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Category Archives: eternal conscious punishment

“ABANDON ALL HOPE!” (Chapter 11)

~Chapter 11~

“Yo!  Bubba!”, old Mrs. McGillicutty called out as she rolled down her driver’s window.  “I need a fill-up and my windows done,” Sweetie.  “And don’t forget to check my oil!”
When no one answered her at Bubba’s Best Gas and Convenience Store, Mrs. McGillicutty slowly got out of her 1982 Cadillac Seville, groaning as her every joint reminded her that she was herself a classic of eighty-two years.
“Bubba!  Where are you, boy?”  She began walking over to the open garage bay.  “These kids nowadays.  He’s probably got one of those IPot thingies in his ears!  No wonder he can’t hear me!”
Despite her ignorance of modern technology, Mrs. G.(as her students called her) was not at all reluctant to find Bubba and give him a piece of her mind for not being more attentive to his customers.
As she entered the bay, she saw that there was a car on the lift, but the lift was down, not up.  “I can’t believe it.  He’s not even here!”, Mrs. G. said in exasperation to herself.
Just as she began walking back to her car, she saw a man’s leg sticking out from under the back of the lift.  “Oh, dear Lord!”, she exclaimed.  She quickly pushed the emergency red button on her “Senior Cell” phone and waited for the ambulance to arrive.
When the EMT’s came, they discovered that the lift had actually fallen on Bubba, but he was still breathing.  Only his excellent physical condition had saved his life.  If Mrs. G. had not come along when she did, he would have suffocated under that car.
Admitted to County Hospital, Bubba’s injuries were severe, but he would survive.  The broken ribs were extremely painful, and his first night in the hospital was spent heavily medicated.
No one really paid attention to the doctor who dropped by to check on Bubba around midnight.  The graveyard shift nurse, Mary Franklin, had only been at County for a couple of weeks, so she did not know all the attending physicians.
“Hello, Bubba,” said the visitor through his mask.  “You’re tougher than I thought!  I guess we’ll just have to be a bit more direct.”
When Mary Franklin made her 1 AM rounds, she checked Bubba’s IV, then began to take his pulse.  There was none.  He had died on her watch!  How awful.  Had she done something wrong?
But nurse Franklin had not been lax in her duties.  The medical examiner said that the only injury apparent on Bubba (apart from having had a car land on him) was several purple bruises around his mouth and nose.  Using a special black light, the ME concluded that the bruises were actually caused by a hand pressed firmly over Bubba’s face.  A right hand. (to be continued)

 

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“ABANDON ALL HOPE!” (Chapter 10)

~Chapter 10~

“Janet, would you mind coming over for a minute?”, Robert Baker asked as he opened his office door.
“Certainly, sir,” Janet responded, locking her cash drawer as she walked over to his office.
“How are you doing, Janet?  I mean since Mr. Pinnock’s death.  I know he spent a bit of time with you showing you the ropes.”
Janet swallowed hard, but kept her emotions in check.  “I’m doing okay, Mr. Baker.  It’s just so sad to have someone so, uh, kind, gone.  I hope my work hasn’t declined since his death, has it, sir?”
“No, Janet.  I’m not calling you in to criticize you.  I just know that grieving another’s death is not something that’s over in a week or two.  If there’s anything I or Mrs. Baker can do for you during this time, please let us know.”
“I will, sir.  And thank you for your concern.”  Janet went back to her station wondering if Mr. Baker knew of her relationship with Pinnock outside the office, but his compassion seemed so genuine.
Rick Santori watched the conversation between Mr. Baker and Janet.  “I wonder if she’s going to try to seduce him next,” he thought to himself.  An evil smile crossed his face as he went back into his office. (to be continued)

 

“ABANDON ALL HOPE” (Chapter 9)

