecy of scripture is had from its own particular interpretation, for prophecy was not ever uttered by [the] will of man, but holy men of God spake under the power of [the] Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) This is God speaking, so we should listen and obey, and not try to introduce in it our own opinions and ideas. We should look for God’s interpretation of any passage in the Bible. Many people have really misunderstood what it means that we should only believe what the Bible says. They think this means that they should believe what they understand the Bible saying, or what they wish a particular verse is saying… Using this method, you may “prove” almost anything you want with the Bible: Roman Catholics have “proven” papacy with their own interpretation of the passage about the Rock of the Church (cf. Matthew 16:18); Jehovah’s Witnesses have “proven” that Christ is lower than God in Nature with their own interpretation of the passage where Jesus says that the Father is greater than Him (cf. John 14:28); New Agers have “proven” reincarnation with their own interpretation of the passages where it is said that John the Baptist is Elijah (cf. Matthew 11:14, etc.); Mormons and wolves of the Word of Faith movement (such as Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn) have “proven” that they are gods with their own interpretations of the passage where Jesus says that those to whom God’s Word came were called “gods” (cf. John 10:34-35)… Note that all these heresies and cults already had an opinion or a teaching in their heart and they have introduced it to those particular passages of the Bible by taking them out of their particular and general contexts. And because of all this, people are confused; when you tell them that we should only believe what the Bible says, they make the objection “whose interpretation of the Bible should we believe? All of them say we should believe the Bible!”… But they don’t understand that the Bible interprets itself, and that all those false teachers are just adding their own interpretations to passages that are clearly interpreted by their own context and by other passages of the Bible. If you pay attention, you will see that those false teachers cannot back up their teachings with the context of those verses or with other passages of Scripture, but they need something from outside the text itself to prove their point.
Now, if my own interpretation or opinion doesn’t really impress people and is not accepted by them as authoritative, does it become more authoritative if I add to it an alleged vision? This is what Montanists did in the past and what many heretics and cultists are doing today… If I say that I saw a vision or that I received a revelation from God, does my particular interpretation become more authoritative, and can I in this way impose on people my own teachings concerning anything in God’s Word?… Another biblical passage is taken lightly here: “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” (Colossians 2:18-19) Many people are acting as if such warnings were never written in the Bible…
Now, let’s see what God says in the passage quoted at the head of this article, and let’s examine what this means concerning the vision of Hell that Bill Wiese allegedly had…
In this text, the Lord tells us about two men: one is an unbeliever rich, and the other is a believer poor. They die, and the rich man finds himself in Hades. Hades is practically Hell, but not the Lake of fire (cf. Revelation 20:10). In Hades, unbelievers are tormented spiritually without having their bodies that they will get in the resurrection. So this rich man was being tormented in Hades. And as he saw that there was no hope for him anymore, he wanted to warn his brothers who were not dead yet, so he asked Abraham to send the poor man, Lazarus, from death to warn his brothers. The answer of Abraham is very interesting, but many people today don’t think about it as an authoritative teaching of Christ. This is a story that the Lord Jesus was telling, and so He has put in it His divine teaching. Abraham does not agree with that rich man, because there is a divine non-optional principle which is broken if he sends Lazarus to witness to the rich man’s brothers. What is that principle? Abraham repeats that principle twice, but we have many blinds today who can’t see that. The principle is: “They have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them.” (Luke 16:29). In other words: They have the whole Bible, so they should believe what the Bible says, not what humans would witness; they should build their faith on the Word of God, and not on the words of men. The interesting question to be asked here is: Wouldn’t the words of Lazarus be God’s Word if he went to witness to the rich man’s brothers? We will see after a few lines how the words of Lazarus would NOT be the Word of God. The rich man, who does NOT have the mind of Christ as he was NOT saved, thought that a witness from the dead would push his brothers to repent, because he didn’t understand the divine principle about which Abraham was talking. So the rich man ignorantly objected: “Nay, father Abraham, but if one from the dead should go to them, they will repent.” (Luke 16:30). Here, Abraham repeats the divine principle which many still ignore: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, not even if one rise from among [the] dead will they be persuaded.” (Luke 16:31).
