Let me first be clear before I start writing on this topic. I am not claiming to know Rob Bell personally, nor do I know everything there is to know about this topic. I am no expert. I am simply one youth pastor who is trying to challenge the thinking of those who read this blog and to anyone who stumbles upon it.
Rob Bell is now the center of controversy in the Christian world by a recent video and a new book that he is releasing on March 29, 2011. Rob Bell has claimed that "a loving God does not condemn a soul". This statement alone is called "universalism". Bell is claiming that God would not send billions to hell while only a select few go to Heaven to enjoy the glory of God.
Universalism is one of the most controversial subjects that is never talked about in the Christian church. In youth groups across America, I can guarantee most students wouldn't even know what universalism is or what it means. I can say that I have never talked about it before, because of the foundational Biblical beliefs I was raised on and have come to know and follow with my whole heart.
I am heeding a warning to all youth pastors out there....Rob Bell, who can influence A LOT of students with his easy going theology is now a danger and threat to student ministry and the church as a whole. Rob Bell has stated that the reason people turn away from God or want nothing to do with God is because of the whole concept of Hell. Because of this belief, Bell has placed himself on the line of Christianity and falling on the side of the world, where he says being a good person will get you into Heaven. We can't answer the question,"Why would a loving God condemn BILLIONS to hell because they never knew Christ personally like we do?"
Here are my views on this subject and how to point out that Rob Bell is now a threat to us as student ministers. Let me be clear again, this is MY view on this subject and how I feel that he can influence THOUSANDS of students to start having the same belief.
2 Corinthians 11:14–15
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Bell says that God would not condemn people to hell who do not know Him.
John 14:6 says, "Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me (Jesus)"
At the end of our lives, we are taught that we have to give an account for our lives. We must tell God all of our sins in our lives. Rob Bell is now playing Halloween with the rest of the Christian world. He is playing a disguise. Simply put, this is a belief that Satan himself would want us to believe.
If Bell is claiming to challenge the fact that there is no hell, or that our hell is here on earth, then what would be the point of Jesus' death on the cross?
I seem to remember Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Is it just me, or did I read that the veil in the temple was torn and the earth shattered when Jesus died so that we may DIRECTLY come towards Him and talk DIRECTLY with Him?
Bell is simply saying that in the end of everything Love Wins. This is where I do not disagree with him. Love will win. However, that love that wins is a just a righteous love. The love that bell is describing is a love that will not judge ANYONE at the end time, will not persecute ANYONE who sinned against God all their life, and will not send ANYONE to hell because they believe in their hearts that they were good people.
Being a universalist is such touchy subject, but goes against EVERYTHING that the Bible is written and foundationally built on. JESUS DIED, NOT TO SAVE US FROM GOD, BUT TO SAVE US FROM SIN!
I have not read Bell's new book and I can say I will read it when it is released to see what Bell is really talking about. However, from his little video that is going viral on the internet, he is claiming "To hell with hell" and that a love that surpasses all will get you into heaven, regardless of our beliefs or our life style that WE CHOOSE TO LIVE.
The experiences I have with Jesus is real. Jesus raised me from the land of dead, the worldly ways I was living, and into the light of God. I am NOT going to sit here and let the Gospel, the Good news, be bashed by someone who is revered as "A Rock Star in the Christian world".
Bell has a lot of influence. Bell could be doing this because he really is a universalist and is saying it is OK to live the way we want and sin against Christ all our life, and then go to heaven because we believe we are good people. Bell could be trying to earn a lot of money and garner a lot of attention for his book.
Only Bell knows what Bell's real motives are. The one thing I continue to say and to agree with Bell, is this "Love Wins". A love that surpasses all understanding and knowledge will win. A love that challenges and defeated sin and death wins. A love that loves those who LOVE HIM wins.
Jesus is the love that ultimately wins.
I encourage all of you to buy Rob Bell's book and decide for yourself what you really believe. Do not just take on the beliefs of bloggers like me. I am writing about this subject because a few reasons, I want people to read my blog, I want people to know the Jesus I know through my words, and I want a place to have my writings stored.
Seek out what you really believe about Heaven and Hell. Seek out what you really believe about what type of God God really is. Would God condemn billions to hell? Is there REALLY only one way to heaven? Seek out what God says in the Bible before we take what a wolf in sheeps clothing says in a book that many consider the "New Gospel".
Luke 11:9 "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."
Last night before Bible study, my office was crowded with people. I was reminded, ONCE AGAIN, how plain my office is. So I told the students that they could get creative.
Normally a youth pastor would think this is a terrible idea to give a bunch of kids spray paint and tell them to go crazy on a wall.
Well, that is exactly what I did. I told my kids to go nuts on my wall and see what comes out. The picture to the left is the result of the madness that ensued, the hideous smell, and the haze that was in my office the rest of the night.
I was thinking about all of the creativeness that we seem to look for in ministry, when I walked in my office to be reminded of how creative my students are...or aren't depending on the person. When I think back to how many times I have tried to be innovative and creative, I seem to really plateau. How many youth ministers that are reading this blog can go back in their ministry and say, "You know, I tried the same thing. I wanted to be different to attract more students to my ministry."
It is good to be creative. It is good to be different. The only different I try to instill in my life and the lives of the students I come across is simple, to be Kingdom minded different. Don't be the worldly different.
So often, youth pastors try to have the edge on other churches. Suddenly our local communities have become a stock market and the kids that are involved are the shares being thrown around with no regard. We get so competitive with other groups, that we miss out on some real ministry time with our students we have.
The church I currently work for, is the biggest Methodist church in the area. There are also two large baptist churches right beside us and down the street a few miles. I am not trying to compete with these churches to have more students and have the best youth ministry in town. It is my job to glorify God and follow the vision for this church and to be a branch to the students. I know students that attend both churches and I do not pressure them to come to my church because we are more fun, less serious, and do CRAZY events all the time. If that were the case, I will just hang the circus tent from my steeple and see how many people start coming then!
Graffiti is an art to some people and to others it is a complete and utter waste of time. When I asked my students to put graffiti on my wall, I was asking them to express themselves. I asked them to be their own type of creative and do something different to them.
Why don't we as youth pastors try to infuse and equip our students with these different forms of creativity? Students can see right through us if we are not being genuine and faithful to God.
So often we can be in competition mode that we miss certain students who really needed to be talked to or to be accepted.
Ministry is just like this wall of graffiti that sits before me. It is creative. It is innovative. It is different. But it is not the creativeness to attract hundreds of students to this church. It is not then innovative mentality that makes students think about God more on a daily basis. It is not the difference in the programming that makes students come to this or any other church.
The one simple thing that makes everyone come together is love. Jesus' love for us, our love for Him, and our faithfulness to follow what HE has told us to do.
Early on in youth ministry, I was always trying to find the edge. I was always trying to be on the cutting edge technologically and ministerially. MY edge is nothing new. I can not reinvent the wheel and sell it as a new product. I have to believe in the item I am selling and sell it to the best of my ability. My edge is simply this:
Matthew 28:18-20 (New Living Translation)
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,a]">[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We must also ALWAYS remember that we do not know more than our senior pastor and we are NEVER our own church. We are simply the branch of the church, following the vision laid down from God to our senior pastor. I am a follower of Jesus and trust that HE will make me be creative and innovative enough to follow Him with my whole life and my whole ministry.
Where are you going to lead your group? Are you going to trade them around and acquire stock to make your group the biggest and the best dog and pony show? Or are we going to make disciples of Christ through His word and faithfulness to us?
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