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DOES ROB BELL THINK
 GOD HAS ONLY ONE ATTRIBUTE?
(SERMON NUMBER 3 ON ROB BELL'S ERROR)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 15, 2011

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:24-27).


Rob Bell is a young pastor who has written a best-selling book titled, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person who has Ever Lived (HarperOne, 2011). Bell thinks that everyone, including those in Hell, will ultimately be saved.

Time Magazine (May 2, 2011) hailed Bell as one of the 100 “Most Influential People” living today. If that is true, God help us! Bell’s book says that God is not angry with the wicked and, even after death, lost sinners will be given “another chance” to be saved. And he means even people like Hitler! Even serial killers, child molesters, rapists and terrorists like Osama Bin Laden! Bell said, “God’s love will eventually melt even the hardest of hearts...hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God” (Love Wins, ibid., pp. 108, 109). Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said that Bell’s book is “theologically disastrous. Any of us should be concerned when a matter of theological importance is played with in a subversive way” (Time, April 25, 2011, p. 40). After watching a video of Rob Bell giving a sermon, Anglican (Church of England) pastor Dr. Michael Youssef said, “I felt nauseous...I saw how troubled this young man is and how he, in his effort to create a name for himself, began to trouble [those who heard him] – causing so much harm to his soul and theirs...I felt that Bell’s questions were quite similar to those of the serpent in the Garden of Eden: ‘Did God really say that?’...With Love Wins, what Rob Bell manages to do...is to reveal to us that he is a Universalist” (One News Now, quoted in The Sword of the Lord, April 15, 2011, p. 10).

A “Universalist” is someone who rejects the plain words of Scripture and says that everyone will ultimately be saved from Hell. This teaching is not new. The Unitarian Universalists have taught this for decades. Liberals like Harry Emerson Fosdick taught this a hundred years ago. What makes it seem new is that Rob Bell claims to be an evangelical. Another so-called Evangelical, Dr. Richard Mouw, president of the liberal Fuller Theological Seminary (where Bell earned his Master’s degree) calls Love Wins “A great book” (Daily News Journal). I have read Bell’s book twice. It is certainly not a “great book” in any sense. It is a simplistic little book, filled with juvenile confusion and a hodge-podge of empty speculation and Scripture twisting.

That brings us to our text. As the Lord Jesus Christ was journeying to Jerusalem, the crowds that followed Him were beginning to dwindle. Someone called out to Him, “Are there few that be saved?” Jesus did not answer his question. The man sounds a lot like Rob Bell, impudent and full of himself. “Are there few that be saved?” Instead of answering him, Christ turned to the crowd and said,

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are...depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:24-25, 27b).

The Lord Jesus Christ, in this passage, speaks directly to the one of the errors in Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins.

Rob Bell said, “Could God say to someone truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation, ‘Sorry, too late’? Many have refused to accept the scenario in which somebody is pounding on the door, apologizing, repenting [?], and asking God to be let in, only to have God say through the keyhole: ‘Door’s locked. Sorry. If you had been here earlier, I could have done something. But now, it’s too late’” (Love Wins, p. 108).

Could God say that to someone? Of course He could! Isn’t that exactly what Christ said?

“When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are...depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:25, 27).

Yes, that is precisely what God will say to those who reject Christ to the end of their earthly lives! God will “shut to the door” of salvation to them (Luke 13:25). And isn’t that exactly what Christ said God would do to the foolish virgins?

“And they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matthew 25:10-12).

Then there is that great archetypical instance of God doing the same thing in the Old Testament. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37). The Bible tells us what happened after Noah and his wife, and their sons and wives entered the Ark,

“And they went in unto Noah into the ark...and the Lord shut him in” (Genesis 7:15, 16).

“And Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:23).

God “shut him in” after he went into the Ark. No one else could get in because the door of the Ark was shut by God Himself.

God is the same today as He has been from the beginning. We must never accept the ancient Gnostic heresy that the God of the Old Testament is not the same as the God of the New Testament. No! He is the eternal God. The Apostle Peter said that He is the God who

“...spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

Only eight people were saved, out of all the multitudes on the earth! “And the Lord shut him in” (Genesis 7:16). “And the door was shut” (Matthew 25:10). “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door” (Luke 13:25). When God shuts the door of salvation, no one else gets in! The Book of Hebrews says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). No “second chance” after death is given in that verse. Abraham said to the rich man in Hell, “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence [from Hell]” (Luke 16:26). No “second chance” after death is given in that verse either.

Why did Rob Bell say, “God’s love will eventually melt even the hardest hearts... hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God”? (Love Wins, pp, 108, 109).

Rob Bell said that because he is wrong about God! He apparently thinks God has only one attribute – the attribute of mercy (love). But the God spoken of in the Holy Scriptures has another attribute – the attribute of holiness, which includes justice. Dr. W. G. T. Shedd gave these comments on the justice of God.

