Archive for the ‘Proclaiming the Gospel’ Category

I just finished Rob Bell‘s Love Wins. It was a quick read and just hurt my heart while reading it. Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle had similar feelings that I had and decided to co-write a new book called Erasing Hell.

There is a very interesting and helpful interview with Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle about why they wrote the book and their feelings about all of this. Please watch it here.

If someone believes that they got themselves into Christ, then it is only natural to believe they can get themselves out of Christ. But Hebrews 12:2 clearly states that God is both the Author and Finisher or Perfecter of our faith. He began it and He finishes it perfectly. To say you can lose your salvation is saying Christ can only save me if I keep up my salvation. The truth is, you will keep up your salvation perfectly because of the new willing heart that God has given you and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which you received when you were Born Again by the power and will of God and God alone (John 1:13). God has guaranteed your perseverance and your perfect “keeping up of your salvation” (if you want to say that, which I don’t). But when you do persevere you can also say what Paul did in 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

There is a wealth of Bible passages that guarantee that our salvation is perfectly secure in Christ. There are some passages that people like to look to to try to say that you can lose your salvation, and the most popular one that people use is actually rarely read in context, which is the key to understanding anything in the Bible. This is Hebrews 6:4-6. Let’s look at these verses real quickly and then make some final thoughts.

4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

People will say that these verses guarantee that people can lose their salvation. We have two problems with that;

  1. Language like enlightened, tasting the heavenly gift, sharing in the Holy Spirit, tasting the Word of God and  the powers of the age to come, do not, I repeat, DO NOT mean that the person was saved. Remember the audience of Hebrews that were being written to here. The Jews were enlightened with the knowledge of who God was because they were given the law and were His chosen people. They tasted of many heavenly gifts such as the manna in the desert in Moses‘ time and Christ’s bread and fish in John 6. They shared in the Holy Spirit in the sense that they experienced the Holy Spirit empowered ministry of Jesus and tasted of Christ’s Word. They also tasted of the powers of the age to come in the many interactions with God through Moses and Christ, as well as every other prophet in scripture. That didn’t mean that everyone who did those things were saved, in fact the reality is that in spite of all those interactions, most still did not believe. A whole generation was left in the wilderness before entering the promise land after the great “experiences” or instances of “enlightenment.” After they all “taste of the heavenly gifts” of Jesus Christ in John 6, the thousands that were well fed just a few verses earlier left Jesus in the dust when he said that God is sovereign over who comes and does not come to Jesus and has eternal life, thus proving that they were never truly born again, they just desired to have their bellies filled for free. What this verse is really saying is that when a person has the fullest experience of who God really is in Christ, and then they reject Him, they are never capable of getting more information and are saying they understand it all, and they still don’t want Him. You can try to tell them, but they have all the knowledge you can give them, it is hopeless.
  2. If you are going to say these verses prove you can lose your salvation, you have to also at least be consistent with the rest of verse 6 which clearly says that this person can never again be restored to repentance because they would be re-crucifying Christ. The crazy thing is that everyone who believes that you can lose your salvation also believes that you can get it back again. This verse clearly says you can’t restore them again to repentance, it’s impossible (Verse 4 and 6).

Telling people they can lose their salvation is more fear-mongering than it is equipping people for the battle that we all face everyday. That’s like a King saying to his people about to go into battle, “gear up, but you will probably lose cause I ain’t fighting with you. I will be back in the castle living it up. Good luck.”

My King says, “I guarantee your victory in this battle because I am the one leading the charge and doing all the fighting. When you succeed it is only because I’ve given you power to defeat your enemy. Also, I have determined the end from the beginning so I know infallibly that you will win this and all battles because I Am the Alpha and Omega and I will do all that I set out to do.”

I have more respect for Rick Warren now having seen this interview. If you have any issues with John Piper, I pray you will watch this amazing interview and hear his heart. This is a great thing for the body of Christ. Thank you Desiring God ministries.

John Piper and Rick Warren interview on Doctrine

These are the tough questions that all Christians should be discussing with each other. Enjoy.

Click on the picture to be taken to the Desiring God blog in order to view the video or click here.

Warren apparently believes the doctrines of grace, or otherwise called Calvinism, with some confusion over limited atonement. This interview at least opens it all up for discussion. Do you think he is Reformed or is he just trying to make all the Calvinists happy? If he is just trying to make the Calvinists happy, is that a good thing? By doing this, wouldn’t he just be making all his Arminian followers angry and in some way shooting himself in the foot with the majority of his followers? What are your thoughts?

2011 has been a crazy year and it is only May 20th, 2011! That is right, my last full day until the rapture and the beginning of the end!

Okay, well maybe Judgement Day is not going to be tomorrow. But then again, maybe it will. Or, maybe it will all end today. Who knows? Well Harold Camping seems to know.

He believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that the rapture and Judgement Day will occur tomorrow, May 21st, 2011, at around 6:00 P.M. Now this isn’t a post about Camping or his thoughts about Judgement Day neither is this an attack on him. He has, hopefully, done something good for all of us. So has other controversial religious leaders in 2011.

