Friday, March 25, 2011

This Place of Conviction and Pain

"Unless we come into this place of conviction and pain concerning our sin, I am not sure how deep and real our repentance will ever be." (A. W. Tozer)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Love Wins?

Rob Bell has written another book - Love Wins - and here is one of the statements he makes:

A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear. (ibid)

I know. I know. It's hard to believe that this guy could be so blind - but he is. And his views on the subject of hell are misguided at best and heretical at worst.

Here's what Time Challies and Aaron Armstrong note ( utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily-Update):

"Throughout the book he engages in what can best be described as exegetical gymnastics, particularly in dealing with the Greek word aion, a small word that is crucial to his arguments.

While this word is commonly translated as “eternal” or “everlasting,” Bell argues that it can also mean “age” or “period of time,” or even “intensity of experience.” Using this approach, he briefly argues from the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46) that eternal punishment isn’t eternal, but rather an intense period of pruning.

Now here’s the thing: aion and aionos definitely can mean “age” or “period of time,” they also mean “eternal.” The word’s context helps us to determine its meaning. So if we assume that these words primarily mean “age” or “period of time,” what happens when we apply that definition to John 3:16 where aionosis used?

For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have life for a period of time.

Not as encouraging, is it? While Bell might argue here that “life abundant” might be a better fit (playing on the “intensity of experience” angle and tying it to John 10:10), at the end of the day, we’re left with an approach that gives more credence to living your best life now than it does to worshipping Jesus."

I believe Rob Bell is promoting Universalism and that is downright dangerous to the souls of those who need to know that God is, of course, a God of love. But He is also a God of justice who will deal with people's outright rebellion, unrepentant sin, and defiant rejection. One can play all the mental games they want with this subject - but it does not invalidate the teachings of Scripture.

Let the Reader of Bell Beware!

I like how TIm and Aaron end their article:

"Christians do not need more confusion. They need clarity. They need teachers who are willing to deal honestly with what the Bible says, no matter how hard that truth is. And let’s be honest—many truths are very, very hard to swallow.

Love does win, but not the kind of love that Bell talks about in this book. The love he describes is one that is founded solely on the idea that the primary object of God’s love is man; indeed, the whole story, he writes, can be summed up in these words: “For God so loved the world.” But this doesn’t hold a candle to the altogether amazing love of God as actually shown in the Bible. The God who “shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), who acts on our behalf not so much because His love for us is great, but because He is great (Isaiah 48:9, Ezekiel 20:9,14,22,44, 36:22; John 17:1-5).

That’s the kind of love that wins. That’s the kind of love that motivates us to love our neighbors enough to compel them to flee from the wrath to come. And our love for people means nothing if we do not first and foremost love God enough to be honest about Him."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?” (Paul to the Church at Corinth)

It begins with a simple question asked by an inanimate sign at my local Starbucks. Giving an incorrect answer would cause me shame for not knowing, while a correct response would yield a 10 cents savings on my favorite beverage. I carefully studied the daring question:

“To whom was Walt Whitman referring when he pined, ‘O Captain! My Captain!’”

While the latte machine feverishly boiled the milk, and whispered conversation hung quietly in the air, I returned to my childhood and lifted from the shelf of my memory the books I’d read on this man of Men. I peeked in on his carefree youth, sputtered at his try-and-fail approach to career advancement, marveled at his ascendency to high office, and stood captive at his mastery of the inspirational word. He was an honored hero in my formative years and even now his life and tragic death move me to wonderment.

“Abraham Lincoln” I told the girl. She stared back at me, looked questioningly at my wife, and exclaimed, “You must have been in earlier and remembered the answer!”

“No!” I chided in my mind. “I know of whom the poet wrote for his life and words travel with me to this very day - living words - such as, ‘For score and seven years ago…’ and ‘The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.’”

Lincoln was a very good man but serves only as a weakened shadow of another Person we all know well. His youthful zeal impresses us. His career path seems more fail than succeed. His claim to fame seems weak compared to more forceful, savvy men. But in His death, He speaks more convincingly than any army that might work to stamp out His revolutionary message.

So I ask you a question, “To whom was apostle Paul referring when he pined, ‘Who are you, Lord?’” (Acts 6: 5).

While thoughts swirl, I invite you to return with me to the sacred Volume and recall the only answer deserving of this demanding question:

“I am Jesus! And I now invite you to become My ambassador to a drifting and sin-damned world.”

Dear friend, while the world may little note, nor long remember what we say, we must never let it forget what He did here. Our call and challenge is to not fail to carry out our mandate - so that the world will know!

Monday, March 7, 2011

No Other Plea

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

—Lidie H. Edmunds, 19th Century