      In the Christian religion...retributive justice comes continually into view...passages of Scripture that present it are the following: “the judgment of God is that they which do such things are worthy of death” (Romans 1:32); “who will visit tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that does evil” (2:9); “the Lord shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God” (2 Thessalonians 1:8); “vengeance suffers not to live” (Acts 28:4); “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19)... “Cursed is every one that continues not in all things written in the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10); “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)... “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest” (Psalm 11:6); “it is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed than to be cast into hellfire” (Matthew 18:8); “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7); “Yea, I say unto you, fear him who has power to cast into hell” (Luke 12:5); etc., etc. (W. G. T. Shedd, Ph.D., Dogmatic Theology, edited by Alan W. Gomes, P and R Publishing, third edition, 2003, pp. 295, 301).

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

      These modern teachers do not believe in the wrath of God; they say it should be banished. But in the Old Testament this idea is put before us 580 times. That God is angry against sin, that God hates sin, is a basic proposition (quoted in Iain H. Murray, Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008, p. 209).

This is equally true of the New Testament in such verses as these,

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”
       (Mark 9:48).

“Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power”
       (II Thessalonians 1:9).

Now then, how can a sinner escape from the judgment of God? The first verse of our text says,

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).

Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) said that the strait gate is Christ Himself. Then he said,

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate”...To strive, is to be diligent in the use of means, to search the Scriptures with care, to attend on the preaching of the Word with constancy, neglecting no opportunity; to pray earnestly for spiritual light, knowledge, and grace; to contend with every enemy that opposes the salvation of the soul, as sin, Satan, and the world, to bear all reproaches and persecutions, and press through all difficulties, for the prize...”for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” – either when it is too late, when the door is shut; or else before, very faintly, in a superficial manner...from a principle of self-love, which leads one to desire [only] happiness; and by very indirect and improper methods...by a profession of religion, and an outward compliance with the ordinances of the Gospel, and not by Christ, and faith in him (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 626; note on Luke 13:24).

I have been reading Spurgeon’s conversion in his autobiography. What agony of soul he went through for five years, before he was converted at the age of 15! I am lifting out a few of his words, as he strove to enter Christ. He said,

For five years, as a child, there was nothing before my eyes but my guilt...Day and night God’s hand was heavy upon me. I hungered for deliverance, for my soul fainted within me. I feared lest the very skies should fall upon me, and crush my guilty soul. God’s law had laid hold upon me, and was showing me my sins. If I slept at night, I dreamed of the bottomless pit, and when I awoke, I seemed to feel the misery I had dreamed...with tears and groans, I offered up my prayer, without a hope and without a refuge, for God’s law was flogging me with its ten-thronged whip, and then rubbing [salt into the wounds] afterwards, so that I did shake and quiver with pain and anguish, and my soul chose strangling rather than life, for I was exceeding sorrowful. That misery was sent for this reason, that I might then be made to cry for Jesus. Our Heavenly Father does not usually cause us to seek the Saviour till He has whipped us clean of all our confidence; He cannot make us [long for] Heaven till He has made us feel something of the intolerable tortures of an aching conscience, which is a foretaste of Hell (C. H. Spurgeon, Autobiography, Volume I: The Early Years, originally compiled by Susannah Spurgeon and Joseph Harrald, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985 reprint, p. 58).

How I pray that some of you unconverted young people will be brought under conviction of your sin, as young Spurgeon was. Then you may feel your need for Jesus so deeply that you throw yourself upon Him, and experience a real conversion. Amen. Please stand and sing hymn number 7 on your song sheet, “Our Unregenerated State,” by Dr. Isaac Watts, to the tune of “Amazing Grace.”

Great God of glory and of grace, We own, with humble shame,
How vile is our degenerate race, And our first father’s name.

From Adam flows our tainted blood, The poison reigns within;
Makes us opposed to what is good And willing slaves to sin.

Daily we break God’s holy laws, And then reject His grace;
Engaged in Satan’s awful cause Against God’s holy face.

We live cut off, afar from God, And love the distance well;
We quickly run the dangerous road That leads to sin and hell.

We raise our Father’s name on high, Who His own Spirit sends
To bring rebellious sinners nigh, And turn Christ’s foes to friends.

And can such rebels be restored, Such blindness made to shine?
Let sinners see Thy Son, O Lord, And feel His blood divine.
   (“Our Unregenerated State” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748;
      to the tune of “Amazing Grace.”)

Click here for Dr. Hymers' sermon, "Rob Bell and the 'Genesis Poem.'"

(END OF SERMON)
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at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

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or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 13:22-29.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“What Will You Say Then?” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

DOES ROB BELL THINK
GOD HAS ONLY ONE ATTRIBUTE?
(SERMON NUMBER 3 ON ROB BELL'S ERROR)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:24-27).

(Matthew 25:10-12; 24:37; Genesis 7:15, 16, 23; II Peter 2:5; Hebrews 9:27;
Luke 16:26; Romans 1:32; 2:9; II Thessalonians 1:8; Acts 28:4;
Romans 12:19; Galatians 3:10; Romans 6:23; Psalm 11:6;
Matthew 18:8; Jude 7; Luke 12:5; Matthew 23:33;
Mark 9:48; II Thessalonians 1:9)