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Whether “Love Wins”… or not

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After reading Rob Bell’s latest book, “Love Wins”…

I remain convinced that God will make heaven as good as it can be… and hell as bad as it needs to be.

We have every reason to trust whatever Jesus said and meant about the real danger of hellish loss in this life, and the judgment that the Father has entrusted to him in the world to come (John 5:22).

I also cannot deny my hope that Rob is right–  that the Judge of all the earth has kept to himself a way of exacting full accountability– before showing mercy– by applying the atonement of Christ to everyone who voluntarily goes to their knees in confession that Jesus is Lord. That is my hope, but not my confidence.

The fact is that Rob (as he admits) doesn’t yet know that he is right about the exact nature of hell , or about the choices that all will, or will not have, beyond the grave…just as those who argue that hell is eternal conscious torment also do not yet know that they are right.

The language of the biblical text allows for possible implications, but not necessary ones (not at least when it comes to the exact nature or duration of conscious torment after the final judgment).

Possible implications of what God has revealed are one thing. Necessary implications another.

Over the years, I have seen older pastors who have spent a lifetime leading conservative, Bible believing congregations quietly admit that they were not convinced that hell would be eternal conscious torment– even if final and irreversible. I’ve also seen how harsh the criticism has been when, in my opinion, one of the most honorable of Christian statesmen admitted to the possibility of some kind of merciful annihilation of the lost at some point in eternity future.

I’ve watched the way we have allowed CS Lewis to speculate on his own unconventional vision of the lost (in The Great Divorce)… while continuing to value and enjoy all of the other provocative insights we’ve gained from him.

So I’m left wondering… are we allowing love (and truth) to win now… by using threats of group pressure and blackballing of brothers like Rob, and those who openly or secretly stand with him? Is that really the best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy?

Since those of us who are sure about what hell is like really are saying more than we know, does it makes sense to make forced affirmation of “eternal conscious torment” a test of fellowship?

I say all of this, while also being reminded that, in light of the immeasurable, eternal love of God, rather than in spite of it… “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”… whether for a moment, for a long period of time, or forever.

Note added 4/16/11 In this post I am not accusing critics of RB of being divisive just because they are challenging him and his book. My concern is how we respond if we believe someone is opposing the truth.

When the Apostle Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to confront false teachers, he told him, and showed us, how that is to be done.

Paul said “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth… ” 2Timothy 2:24-25

If, instead, we judge motives and character, rather than speaking the truth in love, we not only put ourselves in God’s place, but also lose a chance show the marks of a servant of God.

PS After reading some of the comments below, I need to add something here. My purpose in writing this blog is not to defend a book. So I’m not going to jump into the argument every time I think something needs to be said. But some things I can’t let go by. Everything in me says that anyone who says that the author is insulting or diminishing the cross of Christ is missing something.

A more compelling argument might be that the author makes too much of the Cross of Christ (which is hard for me even to write).

If you are interested in reading more, I came across a Christianity Today article that I believe provides important context and balance in this issue. You can find a 5 page article at this link:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/marchweb-only/rob-bell-universalism.html

Make sure you don’t assume first page is whole article.

 


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194 Responses to “Whether “Love Wins”… or not”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, I still have not read Mr. Bell’s book and won’t, not that I am not a reader just that is I have little time for such pleasantries and in this case the subject doesn’t interest me.

    Whether Christian or not, most people remain the same, they want hell for everyone else and heaven for themselves.

    I personally don’t want to think about an eternal conscious suffering for anyone with no hope of ever being relieved. I admit I want justice for those whom I think deserver some sort of punishment, but forever?

    This is one I leave gladly to God, He is the only one able to know and the only one able to condemn as well as forgive on such a level.

    Steve

  2. bubbles says:

    I will not read this book. He was on Good Morning America recently. When I heard him speak, I want nothing to do with him.

  3. bubbles says:

    What made me want nothing to do with him was that he alluded to the “there are many ways to Heaven”–not just through Jesus. . .that should be a red flag that something is very not right with this man, Mart?

  4. Mart De Haan says:

    bubbles, Rob maintains, without qualification, that there is no other way to God except through Jesus. Beyond that, however, his case becomes more speculative about what the Bible does or does not say.

  5. cycleguy says:

    I won’t read his book Mart, because I had trouble reading his supposed magnum opus (Velvet Elvis) and haven’t tried since. I hope RB is right…that God is merciful and all-forgiving. But like you, I have no confidence in that. I reserve any comment on his new book since I have not nor do I plan to read it. However, if RB believes that Jesus is the only way to God, why does he have strange bedfellows and why does he hedge things in interviews? Just wondering.

  6. florida7sun says:

    I would rather listen to God’s still small voice as I read Scripture than read someone’s highly marketed book by a questionable publisher on a subject the author admits he knows little about.

    A flower gives me more understanding of God’s love, and a glimpse of the heavens gives me wondrous joy of His awesomeness and power.

    Who can understand the majesty of Our Heavenly Father?

    When I see Jesus on the cross in my attempt to comprehend His love and suffering for me, I leave it there. I need not look anyway else, other than in His precious Word.

    His Spirit has given me peace; a peace no man can offer.

    There are many shepherds in the world. There is only one Shepherd’s voice that quiets my heart and offers me love, peace, joy and eternal life with Him. His grace is overflowing and more than sufficient. I need no other.

  7. BruceC says:

    To be truthful as I have said before; I have never heard of the man. And likely won’t buy or read his book. He is though, entitled to his opinions and speculation like the rest of us.
    I remember a pastor ar a church we attended that had read “someone’s book” about worship; and how if worship (The prasing of God and singing during the the “worship” segment of some services) was done properly that “signs and wonders” would occur. That was the perverbial “last straw” in that church for us.
    So I do not put much stock in many of the books that are out there. Even though some may be excellent. We need to be Bereans and compare all to the Word.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  8. BruceC says:

    I forgot to mention Mart that those that attack Mr. Bell viciously or in anger are not letting “love win”; but on the other hand just being critical of his book does not automatically put a person in that camp. I may not agree with him or others; but I trust God to sort out all things in His time.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  9. bubbles says:

    Well. that is not what I heard him say.
    I will have nothing to do with him. Something is wrong.

  10. bubbles says:

    I do not want to be contrary or argue. I will say nothing else.

  11. Bob in Cornwall England says:

    Mart,

    Like BruceC I also can honestly say I have never heard of Rob Bell apart from your ramblings about him on here.

    I to want nothing to do with him or his books.

    I trust in Jesus and the Holy Spirit!
    While I do read other books from time to time the Bible is my main if not only source of wisdom. We are now so close to Jesus return and the events of the last days that it is our duty to die to self and, like the grain of seed that fell to the ground, pruduce fruit so that many others can receive Christ before that great and terrible day of our Lord.

    John 12:24 (Amplified Bible)

    I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.

    This is the place I want to be, dead to self and alive in Christ. There is no need to discuss Heaven or Hell as, in Christ, I am assured that I have been redeemed and if redeemed I have a place with Him forever.

    I will make no further comments on Rob Bell!

    Bob

  12. Charis says:

    I read “Sex God” and some of “Velvet Elvis” and really resonated with Rob Bell. There seem to be similarities in our spiritual journeys.

    Recently I too found myself doubting the traditional understanding of hell. The picture of this angry deity who throws people in hell to be tormented for eternity seems incompatible with the love and mercy I have experienced from God. And I happen to love some people who are seriously off track and no matter what terrible betrayals and harm they have inflicted, I would not want them to be tormented forever! I decided it was arrogant to think that I can be more merciful, loving, and forgiving than God.

    Just in January (through a discussion on this blog) I had started a personal study of all the NT passages on hell, judgment, wrath. The timing of Rob Bell’s book and the controversy is really good for me! I’ve read some great material online about this matter which is still a big ? for me.

    Then again there are some online that seem like they would burn him as a heretic if they could.

    In pondering the passages about judgment, I wondered this morning if it will be measured to us the way we measure to others? There’s that passage that says “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. ” Matt 12:36-37

    So if my words cast stones and spew lightning bolts at others, will I get stones and lighting bolts?

    “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” Matt 5

    I’m going to get the book and I know I will find it thought provoking.

  13. cherielyn says:

    In Old Testament days, when God commanded something and it was violated, there were consequences. To name a few (you can look them up):

    Genesis 6 & 7 , when God destroyed all of humanity except for Noah and his family – only 8 people were saved.

    Leviticus 10, when Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu violated God’s commands, fire came down and devoured them

    In Joshua 7, the people went against God’s command to not keep spoils and Achan, who did so, was stoned to death.

    In Numbers 16, when Korah, Dathan & Abiram violated God’s commands, the earth opened up and swallowed their entire families.

    What about wandering 40 years in the wilderness because the people didn’t believe God would be with them to conquer the inhabitants of the Promised Land?

    In the New Testament:
    Matthew 16, when the rich man asked that Lazarus be allowed to dip his finger in water to cool his tongue because he was tormented in the flame.

    We all know that it doesn’t take long for fire to consume something, yet this man was conscious and being tormented. Under NORMAL circumstances, would he not have died from smoke inhalation or from the fire consuming his body?

    Acts 5, when Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, lied about selling a possession, they both died and were buried.

    There are way too many instances of immediate punishment to be ignored, so why would we doubt God went it comes to what He says about eternal damnation. The Bible is the WHOLE Word of God. Either we believe ALL He has said, or none. The Bible isn’t a buffet where we can pick and choose what we will believe and what we won’t.

    The Bible warns us, in II Timothy 4:3-4 (KJV) 3“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

    Read what II Peter 2 says about false teachers.

    What was the purpose of Jesus death and resurrection? It was and is to save those who believe from future damnation and everlasting torment. Doesn’t anyone understand, anymore, what the meaning of everlasting and forever is?

    God is the final judge and I fear for those who are departing from the truth to follow their own interpretation of Scripture and, furthermore, leading others astray with their false interpretation. It will be so much worse for them.

    May God open the eyes of those who are blinded and deceived, and richly bless those who steadfastly cling to the truth of His Word!

  14. res2 says:

    Well said Marty.

  15. SFDBWV says:

    There is an entire following of letters or books written in order to provoke thinking beyond the accepted scriptures. The earliest of which are the Gnostic letters, which unto this day still cause people to question whether or not the Bible as written is the last word on the subject it embraces.

    Paul alludes somewhat to false letters being circulated as well as the stern warning from Peter concerning false teachings.

    As for reading books connected to our faith; do they encourage and uphold what the scriptures say, or do they question what is said?

    Do writers add or take away to the written word in order to make their case? A dark and grave warning about such is found in Revelation 22 verses 18 & 19.

    Be careful what you take into your heart, it can defile you.

    Bubbles is listening to the Spirit within her and is quite right to heed what she recognizes something wrong when she observed Mr. Bell being interviewed. This discernment is how we are protected from anything that the Spirit opens our heart to without understanding why.

    There is a heaven, there is actually several layers of heaven, there is a paradise and there is a place of torment there is also a lake of fire, hell or Sheol seems to be subterranean and all information concerning all of these places are found within the pages of the written Word. All are outside of our ability to see and are the realms God has created for His purposes. We need to be concerned with learning how to live the way God wants us to in order to be useful for His purposes here and now and not be distracted from that goal by mystic fancies or imaginings.

    Steve

  16. tracey5tgbtg says:

    I keep thinking of this huge audience in the world, who all reject what they see as the “hypocrisy” of Christians and might pick up a book like this and read it just because they know the “Christian Community” is saying how “heretical” it is.

    Maybe, just maybe, a few of them might be struck by the fact that God isn’t waiting to throw sinners into hell, but in fact loves the world so much that He sent His Son to ensure a way for us to get into heaven. For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    At the cross love triumphed over evil. Isn’t that what the title “Love Wins” means?

    Thank you Mart, for this post.

  17. poohpity says:

    Mart, I think one of the wonderful points that you stated was that, “The fact is that Rob (as he admits) doesn’t yet know that he is right about the exact nature of hell , or about the choices that all will, or will not have, beyond the grave…just as those who argue that hell is eternal conscious torment also do not yet know that they are right.” For anyone to admit they are not without a shadow of a doubt sure about the things that are implied in the bible is a grand step in the right direction.

    How many books and sermons are there on the end times with so much speculation said in a way that would lead someone who is not aware of what is written in the bible to be truth yet tons of money is spent on buying them.

    I often wonder how people who have never read the bible can comment on it’s contents in such a way that would lead another to believe that what they say is truth without a doubt. That goes back to those who have spiritual blindness leading others by talking about things they have no idea about yet never stating that it is an opinion by saying, “it seems” or “I think” or “is it possible” but talking as if what they say is absolute truth.

    If in fact “Love Wins” then one would conclude the attitudes we have about something we know nothing about would be addressed with a humble spirit by admitting to not knowing for sure.

  18. waiting4jesus says:

    I don’t know a thing about this author or anything he wrote either. However, as others above have pointed out and to answer your question, Mart, providing all these tests for fellowship, I believe, isn’t a Godly approach to other believers. No one is getting into heaven on the strength of an entrance exam based on theology. All who enter into that great rest do so on the merits of Christ Jesus and Him cruxified, and that not even of ourselves lest anyone should boast. For even faith itself is a gift from God.

    We may disagree with other believers but to exclude them from “fellowship” because they disagree with us is not what the Lord would have us do. It sounds a lot like the pre-mil vs the post-mil vs the a-mil crowds simply arguing over what the Lord will do and how He will do it. Wouldn’t it be better to sit back together and prayerfully cheer Him on…come quickly Lord Jesus? If the Lord chooses to have mercy on someone, shouldn’t we then rejoice? Now I don’t believe, based on my understanding of Revelations, that this will happen, but what if it does?

    Anytime we try to put God in a box of our own understanding, we find ourselves limiting our view of who He is. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t study, develop concepts of what the Lord is leading us to understand, share them with others, and let “iron sharpen iron.” But let those concepts and disagreements happen. If we, who look through the dark glass, are humble enough (thanks, Poohpity!) to allow others to be right when we’re not, we may find that someone else has something valid to say.

    However, Mart, I do believe that it would help to define the term “fellowship.” Should this be a test for church membership? I don’t believe so. Should this be a test for leadership? Perhaps. Should this be a test for whom we can interact? That’s a problem.

  19. oneg2dblu says:

    Good morning all… as usual things are stired within us,opinions fly, and even truth is spoken.
    I personally think “God Wins” is a better title, and could be written on the cover of every bible.
    Especially for those who only know His Book, (GOD’S) only by its cover!
    I really love the words of Corrie Ten Boom, when she said,” Forget trying to tell God what He should do, just report for duty.”
    Thanks cherielyn… for your words today, well read, and well said. Scripture that reveals much in its clear wording, also leaves out much. God alone, will fill in the blanks, and maybe even without our help!
    Reporting for Duty! Gary

  20. poohpity says:

    Another excellent point you made Mart was; “So I’m left wondering… are we allowing love (and truth) to win now… by using threats of group pressure and blackballing of brothers like Rob, and those who openly or secretly stand with him? Is that really the best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy?” That reminds me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5; “1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    Some other verses that speak of the same thing if any one would chose to read what the bible says about our opinions of Rob Bell whose heart only God knows. Luke 6:37,38; Romans 2:1-3, 14:4; 1 Cor 4:5; and James 4:11

  21. foreverblessed says:

    Mart, what a very good post! Thanks for doing this, especially this line:
    “…just as those who argue that hell is eternal conscious torment also do not yet know that they are right.”

    When Jesus says, you will be condemned if you do not believe in me, He does not say: you will be forever condemned. John 3:16-21
    That for me, is enough.
    The only verse in the bible that says that the torment will be for ever and ever is Revelation 20:10, and that verse is only speaking about the devil.
    I think it is that same devil that wants us to believe that people have the same fate as he has. He wants to project his fate on humans.

    Just report for duty, thanks, that’s a great line!
    Just give the word that the Holy Spirit wants you to give.

