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The Get Out of Hell Free Theology

Recently this year, popular pastor Rob Bell of Grand Rapids, MI re-introduced and old wine theology in a contemporary wine skin. It is outlined in a book by the title, Love Wins. It captured the imagination of the secular media and others, proposing a form of Universalism. This is a system of theology that applies to people who reject God, that is, do not allow the Lord Jesus to be their Savior and Lord. For them there is a second chance. In other words he argues, since Jesus died for all, we are all saved—eventually. Using conveniently selective passages of scripture, Bell argues after death, it is possible to come to faith, gain God's favor and, thereby, escape Hell.

Get Out Free?

While the book is completely lacking in scholarship, it captures the imagination of the secular crowd because in the heart of man there is a secret hope that we do not have to yield ourselves to serve God and others. We can live our life as we please, the figure it all out after we pass from this planet. Wishful thinking that centuries ago was developed into an intricate synthesis of escape called Purgatory. 

Bell voids and avoids some key passages such as,

  • If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) The scholarly meaning is, if we do not settle with our Creator, well ... we remain condemned.
  • We are saved by grace through faith. (Eph 2:8) (There is no faith required after death when those without Christ clearly see the terror of our mistake of not following Jesus.)
  • ... but as many as received him, to them gave he [the] right to be children of God. (John 1:12) (Those in His family are saved. The others cast out because Jesus never knew them. It is not how much we know about Him, but if He knows us, according to Matt 7:21-23)
  • How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? (Heb 2:3) If the offer for salvation is neglected, there is no hope of escape. 
  • Of course, if Rob Bell is correct, the task of bringing some to faith in Jesus is trivial. There is no need to be prepared to give an account of the hope that is within us, as there is another hope. Any chance to share Christ can be blown off.

    If there is something else apart from being saved by grace through faith, then we as Christians are most to be pitied, as the Apostle Paul remarks. Martyrs die in vain. All evangelists, pastors and missionaries are fired under the Bell system. We need do nothing to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth; preach the gospel to save some; or make disciples of the nations. Jesus was only trying to confuse us when he reported:

    Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

    For all who believe and strive to serve, it is not, Love Winsbut rather Love Leaves No Choice to warn people that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)  As Christ-followers we must be engaged in making disciples of the nations. It is our assignment from on high. We must each consider, what will be my grade on that assignment? We each must determine to obey—or not. Love leaves no choice.

    June, 2011

    Rob of Tyngsboro, MA wrote:

    Good to hear from you, Nelson. I encourage people all the time to visit the Finishers website. Thank you for creating it ... what an amazing resource!! Blessings.

    Teodor of Cincinnati, OH wrote:

    This doctrine of hell is not a religious thing but something Jesus was crystal clear about. The context of your example in Luke 9 is that the time for judgment is in the future, Jesus came the first time to be Savior. And Savior from what and for who? Exactly what He said in the verses I posted in the blog. In fact, Jesus said in Mark 9 that He came to give His life a ransom for MANY (not all). Another great reference is that of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Jesus describes hell pretty well and those who are there are in agony. But, as the one in hell is told, a warning is not necessary for those who dismiss Moses (the Law) and the prophets (Scripture). If they ignore this, then even someone coming back from the dead will not believe.

    There is a clear warning in scripture of the existence of hell. Jesus died to be your Savior. You do not want to stand before God on judgment day(when you die) based on your own righteousness. Only the righteousness of Christ is sufficient to be justified before a perfectly holy and just God. Jesus died for you, while you were still a sinner. Be amazed and fall in love with Jesus for what He did for you.

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