~Chapter 9~

“How’s that report comin’, Deputy?”, Sheriff Thornton of the Kendall Police Department asked.
“Just finishing it up, Sir,” answered Deputy John Butler.  “A close examination of the vehicle, Mr. Pinnock’s Lexus, shows no apparent defects.  Of course, it became a tangled mess when it plunged off the side of highway 75.”
“Yeah, I know, son.  It just seems pretty odd is all.  Mr. Pinnock had some alcohol in his bloodstream to be sure, but he knew that highway.  Hard to believe he would just plow through the guardrail.  And it’s really strange that there were no skid marks on the highway.”   Sheriff Thornton tapped his pencil on his desk.
“Perhaps he fell asleep at the wheel, Sheriff.  His friends said he left Marty’s Bar at around 3 AM.”
“That’s probably what happened, John.  Did you have the car inspected by the best mechanic you could find?”
“Yessir.  I asked around and the fellow that fixes our cruisers, Terry Scott, recommended a good old boy back in Mr. Pinnock’s town of New Bern.  Bubba is the mechanic’s first name.  Last name, uh, Jones.  Supposedly he’s the best brake man in the county.”
“Good work, John.  Make sure you pay Jones for his time.  He said the car appeared to be in good mechanical condition before the accident?”
“Roger that.  What should I do with the vehicle?”
“Mrs. Pinnock says she doesn’t even want to see it.  The insurance is going to buy her a new one.  I guess you can just get it towed to that metal junkyard and collection center outside town by the quarry.  They’ll crush it down into a four-by-four feet square to be recycled.  What a sad fate for a beautiful Lexus!”, Sheriff Thornton said.
“I couldn’t agree with you more, sir.  I’ll get right on it.”
That Monday morning the Pinnock Lexus was delivered to Joe’s Salvage Yard and by lunch it was crushed into a cube weighing 3583 pounds. (to be continued)

 

An Approach to Doing Theology (Part 2)

There are PLENTY of examples of poor theological method, many professing to be “Evangelical”!  How ought we to “do” theology?  What should be the STEPS we use in researching theological topics?

One of my favorite courses to teach this semester is entitled “Theological Methods and Issues.”  This upper-level seminary course has thirteen students who are presenting two papers each on topics they have chosen.  [Several of our previous blogs referred to one student's study of "A Theology of Risk"].

We have already looked at STEP #1 entitled STATING THE TOPIC. We are to clearly identify the underlying issue, then state the topic which we are addressing.

STEP #2 really involves FRAMING THE QUESTION which leads to a process of inquiry.   If one wanted to study the issue of God’s glory, for example, he or she might state the question as follows:  “What Is Meant by the Term ‘the Glory of God’ in the Pentateuch?”  [One of the toughest challenges in theological research is narrowing the topic down to a manageable size!].

I am greatly helped here by the theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes.  Here the two of them are discussing a profound theological question:


Questions:

1.  For those of you have read Rob Bell’s Love Wins, how does Bell misuse questions in his dismissal of the doctrine of eternal lostness?

2.  Why don’t more preachers and teachers use Calvin and Hobbes’ cartoons in their preaching and teaching?

 

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A Review of Three Books on Eternal Lostness

Friends:

I’ve recently reviewed three books on eternal lostness for the Emmaus Journal.  The review is found below.  The book that really concerns me is Sharon Baker’s book Razing Hell.  Please feel free to post your comments below.

Click on the following link for my review:

review of three books on hell – pdf

 

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“FAREWELL, ROB BELL” AVAILABLE NOW

Thanks to all who have supported me in this publishing project, “Farewell, Rob Bell”:  A Biblical Response to Love Wins.  I especially appreciate the support of Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries.  This book is now available through Amazon.com.  There is also a Kindle version.  Allow me to repeat the flyer below which shows the cover (masterfully done by Christian cartoonist Ron Wheeler):

God’s given me courage to send a copy to Bell’s elders at Mars Hill Bible Church.  Please pray that some of them will read it and respond properly.

I’ve also sent a copy to Mark Galli of Christianity Today who says that Rob Bell and Love Wins are no litmus test of orthodoxy!  He’s publishing a book entitled God Wins.

Discussion Questions:  Why should we get in such a flap about a book on God’s love?  What makes neo-universalism so dangerous?

 

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“Will Only a Few Be Saved?” (Part 3)

This three-part discussion of Luke 13 in which a person asks Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be

Is GOD a tightwad?

saved?” provides a foundation for us to discuss neo-universalism and its charge that Evangelicalism is stingy and holds that God is not generous in salvation.

Rob Bell (and to some extent Brian McLaren) advocate endless opportunities in the after-death state for God to “melt every heart” and win everyone over to salvation.

The Bible indicates that God owes no one salvation.  His greatness (contra Bell) does not depend on His saving many, a few, or none. Let’s look at our Luke 13 one more time:

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

To review:  Jesus does not directly answer this question about “only a few” being saved.  Instead, he launches into an analogy involving a narrow door, a house, and a homeowner.  Jesus begins the story by encouraging His listeners to “make every effort” (the Greek word implies agony) to enter through the narrow door.

It appears that many will try to crash the house (“many will try to enter and will not be able to”) and will be turned away.  The homeowner will at some point get up and close the door, prohibiting any more from entering his house.

But those on the outside do not simply give up and walk away.  They began providing arguments why the door should be re-opened and they be allowed entrance.  They claim to have eaten and drunk with the Lord and to have heard Him teach in their streets.