  22. cjaway1 says:

    Perhaps I’m a bit immature but why spend a lot of time on thinking about Hell when we as Christions can spend time on the many promises that the Lord gives us. John 14 by itself has almost two dozen of them! A positive witness to unbelievers would, I think, be much more effective and If we ask the Lord, He will give us exactly what is needed!

  23. bratimus says:

    First thing that came to mind when reading this topic, with this book that brought up Heaven and Hell.

    Are the words of Jesus “Let the dead bury the dead and Folow me”

    To me Heaven is going to be in the presence of God and I’m promised prefect rest

    Hell is without God’s presecne and no rest.

    So whether if God’s purpose for me is to help 1 or 2 to souls to find Jesus or not. I choose to live the best i can for Jesus. I do believe we are in the time of sorrows and the night is coming where no one can work

  24. foreverblessed says:

    The book “Visions of the spiritual world” of Sadu Sundar Singh is about this same topic. He was a great evangelist for the eastern world a century ago. Even Corry ten Boom met him, just before the war. She went to a conference which he led, and was inspired by him. At that time she did not yet know what great job she herself would do for God, how many souls she would lead to Christ.

  25. bratimus says:

    Luke 17:1-2 (NKJV)

    1) Then He said to the disciples. “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
    2) It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

  26. florida7sun says:

    John 3:16 is pretty clear. My heart tells me that Jesus will not drag people into heaven, nor will He prevent them from choosing utter separation from God should that be their heart’s desire.

    Each one of us will make a personal decision. And, in that respect, we have to be mindful that today is the day of salvation. There is a real heaven and a real hell.

    There is also a real urgency for us to share the Gospel. We should not give the impression that responding to the love of Christ, shone throughout creation, is of questionable importance when the Spirit moves upon a person’s heart.

    No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Many books have been written and many more will undoubtedly be authored by those seeking answers. Question upon question. Opinion upon opinion.

    And then there is the Cross that speaks volumes to those hearts that lovingly and earnestly desire a Savior.

    The Apostle John says, “I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written…” about the things done by Jesus if they were wrote down.

    In that regard, I have found His Word, and His Word alone, to be sufficient.

  27. bratimus says:

    It is hard to be involved in a conversation of a topic about a book i won’t read.

    I tend to lean to the words of my Grandmother, she told me to wonder upon God out side the specifics of the Bible can lead to doubt in oneself and others.” She told me to raise a doubt in God would be to sin against God. Even when i have conversation around topics of the Bible i try to keep to a point I’m make around the words I’m using from the Bible and not added to much of my own opinion.

    I believe God allowed the Bible to be put together the way it was. And we will be judge upon what is in the Bible for what we are to do and for what we are not to do. The Gospels speak volumes, the teachings of Paul are Grand. James, 1-2 Peter, 1,2,3 John and Jude show us what to watch out for to not corrupt the Church, Revelation tels us what is to come. The Old testament has as much meaning as the New for it is all the Words of God

  28. plumbape says:

    James warned us, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1, NIV1984).

  29. bratimus says:

    Never claim to be a teacher, and those who cast judgment are judged in the same manner i was thinking of Jasmes 3 and 4 and 5

  30. saled says:

    Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to believe “on” or “in” him. It’s more than believing that Jesus lived, died and rose from the grave. Maybe he wants us to believe in him the way a boy believes in his Dad.

    I hope to read Rob Bell’s book this summer.

  31. davids says:

    I think it’s a pity, really. Few people will read this book, realtively speaking. Many more will read reviews and articles, and come away with the idea that Christians are conflicted and uncertain about what they believe.

    I taught youth class this Sunday, and we had peices of paper that had statements on them, like, “Jesus rose bodily from the grave”, and “Women should have long hair”. The teens had to tape each statement on a target to indicate how important it was to the core of our belief.

    Christians beleive many things, but we should focus on – and be known by – the things that unite us rather than those that divide us.

  32. bratimus says:

    So how many Christisn publication outside the Bible do I have buy so I’m united with the rest of the Christian community, I thought the Holy Bible was Christisns uniting force.

  33. foreverblessed says:

    A statement out of the book:
    A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.

    I was thinking, maybe, indeed we have to reconsider that fact: only a few will enter heaven, instead maybe many will.
    I always find this verse in the bible relevant to the topic:
    Revelation 20:11-15: the White throne
    Here it is said that all people who ever lived, but did not die in Christ, will be resurrected. And if it would be true that those who did not believe in Jesus when they died would be condemned, then it would be clear, all of them should be condemned.
    But these verses do not say so, instead, they say: people will be judged according what they have done, whether good or bad.
    And IF their name was not found in the book of life they will be thrown in the lake of fire. v15
    That means that it does not say, all of them will be thrown in the lake of fire.

  34. bratimus says:

    This statement out of the book

    It almost sounds of a version of the New Age movement, which is forming Christ to hit society rather then socirty coming and bowing down to Christ. this is why God hates religions humans tend to form religions around society. God is a Loving, forgiving and Merciful God, God is also a God of Justice and with justice comes judgments between what is Love and what is evil.

    This is almost sounding like the Agnostic view, that no mater what we do we will be saved.

  35. oneg2dblu says:

    To read all these comments makes me think that it is not our religious understanding, or misunderstanding,
    that creates the turmoil. It is just a group of collective opinions about a subject. I don’t believe being Christian or not, would change all the differences of how we react to the world around us.
    Although it should!!! Saved our not, we are still human, and our “human condition” is preset for arguments, discourse, anger and such. However,
    we believe that it is incumbent upon us, to change ourselves with the Help of the Holy Spirt living in us, and only through our Faith in Christ, are we through God’s Grace, chosen to be changed for Him! So, we place our hope on His Word, on His Grace, on His Holy Spirit,
    and we strive to attain that which others cannot, because they do not have the same ideals, faith, hope,
    and Promised Spirit and Eternity, that Christians have! In that light, we get to shine for Him, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ, in this ever darkening world. What a Blessing we have to share! Gary

  36. rxman says:

    Thanks,Mart. I pray that Rob Bell is right. My heart breaks thinking that many people I know, if we believe that it is something we think or say is the key to eternal life, will end up in “eternal torment”. What about people who have never heard of Christ? What about mentally disabled people? What about people that have been taught that works is the key to eternal life?

    We as “Christians” are happy to be one of the “in” people and the rest are just unlucky or stubborn. Can that be right? I think I will leave it up to God. I want to be a follower of Jesus because of the peace that I have in Him. If heaven is one of the perks so be it. As someone else has said, just what does it mean to be “saved”. Is it something we believe or something we say or something we do? Too many questions, but only God knows for sure.

  37. plumbape says:

    What few of us realize is that when we press those “Publish,” “Post,” “Comment,” and “Send” buttons, we are making the shift away from merely “believing” truth and stepping into the arena of publishing that belief. In doing so we are effectively assuming a position of leadership and teaching.

  38. poohpity says:

    I do not believe that the point of this topic is Rob Bell’s book but how the community of believers has addressed this issue as well as many other issues of our beliefs. How people hate, condemn, judge, criticize and more unfruitful behavior is displayed within the body of believers and how that does not reflect the love of Christ to those watching. What does it really say about what we believe or who we trust? Can we just say those that talk and act so unkindly to their brothers/sisters and to unbelievers that they are not filled with the Spirit of God because none of those reflect the fruit of that Spirit?

  39. plumbape says:

    foreverblessed
    I left a comment for you on the last topic.

    I’ve been working at a business at night and I’m up at 3 AM wishing I could go to sleep, lol…. Plumb Crazy

    We serve a Mighty Good God
    Amen
    Michael

  40. florida7sun says:

    Good morning. Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    My devotions took me to reading and meditating on Proverbs 3, which really spoke to my heart.

    God bless you as you study the Word.

  41. bec4jc says:

    Mart, again you have brought up this mister Bell. I too, have not heard of him except on this blog. Now however I’ve heard two different understandings of this man. Bubbles said she saw an interview and told us what she saw, you have read the book and told us what you read. I think that you are suggesting that we read his book and judge for ourselves instead of listening to the gossip about him. In that case I understand why you would suggest reading his book but bubbles is an eye and ear witness as to what he said he believed in on that interview she saw and if he did say that about heaven I would shrink from reading his book. You say he doesn’t believe that way from what you read in his book. I think that what he wrote and what he states in an interview are contradicting and I’m not sure I care to read his materal knowing this about him. What? does he change his mind with every “mountain top” experence he has? (In other words,everytime a light goes off and he learns more clearly of what he once believed and that put’s him in another frame of mind). He can’t keep his own story straight and he wants us to consider what he wrote about what he believes as being the truth? [shaking my head] I’m confused to begin with, I don’t want to be anymore confused. I suppose that if I read his book that it may clear up somethings for me as I will read 1st hand and I can judge for myself. But,I can’t compare it to bubble’s interview that she saw on TV. I’d need to see that myself, too.

    florida gave some great quotes of Bible verses that stress the point that everlasting means everlasting and I believe those scriptures. If God says hell everlasting He means hell everlasting. It all depends on what we think hell will be like,IMO. How often do you hear people say “that was hell” so we have an idea of what hell would be if only for ourselves. Maybe that’s what God has in mind perhaps(what hell would be for us). After all He does say that it will be torment, doesn’t how we percieve hell to be a form of torment to us? God wants to get the point across. He doesn’t what anyone to head in that direction. And maybe hell will be worst than we could ever perceive it but, we only can go on what we already know and how are emotions(and our nerve endings) feel now.

    An example is say…when I burned my stomach with boiling hot water, we didn’t have a burn unit(still don’t near me) and the nurse in my doctors offc. had to take care of me after they let me out of the emergency room. I had to go every 3 days to have them change my bandages. One reason is because I told them I couldn’t change them myself cause I would be to gentle and squeamish about it. And it’s a good thing that I let the nurse do it. Now, the one nurse that did it for me most of the time worked in a burn unit once and she did a good job but a couple of the other nurses who filled in for her when she wasn’t there did not such a good job. As a reslult I got an infection. The infection was caught in time and was handled well with meds and a shot. The point I’m making is, I would have been like those two nurses that filled in, I wouldn’t have taken care of it right. The nurse that worked in the burn unit apologized for the pain I was about to go thru but she scrubbed my stomach and made sure it was clean from loose skin as it should be so I wouldn’t get an infection. I gripped a hold of the table I was laying on and said go for it,dear. It hurt like I never had been hurt before in my life. Afterward she told me that she expected me to scream in pain but I surprised her and I took it very well. In the waiting room one time I met an aquaintance of mine that went roller skating the same nights I did and she asked me about it. She said that she just knew she would faint if she had to go thru it and they would have to put her out. Ok, so what I’m saying is that we all perceive pain & torment differently. God’s word is truth and if we don’t believe Him we call Him a liar. I guess that’s all I’ve to say on the subject. This was way too long I know and I’m so sorry about that.

  42. jaxyh says:

    It’s funny to read so many posts that say they aren’t going to read the book, but comment anyway. :)

    And it’s sad to read posts like the one that said, “I hope RB is right…that God is merciful and all-forgiving. But like you, I have no confidence in that.” No confidence in the idea that God is merciful and all-forgiving? If He is not then we’re ALL doomed! God calls Himself merciful and forgiving, this is one thing in which we can have full confidence.

    I have read the book, and I think Rob makes some great points — his ideas seem much more biblical to me than the idea of soul annihilation … that is no more “good news” than eternal hell if you care about the people who are to be annihilated, and God does care.

    As for the idea “God said everlasting torment, and that means everlasting torment!” — if you read the book, you will see that Rob explains the meanings of the Greek words that are translated that way, and it’s not clear that there’s NO END. It could very well be a set period of time, or an intense experience that telescopes time.

    Why any believer would want to cling to the idea of eternal delight for us and eternal torment for THEM is beyond me. Read the book. It really is good news.

  43. bec4jc says:

    After reading the rest of the posts I came to realize just how confused I really am and I must sound it to all of you as well. The scriptures that florida stated were not about the length of time but the degree of torment and the will of God to do what He says He’s going to do. I got it confused with the everlasting thing which I also wrapped around what I was trying to say. I guess what I was trying to say was that it’s written in the Bible,it’s the word of God, we would be calling God a liar if we don’t believe what He did or what He promises to do.

    florida has also stated: The Apostle John says, “I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written…” about the things done by Jesus if they were wrote down.

    In that regard, I have found His Word, and His Word alone, to be sufficient.

    All the books that God wants included in the Holy Bible are there. Those history\secular books are not in the Holy Bible and should not be taken as literal to what God wants us to know and hold in our heats. Don’t you think that if He wanted us to hold to those books they would be included in the Holy Bible? That is how we should regard all the “new” books by “new authors written in our time,they are all just personal interpretations. Only God’s interpretation is true. Yes, if we do read these new books we need to be like the Bareans and we also always need to be testing our own faith by reading the Holy Scriptures daily in our walk.

  44. sony says:

    Of all the good books out there to read & reliable authors – why bother reading Rob Bell? I would not want my name associated with him myself. How about think on whatsoever things are “true.” Guess that leaves him out.

  45. Ben says:

    I finished up Love Wins last night. I don’t mind reading books, blogs, etc that I expect to disagree with as I find that it opens my eyes to how others think and feel.

    Turns out there was some stuff that I was okay with and other stuff I wasn’t. The biggest concern that I have is that readers/followers could come away with the notion that God will allow for infinite chances at finding Him AFTER we die.

    While I can’t pretend to know exactly how God will manage the afterlife, what I do know is that Plan A – accepting Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life before we pass from this earth eliminates the uncertainity of Plan B (B for Bell).

  46. rango says:

    I haven’t read Rob’s book nor do I intend to. I prefer reading material where truth has been mined from the Bible that makes one think about its signifigance and interpretation. Idle speculation is not for me.

    But as to God’s mercy, I am confident that God will judge everyone with tenderhearted mercy. Think of all those who died in the old testament, sinners of all types and stripes, cruel, wicked, inhumane, sexual predators, liars, cheats, murderers, thieves, etc., etc. But when Christ died he was 3 days amongst such dead souls offering them salvation, so that any who believed in him would be saved, so says the Bible. Now are there any sinners in modern times that are really worse than any sinners in ancient times? So if God was merciful to some of the most dispicable criminals one can imagine, why would He be any less merciful today? In the Book of Revelation many torments are dispersed upon mankind in order to get man to turn to God and repent, but some men still refuse. Just how or why only He knows as only He has the right to judge them as He created them. When Christ mentioned about the wall falling and crushing and killing some men and He mentioned to the disciples that these men were not any greater sinners than any other men. He simply pointed out that these things happen, that death is unpredictable and not in our hands to determine, that it is only in God’s hands, so why worry about it. Our concern should be with our salvation and that of others. We in our finite mind cannot adequately understand and ascertain His wisdom, so why worry about trying to. Just trust in His word that He says He is just and merciful and trust Him to do what is right. I like to think about what heaven will be like, what kind of life will we have, what kind of work will we do. The Lord said there is no marriage in heaven, but does that mean there will never be marriage in heaven? He said all things are possible, not some things, but ALL things are possible, so I dream big, hope big and anticipate big. But I know that my big cannot compare with His big and so I know whatever He has planned will surpass my highest hopes and wildest dreams. That is beautiful to think about.

  47. New Every Morning says:

    The truth of God’s word is that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty (hell) for our sin. If there is no hell, then the central message of the bible is null and void and Christ died for no reason – and any message that suggests or hints at that is dangerous. RB tell me why Christ died on the cross if God is going to show mercy to all anyway?

    What is RB’s motive? Is it to sell books? Because he certainly picked a topic that will generate curiosity. And his book will surely tickle the ears of many – and the bible warns of this type of prophet. I think it is pure arrogance of man to think that man knows what God’s final judgement will be; however, to say there is no hell negates the CROSS and the price that was paid by Jesus Christ on our behalf. The truth of God’s word is that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty (hell) for our sin.

