Keeping Up With False Teaching
Throughout history God sounded the alarm to His people to be on guard for false teachers. The Torah warns of false prophets (Dt. 18:20–22). The Gospels warn of wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing (Mt. 7:15), and the Epistles warn of false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1–3). False teaching brings confusion to the body and can keep people from the truth of the gospel message.
Today false teaching seems to be springing up regularly, even within some evangelical circles. Periodically someone will emphatically declare when the Rapture will take place and when God will judge the ungodly.
Christians who read the Bible regularly know these predictions are wrong. Why? Because Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Mt. 24:36).
The ancient Mayans predicted December 21, 2012, will bring the end of the world. Unfortunately, many evangelicals believe the Mayans. But Christians who truly know and believe God’s Word do not. Mayan texts are not Scripture.
Currently the trendiest teaching—though not new—is universalism. It maintains that all people will eventually be saved.
Rob Bell, the 41-year-old founder and pastor of Mars Hill Church in western Michigan, has recently joined the ranks of the new universalists with his megapopular book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. On March 23 the book soared to the number two spot on The New York Times best-seller list.
For Bell, no one goes to hell because God’s love will save all people, even after death. God’s love wins out.
The 224-page work has ignited such a storm of controversy that Time magazine’s April 25 cover story was titled “What If There’s No Hell?” Inside was a full-page picture of Rob Bell.
Bell is quoted there as saying, “I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian. Something new is in the air.”
MSNBC, FOX, and CNN provided major television face-time to promote his book. However, the book does not sit well with many evangelicals despite its popularity. LifeWay Christian Bookstores, for example, a huge chain operated by the Southern Baptist Convention with stores in 28 states, refuses to sell Love Wins.
The Bible teaches, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17). Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Jesus spoke of a literal place where “there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 13:42), and Scripture describes hell as a place of utter darkness where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (25:30).
Jesus warned, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10:28). He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6).