The homeowner responds to their arguments by saying, “I don’t know you or where you are from.”  The clear implication is that entrance to the house is based on a relationship with the homeowner.  And they had none.

We are then told that He brings the conversation to a screeching halt by saying, “Away from me, all you evildoers!”  This hardly seems consistent with Hebraic hospitality.  But the issue isn’t hospitality, but salvation (remember the original question).

Jesus then describes the outside of that house as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  We pick up the text at this point.

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Let’s summarize and add a few questions for reflection.

Jesus uses the analogy of a house –

1.  there is a narrow door;

2.  effort is required to enter through the narrow door;

3.  there will be many (competition?) who will try to enter & won’t be able to (why not?);

4.  the house’s owner will get up and close the door (which, of course, is his prerogative — he’s the owner!);

5.  YOU will stand outside knocking & pleading, “Sir, open the door for us.” (v. 25)

6.  His response?  “I don’t know you or where you come from.” (v. 25) (= “you are a stranger to me — why should I trust you?”);

7.  YOU seek to identify yourselves:  “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” (v. 26).

8.  His reply:  “I don’t know you or where you come from.  Away from me, all you evildoers!” (v. 27)

9.  CONCLUSION:  “There will be weeping there . . .”

What do we know from Scripture THAT WE LIKE?

1.  He is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance!

2.  Jesus did not come primarily to condemn, but to save.  He came on a RESCUE mission!  Judgment is God’s “strange work.”

3.  The Lord’s arm is not short that it cannot save.  There is no INABILITY in the Lord that prevents most or ALL being saved!

4.  He wants His house FILLED!

5.  He does not delight in the death of the wicked!

6.  He has declared that people from every tribe, people, tongue and nation will be at the throne worshipping!

What do we know WE MAY NOT LIKE from Scripture?

1.  God is thrice-holy and is allergic to sin!

2.  He WILL judge!

3.  Hell is a real place!

4.  Not all will believe!

5.  Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers.

6.  Death ENDS all opportunities to be saved.

7.  We have an OBLIGATION to get the gospel OUT!

Discussion Questions:  Which of the above considerations need more attention by Evangelicals in light of the challenge of neo-universalism?  How might solid exegetical preaching help in providing answers to some of these questions?

 

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“Will Only a Few Be Saved?” (Part 2)

We began this three-part discussion by recognizing that there is a new challenge facing Evangelicals by a

"Hi, there. We're the NEO-UNIVERSALISTS!"

group I’m calling the neo-universalists.  Unlike classic universalists like Karl Barth, C.H. Dodd, John A.T. Robinson, and Nels F.S. Ferré, these neo-universalists are rather militant about their belief that God will (must) save all.  God’s very greatness, says Rob Bell in Love Wins, depends on God’s getting what God wants — and He wants all to be saved.

Part of the neo-universalist argument is that Evangelicalism is stingy, teaching a fewness perspective in which only a limited number will be saved.  The neo-universalists argue for endless opportunities after death to believe the gospel and mock the Evangelical perspective as “toxic” and as a “hijacking” of the Jesus story.

We suggested in Part 1 of this discussion that God is under no obligation to save any.  And His greatness is true with or without man’s salvation.

We then noticed that Jesus Himself was asked a very specific question about how many would be saved in Luke 13.  Let’s look at the whole passage:

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

We made several observations as we began our study of this biblical text.  To summarize those earlier points, we noticed that Jesus addresses His answer to the people, rather than to the individual who raised the question.  And He immediately launches into an analogy about a narrow door, a house, and a houseowner.

We saw in verse 24 that Jesus challenges the people to “make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”  Salvation in Jesus’ analogy sounds difficult:  the door is narrow, “every effort” is required to get into that house, and the many who try to enter (and won’t be able to) appear to present an obstacle to the ones Jesus commands to “make every effort to enter.”

Additional Observations:

1.  Moving on in the text, we notice that the one who is to make every effort to enter is faced with a greater challenge.  There is an owner of the house who may get up at any time and close the door!  What?!  Doesn’t God want His house filled?  How could He ever get up and close the door?  The neo-universalists argue that salvation’s door should remain eternally open.  Let’s notice exactly what Jesus says:  “25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’”

"This is MY house, right?" (God)

Notice the term “once.”  Jesus seems to be saying that the opportunity to enter through that narrow door into salvation’s house is limited.  It is limited by the Owner Himself!   He, as the homeowner, has every right to get up and close the door to His own house, doesn’t He?

