November 21st, 2013
The question is one asked by many men. What is your reply?
November 21st, 2013
The question is one asked by many men. What is your reply?
September 21st, 2011
Taken from Matthew chapter 13, Dr Fernandes speaks on sharing the Salvation of Jesus with non believers, how different people react and what can happen in the hearts of those who hear the message.
May 25th, 2011
In the first article of this review, I touched upon the nature of God and His attributes. Rob Bell’s vision of God’s attributes, as described in his controversial new book Love Wins, was compared and contrasted with the scriptures. In his writing, Bell seems very comfortable with the Love of God, but shows little interest in interacting with attributes of God he is not personally comfortable with.
The Bible teaches that God manifests all of his attributes all the time. They exist in perfect harmony with one another. There are no contradictions within the nature of God (e.g. love vs justice). As I wrote in the previous article, on this issue Rob Bell does not rightly divide the Word of truth.
Error usually enters a church or denomination when the whole counsel of God is not seriously considered. Often, blinded by pet doctrines or new theological fads, the leadership will pick and choose from the scriptures to feed certain doctrines while ignoring those scriptures which refute or qualify them. In effect, they create a god in their own image; One they can be personally comfortable with. Before long, this new theology becomes church doctrine. I believe that this is the case with Rob Bell. It seems as if Bell wants to scold the God of the universe for manifesting any attributes not conforming with his personal theology.
In this article, the second in the series, the version of salvation presented in Love Wins will be contrasted with Biblical salvation. My contention is that if a person attempts to come to God on their own terms, that person will end up eternally separated from God; God has the right to set down the terms for a person’s salvation. He has done so clearly in His word.
Let’s start by looking at specific statements from Rob Bell’s book concerning how a person is saved.
“If the message of Jesus is that God is offering the free gift of eternal life through him – a gift that we cannot earn by our own efforts, works or good deeds – and all we have to do is accept and confess and believe, aren’t those verbs? And aren’t verbs actions? Accepting, confessing, believing — those are things we do. Does that mean then, that going to heaven is dependent on something I do? How is any of that Grace? How is that a gift? How is that Good News? Isn’t what Christians have always claimed set their religion apart – that it wasn’t in the end a religion at all – that you don’t have to do anything because God has already done it through Jesus.” (Love Wins – 11)
It is here that we encounter one of the most serious errors in Rob Bell’s book: a radically distorted understanding of the Gospel. For Bell, as stated in this passage and in many other passages throughout his book, salvation is a universal fact. When Jesus died on the Cross, salvation wasn’t just available to everyone who believes, but everyone, regardless of whether they actually believe the Gospel or not, is saved. According to Bell, the “Good News” really isn’t “good” if one has to place their faith in Jesus to be saved. Bell believes that the mainstream view of salvation is just plain wrong; It is anything but Good News. As far as he’s concerned, Jesus died and as a result, everyone is saved . Personal Trust in Jesus is not required.
However, according to the Bible, neither Jesus nor his Apostles taught anything like Bell’s universal salvation. It must be remembered that Jesus of Nazareth presented clear and undeniable credentials to show that he had authority to speak for God the Father on earth. Moreover, he claimed to be God. He backed up this claim by fulfilling Old Testament prophesy, performing miracles and then rising from the dead.
So then, if we claim to believe the Bible, we must also believe that Jesus has the right and the authority to spell out the terms of salvation. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead alone validates everything he taught during his 3 ½ year ministry. I would hope and pray that Rob Bell would not disagree with this as being the foundation for why we as Christians accept the authority of Jesus.
