Chapter 4


The title says it all, doesn’t it?  Of course, God is God, He is all powerful, anything He wants to come to pass He can bring to pass, so God always gets what God wants.  Therefore, since God wants all to be saved, in the end all must somehow be saved or God does not get what God wants, and therefore He would not be God.  That sums up what Bell teaches in this chapter, with the addition of a few partially quoted scripture verses, many of which are taken out of their immediate context. 

The truth is, how can you have a discussion about a title like, “Does God Get What God Wants,” without taking into account multitudes and multitudes of verses that all speak on this subject?  How can you tackle a question like this in 24 pages that are primarily filled up with the words of Rob Bell instead of countless scriptures? 

The truth is…

you can’t,
and he didn’t.

The actual answer to that question is both yes and no.  It cannot easily be discussed without going through countless verses, taking into account God’s nature as revealed in scripture and determining if God has different types of “wills” or desires.  Can God will something in the absolute sense in the sense that it absolutely will come to pass?  The short answer is yes.  Can God will something that He would like to come to pass, as it is in agreement with His nature, but He does not ordain it to come to pass in an absolute sense?  The short answer is yes.  These questions can absolutely be answered from scripture, but that would be a rather long discussion and would take away from the purpose for writing this critique.  Again, my goal is not to present the truth on this matter by examining every single scripture on the subject, which would be the right thing to do if we really and honestly want to CLEARLY see what the Bible teaches on this subject.  But my goal is to show you how the overall teaching of Rob Bell is wrong and doesn’t take into account the entirety of scripture, how he twists verses to say what they don’t say, how he adds to God’s word, and how the nature of deception works.  So with these goals in mind, let’s go through some of the things Bell says in this chapter.

Bell begins the chapter by stating how many church websites have statements about judgment, hell, and the torment of unbelievers, and then at the same time these websites have statements talking about a God who is:

       “full of grace and mercy,”
       And “all-knowing.”  (pages 96, 97)

He continues:

       I point out these parallel claims: that God is mighty, powerful, and “in control” and that billions of people will 

       spend forever apart from this God, who is their creator, even though it is written in the Bible that “God wants 
       all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  (1 Tim. 2)

       So does God get what God wants?  (page 97)

So again, Bell puts up one truth about God against another truth about God, and insinuates that one truth about God can’t be right because of one verse found in 1 Timothy 2.  What Bell is trying to say is that God cannot possibly be considered “full of grace and mercy,” “loving,” “mighty,” and “powerful,” if God sends people to hell forever.  Why?  Because to him, and others like him, love is the only real attribute that God has; and it triumphs over every other attribute of God, instead of working together with His other attributes in a perfect way.  But what do you see in the cross of Christ?  You see God’s holiness, His justice, and His love fully displayed in the crucifixion and death of Christ for our sins.  Let’s also ask this question.  If God had wanted to forgive our sins without sending His only Son to die for us, could He have done it?  The answer is no.  Yes, there are certain things that God cannot do.  God cannot tell a lie (1 Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18); God cannot tempt people with evil (James 1:13); and God could not forgive our sins without Christ satisfying the just wrath of God for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10).  Love was not the only attribute of God being displayed when Christ was crucified.  God’s hatred for our sin and God’s wrath toward our sins were also being displayed and satisfied when Jesus was crucified.  Not one of God’s attributes was “put aside” or considered “less important” when God accomplished salvation for those who would believe.  When one begins to understand the nature of God, there is no need to put one attribute of God up against another attribute of God.  When you are able to do this, you will be able to more easily reconcile verses in the Bible that seem to say different things about God’s character.  However, if you are like many people today who are led by their emotions and what they believe God should do and by what they believe is right and wrong, then you will be easily led astray.  You will find yourself in a ditch called humanism on one side of the “narrow road.”  Humanism is the primary philosophy behind the book Love Wins.  That’s why each chapter asks the leading questions that it does and why each chapter is so shallow when dealing with verses on the topic that is being discussed. 

Again, Rob Bell says:

       So does God get what God wants?  (page 97)

Let’s ask a few similar questions:

Did God want Israel to fall into apostasy and backslide from keeping God’s commandments? 

Did God want Israel to distort His image and character to the nations around them?