  48. howkats74 says:

    I don’t know why there’s so much confusion. God said what He meant and meant what He said. There is so much danger when men like this minister… water-down God’s words and distort them. Have you ever paid attention to the tremendous number of times that the Bible says… and they did evil in the sight of God or they did evil in the sight of the Lord? He gave us his laws, He said that if we lived by them that things would go well for us. He’s given us His promise of eternal life. When we humble ourselves before Him and repent by our faith, we are assured of eternal life in Heaven, by His grace. (If we accept Jesus as our personal Savior… why would there be a NEED to remake or redefine hell? There wouldn’t be! His Salvation is a free gift. Ours for the taking. If we remain stiffed necked and reject any of His word… partial obedience is disobedience, He tells us from Genesis through Revelation that we will be thrown into the pit of Hell for all eternity. Revelation (the final words of Jesus) says there will be punishment, they will be sealed up. He also says that if anyone adds or takes away from His prophecy that they will suffer all the plagues of the Bible! Nothing lukewarm about His words. He’s alway warned us! His love and Mercy is so unbelievable, because He does not want any of us to perish! This minister does not believe in our Lord’s hell… he is dangerous! Our society wants to make God in “our image” we want Him to be politically correct… we are talking about Almighty, Holy God! So Please! Stop proclaiming this minister as only ignorant, his lies (reformating God’s words) is dangerous to all those unsuspecting people seeking God. He and so many others want Him to conform to our ideas of our social justice… they want to live by what they consider “right” in their own eyes. Remember God’s words in (2Corinthians 11:13-15) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. I’ve come to the conclusion that so many Christians have forgotten the “whole word of God” go back to the beginning, read it again. I have his new book (I cover myself with our dear Savior’s blood before I read any of it, guarding my heart) And his words… grieve my spirit. Please, Please… tell others to seal God’s words on their hearts, that None Should Perish!

  49. oneg2dblu says:

    good morning all… I’m trying to just “be simple” here with my words, not heathen or corrupt, just simple.
    I ask one question…”If it is God’s Eternal Plan in the end to justly save all His Creation, why would He send His Son to Suffer the Cross? :)

  50. florida7sun says:

    Mart, I do not know if this quote is accurate, but it is attributed to your grandfather. It speaks to my heart:

    “Be on guard against any tampering with the Word, whether disguised as a search for truth, or a scholarly attempt at apparently hidden meanings; and beware of the confusion created by the senseless rash of new versions, translations, editions, and improvements upon the tried and tested Bible of our fathers and grandfathers.” – Dr. Martin R. De Haan

    I do not think it is judgmental to question expressions of men that do not ring true to the Spirit that indwells us. God is not the creator of confusion or chaos. Everything presented to us must be filtered through the Word of our Precious Lord Jesus and His joy that rings true to our heart.

  51. oneg2dblu says:

    Sorry New Evert Morning, I did not read your comment first. Oops!

  52. New Every Morning says:

    ‘oneg2dblu’ not-to-worry — your repeating the question, confirms the discernment of the Holy Spirit.

  53. oneg2dblu says:

    New Every Morning… thanks
    Just covering my bases as I’ve stepped on many toes
    and still don’t dance better when it is my turn to defend myself, I turn very human at times and I may be left footed as well! :)

  54. jaxyh says:

    My goodness, I thought believers would be excited about the possibility the God loved all Creation so much He wanted to redeem all of it …

    But here I see believers who are so convinced that they have read Scripture right, and eternal torment means eternal torment (DARN IT!), they won’t even read the book and discover what the possible translations of those words might actually mean? They can’t even admit the possibility that punishment without end of people God loves does not bring glory to God?

    It’s so sad, so sad, that you want to cling to an idea that might not be true — this idea of eternal hell. So sad that you won’t open your eyes to the possibility that Love does win, because God is Love, and He is tender-hearted toward us and not willing that any should perish. Isn’t that good news to you?

    Who is telling you that Rob Bell is a heretic? Who is telling you that he is preaching a false Gospel? Why not read what he has to say for yourself, with an open mind, and ask Jesus — the God who is love — whether his love for his creatures end when they die, whether he becomes not a Savior but a condemner the moment we pass from this life to the next one? How can God be schizophrenic? How can he love you in one breath and want you in hell FOREVER the next? Is that the God you know, the Jesus you know?

    Of course not. Relax, friends. Bell says Jesus is the only way to salvation … and that God loves each of us, always. Is that so heretical?

  55. oneg2dblu says:

    howkatz74… great post
    False teachers most valuable tool is the word of God!
    They use it to disguise motives and seduce listeners into thinking everything they are conveying is truth, but then they wander, tweek, add to, or ignore certain things, and that is where the Discerning Spirit of God that commands us to hold “every thought captive” to Christ, and prove it through the Word of God, constantly protects us. All who have the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Will Obey the Commandments of the Lord stay Under His Influence and are protected!! Praise God that He Provides. Gary

  56. peacedove says:

    The post by cherielyn is so perfect.Last night I read Matthew 7:13-14 once again.The “Wide Gate” will mislead many,it is sad to say.
    Matthew,verse 15 goes on to say,”Watch out for false prophets.They come to you in sheep’s clothing.”
    When God “gave” his people the promised land,he eliminated entire cities that lived lives of evil.There was no second guessing.
    The more one reads his bible,the more “chaffe” you will see blow away in the wind.
    We are not supposed to know everything that is being prepared……….but that is what makes the experience with God so exciting.Wow..

  57. oneg2dblu says:

    jaxyh… “My goodness… or in my thinking with the thoughts of man-based goodness,?
    It does not matter what we would “like to think God should do,” only that we as Followers, Report for Duty and do what HE tells us, not in our worldly thinking that may confuse others.
    It could also be possible that Hell does exist, and will be, Forever a Place of Torment for those who will not accept God’s Word or His Ways as their own, for…
    Narrow is the gate… All a mans ways seem right to him… I do not question why you question, I only question why you can’t just Believe and Follow, what Christ taught!

  58. poohpity says:

    Amen jaxyh!! What a hoot this has become in the body of believers, goes to show ya don’t it.

    To those who think that Mart suggested that anyone read Rob Bell’s book you might try rereading what Mart has written because obviously there is some confusion about that point. The first time he brought up the name to us was to say that it was silly for those who have given an opinion without the book even being sold yet but people had so much to say in their ignorance. Then Mart commented on the book after he read it which as long as I have been on this blog site, have never known Mart to lead anyone astray on anything that has to do with the Lord. When he doesn’t know something he admits to that and he has always given us the opportunity to use our brain to “Think About” things.

    The problem remains about people “jumping to conclusions” without all the facts which we have also discussed on this blog, seems to be alive and living in this blog on this subject. Then to even further the gossip which can cause so much damage to someone, it continues when I would bet that many have never even read through the bible but go on what a pastor teaches in church or on TV because many do not search the scripture for themselves but follow blindly those who lead yet offer their opinion about something when all the facts have not been searched for or obtained.

    This is exactly, I bet, how the mob got started when Jesus was brought before the people to be crucified. Now it may open your eyes after seeing the many miracles that he did in front of them that they then could yell crucify. Please do not get me wrong I am not comparing Rob Bell to Jesus but I am comparing the mob to those who know nothing about Rob Bell, his ministry or his church yet have given false witness. SAD, so very sad and yet we say we follow Jesus.

  59. New Every Morning says:

    JAXYH — Why did Jesus have to die? Is there no consequence for our sin? — My heart goes out to you, how sad that you think you know God when you don’t even understand His word.

    John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    God told us in His word that we are already condemned, that is why we need a Savior. We ‘as believers’ only want to help people understand that they need a Savior and point them to Jesus (The Truth) – RB’s underlying message leads people to believe they don’t need a Savior, because all will be fine.

  60. poohpity says:

    New Every Morning have you read Rob Bell’s book?

  61. Ted M. Gossard says:

    Thanks much, Mart. I think Rob is doing the church a service in thinking through issues which are much on the minds especially of the younger generations. We need to prayerfully and humbly study and think through this, from scripture. Perhaps on what has been wrong with our understanding, even if we don’t track completely with our brother, Rob.

  62. poohpity says:

    Thank you, Ted, as always with such Godly wisdom.

  63. Mart De Haan says:

    My purpose in writing this blog is not to defend a book.

    So I’m not going to jump into the argument every time I think something needs to be said. But some things I can’t let go by. Everything in me says that anyone who says that the author is insulting or diminishing the cross of Christ is missing something.

    A more compelling argument might be that the author makes too much of the Cross of Christ (which is hard for me even to write).

  64. New Every Morning says:

    POOHPITY — No – After hearing him speak on GMA, it is clear to me that he doesn’t agree with God’s word about the world already being condemned. I have more respect for people like Mother Theresa, who reflected God’s love to the world by what she did. The recent popular book “The Shack” says that “God does not need to punish sin” and Opra is also promoting this idea with her new book. There is a prevailing message that is leading people away from the Savior.

  65. tracey5tgbtg says:

    The question “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” keeps coming up.

    Jesus did not “have” to, He wasn’t forced. He chose to leave heaven and become man and be the perfect sacrifice because it was His Father’s will.

    The Father God loved His creation so much that even though we rejected Him and went our own way, and thus earned a one-way ticket to hell, He wanted to make a way for us to be with Him.

    Jesus died on the cross because that is the death that we deserve. He descended into hell because that is where we deserve to go. But God does not give us what we deserve. In His infinite love and mercy, He has given us the free gift of grace. We cannot earn it, buy it or do enough good to deserve it. It is free.

    Of course we must BELIEVE in Jesus to receive this gift. How can you get something from someone you don’t believe in? We must call upon Jesus to receive this gift. We must confess that we don’t deserve it because we have sinned. We must ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives and ask Him to fill us with His Holy Spirit.

    This grace is available to all. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant that it is finished and everyone who has ever been born or ever will be born has the opportunity to ACCEPT this gift of grace. There is none so low that their sins exempt them from this gift.

    People should know about this gift and the incredible love of God who gives it. The love of God wins.

    I know everyone here knows this stuff, it’s Sunday School for 6-year olds, but I just like to think about it. :)

  66. bigcboyfan says:

    Hi Mart I think the issue here is that Rob Bell is teaching doctrines that have parted ways with the historical Christian Church. Not very much unlike the emergent church movement. This movement is teaching that there is enlightment from other sources and new ways of seeing Gods Word apart from the Bible. It asserts that the “old traditional ways” of looking at orthodoxy has driven millions away from God. So as a result those in this movement have become more “tolerant” of other form of spirituality. Rob Bell is teaching straight up universalism. To make matters worst he has been approcahed by other brothers and asked to stop teaching these heresies and he refuses. He also said when pressured by some for saying there are other ways to heaven that “to put to reset this controversy I equvicoally maintain that OUR way to heaven is Jesus”. Rob Bell is teaching heresy and we need not be tolerant of that. May our Lord And Savior deliever Rob Bell because I can no longer call him brother…time to part ways with him.

  67. sylviabyszewski says:

    I have to agree with cherielyn’s blog of March 22 @ 8:36 am.

    God is in control and He is the creator of everything and who are we to question what He says and what He does? Remember the book of Job? We serve a loving, compassionet and caring God, but also, a jealous God who will pour out His wrath on all who have rejected Him and His Word. We have to make the choices, the right choices. I just want to live my life on this earth following and being obedient to what He says I should do, asking Him always to direct my paths and give me the right decisions to make and to let my words be His words, my actions, His actions and my thoughts, His thoughts. I want to love all people thru the eyes of Jesus. Knowing He has complete control of me, gives me much peace and comfort. It’s also a great stress remover. WE need to be focusing on building the Kingdom of God by witnessing and sharing the gospel with unbelievers instead of questioning God’s actions and words. He will take care of it, His way, in the end.
    God’s blessings to all But, also think of it this way, if you gave your son’s life for someone and that person still hated you, rejected you and wanted to do away with you, don’t you think you’d be angry enough to take some serious action, I know I would. Yes, God loves everyone, He created everyone, but He also hates sin and so should we as His children. When we stand before God one day, He will see the blood of Jesus which covers our sin because we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior while on this earth and we endured and ran the good race as Paul stated, but to those who did not accept Jesus, God will see the sin and sin will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Everyone should live their lives in hopes of hearing someday “Enter in my good and faithful servant”

  68. royalpalm says:

    Hello, everyone,

    This is a great post – because it shows what is in our hearts and minds regarding spiritual matters and, hopefully, with the Holy Spirit’s, guidance we can learn some truth.

    First, we have to emphasize that only God and His word is truth. Man is a sinner – all inclinations of his heart is tainted with sin – this includes you and me, and Rob Bell. For this reason, R.B.’s words and everyone’s post should always be subject to scrutiny, in the light of God’s word.

    Scriptures tell us that God has revealed everything He wanted us to know to do what He wanted us to do – Deut.29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

    The word of God is perfect – we do not need to add, subtract or speculate on it. If we truly search it with a humble, teachable heart God will show us what it means -within the Bible through another book, story or incident.

    In this, I am with those who do not want to read Rob Bell’s book on his speculation about heaven and hell. I would rather use commentaries by men of faith whose lives exemplified their deep faith in the Lord – but always, like the Bereans, check the word of God.

    Re: God is Love and He Cannot Just send anybody to Hell –
    The kingdom that Jesus established is a kingdom of people who repented of their sins toward God and have obtained mercy when they placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ whom God sent as payment for the sins.

    This is what God’s love is like – Jesus dying for everyone. Salvation, however, is not for everyone -it is only for those who acknowledge their sin towards God and have believed that Jesus paid for the penalty of their sins and have demonstrated their faith in a changed life through the Holy Spirit that indwells everyone who truly believed.

    “The wages of sin is death” – Those who spurn God’s provision for their salvation, unfortunately will experience death –
    a) spiritual death – separation from God
    b) physical death
    c) eternal death – in the lake of fire

    From which one will God save us from when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

    From all of the above. By virtue of our faith
    a) we will be united with Christ and we will have peace with God

    b) we will never die (John 11:25,26 -25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

    c) we will have eternal life with the Lord we love
    I Thes. 4:16,17 ” For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

  69. poohpity says:

    New Every Morning, you have not read it but yet you stated, “RB’s underlying message leads people to believe they don’t need a Savior, because all will be fine”. So what would lead one to recognize your statement as being fact? Then you go on to say you heard him on GMA. Which is it?

    The issue here is not anything but a bunch of uninformed people gossiping, in my honest opinion, about the beliefs of someone they do not know and pointing a finger when it would be nice for each to be concerned about their attitudes which do not reflect what they say they believe. I for one have got to hold my tongue because I have slipped into judgment about people I know nothing about except what you are allowing us to know about you through your posts. The world is watching very closely at what we as Christians say and the difference in how we act like a pack of devouring dogs bringing harm and not good of which I have now fallen into myself. Who would want to be a Christian by listening to us?

  70. bratimus says:

    My question is will this book of Bell’s get people to pick up the Bible and really read the Bible just not the verse that might be in the Book. Will they look to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit or will the wait and look for another book from Bell.

    When i first heard of this book my spidy senses and i felt a tingle, most men call this there gut, women call it there intuition.

    I remember when Dan Browns book Da Vinci code came out, and many Chritians said they where going to read it to know what they had to defind against. I waited for the movie. The Da Vinci Code Just put a couple different myths together, the tales around Christianity through the ages.

    I’m not condemning Bell, he can just be re-writing a belief that formed for society, and he might not be.

    i’m going with my spidey sense with this one, it could be Bell is just trying to work out his on confusion with this book, which in itself is dangerous.

  71. gstewart says:

    Have not read the book you mentioned, but I just wanted to add that in this day and age I don’t think we make Hell to be as bad as it will be. We have sugar coated it. People act as though they are not affraid to go there. I feel pastors should get back to the fire and brimstone messages they use to preach. Scared me straight and eternal torment or not, I don’t want to go there. And I live my life in a mannor so I don’t have to worry about going

  72. New Every Morning says:

    POOHPITY — You asked if I read the book, I said no. My opinion (not fact) about his book is based on his own words, as he discussed the ideas in his book on Good Morning America. I am speaking on this blog directly to what I heard from Rob Bell.