What this all boils down to is this question: “What is the Message of the Gospel?” Rob Bell asks this same question in many different ways throughout the first chapter of his book. The content of the Gospel involves the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Consider the following passages:
“Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. – Luke 24:44-48
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve – 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Thus, the Gospel involves what Jesus did for us, on our behalf. We could not save ourselves. We did nothing to earn God’s sending of his Son. Yet, contrary to many statements that Rob Bell makes throughout the book, Jesus’ death and Resurrection for our salvation does not mean that everyone in the world is automatically saved. A person needs to believe that what Jesus did, He did for him or her individually. Consider the words of Jesus:
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lift0ed up; 15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:14-18
I would suppose that Bell could easily go along with John 3:16,17, because Jesus talks about how God sent him into the world to redeem it and not to judge it. But I wonder what Bell would say concerning verse 18. Would Bell tell Jesus that he was not presenting Nicodemus with Good News because those who do not believe in Him already stand condemned for not believing in Him? Would Bell find fault with Jesus for spelling out the consequences of rejecting his specific gift of salvation? Is Jesus, in verse 18, being too narrow minded and unloving for Rob Bell? Is Rob Bell more loving than the Son of God himself?
“What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” – John 6:27-29
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:40
Based on these passages ALONE, we can get a very clear understanding of what Jesus deemed to be necessary for salvation. Jesus said that personal trust and belief in Him was absolutely necessary for a person to be saved.
Bell would say that there is nothing gracious in God instructing people to believe in Jesus for salvation. Bell would say this is too narrow. For Bell., God would have been much more loving if, at the moment that Jesus died , He had automatically forgiven everyone and not put a burden on people by declaring, through the preaching of the Apostles, that one must individually believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. That sounds narrow and not grace filled for Rob Bell.
The Apostles also stated that personal trust in Jesus and what did is necessary for salvation. Peter stated twice that personal trust in Jesus and the turning away from sin are necessary for salvation.
“Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” – Acts 2:38
“And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” – ACTS 10:42-43
The Apostle Paul, the Apostle of Grace, also stated many times that while there was nothing that we could have done to motivate God in the sending of his Son for our salvation, there is something that we need to do to receive that salvation personally. That one thing is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and in what He did in his death and resurrection for our salvation. Consider the following four passages below from God’s Word.
”……suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” – Acts 16:26-31
“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” – Romans 3:21-24
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:1-2
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2:8
Now if Peter, Paul and the rest of the Apostles stated that one needs to put his or her personal trust in Jesus for salvation, how can Rob Bell come along and state that the Apostles were not really full of grace, did not understand that salvation is a gift and did not have a correct understanding of what the Good News is? Peter traveled with Jesus during his 3 ½ year ministry. Peter saw Jesus’ mighty miracles and heard his powerful sermons? Peter was an eyewitness of the Resurrected Jesus. Jesus vested Peter with Apostolic authority and power to proclaim the Gospel.
Does Rob Bell know something more than what Peter experienced? Has Rob Bell seen the physically resurrected Jesus like Peter and Paul did, which officially made them Apostles? Does Bell know more about the Grace of God than Peter, Paul and the rest of the Apostles? People’s souls are at stake when they read Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” and come away with a false sense of security thinking it’s okay if they reject what Jesus did for them on the cross,……because they are already automatically saved by the cross anyway regardless of what they do with The cross. False security is the worse kind of security!
January 20th, 2010
What is the demarcation between orthodoxy and heresy? Or that, when believers disagree about various dogma and doctrine at what point does one claim “heresy” and discontinue fellowship? Before answering this question, it must be stated that the idea of dis-fellowship should only be applied to believers. If this standard was applied to unbelievers or people who have no consistent and reliable information about Jesus and the Bible, why would we suppose them to be anything less then heretics? Further, if there was no fellowship with such people, how would they learn and know the truth? Thus, if a unbeliever holds to an errant view of Jesus it should not be faulted on that person, but rather, with meekness and fear correct the view.
The believer is held to a much higher standard. It is difficult in this age to refute errant views of “Christianity” because Christianity has become a a synonym for “theism.” In this, we often hear people say, “well I’m a Christian who believes….” And then they make some horrible exegesis from scripture or emote concerning some current ethical issue. So then, the point of this blog is to answer the question, “to what can the Christian say, ‘I believe…’” and it still correspond with orthodoxy?