Did God want King David to commit sin and sleep with Bathsheeba?

Did God want the Pharisees to be baptized by John the Baptist?  How does the scripture answer this question?

But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.  (Luke 7:30)

Does God Get What God Wants?  Obviously, there are different types of “wills” of God.  One that God will most certainly bring to pass and one that God desires should happen, as it is in accordance with His nature, but that is not guaranteed to come to pass.  Again, this topic would require a very lengthy discussion. 

But let’s continue.  Bell says:

       How great is God?
       Great enough to achieve what God sets out to do,
       Or kind of great,
       Medium great,
       Great most of the time,
       But in this,
       The fate of billions of people,
       Not totally great.
       Sort of great.
       A little great.  (page 98)

That’s just blasphemous.  So if God does not save everyone, according to what Bell believes, then God is really not that great.  Of course, he’s asking this as a question so that he doesn’t have to say it outright.  But he’s saying it without saying it.  It’s very deceptive.

Bell continues:

       According to the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, “God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose 

       very clear”  (chap. 6)  (page 98)

Rob Bell is using this verse to state that God’s unchanging nature and purpose is for all to be saved.  Let’s look at this verse in context:

       “so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 
       For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by 
himself, saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you."  And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, 
       obtained the promise.  For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an 
       oath is final for confirmation.  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the 
       unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, 
       in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold 
       fast to the hope set before us.  We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters 
       into the inner place behind the curtain,where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become 
       a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”  (Heb. 6:12-20)

So God, wanting Abraham (and us) to know the unchangeable nature of His purpose, guaranteed it with an oath.  God swore by Himself.  Therefore, we to who have fled to Christ for “refuge” might have strong encouragement to hold fast the hope set before us.  What is our hope?

       For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but 

       have eternal life.  (John 3:16)

That is our hope that is founded on God’s “unchangeable nature of his purpose.”  It is founded on an oath and on the fact that God cannot lie.  It has nothing to do with the ultimate salvation of every person who ever lived. 

Bell continues:

       Does this magnificent, mighty, marvelous God fail in the end?  (page 98)

And the answer is no.  Everyone that believes that Jesus is the Son of God, is born-again by the Spirit of God, and who has the Spirit testifying that they are His child will receive eternal life.  God most certainly does not fail. 

Bell continues:

       The prophet Malachi asks, “Do we not all have one Father?  Did not one God create us? (chap. 2).  Paul says 

       in Acts 17, “We are God’s offspring,” and in Ephesians 3 he writes, “I kneel before the Father, from whom 
       every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”  The writers of the scriptures consistently affirm that 
       we’re all part of the same family.  (page 99)

Here Rob Bell is saying that we all, all of humanity, have the same Father.  God is the Father of us all.  Therefore, would a Father let any of His children perish?  But is that really what the scripture teaches?  Are we all children of God in the sense that Rob Bell would have us believe?  Are there other scriptures that show a distinction between who are the children of God and who are not the children of God?  First, let’s look at the passages above that Bell quotes.

       Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against 

       his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?  Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is 
       committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and 
       hath married the daughter of a strange god.  (Mal. 2:10-11)

Here, God is speaking to the children of Israel about how they treat each other.  God is rebuking the chosen people of God and not the heathen nations.  The prophet, speaking to Jews, says, “Have we not all one father?  Hath not one God created us?” 

It is the same sort of thing God says in Isaiah:

       But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I 

       have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.  (Isa. 43:1)

At that time, the Israelites were the chosen people of God.  They had a different relationship with God that the rest of the nations did not have.  God was their “Father” in a way He was not with the rest of the nations. 

Bell then quotes Paul from Acts 17:

       Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or 

       silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.  (Acts 17:29)

Notice Paul uses the word “offspring” and not “child of God.”  While they can mean the same thing in other uses, in a biblical sense they do not.  The scriptures I post below will show the difference.

