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Wondering What Happened at the Cross?

The wearing of the cross by celebrities and their imitators as seen in tattoos and jewelry has created too much of a  familiarity with the instrument upon which Jesus died.  In Pastor Rob Bell’s book Love Winshis aim in chapter five is to sift through the familiarity of the cross and get to the truth about what took place when Jesus died. With this goal in mind, I am in complete agreement.

As Bell lists the various perspectives on the cross, once again the Love Wins author gravitates to a position of uncertainty. He wants to make the results of Jesus’ death an “either/or” situation.  Once again Bell takes a giant leap from traditional Christianity and  invents as emergent church godfather Brian McLaren calls, ” a new kind of Christianity.”

The Cross Speaks of the Sacrifice Jesus Made On Our Behalf

First, the author speaks of the death of Jesus by which the Messiah paid for our sins much like the sacrifices in the Old Testament (pg. 123). He quotes from Hebrews 9:26 which claims Jesus appeared “once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

Bell compares the sacrifice of Jesus to other cultures where worshippers offered sacrifices to appease the gods or forces in order to maintain a peaceful, favorable relationship with them.  How odd!   Jesus did not die to put an end to pagan sacrifices or simply to please a whimsical, vengeful.  Yet Bell says, “Whole cultures centered around keeping the gods pleased. . . . And now the writer [of Hebrews] is announcing that those days are over because of Jesus dying on the cross” (pp.124-125).

The problem with Bell’s view of the substitutionary death of Christ is that he forgets Jesus was fulfilling and putting an end to the Jewish sacrificial system as described in the Torah books of Leviticus and Numbers. Jesus was not dying to appease the gods of the Greeks or Romans.

The Cross Signifies the Reconciliation Between God and Man

The next meaning of Jesus dying on the cross has to do with reconciliation .  In Colossians 1:20 Paul taught, ” and through Him [Jesus] to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven”. Reconciliation, according to Bell,  has to do with bringing two people together who were estranged and now they found a way to work it out and come back together in a new relationship. (pg. 125).

Here is where you have to watch the craftiness of  Pastor Bell.  He says on pg. 126 when Jesus died, He made peace “with all things.” You can bet your last dollar Bell will take those words to a place Paul had no intention for the phrase to go. The application of the reconciling work of Jesus to “all things” will be discussed further. (more…)

Jesus: Here, There and Everywhere

Where were you when you accepted Jesus as your Savior? I was in the Mojave desert under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs crying out for God to deliver me. Regardless of my experience,  I refuse to tell others if they want to find Jesus, take several tabs of LSD, Mescaline and Psilocybin and He will appear to them. God forbid!

While I am aware Jesus comes to us in the strangest of places and circumstances, I am hesitant to say things like, “You can find Jesus in Hinduism, Buddhism or any religion that mentions the name of God or gods.”  Quite the contrary, each encounter we experience when we find Christ needs consistency and fundamental aspects.

Different Ways People Come to Know Jesus

In Rob Bell’s  book Love Wins, a work of exploratory theology, the pastor reports different experiences people had when they found Christ. One person was knocked off his chair and fell prostrate to the ground totally overwhelmed by God’s unconditional love for him (pg. 139).  I encountered the same exact sense of God’s love for me in the Mojave desert.  Yet as soon as I realized the depth of God’s unconditional grace, I repented of my sin before His holy presence.  (more…)

Mapping Your Way To Heaven-No Room For Error

A most frustrating experience is finding yourself lost in an unfamiliar town and then having to ask strangers for directions to your destination.

Usually, you’ll get one of several responses when you’re dependent on others to get you where you’re headed:  the local guy who’s lived in the town all his life but never heard of our destination; the directions a stranger provides confuse us even more; the person that provides directions based on making rights and lefts at fast food landmarks that are located in obscure locations and the person who gives us great directions but his accent is so thick, we have no idea what he’s saying.

In Rob Bell’s highly influential book Love Wins, the author attempts to map out instructions on how to check-in to the Heavenly Hilton in God’s eternal abode. Like many travel websites such as Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity, the information Bell provides is unclear and leaves us more confused then when we started.

If I was lost and needed to book a room in heaven, I’m not sure Rob Bell’s theology would help me or anyone else.

As I remarked in my last blog, Bell confuses God’s earthly kingdom and His heavenly realm. I call it a “marble cake” theology.  He cannot differentiate between the chocolate and vanilla swirl; it’s all blended together and indistinguishable.  (more…)

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