Heaven, Hell, Universalism and Rob Bell - Part 2


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This is part 2 of a presentation on the theology of Rob Bell and universalism in his book "Love Wins".

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Heaven, Hell, Universalism and Rob Bell - Part 2

  1. 1. A Look at the Theology of Rob Bell & “Love Wins” Part 2
  2. 2. Review: What are we Talking About? On March 15, 2011, HarperOne publishers releases Emergent Church leader Rob Bell‘s new book ―Love Wins‖. The promotional video for the book immediately raised speculations in Christendom that Rob Bell was a universalist, and what has followed since then hasbeen one of the largest theological firestorms in some time. www.confidentchristians.org
  3. 3. Review: What did We Cover Last Time?• Universalism or ―Ultimate Reconciliation‖ teaches that all people will ultimately be reconciled to God, either in this life or the next• Rob Bell denies being a universalist and says he believes in Hell, but yet his writings are universalist in nature and the Hell he speaks about does not seem to equate with Scripture• Others such as Origen and Socinus have taught very similar things• Bell says he really doesn‘t know how everything turns out; that it is all ―speculation‖ www.confidentchristians.org
  4. 4. What does the Bible teach about Eternal Punishment?
  5. 5. The Clarity or „Perspicuity‟ of ScriptureA hallmark of the Emerging Church and their leaders like Bell is that they say we can‘t really know what the Bible means or teaches on many subjects. They call their stance one of ‗humility‘.Yet, the Bible is very explicit and clear on every core doctrine of the Christian faith. This is sometimes referred to as the ―perspicuity‖ of Scripture. www.confidentchristians.org
  6. 6. The Old Testament and Eternal Punishment―Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sonsof your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. ―Manyof those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.‖ (Daniel 12:1–2)• The passage speaks about Israel‘s future, but it is hard to imagine Israel would be handled one way by God where eternity is concerned and everyone else differently• There is a book that contains the names of the saved• The same ―everlasting‖ that applies to the saved and their ‗life‘ also applies to the condemned• The word ―contempt‖ literally means ―abhorrence‖ www.confidentchristians.org
  7. 7. Did Jesus Believe in a Literal Hell? ―There is one very serious defect to mymind in Christ‘s moral character, and it is that He believed in Hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. . . . one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury againstthose people who would not listen to His preaching. . . . I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty.‖ - Bertrand Russell www.confidentchristians.org
  8. 8. Jesus‟ Teaching on Eternal Punishment ―Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. ―And a poor man namedLazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed withthe crumbs which were falling from the rich man‘s table; besides, even thedogs were coming and licking his sores. ―Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham‘s bosom; and the rich man alsodied and was buried. ―In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. ―And he cried out and said, ‗Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am inagony in this flame.‘ ―But Abraham said, ‗Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. ‗And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us‘ " (Luke 16:19–26) www.confidentchristians.org
  9. 9. What does the Passage Teach?• Judgment is decisive – immediately after their death, the rich man and Lazarus were ushered into their eternal destinies• Judgment is unpleasant – the rich man specifically said, ―I am in agony…‖• Judgment is final – Abraham describes there is no further chance for those who end up in punishment to spend eternity with God: ―none may cross over from there to us‖ www.confidentchristians.org
  10. 10. What does Bell Say? ―No matter how painful, brutal, oppressive, no matter how farpeople find themselves from home because of their sin, indifference, and rejection, there‘s always theassurance that it won‘t be this way forever‖ (p. 86).―Failure , we see again and again, isn‘t final, judgment has a point, and consequences are for correction‖ (p. 88). www.confidentchristians.org
  11. 11. Jesus‟ Teaching on Eternal Punishment ―And he said, ‗Then I beg you, father, that you sendhim to my father‘s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.‘ ―But Abraham said, ‗They have Moses and the Prophets; let themhear them.‘ ―But he said, ‗No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!‘ ―But he said to him, ‗If they do not listen toMoses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.‘‖ (Luke 16:27–31) www.confidentchristians.org
  12. 12. What does the Passage Teach?• There is no hint the rich man felt something better was possible for him or was coming• The condemned are very much conscious and aware, and also remember their lives on earth• The condemned greatly desire that those they care about not share their fate• God‘s Word is what instructs people on matters of eternal life and death• Even miraculous signs, including someone being raised from the dead, are not more persuasive than God‘s Word www.confidentchristians.org
  13. 13. Jesus‟ Teaching on Eternal Punishment vs. Bell―Enter through the narrow gate; for ―A staggering number of people havethe gate is wide and the way is broad been taught that a select fewthat leads to destruction, and there Christians will spend forever in aare many who enter through it. ―For peaceful, joyous place calledthe gate is small and the way is heaven, while the rest of humanitynarrow that leads to life, and there spends forever in torment andare few who find it. " punishment in hell with no chance for(Matthew 7:13–14) anything better. It‘s been clearly communicated to many that this―Many will say to Me on that day, belief is a central truth of the‗Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Christian faith and to reject it is, inYour name, and in Your name cast essence, to reject Jesus. This isout demons, and in Your name misguided and toxic and ultimatelyperform many miracles?‘ ―And then I subverts the contagious spread ofwill declare to them, ‗I never knew Jesus‘ message of love, peace,you; depart from Me, you who forgiveness, and joy that our worldpractice lawlessness.‘ " desperately needs to hear‖(Matthew 7:22–23) (Love Wins, pg. viii) www.confidentchristians.org
