Rob Bell's Love Wins: Chapter Four: Does God Get What He Wants?

Before I start, I want to make clear something from an earlier blogpost. I wrote of future events from a premillennial, dispensational perspective. By no means am I implying that is the only orthodox position. I will leave it to others who comment to give other orthodox perspectives, if they wish. My issue with Bell is not orthodoxy but what I view as error and obviously many godly, conservative Christian scholars agree with that assessment. Our differences over orthodox doctrine are within the family. We believe that Bell’s is outside of orthodoxy.

The title of chapter four reveals the depth of Rob Bell’s misunderstanding. God would love for everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved by faith in Jesus. However, even as Bell acknowledges, a loving God will not force anyone. Therefore, He provided the natural revelation of who He is and special revelation through the transmission of the Bible, visions, dreams, miracles and ultimately and most spectacularly through His Son.

Everyone gets exposed to natural revelation. The existence of God and His majesty is made evident through His Creation. It is enough to leave man without an excuse. However, a healthy debate exists over whether it is enough to save. Some would say that humanity must respond by faith to the amount of light it receives.

My opinion is that natural revelation is enough to bring a person to a point where he reaches out to God who has been reaching out to him. One then can ask God to reveal Himself. It is up to God to use a missionary, a Christian in that nation or tribe, or special revelation through visions or dreams to help that individual know that salvation is through the Son of God, who came to die and rise from the dead so that anyone who came to Him in faith could have his sins forgiven and experience a resurrection of his own. For instance, Joel Rosenberg has cited examples from the Middle East of visions of Jesus resulting in Muslims coming to salvation. We cannot limit God in His ability, by whatever means, to bring people to Himself through faith in Jesus. And we could, and should, expect it to be in conformity with what Scripture teaches.

We know that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone and that natural revelation reveals the existence of God. To say that God saves people through Jesus who didn’t know Him personally or that there are opportunities after death is mere speculation. In fact, we are told in Scripture that “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).”

Each person has an opportunity, if not multiple ones, to respond to God through faith in Jesus in this life. Those who refuse will experience eternal punishment in Hell. Those who embrace faith in Christ will receive eternal life in the presence of God with the blessing of God.

Bell argues that if anyone rejects God’s love and spends an eternity in Hell then God didn’t get what He wants. To Bell that makes God kind of great, sort of great, a little great, in fact, a failure. On the contrary, Jesus was quite clear that He, God the Son, expected most people to reject (Mt. 7:13-14). Either God is contradicting Himself or God’s perfect will is that all people would submit to Him willingly in this life but His plan of salvation through His Son, to be freely received or rejected, means that most will choose to reject.

How wonderful God is to offer salvation through His Son. At the same time, He permits us to exercise free-will. This allows for the rejection of God's great love and thus exposure to His wrath on sin despite the substitutionary atonement of Christ for all who believe. Therefore, God is not on trial, Mr. Bell, but man who is drowning in sin and yet refuses the life-raft of Jesus, believing he can swim in spite of the evidence to the contrary.

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