Heaven, Hell, Universalism and Rob Bell - Part 3


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This is part 3 of a presentation on Rob Bell's theology in his book "Love Wins".

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Heaven, Hell, Universalism and Rob Bell - Part 3

  1. 1. A Look at the Theology of Rob Bell & “Love Wins” Part 3
  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?• The Bible is clear on the teaching of Hell.• Hell is not a purgatory or a place of correction; rather, it is the second death for those apart from Christ• The teachings of Jesus and the apostles clearly teach the above• No place in Scripture indicates a second chance after death to embrace Christ• God is love, but His love is in keeping with His justice• God exercises His mercy through His justice• God‘s wrath is real and is clearly taught in Scripture as coming upon those who reject Christ www.confidentchristians.org
  4. 4. Is there Biblical Support for Universalism?
  5. 5. ―And so, beginning with the early church,there is a long tradition of Christians who believe that God will ultimately restore everything and everybody, because Jesus says in Matthew 19 that there willbe a ―renewal of all things,‖ Peter says in Acts 3 that Jesus will ―restoreeverything,‖ and Paul says in Colossians 1 that through Christ ―God was pleased to. . . .reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.‖ - Rob Bell (pg. 107) www.confidentchristians.org
  6. 6. Point / Counter PointUniversalist Point―Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in orderthat times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and thatHe may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven mustreceive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spokeby the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. " (Acts 3:19–21) Biblical Counterpoint• The statement Peter makes concerns the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises God made to them• ―So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ―Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?‖ " (Acts 1:6)• Peter begins his speech in Acts 3 with ―Men of Israel…‖• ―But Israel shall be saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced Forever and ever‖ (Isaiah 45:17)• ―At that time,‖ declares the Lord, ―I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.‖ " (Jeremiah 31:1) www.confidentchristians.org
  7. 7. Point / Counter PointUniversalist Point―So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to allmen, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justificationof life to all men. For as through the one man‘s disobedience the manywere made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the manywill be made righteous. " (Romans 5:18–19) Biblical Counterpoint• The preceding verse makes it clear that a person must receive the gift of salvation to be saved (and not all do): For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. " (Romans 5:17)• ―All‖ doesn‘t mean everyone who ever lived, but all who believe on Christ. Not the use of ―many‖ as well• Much of Romans talks about people who will not believe and are therefore judged (e.g. chapter 1, chapter 9, etc.) www.confidentchristians.org
  8. 8. Point / Counter PointUniversalist Point―then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God andFather, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For Hemust reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." (1 Corinthians15:24–25) Biblical Counterpoint• The phrase ―until He has put all His enemies under His feet‖ is key. ―Under His feet‖ is a phrase used to specify execution of a king‘s opponents and is not a friendly term. Rather, it is symbolic of an executioner putting their feet on the neck of the victim before they are be-headed.• Only those who are friends of Christ receive salvation (not enemies): ―No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. " (John 15:15) www.confidentchristians.org
  9. 9. Point / Counter PointUniversalist Point―namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, notcounting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us theword of reconciliation. " (2 Corinthians 5:19) Biblical Counterpoint• If everyone is reconciled, it makes no sense for Paul to, immediately after this verse, beg his readers to be reconciled to God: ―Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:20)• The ―world‖ refers to humanity in general, both Jews and Gentiles, and not every person who was ever born• It is only those who are ―in Christ‖ that are reconciled and are new creatures: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. " (2 Corinthians 5:17) www.confidentchristians.org
  10. 10. Point / Counter PointUniversalist Point―He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kindintention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administrationsuitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things inChrist, things in the heavens and things on the earth." (Ephesians 1:9–10) Biblical Counterpoint• The preceding verse 4 shows that it is only those who have been chosen who are saved: ―Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." (Ephesians 1:3–4)• The phrase ―in Christ‖ is never used anywhere in Scripture to refer to unbelievers, but only believers www.confidentchristians.org
  11. 11. Point / Counter PointUniversalist Point―For it was the Father‘s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peacethrough the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earthor things in heaven. " (Colossians 1:19–20) Biblical Counterpoint• The following verses demonstrate the perseverance of the saints and show it is only those with saving faith who are reconciled: ―And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. " (Colossians 1:21– 23) www.confidentchristians.org
  12. 12. Why can’t a sovereign God save everyone?
  13. 13. ―How great is God? Great enough to achieve what God sets out to do, orkind of great, great most of the time, but in this, the fate of billions of people, not totally great. Sort of great. A little great‖ (pgs. 97–99). www.confidentchristians.org
  14. 14. ―Is God our friend, our provider, our protector, our father—or is God the kind of judge who may in the end declare that wedeserve to spend forever separated from our Father? Is God like the characters in a story Jesus would tell, … or, in the end, will Godgive up? Will ‗all the ends of the earth‘ come, as God has decided, or only some? Will all feast as it‘s promised in Psalm 22, or only a few? Will everybody be given a new heart, or only a limited number of people? Will God, in the end, settle, saying: ‗Well, I tried, I gave it my best shot, and sometimes you just have to be okay with failure‘? Will God shrug God-size shoulders and say, ‗You can‘t always get what you want‘?‖ (pp. 102-103) www.confidentchristians.org
  15. 15. What is Bell Alluding to in Scripture?• ―This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.‖ (1 Timothy 2:3–4)• ―The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.‖ (2 Peter 3:9) www.confidentchristians.org
  16. 16. ―God has a purpose. A desire. A goal. And God never stops pursuing it…The God that Jesus teaches us about doesn‘t give up until everything that was lost is found. This God simply doesn‘t give up. Ever‖ (p. 101). www.confidentchristians.org
  17. 17. Three Possible Wills in God1. Decretive will - this form of God‘s will describes something that absolutely will happen and is unstoppable / irresistible (e.g. creating the universe; calling of Paul)2. Prescriptive will – this describes something God morally prescribes for all, but may be disobeyed (e.g. the ten commandments)3. Dispositional will – that which pleases or delights God (e.g. not delighting in the death of the wicked) www.confidentchristians.org
