I hope everyone enjoyed a family-filled Easter weekend. More importantly, I hope everyone took the time to really remember what the Lord did for us. Not only did he leave heaven to become a small human baby or teach us valuable lessons as an adult, but he died on the cross, bleeding pure blood to cover the multitude of sins of the earth. Of your sins. Of my sins. And not only did he die such a horrific death on the cross, but he went to hell and defeated death! Rising 3 days later, securing our salvation (if you so choose to believe in these miraculous things that our Savior did for us, and choosing to follow Him and become more like Him all your life).
I was reading in TIME magazine last night, and was just sickened by the article about Rob Bell (by Jon Meacham). This issue of the magazine showcases 100 of the World's Most Influential People. Unfortunately, this Mr. Bell is on this list that includes freedom fighters, movie stars, royalty - all the people who do influence the world. This man is influencing our world.
If you're unfamiliar with Rob Bell (as I was until yesterday), he is a (supposedly) Evangelical pastor. The founder of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also has a book, Love Wins. In this books he says, "It's been clearly communicated to many that this belief (in hell as conscious, eternal torment) is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus' message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear."
To say that there is no hell is...wrong! The Bible speaks truth about hell - separation from God, eternally. To say there is no hell diminishes the act of Christ's death on the cross and his ultimate resurrection. For, if there's no hell, why did He die? For what purpose? Because I believe that Christ died and rose from the dead to pay my debt of sin so that I could spend eternity with the Father in Heaven. God is holy and pure, my sins separated me from Him - only Christ's blood could pay a debt with a price so high. And to say there's no hell? To say his death was moot? And then to claim that you are a pastor speaking in His name? Just breaks my heart.
I don't claim to know everything about God, about the Bible, about Christ. I haven't been to seminary or studied thoroughly the theology or doctrine of every church. However, I know the truth. I know that Christ died so I wouldn't have to spend eternity in hell.
I didn't read the last issue of TIME (this was our first issue) but from reading the letters to the editor, I saw that the article from another issue "Is Hell Dead?" sparked a large number of letters. One man said that heaven and hell are a creation of mankind, another said hell is simply where God is not, one says hell is spending eternity with evangelicals, one said heaven, hell, God and angels are imaginary concepts. How can so many people have such differing opinions of heaven and hell? How can so many claim to be Christian but there are beliefs like this. Christianity is not a "choose-your-own-theology" religion! There is a simple truth.
I'm not opposed to people asking questions about Christian faith. I think questions are good - how else do you know what you believe? But the fact of the matter is that all religion (Christian or not) comes down to faith. We believe what we cannot (yet) see with our eyes. I know some Christians would rather not hear the questions or have certain things pried into (remember the hullabaloo that The DaVinci Code caused? Great fictional book and movie BTW).
I merely want you, my friends, to know the truth. You are a sinner (I am a SINNER!). Sin separates us from God - creates a debt we cannot pay with good works or church attendance (although those are good things). Christ's blood and resurrection pay that debt. When you choose to follow Christ and (try to) become more Christ-like, you're accepting that gift of eternal life in heaven! It is a choice, though. And whether you believe in heaven or hell, they're real. And one day we will all have to accept the choices we've made.