Rob Bell wrote a book describing what Heaven and Hell might actually be like and how Hell might not be eternal. This also is a very controversial subject, of which I have spoken out against in other posts, so I will not be offering anymore analysis on his book Love Wins. But Rob Bell has actually done something good for us, regardless of how wrong his suggestions are.

Lastly, Terry Jones and some followers put the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, on a mock trial and sentenced it to death. So they burned the Qur’an. Following this act, many people in the Muslim world were outraged and many people were killed because of the violent outbursts in response to Jones’ act. Once again, this isn’t an attack on Jones or his actions. We can hopefully look at this situation, as well as the other two, and see some good things that these events have done for all of us.

All three of these controversial events have accomplished one great thing. They have created conversation.

Terry Jones began to see the very dark side of orthodox Islam. And now because of his actions, we can all take a closer look into Islam and maybe even try to understand it. Maybe we can actually have enough interest to read some of the Qur’an and see what it says about Jesus and Christianity. It is rather shocking, especially if you are a Christian. Without supporting or condemning his act of burning the Qur’an, we can at least say that the topic is now a little more out in the open for people to discuss. But I will say this, we are quickly approaching, and I fear we are already arriving, at a place in time when protesting will not be possible. Freedom of speech is just barely holding on right now.

Rob Bell brought the discussion of Heaven and Hell to the forefront once again. The best thing about this controversy is that because Rob Bell offered something so opposite of orthodox Christian belief, many Evangelical Christians came out of the woodwork to defend what the Bible actually teaches about the afterlife, Hell in particular. There was a stronger unity that was created among confessional Christians, as well as a strong call to hold to, and hold high, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Heaven and Hell became a growing topic of discussion because of Rob Bell and we can thank him for that.

Now on to Camping. No one knows what will happen tomorrow besides God. But what I do know about all of the controversy of Harold Camping is that the discussion of the end times is now in the limelight, sadly it has been, for the most part, to make fun of Camping and Christians altogether. It reminds me of how they treated Noah in his day. Although most Christians don’t think Camping is correct, Camping has at least made Christians a little more expressive about the fact that Judgement Day could be today.

Jones has at least opened up the discussion about what Islam is truly all about, even though his methods can be debated over.

Bell has brought the topic of salvation into discussion and every Christian should appreciate when that happens because it is a chance to proclaim the Gospel.

And Camping has brought the topic of Jesus’ return and the end times to the attention of the whole world. Our hearts should break for the lost people of this world. We can see how broken and blind they are when they constantly make fun of us Christians, even though sometimes we make it easy for them.

We need to clearly know what the Bible says and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all creatures because it is through the Word preached that people are made alive and brought into the Kingdom of God. We must know what Muslim people actually believe, not what professing Muslims want us to believe, and we must proclaim the Gospel to them as well, in order to bring them out of their bondage and into the freedom of Jesus Christ. Our ignorance of Islam must end. And lastly, Judgement Day may not be tomorrow, but it is coming soon. I have to ask myself, “Am I ready and enthusiastically awaiting Christ’s return?” Are you?

As the firestorm continues over Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins, I thought it might be interesting to look at what other books Rob Bell’s publisher, Harper Collins, is putting out into print. Before I do this I wanted to put up a few links in order to fill you in on this controversy if you haven’t heard anything about it so far.

  • First and foremost, the best link to go to that easily documents the time line of events with many early links would be here by the good people of The Resurgence.
  • Some more recent links that will also help is this amazing interview with Rob Bell about his book done by Martin Bashir for MSNBC. Just so you know, many news outlets have picked up on this story and are doing interesting stories on it. This interview is amazing though. Take a look for yourself and you be the judge how well Rob Bell answers these questions.
  • You can also watch this re-run of the live stream interview that happened Monday evening.
  • Also there is a great commentary on this live stream interview here. It is good to have a well informed Christian pause and interject some good information while listening to this live stream question and answer session. Thank you Pirate Christian Radio for this great resource.

So now that you have some links to bring you up to speed, let us just step back to the beginning of this controversy.

Harper Collins releases a description of the new book Love Wins and Rob Bell releases a 3-minute video in which he asks a lot of questions. These questions are dealing with heaven, hell, and also whether or not a loving God would really send anyone to a place of eternal punishment. Many people seemed very disturbed by his questions because they seemed to pull out the rug on all accepted traditional thoughts and beliefs about Christianity. Many people, including myself, were beginning to wonder if he was going to make the conclusions in the book that he seemed to be making in the video. Many voiced their opinions about how if he did go to these conclusions in the book, this would have to be thrown out of conventional biblical Christianity. It just goes so counter to the Bible, but also at the core, it goes so counter to the gospel as well. But some people took a step back and thought, “well we have to actually wait to the book comes out to make that kind of judgment.” My wife said this, and also she said, “who knows, maybe he will just be asking these tough questions and then in the book he will say something like, ‘well the traditional thoughts and belief’s in Christianity about Heaven and Hell are actually correct and let’s talk about these things.'” It was pure optimism on my wife’s part. She had a point though and we didn’t know for sure what was going to happen.