  73. poohpity says:

    I just listened to the interview on GMA with George and I do not feel like it was long enough or extensive enough to make an informed decision except that I now would like to read the book. I say this because he called us to look more inside ourselves at the harm and abuse we cause on earth for those we are called to love. It would seem that in our community of believers “Love is not winning” and I have to admit that I have projected that harm myself.

  74. xamaica says:

    I’ve never read any of Rob Bell’s books, so I can’t and won’t comment on that. I can’t argue about Heaven and Hell because I have no personal knowledge of either and I would only repeat what the Word of God says, which I believe and is my infallible proof.

    However, I would like to talk about love. The title of the book is, afterall, “Love Wins..” I will say this, it was the love of God that sent Jesus Christ to the Cross and caused Him to lay down His life so we would have a chance at eternal life. We were all born in sin, and we understand that the wages of sin is death. God’s love, mercy and grace give us an escape from a life of sin and a death that could cause us eternal separation from the Father. His LOVE made/makes a way out!

    We can’t look at it and say, “a loving God won’t allow us to go to hell…” A loving God gives us a way out, and even tells us what to choose so we won’t have to face eternity apart from Him. Deut. 30:19 says: This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

    2 Peter 39 says: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” But our choices cause us to suffer.

    Many times we hear about people from loving, nurturing families who do things to break the law and end up spending time in prison. How many times have we seen people go on trial, get judged, sentenced and punished for their actions? Sometimes it had nothing to do with how much they were loved by family and friends. It was based on the choices they made in life; unfortunately many of us make bad choices. The court’s conviction is based on a breaking of the law, not on the lack of love or concern from family or friends. Sometimes love cannot keep us from making bad choices and dealing with the consequences of our actions.

    It’s our choices that will determine whether we make Heaven or Hell. God’s love gives us a way out, an opportunity to choose Heaven. Because we are born in sin, we are born transgressing His Law. His love gives us a chance to makes things right. The tragedy of transgressing His Law is that when we break the state’s laws, we can expect time in prison; sometimes a life sentence, sometimes even a death sentence; but transgressing His Law is the pathway to eternal separation from the Father.

    I think because this is such a serious topic, we must focus our attention, even more, on letting others know that their is a way out, a “Great Escape”, if you will. Let’s not allow this book to bring division among Believers, but let it be a catalyst that will place an urgency in us to win souls to the Kingdom, to give people a chance to hear about the Love of God, to point them to the Cross so they won’t have to worry about how Hell will function when this is all over.

    Let the Love of God and Love for each other WIN on this one! Grace, Mercy and Peace to all

  75. bernhe says:

    I am not a fan of Rob Bell; I have enjoyed some of his stuff.

    However, I am glad he is questioning orthodoxy. Wish that it were not such a crime.
    I think I know who you mean when you spoke of an elder statesman who has changed his opinion.
    I really appreciated your thoughts.

  76. pastormatthew says:

    I am concerned about the future of RBC if this is the stance they hold about an individual who is clearly not teaching sound doctrine. There are certain theological views/teachers/shepherds/et cetera. That Bible believing Christians should distance ourselves from and Rob Bell is certainly one of them. One can not read but a few lines of Rob’s books without questioning his doctrine. Is he an excellent writer, yes! Is he Theologically and Doctrinally sound, absolutely not(even in the most liberal evangelical sense)! His use of supposed Greek to defend his argument about Hell is absurd and repulsive to the average Hebrew/Greek student. This type of “itchy ear” teaching will only get worse and I would hope we would stand up for truth. In all love, passion, and sound teaching; Rob Bell should be rebuked and challenged in the love and grace of Jesus Christ about these unBiblical views. I plan to contend for the faith, sound doctrine, and biblical principles. Do you?

  77. florida7sun says:

    There are quite a few critical reviews of RB’s new book, “Love Wins.” I have viewed several of his NOOMA short films on You Tube, read his comments in the press, and seen several of his televised interviews.

    This will be my last post, as I do not have a sense of peace about what I have seen, read or heard from him. I am not a theologian, nor do I want to be one. I just love my Lord and Savior, who shed His precious blood for me. I guess in some respects I am a voice crying in the wilderness and desire that no one be lost.

    Satan is a deceiver. God’s Word is truth. There are too many “Hast God said?” questions being asked by RB and others that worry me. Answers offered seem hollow and lead to other questions. He takes me to the Garden of Eden and back into the desert. He takes me to Pharoah’s chambers and Judges 21:25. He takes me to places I would rather not venture in my own strength.

    Only that which is “precious” to God will find a home with Our Heavenly Father.

    Man’s righteousness is like filthy rags. What is precious to God is His Precious Son, His Precious Word, the Precious Blood of His Son, and the Precious Saints of God who have sought refuge and are covered by Jesus’ Blood.

    We have free will to choose our own destiny. He loves us that much! Love must be freely given and freely received through repentance of our sin to be love. Jesus gave 100%. We are encouraged by Scripture to do likewise in presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. To take up our cross and follow Him. No one else.

    The answers to all of man’s questions can be found in the Word of God. Jesus promised we would find Him there when we seek Him with all of our hearts.

    “Love Wins” is not a documented reference in my Bible.

    In closing, in the search for truth, you may or may not want to read “The Blood-Drained Gospel of Rob Bell.” It can be found through a Google search.

    God bless you all, and Happy Easter. Praise God, He has risen. He gives me my daily bread, and my heart’s desire is to share His Gospel with those He lovingly places in my path.

    Beautiful evening in Florida, Ray

  78. bratimus says:

    When does the movie come out lol

  79. bratimus says:

    Read John 10 this is Love winning

  80. poohpity says:

    I have over the years read the bible cover to cover going on my 18th time as well as many extensive bible studies because I desire to know the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind. I can without a doubt say that I am just beginning this journey to learn all I can about God and want to be able to hear when He speaks to me without me getting in the way. Just when I think I have scratched the surface I am reminded that the heart of God is so immense that I will never know all there is to know until the day I meet Him face to face and I am not for sure I will even understand it then. But I do know one thing I need to be very, very careful in what I say about someone else because only God knows a persons heart and it is not my job to condemn or criticize because my eyes are tainted by my own sin.

    The only one who has the ability to condemn, chose not to, but came into the world to save it. As long as we sit in judgment then we have no time to tell of the wonderful things the Lord has done for us. It says in God’s Word “how can cursing and praises come out of the same mouth”. How can we praise God and curse a brother/sister then that would be saying we do not trust God in that one day we will all stand before God’s throne not our throne which it sounds like many are sitting on their own thrones. A person who is wise in their own eyes does not have any room to hear from our God.

  81. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… I’m done with this one as well, too many being slammed to the mat for not reading something, whether its Ron Bell’s last book or next one, or how many times one has read the bible, if at all? Those type of questions do not form thoughts that ring very generous, or loving, to me.
    It just doesn’t go anywhere that is productive to the
    Word of God, or the edification of those who are truly seeking a strong foundation based on Christ alone.
    Our Only True Plumbline to the Truth and that truth is in God’s Word! See you all on the next topic, even if we must revisit RB!@!@!@!
    If it takes some “authors bent” on biblical voo doo,
    have at it, and do not forget to Repent when you are done practicing his written form of religion! Gary :)

  82. anne4jc says:

    Mart, I applaud this bold post, and the other times you’ve used the platform God has given you to call others to seek biblical truth directly from God’s Word, apart from fundamentalism’s denominational biases. It is not unfruitful to take a serious look at topics on which the Bible leaves room for uncertainty. It is most certainly unfruitful to make peripheral topics a matter for division within the body.

    (And I’m not seeing how it’s possible to make too much of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ …)

  83. PWS says:

    Let me preface my remarks with several points:
    1) I have not read the book
    2) I don’t plan on reading the book
    3) I prefer not to make a judgement call on Rob

    That having been said, warning lights go off on my spritual radar screen when I read the “concept” that Rob is holding up. It seems to me that this is another “Popular American Christian Culture” slam against “Traditional American Christianity”. Anything that is “edgy” or hits up against the moorings of accepted biblical doctrine attracts a following, or at least sells books. Neither of these outcomes fulfills the Great Commission. Making disciples OF THE LORD is to be the goal of every pastor, not making disciples of a personality or position. Paul writes that “godliness with contentment is great gain”, but it seems that these types of books are written to stir up controversy and thus increase sales for personal gain. Gain, according to Paul in this context, is not to be monetary, but rather an intangible gain that far exceeds a savings account. The other half of this verse speaks of contentment. These types of books rely on discontentment with traditional christianity as the basis for their popularity. The anti-establishment of the ’60s has found its way into the mainstream of the Chritian culture half a century later.

    I don’t want to leave you with the impression that questioning traditional beliefs is inherently wrong. Martin Luther questioned the very foundation of the Church in his day and rightly found it wanting. But perhaps the difference between Luther’s questions and Bell’s questions comes down to motives. Once again, I have no imperical reason to question Rob’s motives, only an uneasy, lingering impression that something is just not right here. I trust that my feelings are wrong.

  84. Regina says:

    Good Evening All

    Hope all is well with you. Mart, this blog topic was very informative, and thanks to all who shared their wisdom and insight. I’d never even heard of Rob Bell until I read a previous BTA blog. Want to share a few thoughts on this blog topic. I believe that Christians who believe the Bible to be the true, infallible Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16) and have been filled with the Holy Spirit could read Bell’s book (if they desire) and discern what’s true and what’s false.

    God has given us (His children) spiritual discernment, and He said in 1 John 4:1-3, NKJV
    1) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2) By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3) and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

    Want share another Bible passage with you (I think BruceC made reference to John 10 in his comment)…

    John 10:1-6, NLT “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2) But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3) The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and *the sheep recognize his voice and come to him.* He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4) After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5) *They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

    Sunny and warm in Texas today (low 80’s).

  85. plumbape says:

    While it may appear as though theological debate today is more polarized than ever, in fact it is perhaps as civil as it’s ever been. There are still charges of heresy here and there, but at least we’re no longer burning each other at the stake. There is occasional name-calling, but as Luther famously pointed out even Jesus and Paul were fond of coming up with clever names for false teachers.

  86. Regina says:

    Oh, and I do believe that LOVE has already won (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 13)! :-)

  87. Regina says:

    Wow, Plumbape, you and I posted at the same time! :-)

  88. Regina says:

    Oh, and it was bratimus who referenced John 10. Thanks, bratimus!

  89. foreverblessed says:

    Love wins, I believe that too. If this discussion is unsettling you, stop it, and go back to God, to search for the inner peace and rest of your soul, and for the love that is flowing from Him. Then we will be fit again “to be on duty”.

  90. foreverblessed says:

    I have a few question here:
    Will there be no mercy on the Last Day of Judgment?
    Will Christ’s sacrifice not cleanse the sins of those who realise them and ask God,”Have mercy on me” on that day?
    Isn’t that what Rob B. is saying.
    Or is he saying something else?

  91. bec4jc says:

    bigcboyfan, you are right in stating…It asserts that the “old traditional ways” of looking at orthodoxy has driven millions away from God. So as a result those in this movement have become more “tolerant” of other form of spirituality.

    The new spirituality if tossing the “old traditional ways”, is excepted, then isn’t it teaching us to just forget about God’s word just do as your spirit leads? Notice I said YOUR spirit. This new way of thinking completely disregards God’s Holy Spirit. People are replacing His Holy Spirit with there own. In my opinion it’s just like saying hey let’t get together this weekend and have a drunk to feel happy and good about ourselves. Only they use words to make them drunk in the spirits not alcohol.

    I’m not saying that noone should read Rob Bells book but if we do just becareful because we are walking on eggshells. God didn’t put those eggshells there,I don’t think.

  92. bec4jc says:

    Mart, it isn’t your fault that this thread seems to be of use as an argument between Satan & God. What I see in it is that we are holding RB up and praising him. Thank God for the ones who are defending God’s Son in all of this. I think it also is a sign of the end and coming again of Jesus Christ, so soon you could slice it with a knife and some difficulty. Who’s going to win this battle? We all know who will win the war.

  93. jimgroberts says:

    Nothing seperates us from the love of God not even hell God hates the sin not the sinner. But let us be careful, we all have to make a choice while we still have time and breath. Jesus spoke the parable Lazarus and the rich man to sum it up.
    Being repentant after death is too late!! There is not a second chance. God judges the heart and the deeds. Those who have buried their faith have sown eternal judgement. Listen to the Holy Spirit NOT people be the 5 virgins who were ready listening.

  94. SFDBWV says:

    After reading the comments, I am left to wonder exactly what the subject of our discussion was meant to be.

    If it were to discuss Mr. Bell or his book then it is silly for us who have not read it or know anything of him to discuss it, with the exception of those who have heard him interviewed.

    If the subject is our own concepts of eternity for the lost as well as the saved and to attempt to “see” beyond the information given in scripture to know the end plan for God, then we are never going to find agreement between us.

    I have in my keeping several books written by different authors concerning both heaven and hell, they make interesting reading but like all books about our faith, are the author’s opinion or experience. They do not shake nor shape my beliefs, some are reassuring some are out right hard to believe and in the end only the thoughts of someone who is attempting to share their faith and beliefs.

    Do these books align with scripture or challenge it? If they challenge the written word, then you have already your answer, discard the book and pray for its author. If these books amplify the written word then soak them in and learn from them.

    I believe that God will open our eyes to what He wants us to see and will keep the secret things of Him hidden until He wants us to understand them. I think we must remember that we still seem to be feasting on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than attending to the food God has provided for us to eat.

    Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds for the mouth of God.

    Steve

  95. BruceC says:

    I sure wish that we could move on. 95 responses about a book’s topic, its author, and the response from the reviewers is like grinding rocks to dust.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  96. SFDBWV says:

    Bruce, I read this morning of a Methodist Pastor (Chad Holtz) who has lost his job for supporting Rob Bell on facebook. It would seem Mr. Bell’s book has tentacles that are reaching farther than our little blog.

    Steve

  97. foreverblessed says:

    Mart gives John 5:22-29 to discuss:
    Jesus first speaks of those who believe, while they live, they will not be judged, but pass over to life
    v24“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
    So real christians are outside the Judgment day. (We are already judged, and died with Christ when we accepted Him as Saviour, and He in His Grace gave us His life, a new life in Him Romans 6:1-4)
    Then Jesus goes on talking about all who ever lived:
    “v28 Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

    To me this means that Jesus is the Judge, and some will live, those who have done good while being alive, and He is not talking about those who already believe in Him, because He mentioned them in v24, but about all who ever lived.
    I do read what Jesus says here, whom do I have to believe? Jesus.
    And doesn’t Revelation 20:11-15 say the same thing?

    I wish people would discuss what the bible writes, not what orthodoxy teaches. I do not know what orhodoxy teaches, neither do I know what the Roman church teaches on heaven and hell. But I read what the bible says. John 5:22-29, and anyone reading this and still saying that there is no change/chance after death has not read what Jesus wrote here.

    ANd He says:
    “v22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

    So these people, who may live will accept Jesus as their Saviour, otherwise they cannot honor Him.

    Jesus is the Judge, and He is My Lord and Master, my Saviour, my Rock on whom I stand.

  98. poohpity says:

    Steve, I think you hit the nail on the head when you asked, “After reading the comments, I am left to wonder exactly what the subject of our discussion was meant to be”. That often happens when Mart posts something some people read one thing and others read something totally different then defend what they thought they read. I know for myself I always ask, “What is the author trying to get across or say?”. I wonder if that is not why it is so important to pay attention to the questions that are asked. Even after Mart came in and said it was not to defend the book the conversation just went right on about the book. Funny how that happens isn’t it?

  99. SFDBWV says:

    People are people Pooh and as old as the world is haven’t changed much nor are they likely to.

    Often in Mart’s comments he has ask how it is we all see what is writen differently, from him as well as from each of us.

    No matter how clear we think we are in comment, someone will certainly see it as something totally different.

    We are having a little snow teaser this morning, nothing laying just something to make us sigh.

    Steve

  100. SFDBWV says:

    Foreverblessed, Bless you, As you know I have often stated that I pray for the dead.

    I have found that the early church did so and that the Catholic church still does.