  18. 18. The Various Wills of God in Action It was not the prescriptive will of God that Judas, Pilate, Herod, the Jewish leaders, and the Roman soldiers would betray, mock, lie about, and brutalize/murder Jesus. But Isaiah 53:0 says: ―Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him‖ and Acts 2:23 states: ―this Man,delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.‖God must will in one sense what He does not will in another sense. www.confidentchristians.org
  19. 19. The Various Wills of God in Action―Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,‖ declares the Lord God, ―rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? ‖ (Ezekiel 18:23) Vs.―But they [the sons of Eli] would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death.‖ (1 Samuel 2:25)God evidently willed the death of Eli‘s sons in one sense while not desiring the death of the wicked in another sense. Thedispositional will is seen in the first verse and the decretive will in the second. www.confidentchristians.org
  20. 20. Reconciling the Tension―This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires allmen to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ‖ (1 Timothy 2:3–4)―The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but ispatient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come torepentance. ‖ (2 Peter 3:9)Question: Which will of God is in vogue in the above verses? It cannot be thedecretive will of God or everyone would be saved as the universalist says. Itcould be the prescriptive will of God, but seems odd in that, in a moral sense,God ‗forbids‘ people to perish. The best application is that this is God‘sdispositional will. In the same sense that He does not delight in the death ofthe wicked, God takes no pleasure in people rejecting Him. www.confidentchristians.org
  21. 21. ―Hence it may be said of a just judge,that antecedently he wills all men to live; but consequently wills the murderer to be hanged. In the same way God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some to be damned, as His justice exacts.‖ - Thomas Aquinas www.confidentchristians.org
  22. 22. More on 1 Timothy 2:3-4―First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions andthanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are inauthority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness anddignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, whodesires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ‖(1 Timothy 2:3–4) .Paul is asking for prayers for all kinds of people including even the ruthlessand godless kings who were reigning over them (e.g. Nero). Paul thengoes on to say that God desires that no one class of people be left out ofHis salvation plan; all ―kinds‖ of people will be saved. www.confidentchristians.org
  23. 23. More on 2 Peter 3:9―This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring upyour sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spokenbeforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviorspoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers willcome with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ―Where is thepromise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just asit was from the beginning of creation.‖ For when they maintain this, it escapes theirnotice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth wasformed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time wasdestroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens andearth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction ofungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with theLord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lordis not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. ‖ (2 Peter 3:1–9)Note the two groups that have been formed above: ―they‖ and ―you‖… www.confidentchristians.org
  24. 24. More on 2 Peter 3:9―The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness,but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all tocome to repentance. ‖ (2 Peter 3:9)Who is ―you‖? These are the Christians that Peter is writing to.What/who does the term ―any‖ refer to? Grammatically it refers backtoward ―you‖. The statement then is one that says God has nodesire to see any of those He has chosen for salvation to perishand is waiting for them to come to repentance. This would be thedecretive will of God as He is the One who grants repentance. ―TheLord‘s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all,able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correctingthose who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant themrepentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, ‖ (2 Timothy 2:24–25) www.confidentchristians.org
  25. 25. ―Who are these of whom the apostle speaks, to whom he writes? Such as had received ―great and precious promises‖ (2. Pet. 3:1); whom he opposeth to the ―scoffers‖ of the ―last days‖ (2 Pet. 3:3); to whom the Lord hath respect in the disposal of these days; who are said to be ―elect‖ (Matt.24:22), Now, truly, to argue that becauseGod would have none of those to perish, but all of them to come to repentance,therefore he hath the same will and mind towards all and every one in the world (even those to whom he never makes known his will, nor ever calls to repentance, if they never once hear of this way of salvation), comes not much short of extreme madness and folly.‖ - John Owen www.confidentchristians.org
  26. 26. Final thoughts concerning Rob Bell and Universalism
  27. 27. We should remember that the first doctrine to be denied in Scripture is judgment. The Bible records Satansaying to Eve, ―You surely will not die!‖ (Gen. 3:4). Unfortunately, many Universalists feel the same way and deny that an eternal separation fromGod is a reality for anyone who refuses Christ as their savior.But simply put, those who reject JesusChrist in this life will have their request honored also in the next. www.confidentchristians.org
  28. 28. Our Responsibility―Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house ofIsrael; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them fromMe. When I say to the wicked, ‗You will surely die,‘ and you do notwarn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way thathe may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood Iwill require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and hedoes not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shalldie in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself‖ (Ezek. 3:17-19). www.confidentchristians.org
  29. 29. ―For some, Hell is simply a truth realized too late.‖ - Os Guinness www.confidentchristians.org
  30. 30. "If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go thereunwarned and unprayed for.‖ - Charles Spurgeon www.confidentchristians.org
  31. 31. Final Comments Rob Bell no doubt cares about people and has a passion for Christians to live authentic lives. However, while the doctrine of ultimate reconciliation or universalism may be appealing to human emotions, but it is simply wrong and unbiblical. Scripture teaches that beyond this life, thereare no second chances. Instead, the Bible declares, ―Today is the day of salvation‖ (2 Corinthians 6:2). Love does indeed win for those who turn by faith to Christ in this life and embrace Him as Savior. www.confidentchristians.org
  32. 32. A Look at the Theology of Rob Bell & “Love Wins”