If the Bible is wrong, and there’s no such place as hell — as Rob Bell contends in his controversial new book "Love Wins" — then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
If the Bible is wrong, and there’s no such place as hell — as Rob Bell contends in his controversial new book Love Wins — then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
Scripture couldn’t be clearer. It says the scourge of sin has separated all mankind from God, who cannot accept anyone tainted in the least bit by the stain of sin. To do so would be to corrupt His own perfectly holy, perfectly just nature, and He would never allow that to happen. Hebrews 13:8 assures us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Yet because of what the Bible describes as “His great love with which He loves us,” God desires that every person be saved and spend eternity with Him in heaven (2nd Peter 3:9).
The problem for man is that, in and of ourselves, there’s no way to undo our individual and collective history of sinfulness or to expunge our sin record.
We can’t reach a satisfactory level of righteousness. God’s Word tells us that “the best of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” in His sight (Isaiah 64:6).
We can’t be good enough. God’s Word tells us “there is none who does good; no, not even one” (Psalm 14:1-3).
We can’t do enough good works. God’s Word tells us it’s “not by works of righteousness which we have done” that we’re saved (Titus 3:5).
We can’t live up to God’s law, the one system of religious works instituted by God. The law was given as a mirror, to show how impossible it would be for any of us to meet God’s standard of righteousness. That’s because the standard is absolute perfection, which is why anyone who falls short in any single point of the law is guilty forever of violating the law in its entirety (James 2:10). The law was not given by God to save us, but to reveal our need for a personal Savior, and to act therefore “as a tutor to bring us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24).
We can’t be religious enough or attain it through religion. During His earthly ministry, Jesus told the most uprightly religious man in all of Israel: “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God....You must be born again” (John 3).
The question then is how can God — who loves us with an immeasurable love, desires to have intimate fellowship with us, and wants us to spend eternity with Him — ever make us part of His eternal family and kingdom when He is too perfectly holy to ever accept us in all our sinfulness?
The answer is that Christ — God the Son — came into the world to serve as a substitutional sacrifice on the cross (which means He died there in your place and in mine), allowing God the Father to pour out all of His wrath for the sin debt of all mankind upon and against Him there in that one final, finished redemptive work.
Ephesians 2:8-9 assures believers: “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
So now, whenever someone receives Christ by faith, in spirit and in truth, that person is saved by God’s grace on the basis of Christ’s redemptive work for that person on the cross. Salvation is purely and totally a work of God, a gift He gives us for trusting in Christ alone.
It is not by — and cannot be by — religion, works, personal righteousness or inherent goodness, nor can it be earned by any human means whatsoever or in any way deserved, because Scripture tells us that negates the grace of God. As Romans 11:6 puts it: “Otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
God’s way is the only way, for it is the only means that allows Him to remain perfectly just in His own nature (by fully punishing sin) but at the same time shower His love and mercy upon mankind by justifying every person who trusts in Christ alone by means of His finished work on the cross (Romans 3:26).
This is why the Apostle Paul declared: “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).
In short, we are saved by grace or we will not be saved at all. But saved from what? That’s a question that neither Bell nor his fellow Emergent Church apostates seem to be able to answer with any specificity. Yet the Bible says we’re saved from the judgment to come, when Jesus consistently said He will separate all mankind into two groups — the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares, the saved and the lost, etc.
When it comes to salvation, there is only the true gospel — or there is eternal wrath for all those who reject that gospel (John 3:36). Thus, Hebrews 2:3 asks: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” It’s a rhetorical question, for the Scriptural answer is certain: “We won’t.”
The lost ones will be those who “did not receive the love of the truth” but spurned Christ and the salvation gift He offered them freely (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Or they are those who will come before Christ at the final judgment and tell Him about all of the “good works” they’ve done in His name to try to merit salvation. Then Jesus will say to them: “Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).
Where is Jesus sending these lost people to?
That’s a question the Emergent Church apostates like Rob Bell and the happy-talk preachers like Joel Osteen can’t answer. Or won’t.
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