Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Brother-In-Laws review of "What About the Flat Tire?" Chapter One of Rob Bells new book "Love Wins"

Interesting stuff... Give this a read.

Rob Bell starts his book with the transcript he uses in his promo video. You can see the video here. It is a profound question Bell is taking on. How do we know certain people are in Hell? How can we be absolutely certain that "good" people (like Gandhi) are in fact in Hell simply because they didn't outwardly profess Jesus as "Lord"? Do we as believers have authority on this matter? I believe we do.

Jesus uses a number of examples proving you can tell outwardly that a person is His. One example I see in Matthew 7 is when Jesus is referring to false teachers. He says you can point them out because of "their fruit" (vs. 16). This means simply, we can tell somebody who is on the other team simply by the way that they live. This begs the question though, what if I see an atheist or person of another faith (like Gandhi) who lives a more "moral" life then I, as a Bible believing Christ, do? The answer is spelled out in scripture. Jesus is what separates a moral person from God.

As I read Romans, I see in chapter 3 a passage that seems to spell out the issue VERY plainly. Here is what Paul had to say about "moral people"... they don't exist!

"'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.' 'Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.' 'The venom of asps is under their lips.' 'Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.' 'Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.' 'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'" (Rom. 3: 10b-18).

So, to answer Bells initial question, yes we can tell a person who is and is not saved by their fruit. And in regards to more "moral" atheists and other religious people (Gandhi) the answer is God owes nobody anything because even the most "righteous" Buddhist is still a massive contradiction based on the fact that no man is made righteous apart from Christ. I continue through Bell's chapter though.

Bell then continues through and makes the argument that there are plenty of good people in Africa who will not hear the Gospel simply because the missionary "got a flat tire" (hence the name of the chapter of his book). He asks if this is fair. I respond again in the book of Romans in chapter 1 where it says that God's invisible attributes have been made known through nature around these people and therefore everyone is "without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). It also says that it is fair simply because God owes nobody anything and therefore God is allowed to do whatever He pleases in regards to salvation (Rom. 9). "This may seem not very loving of God though!" You may say to me.

I ask you this, why does God need to save anybody? We are called His enemies (Rom 5:10). Why does God need to give us anything if we, in our arrogance and pride, dared to rise up and declare war against a powerful God? He owes us nothing, yet in His love He saved some to show His love and not others to show His justice (both of these distinctly make Him holy-set apart). This is tough to swallow. Even for me. But the fact that God would come down and save anyone at all is incredible love. I have probably lost you now, but please continue to read, and also, I could be wrong on this. I am not the authority on the topic (when it comes to salvation, God's word is the only authority) so read your Bible and do research and let's grow in knowledge of God's love together.

Bell closes the chapter with a series of questions based on Jesus' stories in the Bible. I will list his questions with the references in parenthesis from the passages Bell uses.

Are you saved by:
1. What you say? (Luke 18:9-14; 23:39-43)
2. Who you are? (John 3:3)
3. What you do? (Matthew 7:21-23)
4. What we say we're going to do? (Luke 19 1:10)
5. What your friends do? (Mark 2:1-12)
6. Who you are married to? (1 Cor. 7:16)
7. If you have children? (1 Timothy 2:15)
8. If you are asked the right questions? (Acts 9: 1-9)
9. If you ask the right questions? (Same passage)

I respond to Bell's questions with this:
1. You are not saved by what you say, rather What God's word says
2. You are not saved by who you are, but instead, by who Jesus is
3. You are not saved by what you do, but by what Christ did on the cross
4. You are not saved by what you are going to do, but by what the Spirit of God is going to do in you while sanctifying you
5. You are not saved by what your earthly friends do, but rather by what Jesus (our greatest friend) did for us in dying for us (Jn. 15:13)
6. You are not saved by who you are married to on Earth, but instead whether or not you are a member of Jesus' bride, the church
7. You are not saved by if you have children, only if you are God's child through Jesus
8. You are not saved by being asked the right questions, but rather by how you answer Jesus' question correctly when He asked, "how do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29)
9. You are not saved by asking the right questions, but instead if you seek truth through God's word

I hope this is beneficial for you. Read the stories Bell cites in his book from scripture and pay attention to context. He does not look at context, rather he makes these verses mean to him whatever he wants them to mean. Peace!

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