Then Bell quotes Ephesians 3:

       For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven 

       and earth is named,  (Eph. 3:15)

I believe Bell uses the NIV when quoting this verse, and it says, “from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name.”  The King James Version makes the understanding of this passage more clear when it says, “of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”  So the whole family of God, all the children of God through faith (as we shall see), whether they be in heaven or earth, derives its name from the Father and/or Jesus Christ.  This passage is not saying that every pagan family is part of the family of God.  Scripture never teaches such a thing.  Here are some other verses that help bring to light WHO the children of God are:

       “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The 

       reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.  No one born of God makes a practice 
       of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 
       By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not 
       practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”  (1 Jn. 3:8-10)

So those who “practice,” or live a lifestyle, of sin are not the children of God. 

       By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen 

       and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the 
       Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  (1 Jn. 4:13-15)

       You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does 

       not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  (Rom. 8:9)

       For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.   For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall 

       back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
       The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs 
       of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
       (Rom. 8:16-17)

Can you see the distinction?  Most of humanity is not considered a child of God.  God is not their Father in the same sense that God is the Father of those who believe. 

So, those who are children of God

Don’t practice sin.
Have the Spirit of God.
Confess that Jesus is the Son of God.
Are led by the Spirit of God.
And have the Spirit of God bearing witness that they are His child.

So why is it that Bell leaves out all these scriptures that clarify who the children of God really are?  Could it be that they don’t fit with what he’s trying to teach?  Does that concern you, that in talking about such an important topic, he would leave out important verses that bring clarity to who God’s children are and who can rightfully call Him Father?  Again and again, Bell continues to distort what the scripture teaches so that you’ll believe what he’s teaching. 

Bell then continues by quoting scripture from Ezekiel 36, Isaiah 52, Zephaniah, and Philippians saying, “The nations will know that I am the Lord,” “all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God,” “then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder,” and “every knee should bow…and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Bell then says:

       All people.
       The nations.
       Every person, every knee, every tongue.  (page 100)

Bell is trying to say that when the scripture says ALL people and ALL nations, it means every single person that ever lived….because all means all.  But let’s look at a few other ALLs in the Bible and see if ALL might have some other meanings.

       By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  (John 13:35)

So using Bell’s logic, if I love the brethren, every single person in the entire world will then know that I am a disciple of Christ, even the ones I’ve never met.

       For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.  (1 Cor. 9:19)

       To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all 

       means I might save some.  (1 Cor. 9:22)

So did Paul literally become a servant to all people – everyone that ever lived?  According to Bell’s reasoning, he did.  Did Paul become all things to all people?  Did Paul become a transsexual to the transsexual?  According to Bell’s reasoning, he did.

I could go on and on, but there’s no need.  It’s easy to see that ALL does not always mean ALL, and there are countless other examples that show the same thing.

I could in turn ask Bell, “Does Jesus only bear the sins of many?  If he only bears the sins of many, then how are all saved?”  Because MANY means MANY and not ALL, right?

       Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he 

       poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and 
       makes intercession for the transgressors.  (Isa. 53:12)

Obviously, a discussion of this magnitude cannot be undertaken without taking into account all these different verses and how certain words are used.  You can’t simply pull out verses that you like, that you can twist to say what you want them to say, and teach on a topic like this.  It’s irresponsible, and it is quite often the way false teachers operate. 

Bell continues:

       Is history tragic?
       Have billions of people been created only to spend eternity in conscious punishment and torment, suffering 

       infinitely for the finite sins they committed in the few years they spent on earth?
       Is our future uncertain?
       Or will God take care of us?
       Are we safe?
       Are we secure?
       Or are we on our own?  (page 102)

So history is ultimately tragic if some people go to heaven while others do not.  The fact is, God was not obligated to save any person.  He could have left the human race without redemption like He has the fallen angels.  The angels have no hope of redemption (Jude 6).  Their sin was not atoned for by the death of Christ.  Yet God in His mercy has not left the human race in a state where none have the possibility of salvation.  God has made a way for those who believe the gospel, the “good news,” to be saved.  There is nothing tragic at all about the true grace of God. 

