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Love Wins Loses Out

In the last installment of my examination of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, the focus was on the character of God.  Bell continues his questioning of the person of God in the remainder of chapter seven, “What is God like?”

Throughout Love Wins Pastor Bell struggles with the idea of a God who is just and punishes sin and a God who demonstrates His love by sending His Son into the world to die for our sins.  A quote from a sermon by Pastor Alistair Begg best summarizes the interchange between God’s holy character and love – concepts Rob Bell cannot swallow:

If God in His love . . longs to forgive sinners . . . longs to enjoy friendship with sinners . . and if in His justice He cannot ignore our sins, how then He display His love and execute His justice?  The answer lies in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the cross Jesus is an emblem of the Father’s love and Jesus is the one who bears the Father’s wrath. If He [the Father] were to excuse sin, He would not be true to Himself in the perfection of His holiness. Therefore, sin must be punished. But because of the magnanimous, unbounded nature of His forgiving love, He execute His justice on His Son so that those who deserve that judgment may find in the Son forgiveness, love and eternal life.

The Mars Hill Church pastor feels this kind of statement from Alistair Begg communicates a gospel that “subtly teaches people that Jesus rescues us from God” (pg. 182). Rather Bell offers his Love Wins Gospel as an alternative, “We do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin and destruction.” It is that Rob Bell  ha a foggy notion of the biblical doctrine of salvation. On this point alone Love Wins loses out. 

From the Old Testament we learn an innocent animal had to die in exchange for the life of the guilty sinner who offered the animal to find forgiveness of sins. Yes, under the Jewish sacrificial system an innocent goat had to die so the guilty sinner can have his sins atoned for.

In addition, much to Bell’s chagrin,we cannot escape the fact our sin earns God’s wrath as explained in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” and Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

When Jesus died on the cross, He satisfied the wrath of God against sin.  The nature of God is not separate from the “death, sin and destruction” He pronounces against our sin. In fact, the consequences to our sin flow out of the holy character of God and not removed from His character as Bell implies. It is because God is just in dealing with sin that there sin death, sin and destruction. The wrath of God against our sin is due to God’s just character. It is this wrath that Jesus had to deal with on the cross for us to be forgiven. (more…)

Those Stubborn Bible Passages About Hell

Some things just won’t go away. For Pastor Rob Bell, author of Love Wins, the scriptures that mention “hell” and God’s judgment and punishment are a thorn in his side.

Slickness is Bell’s middle name when it comes to slithering out of having to sign a doctrinal statement that adheres to the Christian orthodox belief in hell –  a doctrine he rejects.

To water down the heated controversy over “hell,” Bell claims Jesus didn’t use the threat of hell to warn people of the serious consequences of not accepting His message of salvation.

Only Hypocritical Religious People Are Sent To Hell

Bell argues Jesus was mostly speaking to very devout, religious Jews who saw themselves as God’s elect people and thought they didn’t need to accept Christ.  In fact, when Jesus spoke about hell, He addressed individuals who “considered themselves ‘in,’ warning them that their hard hearts were putting their ‘in-ness’ at risk . . . ”  In other words, the religious people.

The people who would qualify as people who hardened their hearts during Jesus’ time were the Jewish religious leaders – the Pharisees, the scribes and teachers of the law. In Bell’s vernacular Jesus was not like most Christians today who use hell to warn people they’re going to eternal damnation because they aren’t Christians (pg. 82). Instead, Jesus used “hell” to speak to people who considered themselves spiritual and saved. In today’s world that would be “Christians.”

A few problems exist in Bell’s attempt to excuse himself from speaking about hell to non-Christians. (more…)

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