Why does a homeowner get up and close the door to his house?  Perhaps the open door has made the house drafty?  Perhaps he’s keeping out wild animals?  No!  In this text the open door is shut because the time for people to enter is over!  It’s His house. It’s His door.  It’s HIS prerogative to close that door when He chooses to do so.

2.  But those who find themselves on the outside, on the other side of that door, do not simply go away.  The verse says,  “you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’”  The “you” is plural.  Those outside don’t give up.  They continue knocking and pleading, “Sir, open the door for us.”   Apparently, they are unable to break down the door, or jimmy the lock, or go into the house through a window.  This door is the only way into the house, and if the houseowner doesn’t open the door, they won’t get in.

3.  There is then a discussion through the door.  The houseowner responds to the pleas of those outside who are asking for entrance.  We read, “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from.’” (v. 25).  Those asking for entrance are strangers to the homeowner.  They have no familial connection with the owner; He owes them nothing.   The owner of the house gives them two reasons why He is not going to open the door to them:  (1) “I don’t know you.”  and (2) “I don’t know where you are from.”

4.  But in this analogy Jesus says the conversation will continue.  He says, “‘Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’” (v. 26).  So they did have a connection with the homeowner.  They enjoyed at least one meal with Him and heard Him teach in their streets!  These outside have moved from asking for entrance to demanding entrance based on these factors.  But these do not qualify them as having a relationship with Him.  His response is shocking in its unqualified rejection.  Let’s carefully notice His response:

5.  Jesus says the homeowner will reply, “I don’t know you or where you come from.  Away from me, all you evildoers!” (v. 27).  Their claiming to have eaten and drunk with Him and to have heard Him teach in their streets was completely insufficient in providing a reason why He should re-open the door.  The homeowner repeats exactly His rejection:  “I don’t know you or where you are from.” (v. 27).  He then brings the conversation to a shocking and abrupt conclusion by saying, “Away from me, all you evildoers!” (v. 27).  So these pleading for entrance are not just strangers to the homeowner, but evildoers.  And no sane person is going to knowingly allow an evildoer into his home!

6.  We then have Jesus’ conclusion to the matter.  Remember, this conversation began with someone asking Jesus a specific question: “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”  Jesus concludes His analogical response by saying, 28“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

If we have correctly understood Jesus’ analogy as referring to eternal salvation, then His conclusion emphasizes several matters:

(a) Jesus describes the outside of the house as a place of “weeping . . . and gnashing of teeth.”  Those who

The agony of those outside . . .

don’t get into that house are on the outside and it is not a pleasant location!  It is characterized by weeping and teeth-gnashing. Edersheim, referring to the expression ““weeping and gnashing of teeth”” (used in Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; and here in Luke 13:28), points out that ““weeping”” is associated in Rabbinic thought with sorrow, but ““gnashing of teeth”” almost always with anger (not, as generally supposed, with anguish). [Is it not, therefore, reasonable to assume that those who reject the work of Christ, if they were offered the opportunity to leave hell, would rush to spread their sin and unbelief among the blood-bought children of heaven?]  Those outside the house are not in spiritual or eternal neutrality.  They experience terrific pain.

(b) Those who are outside will see the celebrated leaders of Judaism (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets) in the kingdom of God.  [This reminds one of the rich man's experience in Luke 16:19-31 who sees Lazarus in Abraham's bosom (heaven)].

(c)  Those outside will not only see Israel’s leaders in the kingdom of God.  But Jesus says, “you yourselves [will be] thrown out.” (v. 28).   (TO BE CONTINUED)

Discussion Questions:  When Jesus says in John 1:12 that one receives the RIGHT to be called a child of God, how do these pleading to be let in assume a RIGHT they do not possess?  How ought the fact of the owner of the house getting up and closing the door to His house motivate every believer to systematic, strategic, intentional evangelistic efforts right now?

 

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“Will Only a Few Be Saved?” (Part 1)

One of the arguments used by the neo-universalists (such as Rob Bell, Thomas Talbott, Philip Gulley,

CarltonPearson, etc.) is that the traditional gospel is STINGY, representing a God who is NOT generous and does NOT want all to be saved.  Evangelicals, it is charged, are guilty of holding to a fewness doctrine in which only a limited number will be redeemed.

First of all, I reject the notion that God is under obligation to save any!  Nowhere in the Scriptures do we read of God’s obligation to rescue any of us from our sins.  Jesus’ rescue mission flowed out of LOVE, not DEBT.  Bell argues that God’s very greatness is dependent on His melting every human heart.  He writes, “How great is God? Great enough to achieve what God sets out to do, or kind of great, medium great, great most of the time, but in this, the fate of billions of people, not totally great. Sort of great. A little great.” (Love Wins, 97-98).

Did Jesus ever face this question of whether FEW or MANY (or ALL) will be saved?  If so, what did HE say?

We read in Luke 13:

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Several observations are in order as we look at this biblical text.

1.  This specific question, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” was directly asked of the Lord Jesus.  Are we really interested in hearing His answer?

2.  The question is asked by “someone.”  We are not given any more specifics than that.  We are not told that it is a trap by the religious leaders.  “Someone” asks Him this most critical of all questions:  “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

3.  It sounds very much like the questioner is a believer in Jesus, for they seem to expect Him to be able to answer the question!  And the way the question is worded sounds like the assumption is that “only a few people” are going to be saved.

4.  We are told that “Jesus said to them . . .”  Apparently, He used this question as an opportunity to continue His teaching ministry to the people of the towns and villages He was traveling through as He was making His way to Jerusalem.

5.  To a simple, although profound, question (“Are only a few people going to be saved?”) which could have been answered with a straightforward “yes” or “no,” Jesus’ answer is neither.  He launches into a personal appeal to those listening to His answer.  Jesus does not deal in hypotheticals.  Instead, He issues a personal challenge to those listening to Him to make sure they are going to be saved: 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” 

6.  As is so often His way, Jesus immediately employs a figure of speech, a metaphor, to communicate His answer.  He discusses a door and a house and a homeowner.  One point might be that the house of salvation does not belong to us!  It belongs to Someone else who has every right to set the conditions for welcoming people into His home.

7.  And Jesus says that the door to that house is a “narrow door.”  Why would the door to salvation be narrow?  Doesn’t God want His house filled (refs?)?  Why isn’t the entrance into salvation a wide, rapid, moving sidewalk that will accompany any who want to step onto it?

8.  Note that Jesus’ challenge is “Make every effort to enter . . .”  It sounds as if getting into salvation’s house is difficult (see issue of rich man & “with man this is impossible”– who then can be saved?).  Perhaps those efforts to enter are difficult because of the “many” that “will try to enter and will not be able to.”  What in the world would keep people who want to enter that house from not being able to?!  This part of Jesus’ answers sounds like He is saying there will be FEW who will get into that house because MANY are trying to get in but won’t be able to!

9.  If Jesus’ answer stopped at this point, it would be very discouraging.  He appears to be saying that the most important matter is to make sure you are making every effort you can to get through that narrow door because many are trying to enter and aren’t able to.  (TO BE CONTINUED)

Discussion Questions:  How can we show from the Scriptures that Jesus’ expression “Make every effort” does not mean that we are saved by our good works or by our best efforts? Before we consider the rest of this text, do you get the impression that salvation is hard or easy?  That it is intended for the MANY or the FEW?

 

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“FAREWELL, ROB BELL”: A BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO LOVE WINS — SOON TO BE RELEASED (Part 3)

Rob Bell’s book,  Love Wins:  A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, raises many questions about God’s justice, love, and greatness.  He quite obviously believes “the old, old story” about Jesus and the need to believe in Him in this life is not the biblical story and is, in fact, toxic.  My book, “FAREWELL, ROB BELL”: A BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO LOVE WINS, challenges Bell’s theology.

I’ve called Bell a representative of the “new universalists.”  Universalism says that allwithout exception will be saved, even if it takes eons for God to “persuade” them to believe.  No one will be eternally lost.

I am amazed that someone as respected as Eugene Peterson would say that “Rob Bell goes a long way in helping us acquire just such an imagination [about heaven] — without a trace of the soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction.”  Peterson, the author of The Message, believes that Evangelicals need to reconsider their doctrine of eternal punishment and that Bell is a voice worth listening to.

I suggested that three questions occur to me in light of Bell’s advocating post-mortem (after death) opportunities to believe the gospel.  The first question was: Does Bell’s position not make “decisions” for Christ irrelevant in this life?  The second question was:  What is the biblical evidence that opportunities for believing the gospel will be given in the post-mortem state?

The third question that occurs to me is:  How does Bell explain the imperative of missions and evangelism as commanded by Jesus and practiced by the Early Church?  Matthew 28:18-20 records Jesus as giving marching orders to His disciples:

18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It sure sounds to me that Jesus is serious about getting the gospel out now, to the whole world, and promises His presence to the very end of the age.

Discussion Questions:  If there will be innumerable opportunities in the after-death state to believe the gospel, does this not rob missions and evangelism of their imperative?  How might this perspective be a variation of the devil’s original “You shall not surely die!” of Gen. 3?

 

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