Bell continues:

       Will God, in the end, settle, saying:
       “Well, I tried, I gave it my best shot,
       And sometimes you just have to be okay with failure”?
       Will God shrug God-sized shoulders and say,
       “You can’t always get what you want”?  (page 103)

So if you believe in the traditional Gospel, then you are calling God a failure, and therefore God will have to sing that song, “You can’t always get what you want.”  Ultimately, you are saying God is not all-powerful, He is not mighty, and He cannot do what He wants to do.  In other words, Bell is saying (without directly saying it) that if you do not believe like I do, then you are degrading God and ultimately calling Him a failure.  The fact is, though God may desire the salvation of every man, it will not happen, as the scriptures say.  Though God may desire that Rob Bell never sin, yet Rob Bell will sin.  Though God may have desired the Pharisees to take John’s Baptism, they did not take John’s Baptism.  Yet God did desire that those who believe in the Son of God would not perish but have eternal life, and those who believe in the Son of God DO and WILL have eternal life.  The word of God is true despite Bell’s leading questions and insinuations.

Now that Bell has questioned and mocked the traditional view of salvation, he’s going to explain two other views, both very similar, one of which leads to the ultimate reconciliation of all men to God. 

Bell says:

       And then there are others who can live with two destinations, two realities after death, but insist that there must 

       be some kind of “second chance” for those who don’t believe in Jesus in this lifetime.  In a letter Martin Luther, 
       one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, wrote to Hans von Rechenberg in 1552 about the possibility 
       that people could turn to God after death, asking; “Who would doubt God’s ability to do that?”  (page 106)

Bell is trying to insinuate that, “Look, even one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation held to the possibility that God could save people after death.”  So even those leaders who taught salvation alone, through Christ alone, accepted the possibility that what Bell is about to teach could be true.  But is that the case?  Is that what Martin Luther actually said?  Let’s look at the whole quote in “context” (again that pesky word that false teachers just hate). 

       If God were to save anyone without faith, he would be acting contrary to his own words and would give 

       himself the lie; yes, he would deny himself. And that is impossible for, as St. Paul declares, God cannot deny 
       himself [II Tim. 2:13]. It is as impossible for God to save without faith as it is impossible for divine truth to lie. 
       That is clear, obvious, and easily understood, no matter how reluctant the old wineskin is to hold this wine – 
       yes, is unable to hold and contain it.

       It would be quite a different question whether God can impart faith to some in the hour of death or after death 

       so that these people could be saved through faith. Who would doubt God's ability to do that? No one, 
       however, can prove that he does do this. For all that we read is that he has already raised people from the 
       dead and thus granted them faith. But whether he gives faith or not, it is impossible for anyone to be saved 
       without faith. Otherwise every sermon, the gospel, and faith would be vain, false, and deceptive, since the 
       entire gospel makes faith necessary. (Works, 43, ed. and trans. G. Wienke and H. T. Lehmann 
       [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968], 53-54; WA 10.ii, 324.25-325.11)

So is Luther saying what Rob Bell is implying that he is saying?  Is Martin Luther saying that there is a possibility for people to be saved after death?  Martin Luther is not denying that God does have the ability to save someone “by faith” after they have died, but he also says, “No one, however, can prove that He does do this.”  Martin Luther is correct.  He is saying that God could save someone who had faith after they died, but God has not said he will do such a thing.  He is using the Bible as his guide as to what God has revealed that He will and won’t do.  God has not revealed that He will save people after they die.  However, God has most clearly revealed that those who die in their sin, apart from receiving the salvation that is only found in Christ, will indeed be cast into hell and then judged and cast into the lake of fire, also called the second death.  (Rev. 20:15)

But even if Martin Luther held to the view that Rob Bell is espousing in his book, does it even matter?  Martin Luther was a man like any other man and is not the authority on biblical truth.  If what someone says contradicts the scriptures, it doesn’t matter who they are.  The word of God is the only and final authority. 

So again, why did Rob Bell only pull out one sentence from the quote by Martin Luther?  Why did he not want to be accurate and truthful and show the question Martin asked in its full context?  Is it because the full context does not support what Rob Bell wants you to believe?  Is it because Rob Bell has yet to learn to read things in context?  Or, is it because the truth doesn’t really matter to Rob Bell?  (Maybe I’ll just continue to ask questions like Rob Bell, so that later I can deny that I’m saying what I’m really saying.)

Also, notice that in Rob Bell’s quote above, he says there are “those who insist there must be some kind of second chance.”  What right do we have to “insist” on anything, especially as it relates to God and what He must or must not do?  God has a very clear answer to people who make statements like this:

       You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault?  For who can resist his will?” 