  14. 14. Jesus‟ Teaching on Eternal Punishment vs. Bell―But when the Son of Man comes in His ―Of all the billions of people who haveglory, and all the angels with Him, then ever lived, will only a select numberHe will sit on His glorious throne. ―All the ‗make it to a better place‘ and everynations will be gathered before Him; and single other person will suffer in tormentHe will separate them from one another, and punishment forever? Is thisas the shepherd separates the sheep acceptable to God? Has God createdfrom the goats; and He will put the millions of people over tens of thousandssheep on His right, and the goats on the of years who are going to spend eternityleft. ―Then the King will say to those on in anguish? Can God do this, or evenHis right, ‗Come, you who are blessed of allow this, and still claim to be a lovingMy Father, inherit the kingdom preparedfor you from the foundation of the world. God? Does God punish people for. . . Then He will also say to those on His thousands of years with infinite, eternalleft, ‗Depart from Me, accursed ones, torment for things they did in their few,into the eternal fire which has been finite years of life? This doesn‘t just raiseprepared for the devil and his angels . . . disturbing questions about God, it raisesThese will go away into eternal questions about the beliefspunishment, but the righteous into themselves… What kind of faith is that?eternal life.‖ Or more importantly: What kind of God is(Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46) that?‖ (Love Wins, pp. 2-3) www.confidentchristians.org
  15. 15. Jesus‟ Teaching on Eternal Punishment• ―And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day‖ (Matthew 11:23)• ―So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. ―The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness‖ (Matthew 13:40–41)• ―So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth‖ (Matthew 13:49–50)• ―Then the king said to the servants, ‗Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth‘" (Matthew 22:13)• ―Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves" (Matthew 23:15) www.confidentchristians.org
  16. 16. Jesus‟ Teaching on Eternal Punishment• ―You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?" (Matthew 23:33)• ―If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire‖ (Mark 9:43)• ―But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!‖ ( Luke 12:5)• "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him"(John 3:36)• "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." (John 5:28-29)• ―He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death‘ " (Revelation 2:11) www.confidentchristians.org
  17. 17. Paul‟s Teaching on Eternal Punishment• ―For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. " (2 Thessalonians 1:6–10)• ―For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:18–20)• ―Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.‖ (Galatians 6:7) www.confidentchristians.org
  18. 18. Peter‟s Teaching on Eternal Punishment• For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment" (2 Peter 2:4–9)• ―These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. " (2 Peter 2:17)• ―But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:7) www.confidentchristians.org
  19. 19. John‟s Record in Revelation of Eternal Punishment• ―Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6)• ―Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14)• ―But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8) www.confidentchristians.org
  20. 20. What does Bell Say?"When we get to what happens when we die, we dont have any video footage," says Bell. "So lets at least be honest that we are speculating, because weare." He is quick to note, though, that his own speculation, while unconventional, is not unprecedented. "At the center of the Christian tradition since the first church," Bell writes, "have been a number who insist that history is nottragic, hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.― - Interview with Time Magazine www.confidentchristians.org
  21. 21. Any Chance for Post-Mortem Evangelism? ―It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment‖ (Hebrews 9:27) www.confidentchristians.org
  22. 22. C. S. Lewis on Hell "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, Thy will be done, and those to whom God says, in the end, Thy will be done. All that are in Hell chose it.‖ - C. S. Lewis www.confidentchristians.org
  23. 23. A Look at God‟s Love and His Justice
  24. 24. Bell on God‟s Character ―Millions have been taught that if they don‘t believe, if they don‘t accept in the rightway according to the person telling them the gospel, and they were hit by a car and died later that same day, God would have no choice but to punish them forever in conscious torment in hell. God would, in essence, become a fundamentallydifferent being to them in that moment of death, a different being to them forever. A loving heavenly father who will go to extraordinary lengths to have a relationship with them would, in the blink of an eye, become a cruel, mean, vicious tormenterwho would insure that they would have no escape from an endless future of agony. If there was an earthly father who was like that, we would call the authorities. If there was an actual human dad who was that volatile, we would contact child protection services immediately. If God can switch gears like that, switch entire modes of being that quickly, that raises a thousand questions about whether a being like this could ever be trusted. Let alone be good. Loving one moment, vicious the next. Kind and compassionate, only to become cruel and relentless in the blink of an eye. Does God become somebody totally different the moment you die? That kind of God is simply devastating. Psychologically crushing. We can‘t bear it. No one can. . . . That God is terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable.‖ (Love Wins, pgs.173–75) www.confidentchristians.org