    I have also stated that this is my belief and given me by way of an eerie and startling dream I had in my adult youth.

    I don’t care whom may argue with me concerning the matter for as I have often said, I would rather err on the side of love, if I am wrong it hurts no one, but if I am right then I am doing a great diservice to Christ by not doing so.

    Do not let anyone rob you of your peace.

    Your friend and brother in Christ
    Steve

  101. bratimus says:

    Are we there yet

  102. bratimus says:

    Foreverblessed brought up “will there be no mercy on the last judgement Day”

    God’s mercy is never Ending

    But expecting to fall on God’s mercy to save one’s self from the fire on the last judgement day. Would kind of be Like knowing the day of Christ’s return and repent the day before.

    Looking For Loop holes in the ways of God

  103. encouragemaart says:

    I am not so good at reading. I’m thankful for your interest in “testing” what others say against the word and wonder if you actually keep up with all the comments! Iron sharpens iron… and 2 are better than one (some where in Matthew) We were created for discussion of such important matters.
    So here is my uneducated opinion.
    God is so above what we know, that I believe we can trust what he has for us. One thing is very clear to me. The glimps of what Jesus gave us with the rich man and Lazuruz in the afterlife has a few poignant themes; unmet desires (water and warning his brothers), an inability to reverse the situation, and regrett. Compare this to what we know of the here and now. Sin has consequences. Physical and emotional painful consequences like death and seperation. We can’t wrap our minds around it. Yet, God is love.
    When ever I do not understand what God is doing/allowing, I have to ask my self…Is God good? Can I trust him?
    Every time I come up with the same answer. Even Job came up with this answer.
    When in doubt, trust God. When you can’t ask him to help you. Then you will have no regretts.

  104. marilynferne says:

    !

  105. lifes2short says:

    I would have to echo pastormatthews post (March 23,2011 4:29pm) regarding RB and his teaching.

  106. Mart De Haan says:

    encouragement, I try to keep up best I can :-). I’ll try to have another post up by tomorrow… hopefully moving on.

  107. foreverblessed says:

    Yes, what I wrote about the dead, that is not what we are preaching to the people: if you do not choose for Jesus now, never mind, there will be a second chance.
    So it is not something to count on, if you know Today, that Jesus is the Way and the Life.
    Jesus is the Way the Life and the Truth.
    I read today, that knowing more intimately about Jesus is building our faith, not getting more knowledge about the future.

  108. poohpity says:

    encouragemaart, for not being able to read so good you sure did get the point. :-)

  109. Mart De Haan says:

    For those of you are are interested in what I believe is an objective and balanced view of “Love Wins” here’s a link to a recent 5 page Christianity Today article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/marchweb-only/rob-bell-universalism.html

    PS I am using my Admin role to add this link (which by our blog rules can’t otherwise be done). Make sure you don’t assume first page is whole article.

  110. bratimus says:

    Jesus Himself teaches that before the end of days that the Gospels will be preached through out the world

    Matthew 24:14

    Mark 13:10

    Luke 21: 12-15

    So according to Jesus there will be no excuse, for everyone would have heard of Him before the end. So one would have to assume that before God allows anyone to die they have heard of Jesus.

    Ghandi even testified that he heard of Jesus

  111. wpleasant says:

    Thank you BruceC. After reading your “grinding rocks to dust” critique I found myself LOL. (Frankly after today I needed a laugh even at the expense of your frustration for a possibly interminable blog topic.) Not sure why, but partially I suppose my laughter on such a serious topic has more to do witht the fact that after nearly 2,000 + years of
    discussions about death, heaven, hell, and intepretations of thereof, I agree with Martin that “confidence” may be more illusive than some would like to admit. I suppose I’ve heard enough from God through His word to persuade me that death has an explanation, sin is a fact of life and death, and salvation is neccessary and available. I am resigned that my eyes (nor anyone else’s) have not seen, nor my (ears nor anyone else’s) have not heard, nor my mind concieved (nor anyone has anyone else’s mind concieved)what God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Corinthians 2;9) I welcome the gospel of Jesus Christ. I get a little nervous when some get too far at unequivocally telling me or others what it is going to be like in heaven or hell. Suffice it to say I’m glad there is a heaven to go to when we die.

  112. poohpity says:

    Mart, thanks for the link. It was nice to hear a respectful opinion from someone who read the book as you and others have shared.

    When I was reading the article I thought of; Phil 2:9-11; 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
    10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Man does that make a lot of questions go off in my head regarding eternal annihilation or damnation.

  113. poohpity says:

    I hope and pray that no one can take away the love Rob Bell has for the Lord and I now understand why you said; “A more compelling argument might be that the author makes too much of the Cross of Christ (which is hard for me even to write). I hope and pray that no one with their critical spirits drowns his passion but I know so well how it does happen.

  114. marma says:

    I have enjoyed reading the comments over the past few days and Mart’s updates and links, too.

    I pray that God would use it to get us all in the Word, all trusting in Him, and loving one another in our Lord. Praise His name!

    I have no comments as to the subject of the blog, other than that.

  115. bratimus says:

    I read the link that Mart added

    Pooh say a lot of question go off in her head about eternal annihilation or danmnation

    My mind went to Acts 5:1-11

    satan filling the heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and the out come of that.

  116. Regina says:

    Good Evening All

    Thanks for sharing the article from Christianity Today, Mart. Just want to share a few more thoughts on this subject. First, I want to say that I believe that hell is a real place just like I believe that there’s a literal heaven. Also, I didn’t know that there was so much debate going on in various circles about whether or not hell is a real place where unbelievers (the wicked) will spend eternity. After reading that article, several Bible passages came to mind:

    Read: Isaiah 14:12-15
    Lucifer (Satan) is kicked out of heaven because iniquity was found in him

    Read: Luke 10:18
    Jesus said He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

    Matt. 7:21-25, NKJV (Want to share this passage right here; thought of this passage the other day when foreverblessed asked a question that I can no longer remember):

    21) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22) Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    24)“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25)and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

    Someone on this blog asked the question, “If everyone is going to heaven when they die, why did Jesus have to die for our sins?” I think that’s a good question, and I would answer it by saying that that’s why God gives us an opportunity to choose a life of holiness and righteousness (by repenting of our sins, asking Jesus to cleanse us of unrighteousness, and surrendering our lives to Him as our LORD and Savior) or a life of iniquity and wickedness. Those who choose the latter, will not inherit eternal life in heaven because sin cannot abide in God’s presence.

    Some people make it seem like God is making the choice as to where man spends eternity, but God gave us the choice (and He even gave us a hint as to what we should choose ~ Deut. 30:19). Some people ask, How can a loving God cast people in hell for an eternity? Well, would He be a “loving God” if He *forced* us to live in heaven with Him? It seems to me that if He forced us to do His will, we would be like robots.

    Isa. 55:8,NKJV “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.

    I think someone shared in this blog, and I agree, that people will continue to speculate on provocative topics like heaven and hell. Think it’s funny that there’s not much speculation about the reality of heaven! lol!

    And what should we make of these Bible passages?

    Rev.6: 15-17,NKJV
    15) And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16) and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17) For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

    Why didn’t those people just come to Jesus and repent of their sins?

    Mark 3:28-29,NKJV
    28) “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29) but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.”

    Could share more (..I think), but I have to go to bed now. Sunny and warm in Texas today (78 degrees).

  117. foreverblessed says:

    Well, I liked grinding this rock, woldn’t mind going on, especially after reading the CT link Mart gave us.
    I so agree with Mart, not to call anybody an heretic who questions the eternity of hell. Whether it might be annihilation when being thrown in the lake of fire, (it is only told about Satan and his angels who are not annilhilated, but not about humans Revelation 20:)
    or maybe after eons of time, some might come out.
    Because as Mart says, noone can be totally sure of the how, these things belong to God.

    THe story of Lazarus and the rich man, could easily tell about the reality after death now, till the resurrection for the last Judgment, and might not say anything after the lake off fire.

    So, if orthodoxy has chosen one of these items as the absolute truth, I would not mind testing that doctrine.
    And no, this does not mean watering down the christian faith.

    So, I find it very hard to judge someone, even by a intuition, because the intuition might be meant for yourself, not to meditate on it, rather to seek to know Jesus better. It might not mean that the other is an heretic.
    There is also a possiblilty that a spirit of religion is still deep down stirring you up. They cause a lot of heated debate, right from the beginning of the church history.
    DO not get angry at such a possibilty, as I had a spirit of headache in me, even while being a real child of God.
    We should ask for a discernment of spirits.

    And above all honor Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of LOrds in our hearts. (thanks Pooh for Phil 2, and Marma for your blessing).

  118. foreverblessed says:

    Steve, thanks for your blessing! At this moment we are rehearsing the Requiem of Mozart, we wil sing it in a cathlic church just before easter.
    Hostias et preces tibi, Domine,
    laudis offerimus.
    Tu suscipe pro animabus illis, quarum hodie memoriam facimus:Fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam,
    (We praise you Lord, accept our prayer for the souls we remember, to bring them over from death to life)
    I never thought of praying for the dead, but maybe we will do that at the end of the 1000 year reign, when the day of Judgment appraoches.

    Regina, my question was: will their be no mercy on the day of Judgment?
    I believe that Matthew 25:31-46 talks about that day. People who have helped others in their life will be able to enter in. (Romans 2:14-16)

  119. foreverblessed says:

    You see, I liked grinding this rock, noone has to read this who has had enough. But for others:

    Is there only heaven and hell?
    If people still have a chance according to Jesus, John 5, Rev 20, and according to Paul Rom 2,
    where will they be, before they have been cleansed by the blood of Christ and can enter heaven?

    Then their is also the christians who have accepted Christ, but after death, still have too much unforgiven sins in them, they have to be cleansed more, where will they be?

    (1 Cor 3:12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. )

    So it is good to work on our own salvation with GOds help, and not judging others.
    James 2: 12-13 Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been meriful.
    Mercy triumphs over judgment

  120. tracey5tgbtg says:

    foreverblessed – you wrote: “So, I find it very hard to judge someone, even by a intuition, because the intuition might be meant for yourself, not to meditate on it, rather to seek to know Jesus better.”

    I agree with that statement so much. It is hard for me to stop thinking about this topic as well even though I know others are ready to move on.

    I do believe there is a hell which is to be separated from God which I believe to be far worse than anything we can imagine. All our lives God has been with us, even those who do not acknowledge Him, His presence is still with us all, while we are here on earth. I believe that.

    Acts 17:27-28 God did this this so men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.

    I know that God gives us free will to choose and we must freely choose Him and some do choose to not believe. What I see is that people who do not choose God, who choose to go their own way to their destruction do not understand what they do. They cannot possibly understand what they are giving up or else they wouldn’t do it. I think they are deceived by Satan, they are slaves to sin. I pray the Lord opens their eyes at some point, maybe at the point of death when they see God face to face. See Isaiah 45:22-25 and also Romans 14:11 It is written, “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.”

    I know this is all speculation on my part and I am happy to leave the whole matter in God’s hands where it belongs. He is the judge and I trust God fully in the matters of all judgment.

  121. foreverblessed says:

    Thanks Stacey, I am also still in the subject, today having been to a funeral too. Keeps you around the subject.

    WHat makes me think is this: unconventional people do stir up a lot of emotions. A person like Gallileo did.
    If I may I would like to give here a description of Gallileo
    from inventors.about… website
    “For Galileo Galilei, saying that the Earth went around the Sun changed everything since he was contradicting the teachings of the Church. While some of the Church’s mathematicians wrote that his observations were clearly correct, many members of the Church believed that he must be wrong.

    In December of 1613, one of the scientist’s friends told him how a powerful member of the nobility said that she could not see how his observations could be true, since they would contradict the Bible. The lady quoted a passage in Joshua where God causes the Sun to stand still and lengthen the day. How could this mean anything other than that the Sun went around the Earth?
    Galileo Galilei was a religious man, and he agreed that the Bible could never be wrong. However, he said, the interpreters of the Bible could make mistakes, and it was a mistake to assume that the Bible had to be taken literally.

    This might have been one of Galileo’s major mistakes. At that time, only Church priests were allowed to interpret the Bible, or to define God’s intentions. It was absolutely unthinkable for a mere member of the public to do so.

    And some of the Church clergy started responding, accusing him of heresy. Some credits went to the Inquisition, the Church court that investigated charges of heresy, and formally accused Galileo Galilei. This was a very serious matter. In 1600, a man named Giordano Bruno was convicted of being a heretic for believing that the earth moved about the Sun, and that there were many planets throughout the universe where life–living creations of God–existed. Bruno was burnt to death.”

    This may be farfetched, but is has happened in history that the church had to confess that scripture had been interpreted in a wrong way.

    It would be good to stay humble about the bible.
    And that’s why I like it that Mart states: nobody knows for sure everything about heaven and hell.

    And now I will concentrate on heaven more, since this verse Eph 2:6, appeared today in the next topic.
    That there will be a small piece of heaven in my heart. That Jesus can send anyone He wants to me, so He can nurture them, because part of His being on earth is here, where we are. To reach the living now, while it is Today.

  122. peacedove says:

    This blog reminds me about the exercise in class where you whisper something,then repeat it down the rows.When the last student speaks,the “something” is nowhere near what was first said.
    Now I can begin to understand why Jesus would often tell the people to not repeat//tell about a miracle he had just done.Stories change and become blown up.
    We can learn much from reading through this blog.
    (This was my first time on…..so far so good)

  123. Mart De Haan says:

    peacedove, I smiled when I read your note above. I think that’s a way a bunch of us feel :-)…

  124. poohpity says:

    Amen and Amen funny how that happens isn’t it but it is also so very, very sad. :-) That is the harm in gossip.

  125. tony10000 says:

    I have read the first chapter of the book and several excerpts from it. What concerns me about Rob Bell is not the fact that he is trying to redefine hell. It is that he is trying to redefine Christianity. Like other members of the emergent movement, he is not content with orthodoxy. He wants to create a new form of Christianity–one that is compatible with his belief system. He challenges the God of the Bible and creates one that is more compatible with his view of morality. This is a dangerous trend. By contrast, we are told to “earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3) I urge anyone interested in a biblical critique of Rob’s book to read Kevin DeYoung’s excellent review on the Gospel Coalition web site.

  126. poohpity says:

    Can one read the first chapter or two from the bible and get the whole picture or does one have to read and reread to get the summary of the whole. Or does one go to another person and ask what did the bible say to you because it is to much for me to read so I will just get a commentary. I am in no way comparing RB book to the bible in anyway but maybe his book will point people to read the bible which gives no definitive explanation of hell but only compares things to it so we can have a brief glimpse of something we know nothing about.

  127. tony10000 says:

    Rob Bell admits in the first chapter of “Love Wins” that it contains no new revelations. All the views he presents have been revealed previously. I am familiar with all of the views that Rob brings forth and have no reason to read them from his pen. The discussion of various theories about hell is not as troubling as Rob’s belief that Christianity needs to be revamped (the premise of “Velvet Elvis) and his lack of belief that heaven and hell are objective places (as revealed in “Sex God”). He also has faulty views of the sovereignty of God, human freedom, justification, imputation, penal substitution, etc. And, as he believes that people may have a chance to believe in Christ after they die, that belief has serious implications for the church, for evangelism and for missions. It may also deceive unbelievers and marginal Christians to believe that they can live however they want to in this life because they will have a chance to believe after they die. I have seen and read enough of Bell to know that his views differ from those of normative evangelical Christianity.

  128. poohpity says:

    I have not read any of Rob Bell’s books I have however listened to several of his sermons which have motivated me to think about some things differently or shall I say in a different way not boxed in by conventional orthodoxy which I have found those concepts at times do not adhere to what the bible says. I am however an avid reader of the bible which is my foundation before I listen to anyone else and compare that to what the scripture says. Thank God that Martin Luther chose to break conventional orthodoxy of his day and read the bible and listen to the voice of God rather than the religious leaders of his day. I think the questions that Rob Bell appears to ask are the things that many people ask he just had enough guts to ask them.

    tony10000, I know it is none of my business but are you a reader of the bible? If so do you find over the years of continued reading that your eyes are opened to things you never saw before in those pages of the Living Word? Do you ever have questions about anything written? In other words do you have the bible all figured out? I know I don’t and do not know anybody who will admit that without a shadow of a doubt they do either.

