Thursday, September 20, 2007

Taking Hell Seriously

Bill Weise ( claims that in 1998 he had an out-of-body experience in which he visited hell.

This is, to me, a very sobering thought. Today, it's theologically fashionable to postulate that either everyone will be eventually saved, or that hell is not really that serious; that is, either it's not permanent or the flames aren't really that hot.

Or that it's all parables and figures of speech ... I won't catalog all the theories; just ask any ten church-goers and you'll hear plenty.

Weise and those who interview him tend to think that this experience, and Weise's relating of it, are intended to energize the believers in their efforts at 'soul-winning.' I'm too Reformed to accept that, and think the problem the Lord is addressing lies elsewhere.

Of course, it's also evangelically fashionable to believe that the Lord is basically very satisfied with us: our attitudes, our lifestyles, our effervescent worship services, etc. So we're lagging a bit in the area of personal evangelism and He sends us a wake-up call in the person of Bill Weise, and the message is "Get out there and witness! Your neighbors will go to hell if you don't warn them!"

As I said, some Reformed thinkers may find this problematic. I certainly don't believe the Lord will allow someone to perish because I am disobedient. We can pursue this later (or write me). I think the real problem is ingratitude in the Body. We Christians don't really believe that being saved from hell was all that big a deal, so we lack gratitude for what Christ has done for us.

Check out the video. More importantly, check out what the Bible has to say about hell. Read Jonathan Edwards' classic Sinners In The Hands of an Angry God. Meditate on what God says you were like, and what condition you were in, before you were saved. Then thank God for His grace toward you, and for the mighty deliverance that was wrought for you in Christ. A flat tire, a layoff, a serious disease, a tax levy -- none of these should be even considered as evidence against God's passionate love for you in light of your deliverance from hell. So don't insult Him (as I confess I have) by questioning His love and compassion because of the temporary inconveniences of this brief experience we call life. I don't know what you may be going through right now, but no matter what it is, it sure beats hell.


Jimmy said...

I have not watched the video, but I resonate with part of your comments on evangelism. I also have thought that we believers do not appreciate the salvation that Jesus purchased on the Cross. It has become too familiar and common. Hell, even for one moment, would be a wake up call. but why do we need that to get us back to where we should be?

Steve said...

Jimmy -

Thanks for your comment. I hope you viewed the video (actually there are several).

I don't know. I'm inclined to believe there are a whole lot fewer Christians (including church members) than we have been led to believe. We've done what the ancient Romans did in the 4th century; made Christianity the 'official religion' and filled our congregations with religious unbelievers.

You ask, 'why do we need that' and that is an excellent question. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his five brothers, and Abraham basically said it wouldn't do any good. 2,000 years later we have Bill Wiese on a 'Lazarus mission' of sorts, warning people that hell is real and pleading with people not to go there. Will it make a difference? We have folks in the churches who ignore Moses and the prophets, saying the law is obsolete because Jesus fulfilled it. Much of our modern church theology comes from the Beatles: "All you need is love."

But Bill is being obedient to the command he received. And a lot of folks will, unfortunately, have one more thing to answer for when they arrive at the Lord's judgment seat.