  25. 25. God is Indeed Love• "The Lord‘s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.―(Lamentations 3:22- 23)• But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)• For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. " (Romans 8:38–39)• The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. " (1 John 4:8)• We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. " (1 John 4:16) www.confidentchristians.org
  26. 26. But God is Also Just• ―Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?‖ (Gen. 18:25)• ―And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.‖ (Psalm 9:8)• "Before the LORD; for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity." (Psalms 98:9) www.confidentchristians.org
  27. 27. The Uniqueness of God‟s Justice In every other religion in the world that holds to the idea of asupreme deity, that deity‘s mercy is always exercised at the expense of its justice. For example, in Islam, Allah may grant mercy to an individual, but it‘s always done at the expense of his justice. Christianity is different. In Christianity, God exercises His mercy through His justice. www.confidentchristians.org
  28. 28. Christ Died for God‟s Righteousness Christ did indeed die for sinners, but He also died as a demonstration of God‘s righteousness. The Apostle Paul makes this clear when he says, ―being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed overthe sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier ofthe one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:24–26) www.confidentchristians.org
  29. 29. Limited or Universal Atonement?If God is love…And if Christ died a substitutionarysacrifice for all sinners…Then, what keeps everyone fromspending eternity with God?Answer: The atonement of Christ islimited. It is limited to those who believe:―For God so loved the world, that Hegave His only begotten Son, thatwhoever believes in Him shall not perish,but have eternal life. " (John 3:16) www.confidentchristians.org
  30. 30. What does Bell Say? ―Many people have heard the gospel framed in terms of rescue. God has topunish sinners, because God is holy, but Jesus has paid the price for our sin, and so we can have eternal life. However true or untrue that is technically or theologically, what it can do is subtlyteach people that Jesus rescues us fromGod. Let‘s be very clear, then: we do not need to be rescued from God.‖ (p. 182) Who is ―we‖? If Bell means Christians, OK, but that doesn‘t seem to be who he is speaking about… www.confidentchristians.org
  31. 31. Bell vs. Paul―Many people have heard the gospel framed in terms ofrescue. God has to punish sinners, because God isholy, but Jesus has paid the price for our sin, and so wecan have eternal life. However true or untrue that istechnically or theologically, what it can do is subtly teachpeople that Jesus rescues us from God. Let‘s be veryclear, then: we do not need to be rescued from God.‖ (p.182) VS. ―For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come." (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10) www.confidentchristians.org
  32. 32. Question… If sinful people don‘t need to be rescued from God, then whoor what should they fear? And to what or whom is the wrath of God talked about in the Bible directed?• So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, ―You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? " (Luke 3:7)• ―He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.‖ " (John 3:36)• For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, " (Romans 1:18)• But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Romans 2:5)• but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. " (Romans 2:8) www.confidentchristians.org
  33. 33. Believers are Delivered from God‟s Wrath• "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.‖(Romans 5:9)• "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ‖ (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
  34. 34. God‟s Wrath is Real and is Coming• What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? " (Romans 9:22)• and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ―Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?‖ " (Revelation 6:16–17) www.confidentchristians.org
  35. 35. God‟s Wrath is Coming upon Unbelievers• Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. " (Ephesians 5:6)• Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience" (Colossians 3:5–6) www.confidentchristians.org
  36. 36. Jesus is Coming in Wrath• ―For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‗The Lord said to my Lord, ―Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.‖ ‘ " (Luke 20:42–43) Sign of execution• " And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty."(Revelation 19:11-15)
  37. 37. Word Study – Salvation Greek Meaning ① Deliverance Soteria ② Preservation Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek- English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.―And there is salvation in no one else; forthere is no other name under heaven that hasbeen given among men by which we must besaved.‖ " (Acts 4:12)(Jude 1-2) Interpretation & Application ―Jesus Saves‖ is a very familiar phrase that Christians use to describe what Jesus offers to the unbeliever. But saved … from what? The word salvation literally means ―deliverance‖. Christians have been delivered by God through the atoning death of Christ. But what have they been delivered from? Simply bad choices, the consequences that naturally come from sinful living, or something much more? While there is no question that God provides wisdom through salvation and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit for proper living, the overarching theme of salvation is that believes have been saved from the wrath of God that will come.
  38. 38. On an American troopship, the soldiers crowded around their chaplain asking, ―Do you believe inhell?‖ ―I do not‖, replied the chaplain. ―Well, then,will you please resign, for if there is no hell, we do not need you, and if there is a hell, we do not wish to be led astray.‖
  39. 39. Is there Biblical Support for Universalism? We‟ll Look at that in Part 3 of this Series…