How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:14)

How About You; Can You Handle The Truth?

Apprising Ministries notes that there’s no shortage of confusion today, inside the visible church as well as out, about how God views sinners; those who continue on in their willful sin, even if they’ve heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Currently the Emerging Church rock star pastor Rob Bell is making the rounds hawking his book of mythology which he refers to as Love Wins.

Consider Who Goes to Hell is Not the Most Important Question where Kiran Thadani, “who’s circulation and resources assistant at Sojourners,” tells us she’s “someone who did not grow up in the Christian tradition” and that she’s also “a great-grandchild of a nonviolent activist who worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi in the 1940’s.”

In this piece Thadani brings up something from this latest book by Rob Bell:

“Reality check: Gandhi’s in hell.”
“Really? Gandhi’s in hell? And we have confirmation of this?”

These words in Rob Bell’s newest book and promotional video for Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived have created quite a dilemma in the church world in recent weeks.

I remember watching the promotional video last week with a group of friends and my heart sank as I thought, “Really, the potential for a Hindu peacemaker to be in heaven upsets so many people?” (Online source)

No, what the Christian is reacting to is people holding out the false hope that someone who did not believe in Jesus, and therefore died in his sin (cf. John 8:24), is in heaven. We’ve probably all heard the phrase — “God hates sin, but He loves the sinner”; however, is that really the case? Let’s consider the following:

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:4-6)

As usual John MacArthur puts it well when he says:

The fact that some sinners are not elected to salvation is no proof that God’s attitude toward them is utterly devoid of sincere love. We know from Scripture that God is compassionate, kind, generous, and good even to the most stubborn sinners. Who can deny that these mercies flow out of God’s boundless love? Yet it is evident that they are showered even on unrepentant sinners. 

It must be acknowledged, however, that explaining God’s love toward the reprobate is not as simple as most modern evangelicals want to make it. Clearly there is a sense in which the psalmist’s expression, “I hate the assembly of evildoers” (Ps. 26:5) is a reflection of the mind of God… The context reveals God was speaking of a whole race of wicked people. So there is a true and real sense in which Scripture teaches that God hates the wicked. 

So an important distinction must be made. God loves believers with a particular love. It is a family love, the ultimate love of an eternal Father for His children. It is the consummate love of a Bridegroom for His bride.  It is an eternal love that guarantees their salvation from sin and its ghastly penalty. That special love is reserved for believers alone…

Clearly God does love even those who spurn His tender mercy, but it is a different quality of love, and different in degree from His love for His own. (Online source)

Now let me draw your attention to a helpful book called The Other Side Of The Good News (TOS), which I highly recommend to every serious student of the Bible concerning the doctrine of hell. It’s written by Dr. Larry Dixon, who reminds us that the great theologian John Calvin—one of the Church Reformers raised up by Jesus—said: “We are taught by Scripture to perceive that apart from Christ, God is—so to speak—hostile to us, and His hand is armed for our destruction.”

For example in the Apostle John’s Gospel, which is his eyewiteness deposition, he quotes Jesus telling us — “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 3:18). Can you see, one who does not believe in Jesus is condemned already by his dead sinful nature; as in — 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 3:36).

In his fine article Does God Love the Sinner and Hate Only His Sin? Dr. John Gerstner also brings out:

“Repent or Perish” forces people to ponder seriously the popular slogan, “God hates the sin and loves the sinner.” Is a necessary repentance consistent with “God loves the sinner?” If God loves the sinner while he is alive, it is strange that God sends him to hell as soon as he dies. God loves the sinner to death? Loves him to everlasting torment? …

God is perfectly displeased with the sinner. The sinner hates God, disobeys God, is ungrateful to God for all His favors, would kill God if he could. He is dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph.2:1) “The thoughts and intents of his heart are only evil continually.” (Gen.6:5) He is the slave of sin (John 8:34), the servant of the devil, (Eph.2:2). God has no complacent love for the sinner at all. He has a perfect hatred of him, “I hate them with a perfect hatred. (Ps. 139:22) (Online source)

Then in TOS Dixon goes on to remind us that, “Seldom do we consider the malevolence of God, and almost never do we hear, or preach sermons on God’s wrath and the justified perfect hatred God has of sinners.” We need to remember that God is infinite; and to our corrupted, limited, and finite minds, many things about Him are a paradox. Paradox meaning things that appear to contradict, but actually don’t. At the same time God loves the you He will regenerate if you come to Him in Christ—He also hates the you that rejects Him—that very you, which actually hates Him.

