Monday, June 01, 2009
I'm sorry, but I have to call it how it is. As a preacher of the pure word of God and as a defender of sound doctrine, I was truly nauseated as I read chapter 6. Bell starts out with recalling how frustrated he was as he spoke to someone who was trying to deal with their sin. After that he presented what seemed to be on the surface a presentation of the Christian's Holy position in Christ. The doctrines of substitutionary atonement, imputed righteousness, and positional sanctification in Christ are surely worth rejoicing about. However, Bell subverts these doctrines and makes them something far less than biblical.
First off, essentially what Bell advocates is that because we have died with Christ and the old man has been destroyed we should be overly concerned with getting rid of sin. Instead we should try to live in the light of who were are in Christ. The only trouble with this is that it goes against about 50% of the NT teaching. Christ did teach in the Sermon on the mountain that human righteousness is useless. However, he one must see himself as poor in spirit or devoid of spiritual good, one must mourn over their sin, one must have a meek attitude about themselves, one must hunger for righteousness, these are the ones who enter heaven, find comfort, inherit the earth, ans find satisfaction. The writers of scripture certainly want us to consider our position in Christ: If we have repented (turned from rebellion against God) and trusted Christ (put our whole faith and trust in His person and work for our salvation)then we are righteous in Christ and acceptable before God. But it is this very teaching that causes the writers of the New Testament to encourage believers again and against to walk worthy of this, to be Holy, to put off sin and put on righteousness. God wants us to root out sin in our lives. He wants us to do it in the power of His word and His Spirit and not in a fleshly legalistic way. 1 John 1:9 tells us that believers as a habit of life confess their sin and find forgiveness.
Second, and even more dangerously Bell advocates universalism: the view that all are saved because of the death of Christ on the cross because of sinners. This is "another gospel". This is very serious indeed (Gal. 1:6-8). Bell misinterprets Christ's statement "If I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself." He says that this means that "All People. Everywhere. Everybodies' sins on the cross with Jesus." He says that, "...this reality of forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody." He goes on to say that all people need to do is realize that Christ has already forgiven them and just let God write their story instead of writing it themselves. This sounds good on the surface, but what is left out here is a clear understanding of God's holiness, man's sinfulness, the response of repentance and faith, and genuine followhship of Christ: constantly putting of sin and putting on righteousness through the grace of Christ. Paul said in Acts 16:31 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Peter called the people to repent at Pentecost. John says in 1 John 5:1 that those who are born of God confess that Jesus is the Christ! Christ's sacrifice is only applied to those who turn from their sin and begin actively trusting in Christ and His finished work for their salvation. Anything less is a false gospel.
Third Bell replaces that Biblical idea of a real heaven and Hell with an idea of only heaven and hell on earth. No time to even go here--but this is obviously wrong. Here are some texts to look at (Matt. 5:22-30; Mt. 10:28;2 Pet. 2:1-17; Rev. 21:8)
In the end Bell reverts to the old liberal social gospel. There is nothing new here. He equates the true gospel with social reform. We do certainly want to care for the poor and needy, but the best way to do that is to give them the true gospel not a false one. Then we also want to provide physical care as well. We cannot replace true Christianity and the true gospel with a false gospel of simple social action.
Jude 17-25 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.NASB95