Does hell exist?  Is it a real place?  And what about heaven?  Who goes there, and why?  These are just some of the questions that are being raised in the controversial new book "Love Wins" by Rob Bell which rejects the biblical doctrine of hell.

Does hell exist?  Is it a real place?  And what about heaven?  Who goes there, and why?
These are just some of the questions that are being raised in the controversial new book Love Wins by Rob Bell which rejects the biblical doctrine of hell.  The book, and in particular its premise, is garnering a great deal of attention — if only because the media is promoting it so aggressively and enthusiastically.
When it comes to Christian theology, the media’s position is either to be disinterested (at best) or hostile (at worst), and the hostile position is the one most often taken.  So the fact that they’re suddenly so consumed with the subject — at least when it comes to this particular book — and so positively effusive in their praise for it should tell you something.
Moreover, they have been quite diligent in concealing the fact that Bell is a leading figure in the Emergent Church, a heretical movement of young ministers who reject traditional Christian teaching in favor of modernist philosophy.
Whereas the Bible exhorts true believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), Bell and his fellow Emergent Church leaders have other plans.  They are interested only in junking the eternal truth of God’s Word and replacing it with something the modern world will find more appealing.  You know, more seeker-friendly.
“We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion,” he explains.
Yes, they are, despite the Bible’s stern warning of judgment upon anyone who dares add to or take away from the God-breathed message and meaning of Holy Scripture.
The world at large, though, couldn’t be more excited about this religious revisionism.  In fact, the last bunch of so-called theologians that the media treated this reverently was The Jesus Seminar, a group of virulently anti-Christian kooks.  Their “scholarship” has been so thoroughly discredited at this point that they can no longer be taken seriously — not that they ever should have been in the first place.
Yet as far as the media are concerned, the loss of The Jesus Seminar leaves a distressing void.  Thus, they are now pushing the Emergent Church apostates like Bell and the happy-talk preachers like Joel Osteen.  It allows them to reach the masses with a man-centered (as opposed to God-centered) message that appeals to human reasoning (as opposed to God-revealed truth), and in so doing subvert the true gospel under the guise of “Christian” teaching.
Still, it’s not exactly an earth-shaking development.
On the contrary, this was supposed to be — and indeed is — the great sign of our age.  So it doesn’t come as a surprise to Christians, because it hasn’t come as a surprise to Christ.  He prophesied it some 2,000 years ago.
When His disciples came to Him on the Mount of Olives and asked what the signs of His Second Coming would be, Jesus responded at great length by describing the future generation when this would take place, and He did so in extraordinary detail.  As I documented in a recent column [“The 2012 Mayan Prophecy”], ours is the generation to which He was undoubtedly referring.
This is recorded in Matthew 24, in what is known as the Olivet Discourse.  The first thing Jesus said is that the Christians who would be living in this generation should beware, above all else, of the spiritual deception that would be rampant during this time.
“Take heed that no one deceives you, for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many,” He warned in verses 4 and 5. 
Then again in verse 11:  “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
And again in verses 23 to 25:  “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you beforehand.”
So we know that Jesus will not be seen in or on the earth at any time, in any form whatsoever, until He returns at the Second Coming, and until that time many will come in His name preaching false gospels and even claiming to be Him.
This solemn warning about endtime deception and apostasy, repeated throughout the Olivet Discourse, carries through to the rest of the New Testament as well.
1st Timothy 4 foretold that the “latter times,” or last days, would be characterized by the abandonment of truth in favor of what the Bible calls “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”  As 2nd Timothy 4:3 elaborates:  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
This ear-tickling theology, founded on fables like “people are basically good” and “everyone goes to heaven” and “there’s no such place as hell,” is without question enormously popular, but it goes against everything we are told throughout the whole of Scripture.
It also begs this fundamental question:  If the Bible is wrong, and there is no such place as hell, then why did Jesus have to die such a horrific death on the cross?  Indeed, why did He have to die at all?
(For the answer to that question, see Part 2 next week.)

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