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?  Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made 
       me like this?”  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use
       and another for dishonorable use?  What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, 
       has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches 
       of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory – even us whom he has called, 
       not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”  (Rom. 9:19-24)

No man can insist that God do anything or act in any way that is contrary to what God has revealed about Himself in the scriptures.  To do so is the height of arrogance and shows just how little someone knows about the God of the Bible. 

So now we finally get to where Bell has been leading us.  Here, Bell tells you what he believes:

       And then there are others who ask, if you get another chance after you die, why limit that chance to a one-off  

       immediately after death?  And so they expand the possibilities, trusting that there will be endless opportunities 
       in an endless amount of time for people to say yes to God.

       As long as it takes, in other words.

       At the heart of this perspective is the belief that, given enough time, everybody will turn to God and find 

       themselves in the joy and peace of God’s presence.  The love of God will melt every hard heart, and even 
       the most “depraved sinners” will eventually give up their resistance and turn to God.  (pages 106, 107)

Notice that when Rob Bell begins to talk about universal salvation, or “the reconciliation of all things,” he no longer asks his usual leading questions that go down a negative road.  We are about to shift into the “positive” and see how glorious this position is.  So again, with the traditional view of salvation, we have all kinds of questions that make us question the character of God and which are designed to subtly put fear into us in different ways.  But now that Rob Bell is talking about a different view of salvation, his view, those questions are going to silently fade away, and we are going to see how glorious and positive this position is. 

Bell continues:

       And so, beginning with the early church, there is a long tradition of Christians who believe that God will 

       ultimately restore everything and everybody, because Jesus says in Matthew 19 that there will be a “renewal 
       of all things,” Peter says in Acts 3 that Jesus will “restore everything,” and Paul says in Colossians 1 that 
       through Christ “God was pleased to…reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in 
       heaven.”  (page 107)

As I have said previously, you cannot have a discussion of this magnitude by just throwing out snippets of passages without consulting other passages or the entire passage in context.  The reconciling or renewing of all things refers to the blessed condition when this age shall come to an end and all things shall be submitted unto Christ.  A world without sin, the righteous with the Lord, and the unjust and unbelieving in the lake of fire.  What Rob Bell is holding onto is the word “all” in the above passages.  He infers that “all” means every single person that ever lived.  Yet I have briefly shown already that “all” doesn’t always mean every single person; in fact, many times it doesn’t.  Many times in scripture, words like “many” appear, and Rob Bell would most likely say that these words have a very different meaning, such as previously mentioned in Isaiah 53 where “he bore the sins of many.”  So the fact is, each of these passages must be understood in the context of the whole of scripture. When someone can do that, it will keep them from falling into a ditch and from believing and teaching error.  If one reads the Bible, taking into account the full counsel of scripture; they will see that only those who believe in Christ are saved; the unconverted, whose names are not in the book of life, are cast into the lake of fire; God creates a new heaven and earth, and ultimately everything is reconciled to God.  The complete scriptures, the complete truth.

Bell then continues by talking about the different “church fathers” who have held to the belief that all people will ultimately be saved.  What I’ve noticed is that no matter what people are teaching, they always seem to want to refer back to the “church fathers.”  The funny thing is, it almost doesn’t matter what you believe, you can always find a so called “church father” whom you can quote and who agrees with your position.  I’ve always found it best to just stick with the scriptures instead of quoting “church fathers” as some sort of authority.  I think many people tend to forget the warning that the apostle Paul gave. 

       For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of 

       your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  (Acts 20:30)

And what John the apostle said:

       I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge 

       our authority.  So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not 
       content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out 
       of the church.  (3 Jn. 1:9, 10)

There’s no doubt that men like this were what some considered “church fathers” later.  I’m not saying they were all that way, because they weren’t.  What I am saying is that Paul warned the elders of Ephesus that men, even from among themselves, would rise up and draw away disciples unto themselves.  How do they do it?  By speaking “perverse things.”  They do it by speaking and teaching things that God had not spoken or taught.  In the 21st century, they might do it by asking leading questions.  Questions that lead away from the truth, by questioning and degrading the character of God as revealed in the scriptures and introducing something that the Bible does not teach, and doing all these things while at the same time denying that is what they are doing.