But the book has been released and everyone’s fears about the conclusions he possible was making from these questions has been confirmed. Many full and in-depth reviews have come out of the book that reaffirm that these conclusions and teachings are actually being made by Bell in the book. Such conclusions as, you can use your free-will in hell to go to heaven whenever you choose to, even if people never consciously have faith in Jesus, they can still go to heaven, and so on and so on.

Now my question, which I believe some people have begun to ask is, why with the release of this new controversial book, is Rob Bell no longer being published by Zondervan, which is the publisher of his previous books and videos, and they also publish the NIV version of the Bible? There are some articles discussing this, but we do not know why he is no longer with Zondervan, but what we do know from articles is that if Zondervan was given the opportunity to publish Love Wins, they would not have done so because it did not mesh with their mission as a publisher.

Zondervan’s website says their mission is as follows: To be the leader in Christian communications meeting the needs of people with resources that glorify Jesus Christ and promote biblical principles.

So Rob Bell has a new publisher called Harper One, which seems to be an imprint publisher of Harper Collins. Now to rapidly get to the point of this post…

Today I started to wonder what other works Harper Collins is publishing. This one book was on their front page. It’s called Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire.

Here is the publisher’s description of the book.

Book Description

Bible scholar Jennifer Wright Knust addresses the big questions that dominate today’s discussions and debates when it comes to sex and the Bible: Is premarital sex a sin? When, and in what contexts, is sexual desire appropriate? With whom can I legitimately have sex? Are same-sex relations permissible? In an era where the phrases, “the Bible says,” and “God says,” are so often exploited, it is time to consider what the Bible actually does—or does not—say about monogamy, polygamy, homosexuality, gender roles, and sex.

Unprotected Texts directly and pointedly takes on widely shared misconceptions about sex, arguing that the Bible cannot—and should not—serve as a rulebook for sexual morality, despite popular claims to the contrary. From the Song of Songs’ lyrical eroticism to the rigid sexual rules of Leviticus—and everything in between—Knust parses the Bible’s contradictory, often surprising messages.

Skillfully revealing the latest insights from critical scholarship, Knust provides a compassionate and liberating model for navigating these deeply personal issues that affect us all.

Now, notice just like Rob Bell did with Love Wins, Knust does with this book. Rob Bell seemingly just asked questions. Even in Bell’s book he states that it isn’t just a book about questions but a book that attempts to answer those questions. Even from this book’s description, it is claiming to do the very same thing. Notice how Bell’s questions attempted to tear down all conservative Christians’ idea of what the afterlife and the gospel are about. Knust is doing the same thing with these questions about how God feels and thinks about sex. Now this is not an attack on another random book, but I think it is interesting that we think questions aren’t used in order to create a certain way of thinking.

Harper Collins seems to like it when an author calls facts into question. Again this is nothing against Harper Collins or this random book about sex. But what this is about is simply this; if people are uncomfortable with what the Bible clearly says then they will eventually make up a new theology by playing with the Bible until it fits with their thoughts.

With Rob Bell, it was hell. The truth is nobody likes the idea of hell. It isn’t something we really want to believe but we know it to be true because the Bible is very clear on hell. It is clear that it is eternal and it is God pouring out His wrath on people forever. With Knust, it is sex. No single person with hormones really wants to wait until they are married to have sex. We are sinners. If someone has strong urges to sleep with the same sex, then they don’t want to believe that God is against homosexuality. So Rob Bell creates a new hell and now Knust seems to think that we have had it all wrong when it came to sex and the Bible.

I find it interesting that Rob Bell’s book didn’t even make it onto the Christianity section at my local Barnes and Noble. It was in the Eastern Religions section. I don’t know how they go about putting books under certain categories, but it seems as though Barnes and Noble has even rejected Rob Bell from Christianity. I say all this with one point in mind. If we don’t know what the Bible teaches on any subject, then we are open to believe anything and everything that people want to try to teach us. Ephesians 4:14 says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” We have to stand on our convictions about what the Bible teaches. I don’t write this to bash Knust or Harper Collins or even Rob Bell personally. I write this in an attempt to help us see that these people are not promoting a biblical system of theology. I am just a voice in the wilderness crying out saying, “read your bible, test the things these people are preaching, and don’t be tossed around by every crazy thing that wants to twist the Bible.” Questioning heaven, hell, and sex isn’t bad as long as we are satisfied by what God says about them in the Bible.

Finally, I don’t seek out to just make sure everyone believes that there really is a hell and that the Bible actually can be a book to look to in order to find out what God accepts and rejects when it comes to sex. I also want you to know that there is an escape from hell and sin.

[16] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
(John 3:16-18 ESV)

and…

[35] The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. [36] Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
(John 3:35-36 ESV)

So I urge you today, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins and trust that Jesus really did stand condemned for you personally. Jesus came to save sinners from their sin (Matthew 1:21). You and I qualify. Let us look to Jesus as our Savior and worship Him forever.

Paul Washer is Legit! I love this brother in Christ. He is such an inspiration to me to know my bible and to preach what it truly says. There are a ton of videos of his preaching on youtube but I liked this interview with Kirk Cameron so I figured I’d share it with you. Check him out.