If you want to know what someone really believes you should look at how they live. Now, of course we should be emphasizing the positive good news of the gospel. We should be speaking in such a way as to induce wonder. But if I really believe in an eternal hell where those who do not know Jesus will be punished for ever, and I am the bearer of the only message that can rescue from that fate, why do I not share this more often?
This is the final post in my series on Rob Bell and Hell. In it I want us to focus on our own thoughts and actions about this subject.
A clear understanding of eternal consequences is surely one motive for evangelism. Not surprisingly, I do not find the following quote from Love Wins to be especially helpful, nor does it really give a clear motive to share the good news and demand a response:
Bell says: “While we may get other opportunities, we won’t get the one right in front of us again. That specific moment will pass and we will not see it again. It comes, it’s here, it goes, and then it’s gone. Jesus reminds us in a number of ways that it is vitally important we take our choices here and now as seriously as we possibly can because they matter more than we can begin to imagine.”
That lacks any real sense of urgency. At the end of the day, as is true with all liberal ideas, a subtle passivity begins to seep in when you are convinced by Bell’s arguments. Why should we then bother with going to church or reading our Bibles, or sharing the good news, or in short living as a Christian. If it doesn’t really matter, there is no point. It is precisely for this reason that liberalism eventually fails each time. History demonstrates this. A popular movement designed to make the gospel more relevant, less challenging, less offensive, may even grow for a while, But why should it’s adherents be passionate? Why should they make sacrifices? Why not just go to the beach on a sunny summer morning instead, or give yourself a lay-in on a cold winter’s day? Liberalism is a parasite feeding on the body of Christ. It does not make it’s own converts. But it takes some who are perhaps already drifting away from church, and gives them for a while a less challenging form of the faith to hold onto. But inevitably the slide continues. And, in history, every popular liberal movement has eventually faded and been forgotten. It is movements that actively, passionately believe something that succeed.
And it is this very point that leads me back to my regular readers and I. Do we really believe all this stuff about hell? If so, why have we been so passive about it until recently. Surely the whole debate that has sprung up around Bell gives us a clear choice. Either finally reject the hell we have been conveniently not thinking or talking about, or begin to really believe it and ask ourselves what implications that should have on the rest of our lives. It is a belief in hell that drove the evangelical missionary movement. It is a belief in hell that sent men like Billy Graham around the world to passionately preach. It is a belief in hell that should make us into an army of mobilized soldiers for the cause of the gospel.
Bizarrely, some do seem to almost delight in this fearsome doctrine we have been speaking about these past few weeks. I hope it goes without saying that it is very wrong to rejoice in the idea that some will be punished for ever in hell.
As I consider everything I have read and thought on this subject, what do I conclude?
We must weep over this but we cant deny it.
It is right to GREIVE over this!!! And to ACT. I might be sad about those who seem to deny hell or at least cast doubt on it theoretically, but what about those, of whom I fear I could be one, whose actions might suggest that we either don’t really believe in hell or don’t care about those around us who appear to be heading there?
So many are content with small churches that never see salvation. There is nothing wrong with small churches that are seeing growth, but even a large church that is not seeing people saved and doesn’t care about that is in a very dangerous position.
Kevin De Young closed his review by saying “Is Love Wins true to the word of God? That’s the issue. Open a Bible, pray to God, listen to the faithful Christians of the past 2000 years, and answer the question for yourself.”
I agree totally but would only add, then ask God how we should live in light of this terrible truth!
John MacArthur said “We have a duty not only to expose, refute, and silence Rob Bell’s errors, but also to urge people under his influence to run as fast and as far as they can from him, lest they be gathered into the eternal hell he denies.”