It’s a good warning.
Still applicable today.

Bell continues:

       Central to their trust that all would be reconciled was the belief that untold masses of people suffering forever 

       doesn’t bring God glory.  Restoration brings God glory; eternal torment doesn’t.  Reconciliation brings God   
       glory; endless anguish doesn’t.  Renewal and return causes God’s greatness to shine through the universe; 
       never-ending punishment doesn’t.  (page 108)

So the reason these people believe this way is because THEY believe this is the way that God gets the most glory.  Again, it’s humanism.  People ultimately decided on what it is that is best for God.  Any time that we decide what is best instead of letting the scriptures teach us what is best, we will almost always end up in error.  The scriptures teach that God gets glory when people are saved, and God gets glory when people are condemned.  If love is the only attribute that you believe God really has, then of course the only way God will really get glory is if all people are saved.  Yet if you believe that God is also holy, righteous, and just; you will realize that the scripture teaches that God is also glorified in wrath, judgment, and punishment as well. 

       With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy    

       judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.  (Isa. 26:9)

       What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!  For he says to Moses, “I will have 

       mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  So then it depends 
       not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very
       purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in 
       all the earth.”  So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.  
       (Rom. 9:14-18)

       And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.  

       (Rev. 16:7)

       For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with 

       her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.  (Rev. 19:2)

God receives glory in everything He does.  He receives glory in the salvation of sinners, in the damnation of sinners, in the judging of the world, and in the renewing of the world.  In everything God does, He gets perfect glory because He is perfect.  In all that God does, His perfection and His attributes are gloriously and righteously displayed.

Bell continues:

       Could God say to someone truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation, “Sorry, too late”?  Many 

       have refused to accept the scenario in which somebody is pounding on the door, apologizing, repenting, and 
       asking God to be let in, only to hear God say through the keyhole: “Door’s locked.  Sorry.  If you had been 
       here earlier, I could have done something.  But now, it’s too late.”  (page 108) 

I guess Bell didn’t read these verses:

       Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.”  But he answered, “Truly, I say to you, I 

       do not know you.”  (Mat. 25:11, 12)

       Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  When once 

       the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door,  
       saying, “Lord, open to us,” then he will answer you, “I do not know where you come from.”  (Luke 13:24-25)

They wanted in.
The Lord said no.
Exactly the opposite of what Bell says.

Bell continues:

       As it’s written in 2 Timothy 2, God “cannot disown himself”

       As Abraham asked in Genesis 18.  “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right”?  (pages 108, 109)

Yes, as it says in 2 Timothy, God cannot disown himself.  But let’s look at the verse in context.

       if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 
       if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.  (2 Tim. 2:12, 13)

So if we deny God, He will deny us.  That doesn’t sound like reconciliation, now does it?  Then it says if we’re faithless, He remains faithful.  That doesn’t mean God will save everybody.  What is means is quite simple.  If we’re faithless to believe anything that God has said, God is still faithful.  Our unbelief does not nullify God and His word being true. 

Then we have Bell quoting Abraham, saying, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”  For Bell and others, it means that for God to do right, He must save every person who ever lived.  But let’s look at that passage again in context.  Genesis 18 is the story where God comes down to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  God tells Abraham what He is going to do, and Abraham says:

       Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”  (Gen. 18:23)

       “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous 

       fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”  (Gen. 18:25)

As you can see, the issue is not about “saving everybody.”  The issue is about whether God is going to destroy the righteous with the wicked.  Simply reading this verse in context will show anyone that what Rob Bell is making it say has nothing to do with what Abraham was saying.  Yet this is how Rob Bell builds his case for what God should do.  He takes verses out of their contexts and gives them new meanings. 

Bell continues:

       At the center of Christian tradition since the first church have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, 

       hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.  (page 109)

Here, Bell is again stating his position and trying to say that this position has been at the “center of the Christian tradition.” 

Bell, then, wants to make everyone who believes like him feel good by saying that there have always been believers who have believed all kinds of things.  He says:

       It is, after all, a wide stream we’re swimming in.  (page 110)

I think it’s time for him to get out of the wide stream and onto the narrow road.

