Old Testament passage for Wednesday, December 4, 2013: Daniel 11:36-12:13
1 And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:2-3 (NKJV)
A few years ago, Rob Bell published a book Love Wins. It caused no small stir in the Christian community. Mr. Bell was then the pastor of megachurch Mars Hill Bible Church in Granville, Michigan.
There are no new heresies; just re-packaging of old ones. Mr. Bell re-ignited an old debate about hell. There are many things I could say about Rob Bell and his book, but this short blog is not a review of his work. I will however mention one quote from the book with which I actually agree.
"What we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like."
Mr. Bell moves toward the annihilationist or universalist position. Annihilationists believe that hell exists but is not eternal. The wicked along with the devil are destroyed and exist no more. Universalists believe in ultimate reconciliation of all things. Bell tips his hand in that direction with his title: Love Wins (but, true to form, he stops short of taking a firm position).
Author Randy Alcorn comments, "I think the doctrine of hell may be the single biggest test of whether the Bible is our authority, or we and our culture are our own authority."
There are so many winds blowing in our day. For those of us who seek to live in accord with Scripture, it seems the battles never end -- but rather are on the increase. Hell is not a popular topic. BUT IT IS IN THE SCRIPTURE!
Daniel prophesies that end of days shall be attended by "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation" (Dan. 12:1). But this shall also be a time of DELIVERANCE for all who know the Lord! That's good news.
He speaks of RESURRECTION. Here is the hard truth. That resurrection will be fantastic for some but terrible for others. There will be a resurrection of righteousness which will usher some into "everlasting life." However, there will be those who are resurrected to experience "shame and everlasting contempt."
To be very honest with you, I wish I could believe in annihilationism. That would be preferable to eternal torment. But, as Randy Alcorn states, our faith is not a matter of my personal preferences or predispositions. It is a matter of "whether the Bible is my authority." For a million reasons, I chose to believe the Bible.
That means that there is a place called Heaven and there is a place called Hell. There is an event yet to come in which eternal judgment will be passed on every human being. I believe in a God who IS LOVE (I John 4:8). In His love for us He extends the freedom to enter into or refuse a love relationship with Him. None of us will have our eternal destiny settled on the basis of our OWN merit. Rather the merit of Jesus is the only medicine that can solve the human dilemma.
That motivates me to love God, to love people, and to share Jesus. In that sense, it is the only thing that matters.