  129. poohpity says:

    Just something to think about are those who died before Christ went to the Cross who were already dead but who’s graves were opened like in Matthew 27:52. They had a chance to believe after they died.

  130. tony10000 says:

    I have been a student of the Bible for over 30 years. Certainly, I have found plenty of things that I don’t understand and question.

    However, the way to find the answers is through careful inductive study. I have learned to work in the original languages and that has really opened up the Bible to me as you can see the shades of meaning and etymology more clearly. I have also spent a lot of time studying the creeds and catechisms and seeing how Christian doctrines were formed through inductive means.

    I have no problem with people asking questions, even speculative ones. However, getting Biblical answers is important. We shouldn’t manipulate the Scriptures to provide the answers that we want to hear. Or create new doctrines that try to make Christianity more palatable to the post-modern mindset.

  131. poohpity says:

    I agree and sometimes we can not see the forest because of the trees. It is good to have our mind opened to think and not believe something is true because somebody else says it is. Sometimes the more we think we know the less likely we are open to learning.

  132. poohpity says:

    So you have read the bible cover to cover?

  133. Mike says:

    I really hope someone is still reading this, because I would like your thoughts on my comment. Heaven is eternity with God. We get there through the shed blood of Jesus because we can do nothing to merit it ourselves. We CHOOSE heaven by choosing Jessus. All other choices lead to eternity without God, right? Where God is, there is perfect happiness and fullfillment of every kind. What is there in a place where God is not? Think on that? Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above. Where will you be if you’re not in God’s presence? What kind of existence can there be apart from God’s presence? Hell, existence without God, is everyone’s origninal destination, God has provided us a way to avoid it, through Jesus. He doesn’t send anyone there, we’re already going there of our own free will. He didn’t reject us, we rejected Him.

  134. poohpity says:

    I agree that hell is eternal separation from God. I also believe that God does not send us there it is our personal choice by freewill to not have a relationship with God by what Jesus did on the Cross. I also agree that people are the ones that have chosen to reject Him. :-)

  135. clydeclam says:

    It seems that every time Rob Bell submits a book, it always has some kind of controversy associated with it. One could get very cynical and believe these little ditties are inserted just to sell the book……Rob sounded like a politician in his interview on msNBC, dodging every question the man threw at him…..I must say that confusion does not sound very Biblical….

  136. clydeclam says:

    Poopity, just read your comment about Martin Luther breaking with conventional orthodoxy…..He actually broke with conventional error that the church had fallen into over the centuries, bringing it back into line with scripture…..You cannot make that same comparison with what Rob bell is saying….If you believe the Bible to be a flawed document as Bell seems to then what do you base your Christianity on?

  137. poohpity says:

    Thank you for your opinion.

  138. thornlessrose says:

    Thank you for your honest assessment of a subject that has been getting a whole lot more heat than light. I largely agree with your prayerful observations.

    One thing I would like to make clear, though, with regard to your comment about C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce”. Lewis made abundantly clear, repeatedly in fact, that this was NOT his “belief” about life after death, and that he was intensely hopeful that no one would attempt to make theology of the tale! His whole point was to make us consider the sad possibility that (at least some) people choose loss, bitterness, rejection of light because they cannot (or will not)embrace truth even when it becomes undeniably true, and holds forever in its hands. I always loved that little volume, and the older I become the more true I believe that premise actually is.

    God bless you and the wonderful blessing you and DTW are to those who seek the Truth, and are empowered by your support if they walk in it.

  139. hopes4 says:

    Thank you Mart for your loving and fair discussion on this issue.

  140. joliverparker says:

    I bought Bell’s book and am 75% through it, and still reading.

    One type of question that appears in the book and in some of the posts above is: “How can a God who is all loving and forgiving *send* people to Hell and/or eternal conscious punishment?” While I believe that to a certain level this question can be sincere & necessary to explore and validate, I think a different level is reached when the conclusion is: “if that is the case, that is not a God worth believing in.” I think we should at least admit that the premise of this type of question — especially as it bears fruit in this type of conclusion — is that if something does not *seem* subjectively fair & just & loving to us a human beings, we can simply toss it aside or refuse to believe in the God who created us. This line of thinking also minimizes the nature of our sin as described in the Bible. It’s as if we’re sitting in judgment on God if we don’t like or fully understand what we see.

    On the other hand, if Scripture itself (instead of our subjective, sinful, and limited human capacity) is the foundation for understanding God’s love and forgiveness, then we also see that God is simultaneously just and has a holy wrath to be satisfied. The problem for us is: whether we like this Biblical proposition or not, He still created us. And our lack of understanding of how this works itself out is not a justification for refusing to believe in “such a God”, since there are many other aspects of his character He has clearly made known. We can certainly choose not to believe the Word, but we should at least be honest and upfront when we are doing that. We should also heed Jesus’ words that disbelief essentially equal disobedience (John 3:36)

    Of course, Scripture also contains the wonderful Gospel Message: a message with a definite content that includes that in God’s love and mercy, he provided a way for his wrath to be satisfied in the life/death/resurrection of his Son Jesus, and that Jesus’ righteousness can be applied to us, thereby making us fit for eternal fellowship with Him, if we repent of our sin and believe in this message, entrusting our lives to Him.

    As far as how we react to Bell, I agree that, as Paul says in the New Testament, inasmuch as it is possible, we are to be peace with all men. I think this is especially true of other believers. Therefore, the goal of not being divisive really resonates with me.

    However, we also should note that Scripture indicates there will be false teachers. Therefore, there are times when defending Biblical truth will necessitate drawing lines in the sand/creating divisions. And this is actually more loving and more gracious to people, because it keeps the Biblical Gospel Message clear, and prevents people from being deceived by a false Gospel, and the true Gospel is the only means by which people can be saved and experience eternal fellowship with their Creator.

    Sadly, I have to say that the more and more I read this book by Bell, the more convinced I am he is a false teacher. I don’t believe false teachers are always going to be easily spotted as rabid televangelists trying to collect money from vulnerable people “in the name of Jesus”. I think sometimes false teachers are tricky because they have shreds of the truth imbedded in their teaching, and it is camouflaged to look like the “real thing”. This is what I am noticing with Bell. He says many things in the book which, taken in isolation, actually contain elements of truth.

    However, the theme of the book starts to become clear over and over that Bell’s standard for what the “better story” is (as he calls it) is defined according what He can dream up on his own, regardless of what proper contextual readings of Scripture reveal (he quotes many verses out of context throughout the book).

    I leave you a quote I just read an hour ago from Bell’s book when he’s addressing the verse in John when Jesus says no one comes to the Father but through Me:

    “What he doesn’t say is how, or when, or in what manner the mechanism functions that gets people to God through Him. He doesn’t even state that those coming to Him will even know that they are coming exclusively through Him. He simply claims that whatever God is doing in the world to know and redeem and love and restore the world is happening through Him.”

    That is a FALSE Gospel. Bell is saying that Jesus (or the rest of Scripture) does not tell us ‘how’ or through ‘what mechanism’ Jesus ‘gets people to God’. Really??? I can start quoting verses, but I do not have 2 hours on my hands right now. If any of you would like to contribute verse references where Jesus and/or the Apostles explain how Jesus us gets us to God, that would be awesome

  141. Mart De Haan says:

    In this post I am not accusing all who are challenging RB and his book of being divisive. My concern is how we respond to those who we believe have swerved from the truth.

    When the Apostle Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to confront false teachers, he told him, and showed us, how that is to be done.

    Paul said “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth… ” 2Timothy 2:24-25

    In many ways, how we respond to what we think is wrong doctrine is as important as doing so.

  142. foreverblessed says:

    Thank you Mart, that verse has helped me a lot this past week: do not quarrel.
    But we can ask questions:
    If Jesus shows Himself to people who have died, people who did not know Him while alive, and tells them that they can enter heaven through Him, would that be against scripture?

  143. Mart De Haan says:

    foreverblessed, I believe it is so important for us to have the freedom to ask questions and then test the possible answers by the Scriptures.

    The current discussion, for instance, has some of us going back and taking another look at 1Peter 3:19-4:6 (which seems to show up in the early Creed as “descended into he’ll/hades”).

    This is a difficult passage and some over the years have seen a possibility that our Lord did something other than descend into hades to declare that the fate of his enemies was now sealed–as some have suggested.

  144. joliverparker says:

    I agree wholeheartedly Mart that our spirit for engaging on discussions of Biblical truth should be one desiring love and truth, and I affirm the verse you’ve quoted.

    And gentleness, yes. But instruction still is imperative, *especially* on matters that pertain to the Gospel itself.

    But you seem confident in affirming Rob as a “brother”, and words have meanings and I suspect you agree that we should be careful in that regard. You and I may have a healthy disagreement on this, but after reading through most of this book and doing some research on other things Bells has stated, I cannot with any confidence affirm he is a Christian brother because so many things he states appear contrary to the Gospel itself, and contrary to various portions of Scripture. My discomfort is not eased merely by Bell labeling himself a “Christian”, or “orthodox”, or what have you. I sincerely HOPE that I am wrong, and that Bell is indeed a Christian brother. Only God knows the heart, and I would not presume to *know* Bell’s heart. But we are called as believers to use wisdom and discernment in these matters and it seems there is a consistent history of Bell stating things that are contrary to the Gospel.

    Biblically, it also seems that there is a distinction between how we respond to mere ‘opponents’ to the Christian message and doctrine (or young believers who are simply learning), verus ‘teachers’ and people in positions of authority. We’re told by Jesus to ‘beware’ false teachers, and Paul talks about deceivers needing to be “silenced”. And when one reads Galatians, would one describe Paul’s reaction to how they were being swayed by false doctrine as “gentle?”

    I suppose what I’m saying is that Biblical context prescribes different approaches between addressing ‘mere opposing views’ versus ‘false teachers.’ I could very much be wrong about Bell being a false teacher, and I hope that I am, but my sense after delving more and more in to what he has stated and written is that i am really concerned.

  145. Mart De Haan says:

    joliverparker, I wish everyone weighing into this issue would show as much humility as you’ve expressed.

    Brothers can fall into false teaching.

    And we all can quote one another out of context which unfortunately happens a lot in these kinds of disagreements.

    My guess that when the smoke clears on this one… cooler minds will prevail, the real issues will surface, and we’ll be in a better position to see who is saying more or less than the Scriptures make certain.

  146. poohpity says:

    Proverbs 2:10-11; To KNOW that God will enlighten EACH of us to His truth, His knowledge and His wisdom.

  147. joliverparker says:

    Just out of curiosity, what translation is the above-reference to Proverbs 2:10-11? In the ESV, Proverbs 2 begins by saying in verses 1-4:

    “My son, *if* you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, . . ”

    Then what follows is several *then* statements in response to the *if* statement described above.

    One of the *then* statements is in Proverbs 2:9-11, which reads: “Then YOU will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into YOUR heart and knowledge will be pleasant to YOUR soul; discretion will watch over YOU, understanding will guard YOU;”

    Also, just as food for thought, Romans chapter 10 seems to address a few of the questions pertinent to Bell’s book and the discussion surrounding it. It’s a bit of a heavy passage, and I am still reading it and re-reading it, but here’s what it says:

    ROMANS 10:

    (v1) Brothers,my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (v2) For I bear them witness that bthey have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (v3) For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (v4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    (v5) For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. (v6) But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) (v7) or “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (v8) But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); (v9) because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (v10) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (v11) For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (v12) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. (v13) For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    (v14) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear vwithout someone preaching? (v15) And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (v16) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” (v17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
    (v18) But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
    “Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
    and their words to the ends of the world.”
    (v19) But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
    “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
    with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
    (v20) Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
    “I have been found by those who did not seek me;
    I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
    (v21) But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

  148. foreverblessed says:

    when I read..
    Romans 10v 13
    13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f] f Joel 2v32
    Then I do not read that this should be before they die.

    Romans 11:26 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
    “The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
    27 And this is[f] my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”[g]

    This could also speak about Israeli people who have already died. It does not say so literally.

    Today in church I read Matthew 11
    24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
    More bearable it says, so it does not say, it will be totally unbearable to all who have died, and not accepted Christ.

    1Peter 3:19-4:6
    Especially that last verse I find very hopeful for the dead
    4v6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

    BUt LIVE according to God in regard to the spirit.
    What else is there to say….

    A total different thing.. this verse is also in between the passage Mart gave
    1 Peter 4v 1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
    While I am alive, it is better to look at my own life,
    that it is in Jesus, Gal 2v20 yes yes

  149. poohpity says:

    That was a paraphrase of Proverbs 2:10-11 with the understanding that it is God who supplies all truth, wisdom and knowledge to each person about God.

  150. joliverparker says:

    Paul seems to link hearing the Word preached to salvation (I mean generally, I am not attempting to make a statement here about children who die young, etc.).

    Romans 10:14, 17: v14) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (v17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    And then Paul seems to anticipate the natural question that follows, when he states in Romans 10:18: (v18) But I ask, have they not heard?

    And then he responds in the second half of Romans 10:18: Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

    There is also a general URGENCY in the Scriptures to “repent and believe” and “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, etc.”

    As believers, our task is to obey God’s command to preach and proclaim the Gospel and then trust in his Sovereignty.

    I don’t think we should go out of our way to attempt to comfort people (or ourselves) with the speculation/possibility that God saves people after they have died, independent of professing faith here on earth, since (i) the only Scriptures which *possibly* suggest this are unclear at best, (ii) there are many more Scriptures which seems to suggest the contrary, and (iii) to quote Romans 10:6-7 directly: (v6) But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) (v7) or “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

    Our job is not to speculate beyond what Scripture makes clear about who goes to heaven and hell, and when that can happen, etc. Our job is to heed the call to preach Christ and him crucified, pray for others, love on others, and stress the necessity of repenting and believing. “Today if you hear his voice . . . “

  151. poohpity says:

    joliverparker, I think that Mart’s topic was about how we respond to those we may not agree with by his comment, “If, instead, we judge motives and character, rather than speaking the truth in love, we not only put ourselves in God’s place, but also lose a chance show the marks of a servant of God.” So does love show in how we respond to others or judgment and condemnation?

  152. foreverblessed says:

    joliver, I totally agree with you.
    We preach the gospel, absolutely without saying well, maybe there is a chance when you live a good life and help others… .
    And I also agree that we should not speculate beyond what scripture says.
    And it would be nice if we could discuss this as Pooh says:without condemning one another as heretics.

    I was a kind of shocked by the fact that people think that 1 Peter 3 and 4 says that the final judgment on the dead has already been. I believe that doing that is speculating beyond what scripture says:
    Why not leave room for nuances? That is not watering down the truth, but not making statements that may have to be revised later, when things might turn out different.

    Say, for instance, that at the final judgment, described in Revelation 20:11- 15, will happen exactly as is described there. ( this excludes the ones who are already Christ’s, see v6) Even Jesus did say this, but I already qouted these scriptures here.
    All people will come to life, bodily, and the angels will devide them in the those that have done good in their lives, they go the the right hand, and those that have done evil in their lives, they go to the left.

    Will we then say to God: Well God this is not fair, You wrote in the bible that the final judgment has already been,

    What would Jesus say?

  153. foreverblessed says:

    The following thought I would like to share:
    We declare that 1 Peter 3 and 4, together with many other scriptures, like Romans 10, that the final judgment has already happened,
    so we declare that it is impossible that Revelation 20:11- can mean there is still a chance for the dead
    because we (humans, not God) have already declared that their final judgment has already been.

    Why not leave room for nuances?
    And I like Mart’s blog, for doing so.

  154. Mart De Haan says:

    joliverparker, I agree that our job is not to speculate in order to declare more than what God has made certain.

    Would you agree though that it is also not our role to give certainty of meaning to texts that God, for his reasons, has left unclear.

