23 Minutes in Hell

“In hell, where [the rich man] was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side, [and the rich man said],….I am in agony
in this fire.” (Luke 16:23-24)

There is supposedly an actual “Sunday Bulletin Blooper” stating: “At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What is hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.” Our society gives us a lot to laugh about when it comes to the topic of hell. But really, hell is no laughing matter.

In 2006, Bill Wiese wrote what would eventually become a New York Times Best Seller: “23 Minutes in Hell.” (No, it’s not a story of being stuck in DFW
Airport). The sub-title states: “One man’s story about what he saw, heard, and felt in that place of torment.” Based on a life-like dream he had in 1998 (that scared him to death), Wiese recounts what he believes was an actual experience with hell itself.

It’s a compelling story—and easily readable. (I read it in one sitting.) As I’ve mentioned in previous devotionals, it is critical that we don’t base our theology and/or doctrine on stories, but rather on Scripture alone (Solo Scriptura). However, Wiese spends the latter half of the book listing over 150 different Bible verses referencing hell.

It is common knowledge that Jesus spoke more of hell than He did of heaven. In Matthew 8:12, Jesus describes it as “outer darkness.” In Mark 9:48, He describes it as a place “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” In Luke 16:24 (the only parable Jesus told that included a proper name), it’s described as a place of “agony in this fire.” And in Revelation 20:10 & 14, the disciple, John, describes it as a “lake of burning sulphur & fire.”

In 1993, Dr. Maurice Rawlings wrote a fascinating book entitled, “To Hell and Back.” Rawlings, a cardiologist, decided to begin recording testimonies of those patients of his who’d had near-death experiences but, instead of seeing the proverbial “bright light,” experienced something more akin to the hell described in the Bible.  The testimonies are chilling.

Satan is not satisfied with people dismissing the idea that he exists. He wants people to dismiss the idea of hell as well. Make no mistake: hell is every bit as real as heaven. And right now would be a good time to drop to your knees and thank God Almighty for the Cross of Christ, through which we’ve been saved from it.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick