25 May

My book, due out soon from Amazon, is a refutation of the new universalism presented by Rob Bell in his best-selling book, Love Wins:  A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (HarperOne, 2011).

Bell’s position is that death does not end all opportunities for salvation, that God will use as much of eternity to turn the screws tighter and tighter until all hearts are melted and all are brought into God’s family.

I said yesterday that three questions occur to me.  We looked at the first question:  Does that position not make “decisions” for Christ irrelevant in this life?  In his response to interviewer Martin Breshir, it seemed that Bell HAD to say that faith in Christ in this life is absolutely essential, immensely important.  But he did not explain why.

Our second question is this:

2.  What is the biblical evidence that opportunities for believing the gospel will be given in the post-mortem (after death) state?  Does Scripture not indicate that “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Heb. 9:27-28)?   A number of passages indicate that the WORSE thing a human being could possibly do is to die unprepared to meet God!  Jesus indicates this in Luke 13:15 by essentially saying, “Life is dangerous.  Be ready to meet God!”  He also teaches the same by the story of the foolish farmer who is in his LazyBoy recliner pouring over John Deere tractors as he prepares to tear down his old barns to build bigger ones.  He hears a voice, the very voice of God, which says, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ (Luke 12:20).

As I’ve tried to show in my book The Other Side of the Good News, there is no biblical evidence that salvation will be available to any beyond the grave.  Where’s Bell’s evidence of his position?

Discussion questions:  The idea of post-mortem opportunities for conversion is necessary in the universalist’s theology.  Why is this the case?  If Bell is wrong — and I believe he is — what difference should this make in our sharing the Good News about Jesus with others?


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  1. Nathan T

    May 26, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Here’s a few verses to start with. I’ve actually found a lot more than this. I don’t think that salvation is quite as cut-and-dry as many Christians believe.
    1st Timothy 4:10: “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

    Philipians 2:9-11: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    (this implies that post-mortem people will be making a “decision” to confess Jesus as Lord!)

    John 5:21: “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. (can God save only those who ask for it in this life? This verse seems to say that he can save anyone that he so-chooses!)

    John 5:24-26: “I tell you the truth whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the ruth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

    John 10:39,41: “For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind….If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (are those that die outside of the knowledge of Christ “blind”?)

    John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father known me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
    (who are these “other sheep”? His sheep are usually used as an analogy for those that follow Christ.)

    John 16:22-24: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for thei sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.” (Who is really guilty of sin? He seems to imply that only those who have heard are guilty)

  2. Nathan

    May 26, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Here’s some additional passages:
    1st Peter 3:19-20 “he (Jesus) went and preached to the spirits in prison, who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah…”

    1st Timothy 4:10 “…we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.”

    1st Corinthians 15:19-22 “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fellen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

    Romans 9:15-16 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It does no, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (suggesting that God can save whoever he wants – regardless of personal acceptance)

    Romans 11:32 “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

    Romans 14:9 “For this very reason Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living… ‘As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’”

    Romans 5:18 “just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.”

    Romans 4:15 “because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”

    Romans 5:13 “for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.”

    Obviously I’m being selective in my quotes. There are many passages that clearly say that Christ’s gift must be accepted in this life. My point here is that I agree with Bell that there is a “tension” in scripture about this issue. It isn’t cut-and-dry. To me this seems similar to the tension between predestination and free-will. Both are taught in scripture. Does that mean that one is right and one is wrong? Not necessarily. It just means that we can’t fully understand the issue on this side of death. I believe that the same is true in regards to salvation.
    Christ clearly wants us to accept him in this lifetime. But is that the end of the story? I think not based on the above passages.


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