Like many people today, this rich man who was not regenerated believed that saving faith or true repentance is just a persuasion of the mind, a carnal decision that a man makes and thus is saved. So these people think that if they use the needed methods to persuade the minds of people, then people will inevitably repent and believe the Gospel… But Abraham did not agree with this false idea. Abraham told that rich man that true saving faith is a persuasion of the heart, i.e. of the whole will of a man, and it is built on the Word of God alone, not on the words of men. The Apostle Paul agrees with Abraham as he explains: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) So Abraham said that true saving faith will be built on the Word of God, not on the witness of a human, even if that is a man coming from Heaven or Hell… Abraham was clear that true persuasion of the heart will NOT happen if it is not built on the Word of God alone. And wouldn’t the words of Lazarus be the Word of God? No, because Abraham was clear about the Canon of the Old Testament: it is Moses (the Law) and the prophets (the rest of the inspired Books of the Old Testament). Lazarus could not add anything on that finished revelation of the Old Testament. In the same way today the Canon of the New Testament is closed as well, so no new revelations from Heaven or Hell can come to us and be the authoritative Word of God. For a detailed study of the Canon of Scripture and of how the Canon is closed, please read the following article: The Canon of Scripture. So practically, Bill Wiese believes in the decisional salvation in which that rich man also believed, and he disagrees with Abraham and with Jesus and with the Apostle Paul who say that true saving faith is a gift from God as it is built on God’s Word alone. Bill Wiese does not agree with Abraham that we have the whole Canon of Scripture, the whole Word of God, and he thinks that a witness from him or from Hell will be more authoritative or more powerful to change the minds of men to believe in Hell and to repent… Bill Wiese is fatally wrong in this. So whether he really had a vision of Hell or not, this is not really the issue! The issue is that we won’t follow his false gospel of decisional salvation just for the fact that he allegedly had a vision, for this is what the Apostle warns us: “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” (Colossians 2:18-19) Even if Bill Wiese were an Apostle of Christ or an angel from Heaven, the Bible says he is accursed, because he brings a false gospel of decisionalism that undermines the absolute authority of God’s Word and elevates his own experience or his own vision above the Word of God: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.“ (Galatians 1:8-9) It is not the true Gospel (the true Good News) that we should build our faith on the vision of Bill Wiese! That’s bad news, because that vision is not the authoritative Word of God. The Apostle Paul made it clear that our faith should not be built on anything in man, but on the power of God: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) Here again we need to understand what the power of God is: The power of God — Is it the signs?
Real saving faith will be built on the Word of God, and not on myths and visions. Let’s seriously listen to the warning of the Apostle: “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ
This was an answer to the following questions from Mary T:
Peace be unto you Dear brother, please tell me what you think about Bill Weise’s “23 Minutes in Hell” as we were discussing this online, and some of us doubted and some believed it was a true vision. Seems like what Mr Weise saw, he backed up with Scriptures. Why would Jesus give someone a vision of hell, if people don’t believe the Bible and instead look to that, wouldn’t that be believing extra-biblical things rather than the Scriptures? (that would go against “sola scriptura”.) The man said Jesus told him that people do not believe the Bible, so this is why he was given that vision where he actually felt heat and felt fear. We as believers will never experience anything of hell since we have been set free from that punishment. And since we, as believers, have been saved from hell, would God give someone that experience of being in hell? Also aren’t we expected to believe the Bible and not look to extra-Biblical sources for truth? What say you about this thing that seems to be talked about lately? I myself have doubts about this one. In the Bible, the rich man asking Lazarus for a drop of cool water on his tongue wanted to send a word back to his brothers so that they would not come to that place he was in – sheol – but he was told, no if they dont believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe someone even if he came back from the dead.” Now, whether or not this is true, I am not going to run off following this man, but curious as to see what you think about this since you are perceptive about such things. Thank you.