In talking about the traditional view of hell compared to his view, Bell says:

       Second, it’s important, that we be honest about the fact that some stories are better than others.  Telling a story 

       in which billions of people spend forever somewhere in the universe trapped in a black hole of endless torment 
       and misery with no way out isn’t a good story.  (page 110)

       In contrast, everybody enjoying God’s good world together with no disgrace or shame, justice being served and 

       all the wrongs being made right is a better story.  (page 111)

So it’s not really about what the scripture teaches; it’s about what story we deem to be a better story.  Again, it’s humanism at the core.  It might have been a happier story if God had sent presents to all the people in Noah’s day instead of killing them in a flood, but He didn’t.  It might have been a happier story if God had rained down candy on the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, but He didn’t.  It doesn’t matter what WE FEEL.  It only matters what God has said and revealed. 

Now, here’s the kicker.  Listen to what Bell says here:

       To shun, censor, or ostracize someone for holding this belief is to fail to extend grace to each other in a 

       discussion that has had plenty of room for varied perspectives for hundreds of years now.  (page 111)

Bell obviously knows that many Bible-believing Christians are going to disagree with him.  So Bell includes this statement to fend off criticism of his beliefs and from his being labeled a heretic.  However, this is one of the most hypocritical statements in his book, and it reeks of Pharisee-ism.  So you’re supposed to accept Bell and what he says, while Bell has taken “shots”, if you will, at those who hold to the traditional view of salvation.  He implies that those who “think they have salvation and Jesus figured out” might be like the demons; he insinuates that those who believe in the traditional view of hell might make children stumble and risk being killed by Jesus; he insinuates that if you believe in the traditional view of hell, your God is not good or loving or powerful, etc., etc., etc.

Over and over again, Bell asks his leading questions to make you question God’s character.  He makes accusing statements against those who hold to the traditional view of hell, and then he denies that is what he is really saying.  He does in this book what he is telling you not to do.  But instead of just saying it, he asks questions and makes statements that he says don’t relate to what he’s saying, all so he can deny what he’s really trying to say.  It really is the height of deception.  If that isn’t just like Satan, to lie and deceive, then I don’t know what is.  But you’re not supposed to criticize or shun this “angel (messenger) of light” (2 Cor. 11:14)

Bell then begins to bring this chapter to a close by talking about the book of Revelation.  Bell points out different scenes and pictures from the book.  He talks about:

       Women sit on scarlet beast
       Swords come out of mouths,
       And the “lake of fire” death and Hades experience a “second death”  (pages 111, 112)

Bell is quick to mention that death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire, but he conveniently forgets to mention the very next verse, which says:

       And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.  (Rev. 20:15)

How can you write a book on this subject without addressing verses like this?  The truth is, you can’t, unless you just want to overlook them because they don’t support what you are teaching.

Bell continues:

       Will everybody be saved,
       Or will some perish apart from God forever because of their choices?

       Those are questions, or more accurately, those are tensions we are free to leave fully intact.  We don’t need to

       resolve them or answer them because we can’t, and so we simply respect them, create space for the freedom 
       that love requires.  (page 115)

So you have page upon page of Bell viewing and questioning the traditional view of salvation in a negative light.  Then you have pages and pages of Bell espousing what IS his view of salvation in a positive light.  Then you have Bell again, in typical Bell fashion, deny that he is really saying anything at all and that we can’t really understand the Bible.  Do you see a pattern?  I’m hoping you can see it by now. 

Then Bell goes right back to talking about how Revelation shows there can still be all kinds of possibilities in the new heaven and new earth – in other words, possibilities for everyone to be reconciled to God.

He says:

       This doesn’t diminish God’s justice or take less seriously the very real consequences of sin and rebellion, it 

       simply acknowledges with humility the limits of our powers of speculation.  (page 116)

The “powers of speculation” have not been limited in this book.  It is an entire book of speculation, based on out-of-context verses and the emotions of its writer.  It is a book that ultimately diminishes the word of God. 

So in conclusion, Rob Bell says everything, to say nothing, to say we can’t know, to say that Love Wins.  Hopefully, you understood.

Click here to go to chapter 5