How Love Wins According to John the Apostle – Thoughts on Rob Bells’s New Book

Rob Bell has a new book out:  Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

Listen to Bell’s thoughts and HarperCollins’s description of the book here.

In light of this, and the controversy that is surrounding it, what follows are some points that I have arranged which are derived from Jesus’ friend John and his thoughts on how God’s love wins in the present and the after-life.

God’s love wins by giving everything to Jesus:

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. (John 3:35)

God’s love wins by sending his Son to die for sinners:

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)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

God’s love wins by not condemning those who believe in Jesus and giving them eternal life:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)

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)

God’s love wins by condemning  those who disobey and do not believe in Jesus and pouring out his wrath on them:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)

God’s love wins by eternally tormenting those who follow the beast and reject the Lamb in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb, Jesus:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9-11)

This last point may be especially difficult and disturbing. However, a loving God is not a deity emptied of wrath.  Stanley Grenz’s quote on God’s jealous love has always been helpful to me:

We dare not confuse God’s love with sentimentality. As the great lover, God is also the avenging protector of the love relationship. Consequently, God’s love has a dark side. Those who spurn or seek to destroy the holy love relationship God desires to enjoy with creation experience the divine love as protective jealousy or wrath.  [Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), 642]

The denial of eternal punishment for all who do not trust in Jesus may be emotionally attractive, but it is not loving. John, the apostle of love, reveals that God’s love still wins even in the display of his holy wrath upon those who reject God’s love to the world in the person of his Son, Jesus.

Therefore receive God’s great love for you by trusting in Jesus whom God sent to die in the place of sinners. If you do not trust Jesus you will perish, be condemned, and suffer eternal torment because God’s holy love is also displayed in holy wrath.

God is a jealous lover not a sentimental one.

One thought on “How Love Wins According to John the Apostle – Thoughts on Rob Bells’s New Book

  1. Pingback: The Affections of an Exclusivist « 5:21

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