You must come to understand that—despite what man-loving communicators like Rob Bell softly whine today in order to win the favor of the world—apart from Christ we are simply not the delightful little creatures we like to think we are. In fact, here’s what Jesus said about man in Matthew 7:11“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Did you get that? Christ Jesus—our Creator and pure love in human flesh—has just said that unregenerate mankind is evil; there’s no middle ground.

One is either born again in Christ and clothed in His righteousness; or he is dead in sin and evil (cf. Ephesians 2:1-3). Now let’s go to the Book of Romans, chapter 8, for a moment. The inspired Apostle Paul tells us that, without the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, our basic nature is self-ishness as our minds are set on the “flesh”, the “carnal” — in other words on our-selves. Romans 8:7 — the mind that is set on the flesh — if you use the King James Version it reads — the carnal mind; the Greek word here for flesh, carnal, is sarx; and it refers to your body—your flesh—the carnal nature…well, you personally.

And Now It’s Time We Bring All Of This Right Up Close And Personal

With this in mind —For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. The absolute Truth is that all who are without Christ are controlled by the fleshly, carnal, and sinful human nature—those not regenerated i.e. born again (cf. John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17)—cannot possibly please God. And this is not just my opinion; that’s the very Word of God from the Holy Spirit Himself. In commenting on this verse John Calvin put it this way:

the will of man is in all things opposed to [God’s] will; for, as much as what is crooked differs from what is straight, so much must be the difference between us and God.

Still need convincing? Then listen to what Jesus also tells us about mankind in the following from Mark 7:21-23“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” And the Apostle Paul once again, under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit — For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out…. Wretched man that I am(Romans 7:18, 24)

Does that wound your self-esteem? Good; it was meant to. This is not a matter to be taken lightly. And if you are beginning to feel condemned, and without hope, then you are getting the initial message; the other side of the Good News. Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death — this is talking about spiritual death, eternal separation of any relationship with God. In John 3:18 Jesus says — “Whoever believes in [Me] 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.”

Now you can understand what God the Holy Spirit was talking about earlier through Paul; in our fallen human condition we literally are condemned to sin against God, with no ability whatsoever on our own to stop. John 3:36Whoever 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. This wrath already upon all who reject God’s only provision for the forgiveness of sins, the sacrificial death on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I think we are safe in saying that one doesn’t feel wrath toward someone you are pleased with.

I will close this by reminding you that any one of us can have our lives changed forever in a mere instant; and, it can happen to anyone at any moment. And it happened to my own family one Spring evening several years ago. As my family waved goodbye to our Mom, just as we’d done for years each evening as she left for her work as a Nurses Aide at Valley Regional Hospital, we had absolutely no way to know that a mere five minutes later we were going to receive a phone call that would forever alter all of our lives.

A drunken driver going seventy miles an hour down the narrow, twisting, Old Claremont road, upon which she’d driven to work hundreds of times, smashed directly into her car killing her—instantly. In a split second her eternal destiny was sealed; with no second chance (cf. Hebrews 9:27). Perhaps this should give you pause for concern. You see, there was an old Nazarene preacher who gave some advice to a young minister who was just starting out. Sound wisdom, which the young man never forgot. “Son,” he said, “I sure like the way you preach the Gospel, and I’d like to give you a little bit of advice.”

The young minister eagerly told him that he would love to hear anything the more experienced man of God might wish to share. And the old preacher looked at him and said, “When you go out, always preach the love of God, and the grace of God, in Jesus Christ. But, if they don’t want Jesus—then leave ’em with the Law according to Moses.” The other side of the Good News; the choice now lays before you: Grace alone, the unmerited favor of God through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone; the only One Who could have perfectly fulfilled that Law.

Or, you are then left with the righteous judgment of this very same Lord according to the perfect Law of Alnighty God—which no mere mortal man could ever even dream of beginning to fulfill. Let me ask you: Does this trouble you; do you find yourself stirred up, maybe even somewhat confused inside? Is your heart beating a little faster now because this doesn’t sound like the “gospel” of the mystic mush god, the one with a man-shaped hole in his/her/its heart, that you so often hear about today:

Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:43-47)

For you see, to answer the call to come to Christ Jesus is the most all-important decision you’ll ever have to face; and it’s one that only you alone can make. So is He calling to you right now; then, what say ye?

See also: