Rob Bell just released a new book “Love Wins”. I must confess I’m writing about this topic, without reading the book. I may or may not read it – I’ve certainly heard and read enough reviews on it that I do not have an immediate desire to read it outside of the “desire for conflict” in my heart. I don’t agree with the stance he has on some things here, and at the moment I don’t have a real reason to justify reading this. Do I like to have my viewpoints challenged? Yes, very much so! But then I’d rather read something from Dawkins, Hitchens or Sam Harris personally. Reading them will challenge me to answer, even if just for myself, those difficult questions that we all have when it comes to our faith.
But I don’t want to write a review of Bell’s book, or really, even talk about him. I do however find the entire topic of whether not hell exists something worth discussing. And I do find it troubling how we as a society will glom on to that which makes us happy and comfy, and disregard that which makes us sweat or squirm. That, in my opinion, is what the world does today with the Gospel, what Jesus did and said, and what God says about us. And it’s even more startling that many of us Christians buy into the worldview that hell doesn’t exist. I’m going to provide some links here, where Jesus himself talks about hell:
There are more, but please read through these verses and see for yourself that Jesus talks of hell, and even talks about it for eternity. So either Jesus was a liar, which makes any of the “good” things he said and did irrelevant, or there is something to be said here that is worth listening to. And there is something very scary about the belief that “a loving God would never cast anyone into hell”.
Let me say that I do believe that our loving God would NOT want to cast anyone into hell. That is precisely why he sent his son to die for our sins – so we don’t have to go to hell! Praise God for that! But we do have a choice. We can pollitely (or not pollitely) decline his invitation. John 3:16 states, with my additions “For God so love the world (that’s you and me) that he sent his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. Don’t miss where it says “whoever believes”.
But – why did he have to send his son? What if I don’t feel like I’m a sinner? How does one measure what is good enough to get into heaven?
God alone can measure that. And he cannot have any sin in his presence. God is pure. We are corrupt. If you take sin – even one small sin – and compare it to poison, for example. How much poison would it take to make a glass of water impure? That is how much sin in our lives it takes to make us impure and therefore unable to come before our Creator. But thanks be to Jesus Christ for his atoning sacrifice!
But then – what about those who never hear of Jesus? That’s a tough question. But God himself says there will be none without excuse. From Romans 1, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” So if someone doesn’t have the opportunity to be “evangelized to”, let’s not assume God would not give them opportunity. He’s God, and can do whatever it takes to save all.
And he will in fact give us all the choice to be saved. As he states in Revelation 3, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” But it’s up to us to open the door to our hearts, to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and TRULY believe in our hearts.
I don’t state that God will reach anyone to negate the need for evangelism. God has called us to just that. Maybe not the street-corner, bible-bashing, fire and brimsonte type that we think of when we hear the word evangelism. No, I mean sharing this wonderful treasure that we have so undeservedly received. And sharing it with truth and love. Without truth, there really is no love. If I lie to you or purposefully deceive you, in any way, would you trust that I love you????
And what about proof? I’ll go back to the verse from Romans. God has given us all the proof we need. We can scientifically disprove things all we want, when we don’t like the answer. But it doesn’t change what is true. And we must be careful not to try and bend the truth.
But what about all the Christians who are hypocrates? Who are shoving their arrogant, exclusive beliefs down my throat? Well – what about them? So what? This isn’t about MY beliefs. This isn’t about judgement from any man on another, though so often we try and pigeonhole it to just that. It’s about God, and his love for us. So much so, that he took upon your sin, my sin, and the sin of the world, died brutally on a cross to save us. But we MUST recieve the gift. otherwise it’s no gift at all.
Love does win. He’s already won.
Since my thoughts are always so jumbled, and I have a ton of other things I’d love to write on this topic, I will add a part two at some point. I would love to hear your feedback however. This is not a topic that is easy to discuss, or contemplate, I know. But this is a topic that is of utmost importance. So please, even if you want to send to me privately, please do. And may God bless you and keep you.