    When Jesus came, many mysterious Old Testament texts suddenly became wonderfully clear in him (texts that could not have been understood by a strict historical, grammatical approach to interpretation. So as to leave judgment to God let’s allow for the amount of mystery that he has woven into what he has revealed so as to be able to leave final outcomes to him. Most of us already make such allowances for young children, mental limitation, and for those people of faith in OT times who were either outside of the covenant community (i.e. Job etc.).

    Jesus did indicate in several different ways that there will be surprises in the judgment. According to him some who think they belong in heaven will be denied access, as with others who don’t know why Jesus is welcoming them into his kingdom until he tells them (Matt 25).

    I don’t think we should make more of these texts than what is revealed– or less.

    Our reason for taking the Gospel to our whole world and generation is clear. Jesus told his followers to do so. And all who have come to know the wonder of his death and resurrection for us, have every reason to use “whatever we have been given” to love others to him– by our actions always, and by our words– with grace and occasion.

  155. bubbles says:

    Let this be prefaced by saying how much I love this blog site. I have come to know and care for many people here. I am almost afraid to say what I am about to say. It is said out of concern.

    Not to be contrary, Mart, but I still do not understand why you introduced this book/author as a topic for discussion. I am confused. This man was interviewed a few weeks ago. His conversation began by talking about Heaven and Hell. His way of speaking led me to beleive he was questioning the existence of Hell and why would a “loving” God allow anyone to go there. . . to me, this way of speaking bespeaks of false teaching. I turned him off and would listen no further. Something was wrong with this way of speaking. . . . univeralsim??

    Are you inviting conversation about this book to expose false teaching or do you really think this man is right in what he has said?
    RBC has always been a place that was safe. Their literature/teaching by those here have always lined up with Scripture.
    There is SO much false teaching now. . . . this topic has me concerned.
    I have always heard that one needs to study the truth to distinguish it from that which is false.

    A leader in my church began reading a book by a very poplular author several years ago. His teaching did not agree with Scripture. But, he read it anyway. He shared the book with others in the church. They, in turn became very discontent because our church was not like the church in the author’s book. The pastor did not address this discontent. In the end, about half of our congregation left. It was hurtful and desvastating. It has not been the same since. This was about 10 years ago. The only one of the group left is the one who introduced the book to the others to begin with. That is why “books” like this scare and concern me.

  156. poohpity says:

    bubbles, Mart said, “Note added 4/16/11 In this post I am not accusing critics of RB of being divisive just because they are challenging him and his book. My concern is how we respond if we believe someone is opposing the truth.

    Also, “PS After reading some of the comments below, I need to add something here. My purpose in writing this blog is not to defend a book. So I’m not going to jump into the argument every time I think something needs to be said. But some things I can’t let go by. Everything in me says that anyone who says that the author is insulting or diminishing the cross of Christ is missing something.

    To me it seems that the book was not the point of the topic.

  157. poohpity says:

    It is our response to it and how we deal with presenting our side of a discussion the manner which we ATTACK an opposing opinion rather than HUMBLY GUIDING as the Spirit does into all truths.

  158. poohpity says:

    It reminds me of all those, who when Jesus entered Jerusalem were cheering, only a week later got caught up in the crowd yelling crucify. One minute they were praising God and the next they were demanding death. A lot of this was confusion about who Jesus was and what he was there for. Misunderstanding without all the facts.

  159. poohpity says:

    I just read this, this morning.

    Isn’t
    It strange
    How difficult it is to learn a
    Fact about God to share it with others;
    But
    How easy it is to learn, understand, extend and
    Repeat gossip?

  160. bubbles says:

    What I said was not gossip.
    I was not attacking the author.
    A concern was being expressed.
    I was questioning why something was being discussed.
    Guess that was not okay to doso.

  161. oneg2dblu says:

    WARNING some will not enjoy my words…Will this discussion never end? Why don’t we just, Believe the Real Authority, “What Jesus himself said,” as he talked about HELL more than almost any other subject!!!
    Now we should try to think, “Outside the Box’ like this other man, Rob Bell, who claims that things may not be as Christ taught? WOW!
    When we are told “TODAY” is the Day of Salvation, and then others say…well “not really” because, maybe you will get another chance?? How foolish are we?
    My Pastor this week spoke about Rob Bell’s Book, saying WE ARE NOT TO READ IT! (PERIOD) Bell is False Teacher and Presents False Doctrine. He also said, You will NEVER find any of his writings in our book store, we will only teach and sell True Biblical Doctrine here.
    Don’t read his trash! Sorry, I won’t open my limited mind to his thinking, even if it seems to present a higher word, than the Word of God to some here! For those, I say read on at your own peril, because you are wasting your reading time on Alternative Teaching, that you desire, and Satan will be honored to have your time doing so!
    Stay in The Word, and not Bell’s book! Let other’s be the authority on Bell. Gary

  162. poohpity says:

    bubbles, You have every right to do whatever you want. I just did not understand this post to be about the book. That was all I was saying. Forgive me if you took my reply as a personal attack on you it was not meant that way at all. I was just trying to clarify what the topic was about but everyone sees things differently. It would have been better just to mind my own business.

  163. Mart De Haan says:

    bubbles,

    My reason for posting on this subject is that it had become such an explosive and huge issue even before the book’s publication.

    Since a primary theme of this blog is to enable us to “come together” around the issues that otherwise divide us, I felt compelled to weigh in.

    In my first post, I gave the author the benefit of the doubt in saying that I hoped that he would address a very difficult subject in a way that gave all of us reason to think again about whether we are saying more or less than the Bible actually reveals about hell.

    In my second post, after reading the book, I needed to honestly admit that, while I wish I could believe all that the author was saying, I was convinced that he was declaring more than the Scriptures allow us to say.

    At the same time I was, and am, convinced that the Scriptures teach us how to respond if we believe someone is not teaching the truth (2Tim 2:24-26). In this text, Paul is very specific. While encouraging Timothy to confront false teaching in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

    Look how seriously the Apostle takes false teaching. Yet, how careful he is to describe the way in which we are to express our concerns.

    When we fail to show such an attitude in correcting those who we believe are teaching error, we fail to be true our calling to speak the truth in love.

    In this regard, I believed, and still am convinced, that the Christianity Today article, which I linked, shows how to take such ideas seriously, while still keeping attitudes in line, and issues in perspective.

    What doesn’t work is when we express such strong language, characterizations, and accusations that we scandalize ourselves before a watching world, and rob one another of the chance to think together, and to disagree in love, about questions that are otherwise left unexpressed– and unaddressed.

    We need to cultivate an environment of Bible-based faith that is marked not by fear and control– but by a longing for truth and love.

  164. oneg2dblu says:

    I hear the new Atheist’s Bible may also be a good read!
    Or, should we just condemn it now, IN LOVE of course, for it is clearly a Demonic Volume. That bible, and the crude version of the JEFFERSON BILBE, soon to be bound more properly, were displayed this week on the overhead screens at my church, with “Love Wins” right in the middle. A trinity of ‘man’s expanded thinking.” if you will! ALL To be avoided! Sorry if this offends, if it doesn’t, than I’m really sorry! Gary

  165. Mart De Haan says:

    Gary,
    I’m guessing that your approach will resonate with those who agree with your conclusions. But will it help to strengthen the faith and discernment of those who have read the book but are not where you are?

  166. bubbles says:

    Deb,
    Your 8:40 a.m. comment about “attacks”. . . I was not attacking anyone. I asked a question out of concern.

  167. Mart De Haan says:

    Because hell is a subject that most Christians have stopped talking about, this is our opportunity to soberly, and carefully look at what the Scriptures actually say.

    Leaving the hard questions unspoken can drive them deeper in i.e. “our children” while leaving the skepticism of our generation unanswered.

    I’ve found, for instance, that in Tim Keller’s book, Reason for God, he grapples in chapter 5 with some of the same questions Rob Bell is asking, and offers answers that most of us would be far more ready to accept than what we find in Love Wins.

  168. joliverparker says:

    Mart, I am still catching up on some of the more recent posts, but regarding your question: “Would you agree though that it is also not our role to give certainty of meaning to texts that God, for his reasons, has left unclear”

    Yes, I generally agree with that.

    And I admittedly did not make this more clear earlier, but my main concern with Bell’s book or the topics he broaches is not the mere notion that Christ may provide ways to reveal Himself to people and save them that our beyond our comprehension. Nonetheless, however Christ may do this, I do not think He will do it in a way that is directly contrary to other things that are indeed clear in His Word. Not because He is obligated to us to stay consistent with Himself, but because I believe He has revealed that it is part of His Nature to be consistent with Himself.

    Rather, my main concern with Bell is what I perceive to be a general approach to subjecting the Word to his sense of fairness and justice, versus subjecting his sense of fairness and justice to what the Word says. All of us, including me, struggle with this at times, but I believe there is a difference between momentary struggles which are admitted failures by our own standards, versus establishing an increasing and unabashed pattern of this, and which does not even recognize or admit this error, especially on matters that relate to some of the most precious things such as life and death and the Gospel itself.

    I don’t have Bell’s book in front of me right now, but one of the types of comments he’ll make are along the lines of “would a loving and forgiving God really sentence someone to eternal punishment for a mere 70 years of sin?” The question itself bothers me because it seems to reflect a lack of appreciation for the gravity of our sin. A *mere* 70 years? I think a humble attitude is “God, you are totally holy, and myself and everyone else, according to you, is not holy, and one sin is enough to rightly separate us from you for eternity. Thank you for providing a way where we can be saved.”

    Another example is Bell cautions about the problem of presenting Jesus’ mission as rescuing us from God. The idea being, Bell is implying who wants the type of God from whom we need to be rescued? (of course, I think the testimony of Scripture is Jesus is rescuing us from ourselves, and that God would be unjust and unholy not to require payment for our sin).

    But these questions seem to stem from snap conclusions about Scripture, fail to interpret Scripture in light of Scripture (and live with the resulting tensions, when necessary), and express an attitude of “this does not satisfy how I would picture a loving God, so it has to be something else that the Word is saying.”

    But to bring this back around to what I think you are emphasizing, Mart, which is how do we lovingly respond when these things are put forth? It is a very good question, and the blog has really provoked a lot of productive thinking for me.

    One of things I’m wrestling with, and which I would like your thoughts on Mart is, is there a distinction between how we respond to these conversations in our personal lives, versus how do we respond to a pastor of 10,000 people, nationally known, who has published a national book? I certainly think sincere questions are very important, but when a supposed Bible teacher/scholar establishes a practice of questioning the Word, I feel like I’m in a different realm or something . . .

  169. poohpity says:

    So, Mart, are you saying that it depends on the person delivering the message whether we accept their take on it?

  170. bubbles says:

    This has caused much hurt today.

  171. bubbles says:

    Love certainly did not win here on this site.

  172. Mart De Haan says:

    Poohpity, yes, i think whether we trust someone (i.e. Bell or Keller) determines how we hear what they are saying– and what motives we attribute to them.

    Trust also determines whether we can hear where 2 persons agree and where they differ (again i.e. Bell and Keller).

  173. poohpity says:

    I wonder what that says about us especially not being able to know their hearts.

  174. Mart De Haan says:

    joliverparker, I think you have raised several important questions in your last comment. That’s the kind of careful thought we need to give to such issues.

    And to your last question about who of who it is that is raising questions and offering answers, I’m thinking that a public person and book certainly can be rightly named and challenged.

    But assignment of and condemnation of motives, as well as quoting out of context to misrepresent should never be defended. When we challenge anyone without love and respect, we ourselves will lose credibility–not from our friends– but from those we are trying to correct/help.

  175. Mart De Haan says:

    Hey, I have to sign off for awhile. Need to do my taxes :-)…

  176. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… I believe we can chastize one’s writings as evil, and outside the limits of where we should take ourselves, and still be able to “love them as a person,” needing God’s ultimate correction, deliverance, and renewing of the Spirit.
    How else do we separate out, false teachings, wayward thinking, and the like.
    Even planting the questions can be dangerous,
    as in Satan’s entry ,”Did God REALLY say, you will surely die?”
    Where is the limit of exposition, and the overstepping of one’s autority on the Word? Is there only artistic expression, instead of the defiling of doctrine?
    I do not want to know, for myself, when I start questioning God’s Words, it is not always beneficial
    for me, leaving these doubts, where Faith once covered all my concerns, and Believing as a Child, that God has nothing but good, in store for those who trluy love him!
    If we disassemble his words, his values, his promisses,
    where does it stop? Just my thoughts…
    Is it not for us to decide, who or what to love,
    hate, or cling to?
    Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil:
    cling to what is good. Gary

  177. Mart De Haan says:

    Gary, seems like the character of asking, “has God said?” depends on the motive.

    I wouldn’t want you to be afraid to honestly ask, “Has God really said” that all confrontation of false teaching needs to be done within the bounds of 2timothy 2:24-26?

  178. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart..I may not have the past indepth relationship with Rob Bell that you and other readers have, BUT, What does one do with Galations 1:8-9?
    “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said,so now I say again:
    If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

    That sounds to me, if we don’t use our discernment against alternative thinkers, we are allowing them a treaspass, we should not really allow! Gary

  179. Mart De Haan says:

    Gary,
    I’m guessing that you and I would both agree that Paul’s warning was attached to “The Gospel” and that, according to the Apostle Paul, this is the Gospel/Good News:

    “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” (1Cor 15:1-8).

    We can also say with the Apostle John,

    “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world (1John 4:1-3).

    Wisdom requires not only that we long for discernment in all matters, but that we maintain perspective as well.

    In this present conflict, there has been far too much not listening, pulling quotes out of contest, spinning, and not checking out the facts, with the result of misrepresentation, and a failure to see that issues of truth are not only to be found in the Bible, but in what we say about one another.

  180. wrswaim says:

    RBC has for decades been that last, untouched, unmoved, bulwark of sound biblical conservatism in evangelicalism. Where countless evangelicals over the years have drifted or just turned away radically, RBC has remained steady – and reliable – and trustworthy.

    You could give the materials away (and I am part of an organization that is your largest distributor) without worry or doubt that what the reader will find will be doctrinally pure and firm, yet compassionate and clear.

    After the shellshock of reading your blog post as to its equally Rob Bell-like vagueness, I am going to be forced to begin to wonder if RBC will drift now theologically.

    Even if your post was just a rare stumbling in how to say something, there will remain a permanent question mark in the mind of thousands who have stood by RBC and its doctrine and approach. Frankly, if this keeps up it could be devastating to RBC. This may be just an ‘oops” but it is a big ‘oops”.

    You state “just as those who argue that hell is eternal conscious torment also do not yet know that they are right…those of us who are sure about what hell is like really are saying more than we know…” I still am stunned at such a remark, from FBC? From a Dehann?

    We are sure because Jesus Himself revealed it in His Word – in no uncertain terms. If I trust Him as to what He says is true about Himself, His Word, and heavn – then his detailed description of a forever hell for those who reject Him is just as reliable and clear. We DO know that we are saying what lies beyond – why? Because he revealed it to us. Nothing more, nothing less.

    If you recall – and what is being missed in a huge way – that with the rich man in Luke he begged that someone from hell be sent to tell his brothers what it’s like then they will believe. He was told no – because they have the Law & prophets to tell them of hell. If they won’t and don;t believe them, they they won’t believe anyone sent from hell to warn them.

    How’s that for certainty, clarity, and that what God tells us lies ahead is as certain as if we had already seen it ourselves?

    I think a major retraction of this post may help, but doubt it will erase the impact this has made on many of us who support RBC with endorsements and financial help. I personally am not angry (anymore), I am saddened. I remember the Lord saying, “Even the elect….”

    I for one will be rechecking the materials I consider giving out from RBC from now on.

    Praying for healing and restoration of RBC in this matter,
    Walter Swaim
    Pastor, Abiding Life Baptist Fellowship
    Pasadena, TX

  181. poohpity says:

    Wow that is so sad that even a pastor can miss the intent of this post and sit in judgment and condemnation while jumping to conclusions.

