Love wins opens the door wide to universalism — a heresy that ultimately advocates that hell will be empty and all will be in heaven. Scripture teaches something quite different.
Rob Bell’s book has generated a furore in the blogosphere and beyond. One of the best responses has come from Kevin DeYoung.
When The lost message of Jesus by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann was published in 2004, in contesting it the evangelical church was given fresh appreciation of the substitutionary value of our Saviour’s death on the cross. It grasped afresh how the wrath of God was propitiated by the one giving of Jesus our Lord for our sins.
In a similar perverse fashion, Rob Bell does us a service by his book. The ensuing debate has made us more aware of the biblical doctrine of eternal punishment.
This doctrine has recently been sidelined among evangelicals, afraid of sounding harsh in our relativistic age. But Christianity is not about choosing Jesus for a better lifestyle; it is about trusting in the one who is the only deliverer from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). As much as there is an everlasting heaven, there is an everlasting hell.
For this deliverance to be achieved, our Saviour went to the cross to experience hell, so that we might have eternal life in him. He stood in our place and ‘bore our sins in his body on the tree’ (1 Peter 2:24). He took the wrath that should have been ours.
We should not allow eternal judgement to become the only string to our doctrinal bow. But, it certainly should be a part of our doctrinal bow and, as Scripture is faithfully expounded, be regularly brought to people’s attention.
The stark reminder that billions of fellow earth dwellers are hell-bound should fill us with urgency to tell the good news. We need to tell them about Jesus Christ.