  182. markf says:

    I heard about this article from a Facebook friend and decided to check this out for myself. Sadly, I saw what she was upset about.

    Mart said, “So I’m left wondering… are we allowing love (and truth) to win now… by using threats of group pressure and blackballing of brothers like Rob, and those who openly or secretly stand with him? Is that really the best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy?

    Since those of us who are sure about what hell is like really are saying more than we know, does it makes sense to make forced affirmation of “eternal conscious torment” a test of fellowship?

    I say all of this, while also being reminded that, in light of the immeasurable, eternal love of God, rather than in spite of it… “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”… whether for a moment, for a long period of time, or forever.”

    Mart, frankly I am appalled at this statement. My first thoughts were “are you kidding me?” Rob Bell is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and if you cannot see that, frankly we are in serious trouble. I simply cannot express the sadness of your position. We are to “earnestly contend for the faith.” This is nothing more than capitulation. You are throwing in the towel and giving up rather than standing firm in your faith. For what? To be a part of this “movement” to increase your readership?

    I am a minister of the gospel and as such, I can assure you that Rob Bell, Doug Paggitt, and others associated with this “emergent thought” are not welcome at my church. This is not being mean. This is not being spiteful. This IS about protecting my congregation from spiritual error. This IS about contending for the faith! This IS about showing God’s love, mercy, and compassion to a lost and dying world. According to Mr. Bell, he has doubted heaven and hell. Yet, we support his error? Again, why?

    In Mr. Bell’s book Velvet Elvis, I learned all I need to know about Mr. Bell and his theology. I also pray for Mr. Bell. I pray he truly learns the harm he is doing in leading thousands astray and corrects his mistakes before it is too late.

    Mr. Bell believes that there are multiple paths to get to heaven. Jesus is just one of them. Mr. Bell is a Universalist and this is well documented. To support such a heretic is beyond all comprehension.

    I pray that you will see the seriousness of this situation. Our days on earth are numbered. In these last days, there will come many who claim to have some “new” truth, some “new” enlightenment. If we do not see this happening, may God have mercy upon us.

    As a minister of the gospel, I urge you to rethink this position, pray and seek the Lord’s heart over this. Until then, sadly, I cannot support RBC ministries any further and as such, we will be cancelling our church’s subscription until this error is corrected in writing.

  183. Mart De Haan says:

    Walter,
    Thank you for taking the time to express your concern. The value of a blog like this is that it gives us a chance to test whether or not we are making a case for necessary or possible implications of Scripture.

    Our commitment and desire is to affirm all that the Scripture says and means.

    As to what our Lord said about the rich man and Lazarus, my understanding is that this describes the condition of Lazarus and the lost rich man in an intermediate state of hades prior to the final judgment.

  184. Mart De Haan says:

    markf, I wish we had a chance to talk to one another personally about this. I think we would soon see that we share a deep commitment to the truth of Scripture.

    It is that commitment to truth, treating others as we all want to be treated, and a right fear of the Lord that I was trying to honor when I wrote the post.

    If we don’t respond to issues like this in the way that Paul taught Timothy to handle error (2Tim 2:24-26), we will ironically be encouraging something less than both grace and truth. Threats not only produce fear in others but also the kind of anger that does not give birth to righteousness and peace.

    In this specific instance, as in so many others, truth and grace do not grow well in an environment of misquotes, and a failure to carefully listen to one another.

    I’m confident you would agree that fundamentalism in the best sense moves forward with Scripture based truth and love rather than by a fear of man.

    As we celebrate together today the overwhelming victory of our resurrected Lord and Savior, may we together be willing to live and die for the truth and good news that has been entrusted to us.

  185. poohpity says:

    I fail so miserably at being a gentle, patient teacher of those who are wrong and are mixed up concerning the truth. Talking meekly and courteously and allowing God to help others understand just has he deals with me daily in everything I misunderstand and am ignorant of. Forgive me.

  186. genjoab says:

    Meaning this in a most sincere and loving way: this is nothing more than pure post-modern gibberish. Words mean things, and the Bible uses clear terminology in its multiple descriptions of Hell. In passages such as Matt. 13, Christ provides not only parabolic/metaphorical descriptions of Hell, but the literal interpretations of the metaphors as He interprets His own parables for the disciples.

    Furthermore, if we argue that we can’t really know about Hell, then we must be consistent and argue that we can’t really know anything about Heaven – or for that matter – about salvation, the atonement, and whether God is really good and merciful. We won’t really know what God is like until we die and we meet Him. Perhaps it will turn out that all along we were speaking in arrogance when we spoke with such certitude about the grace, love, and mercy of God. Yes, these are possible implications of the Scriptures – but not necessary implications; after all, these loving portrayals of God must be balanced with due recognition of those passages stressing His anger and justice. Really, how can we so confidently affirm that God is merciful and loving, yet be so tentative when affirming that He is just and His anger against sin is eternal? If you are to be consistent, then, be as tentative when proclaiming the love & mercy of God and the realities of atonement & Heaven as you are when speaking of Hell. Let us not criticize our agnostic “brethren” who doubt the very existence of God, or at least His love for His creation. Criticizing those who proclaim God to be hateful and mean is to arrogate to ourselves knowledge of God that we don’t really possess. Many good people have wrestled with the issue of whether God is really good and loving, so we ought not criticize those who hold a different view of God.

    Further, this tentative position leaves us with a divine revelation about how to be saved, but the revelation fails to explain precisely what it is from which we are being saved. Hmmm . . . don’t I first need an accurate diagnosis of the problem before I am ready to accept the solution?

    A final question I hope Mart would answer for the benefit of us all: what was the position of your grandfather on Hell? Did Dr. M. R. DeHaan speak so tentatively about it? Whatever he said, I’m sure he said it in love, but did he ever question Hell as a literal, eternal, conscious place of torment in fire? If so, could you document that for us? What book or publication?

  187. Mart De Haan says:

    I remain deeply committed to affirming everything the Bible says about heaven, hell, and judgment– including that “the LORD will judge His people”; and that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”– who is, Himself, “a consuming fire” (Heb 10:30-31; 12:29).

  188. foreverblessed says:

    Matthew 10:28
    Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    So, does that not say that the soul can be destroyed? That is, from the day of judgment onwards. The souls in hell wait for the day of judgment. So hell is real.

    I do not understand, if maybe we have a wrong interpretation of hell,
    what does that make any diffence to the fact that Jesus died for our sins and rose again to give life to those who believe in Him?

  189. joliverparker says:

    Mart, if I may, I am going to “reach back” to my posts from several days ago.

    I was a bit puzzled as to why, in response to my question about whether we respond differently to the published writings of nationally-known pastors as compared to those who we interact with personally, you cautioned about assigning and condemning motives.

    I agree that it is an important principle to be careful about assigning motives. But in a very practical sense, if we are going to dialogue about both the contents of a published book and people’s varied reactions to it, the best we can do is offer *reasonable* interpretations to the actual written contents. I have read “Love Wins” from cover to cover, and my goal was to note what appeared to be a consistent them and pattern in the book, and to specifically avoid quoting him out of context, and instead quote him directly in context.

    While I do not know Bell’s heart, nor is it my job to try to know it (that’s God’s job), I think Bell (or anyone who publishes his/her writings) is responsible for the plain reading of statements in the book and the reasonable interpretations of the ideas put forth in the book.

    My understanding and impression is that you are in theological agreement with many of those who have posted their views on what the Bible teaches on hell, etc., and that you are *not* interested in debating all the specific issues in *Love Wins”, but rather, you’re interested in discussing how we should confront Biblical error in a loving and respectful way, in accordance with the Bible.

    I think that in love and respect, what I can say is that you and I seem to have the same passion for the truth of the Scriptures, seem to both value the importance of responding to error in a Biblical way, but perhaps disagree in this specific instance on what is the appropriate response to Bell and his most recent book.

    While I do not condone *threats*, or immature name bashing, etc., I do think that if the topic of conversation is Bell and his book and what one’s opinion is on it, the most loving and most Biblical response is to say, in a sense, “I don’t know Mr. Bell, but I have serious concerns about his views of the Gospel and the importance of subjecting our standards of fairness and justice to the Word. He has repeatedly said and written enough extremely troubling comments, on a public scale, that I’m forced to assume that he is a false teacher and one that I cannot recommend that others indulge.”

    I do not believe that type of response should have the effect of squelching those who have sincere questions about the faith, God, who He is, etc. And I also trust God enough that if we are obedient to Him and his Word when it comes to refuting false doctrine, that will not result in “scaring away” those whom He has called to Himself to explore and find Him, in God’s perfect timing. And I maintain that in interacting with those I know personally, it is always best to “give them the benefit of the doubt” where possible, but to still not waver from presenting the Gospel and truth and love even when it involves the most difficult realities.

    Sincere questions are important, but we must not alter what should be considered reasonable, careful and thoughtful responses to Bell’s book in order protect others who may have similar questions as Bell. We don’t amend the truth or confidently refer to someone as a brother when we’ve been given more reason to believe they are not a brother than that they are a believer.

  190. Mart De Haan says:

    joliverparker, I appreciate your comments.

    RB came out of my home church. I regard him as a dear brother who is trying to understand the heart of our God “who is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance.” That personal knowledge and deep affection for him, however, does not change my conviction that all that he or any of us teaches about the Bible needs to be weighed in light of the whole counsel of God. We need to be able to challenge and disagree with one another in grace and truth.

    However, when characterizations and judgments that belong to God alone are unleashed, it creates such a dangerous atmosphere of fear and control that truth cannot be tested and clarified in a civil manner, let alone a humble, loving, gracious, and patient manner.

    Neither side can maintain a reputation for the truth if we are not, in the most basic ways, willing to be true to what our God has told us, in very clear and specific ways, about how to respond when we are confronting what we believe to be misrepresentations of our God.

    As we’ve said repeatedly in this blog, the truth of our LORD is expressed not only in the words (and propositions) we express– but in the attitudes with which we express them.

    Paul offers the very specific counsel of 2Tim 2:24-26 after writing, “The Lord knows those who are his, and let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity (2Tim 2:19).

  191. wrswaim says:

    Mart, to quote your reply “As to what our Lord said about the rich man and Lazarus, my understanding is that this describes the condition of Lazarus and the lost rich man in an intermediate state of hades prior to the final judgment.”

    This is even stranger to me. The main point for the rich man in his request wasn’t where or when it was located, it was the permanency (forever) and the torment brought upon him. Whether Hades or the Lake of Fire, with the exception of the latter being a ‘lake’, it is the effects, depth, realness, literalness and unending length of the torment for rejecting Christ is what he was crying out for.

    Again, “THEY HAVE THE LAW & THE PROPHETS . . .” My case rests.

    Again you said, “I remain deeply committed to affirming everything the Bible says about heaven, hell, and judgment–” This is confusing at best and without being disrespectful I almost audibly said while reading “you’re kidding, right?” Outside of the fundamental doctrines of the faith there is banter, debate, and plenty of room to agree/disagree and still share pulpits and lunches together. I have done this plenty of times in my years of ministry. But the fundamental doctrines don’t need ‘testing’ – they have been tested and stand firm.

    Paul said those who carry any other Gospel are to be anathema and in Galatians he told the judaizers to emasculate themselves. So the need for courteous discourse when it comes to the fundamentals of the faith were never practiced or taught to us by the apostles and those after them. You and RBC have for decades faithfully and quickly and firmly defended these truths (i.e., Da Vinci Code booklet by RBC – awesome response). So, please do the same with this fundamental doctrine is all we ask.

    My disappointment is even greater now after your reply as I had wondered afterward if this again could all just be a misunderstanding and semantics and we’ll all apologize and get on with it. Your responses still to this day seem to indicate this is not the case – though I still hold out hope.

  192. poohpity says:

    Doctrines always need to be tested since they vary from church to church but what the bible says remains with no doctrine attached. Respectfully I would challenge those who have MISUNDERSTOOD the POINT of this post and topic to offer their apologies to Mart for carrying this to such extreme levels as to challenge not only Mart but RBC ministries as to the competency of teaching the truth. I humbly feel that those who have challenged Mart, to look within at what they are saying and the attitude put forth whether it is God honoring or prideful and condemning.

    The responses from some are exactly what this topic is addressing they have set themselves up as judge and jury and have issued their verdict. Thank God that His judgment is right and true, man’s will never be.

  193. joliverparker says:

    Mart, I appreciate you acknowledging your personal connection to Rob Bell (something of which I was not aware). However, I remain unclear as to what comments I’ve made that have led you to caution against “when characterizations and judgments that belong to God alone are unleashed.”

    What I have said, more or less, is that, *based upon RB’s public statements and writings*, there appears to be such a consistent pattern of Gospel-contrary positions and an excessively careless approach to use of Scripture, that I have little confidence that I can call him a “brother”, and that in fact I have great concern that he is a false teacher.

    Let me repeat, that is my impression *based upon public statements and writings” (and not out of context, but rather, paragraph by paragraph and chapter by chapter). Since you are in a position to where you know him personally and call him a *dear brother*, I can certainly appreciate that it would be very difficult to hear me (or anyone) make such a suggestion.

    However, I think that it is very possible for a person to appropriately apply Scripture’s cautions regarding refuting false doctrine in a bold way, etc. to a particular author or teacher or pastor, and then reasonably conclude that there are concerns serious enough to where that author/teacher/pastor is forced to be *viewed* as a false teacher, even though it may in fact be that person is *not* a false teacher. As you yourself said “even brothers can fall into false teaching.”

    I also indicated I of course do not *know*, or purport to know, Rob Bell’s heart.

    But our job is not to know people’s hearts. And Scripture includes specific ways in which the types of teachings contained in Bell’s book are to be responded to in a much more direct, dare I say harsh, way than you are focusing on.

    You are probably familiar with this book, but for the very first time, I read the beginning of “Why We’re Not Emergent” this afternoon. To quote Kevin DeYoung:

    “It’s one thing for a high school student to be in process with his theology. It’s another thing for adults to write books and speak around the world about their musings and misgivings. I agree there must be space for Christians to ask hard questions and explore the tensions in our faith, but I seriously question that this space should be hugely public where hundreds of thousands of men and women are eagerly awaiting the next book or blog or podcast arising from your faith journey. No matter what new label you put on it, once you start selling thousand of books, speaking all over the country and world, and being looked to for spiritual and ecclesiastical direction, you’re no longer just a conversation partner. You are are a leader and a teacher. And this is serious business, for as James says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.””

    Another comment DeYoung makes is “it is possible that some authors in emerging circles, if push came to shove, would sound much more orthodox and evangelical than they come across in print. But the printed, public word is what we have, so we are responding with the printed, public word (as opposed to calling up each emergent leader to ask him “is this what you really mean?” We have not knowingly misrepresented anyone’s beliefs.”

    Mart, I realize that DeYoung’s comments are not particular to Bell alone (although he addresses Bell and others in these beginning sections, including some very positive remarks), but I could not believe how the concept of what DeYoung resonates with what I’ve been attempting to articulate on this blog. You, of course, actually know Bell personally and you *can* call him up to ask “is this what you really mean?”

    But for me and thousands of others who don’t know Bell, it is possible to respond to Bell’s public writings in a Biblically direct way that is not “unleashing judgments that belong to God alone”, and I believe that I have done that for the most part. I do apologize, however, for the comment regarding having more reason to believe he’s not a brother than that he is. While I indeed ave that impression, it really was not necessary to share. I can dispute the teachings in his book without making that comment.

    I also want to offer, though, that I am perplexed that the leadership of Bell’s “Mars Hill Church” has not held him accountable in loving way about publishing the types of things he’s published. Or perhaps they have, and he didn’t respond, or perhaps he would totally have welcomed that, and they didn’t come through. I simply don’t know. But something terribly wrong has happened here.

  194. poohpity says:

    In the James passage I believe that the judge of the teachers of religion is God only. But it is an excellent passage that points out that the damage that can be done by the tongue. When we do not know someone I believe it is considered gossip to assume that they believe this way or that or offer unsubstantiated verdicts.

    James 3:1-6; 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

    3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.