The primary, essential credentials for orthodoxy are the fundamentals of the faith. This is minimal Christianity. If one does not hold to these, they are not, by any means, a true born-again Christian. These fundamentals are as follows:
Of these, there is only one I have any leniency on and that is inerrancy of Scripture. However, I am only lenient to the point that the other four fundamentals of the faith can still be gleaned and defended. If the Bible becomes so errant that the deity of Christ has become forfeit such a view of Scripture is detrimental. On the other hand, if one feels the Scriptures are completely accurate save a few historical or cultural datum I may not believe that either (although this view also upholds the other 4 points).
Some cults and various man-made religions claim to hold to these, but this is only to maintain the guise and stability of true Christianity. Over the course of the next few days I will be writing on each of the fundamentals, clearly defining them so as to avoid this cultic “bandwagoning.”
As for now, allow me to finish this thought. If anyone does not hold to these fundamentals, I would really question their relative Christianity. Now, as stated before, people often refer to themselves as “Christians” when what they really mean is theist. The reason I make this distinction is that if one claims to be a Christian, they are soldered to very specific views about the Bible, Jesus and the other fundamentals—any strays in these areas cause the erosion of Christianity into finite human religion.
Besides the fundamentals there is also a moral reasons to break bounds. Paul clarifies this when he wrote to the Corinthian Church:
“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.”
Paul claims that people professing to be believers who live in immorality give us Biblical grounds to no longer have fellowship with them. However, I’ve seen this taken too far. There are some Christians who won’t have fellowship with non-beleivers because of immorality. We must remember, it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick.
The freedom of Christian choice concerning the morality of actions must be based on the Bible. If someone claims, “I am a Christian who believes it is okay for me to have sex with my boyfriend.” This is beyond the scope of choice given to the believer. It is clear that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. If an act or the idea of it is not forbidden in scripture, and it ultimately leads to the good, one is free to partake in it.
Bottom line, if one does not hold to the fundamentals or is living in immorality they are not in a position to be in proper fellowship.
January 19th, 2010
This previous July, Dr. Fernandes sat down for a question and answer session. He was asked a series of common “Bible College” questions. These are questions that almost all Christians at one point or another confront, often without a satisfactory conclusion. We hope these answers help.
The questions answered in this Q&A session include:
Comments are welcome.
September 18th, 2009
Here’s the full video of the sermon from August 30, 2009. It’s the second half of the sermon entitled “Assurance of Salvation“. Dr. Fernandes defends a sound and biblical doctrine of salvation that successfully overcomes the Calvinism versus Arminisnism divide. You have questions? We have answers!
August 26th, 2009
Here’s the full video of the sermon from August 23, 2009. It’s entitled “Assurance of Salvation“. Dr. Fernandes defends a sound and biblical doctrine of salvation that successfully overcomes the Calvinism versus Arminisnism divide. You have questions? We have answers!
July 26th, 2009
Calvinism or Arminiansm? It’s the number one Bible college question of all time. Every freshman wrestles with it. Fortunately, working at a Bible camp brings me into contact with alot of Bible college students. So, this last week, one of the young men asked my opinion on the great Protestant debate.
Of course, I’m not a Th.D. I’m not even a Bible college graduate; that’s not a claim I make. I only did a year and a half of Bible college in Texas. That said, I do listen to and study the doctrines of both Dr. Fernandes and those of my own home church, Mars Hill in Bellevue. So keep in mind that the opinions reflected here are my own and may not accurately reflect those of Dr. Fernandes or the staff of the Institute.
So, here presented is my own understanding of salvation. This is also the answer I gave the young man.
First of all, all Christians can agree that man is totally depraved. We are all sinful, fallen creatures.
“… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
“There is no one righteous, not even one … ” – Romans 3:10
“… and all our righteousness is as filthy rags” – Isaiah 64:6
To disagree than man is a sinner is to deny the gospel.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” – I John 1:8
There was no argument from the young man nor were there any questions. The doctrine of depravity is an essential part of the gospel message. Indeed, the penalty for our sins is death.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
Second, as a solution to the problm, God provided Jesus: a perfect, spotless sacrifice of atonement for our sin. God offered a kinsman-redeemer to buy us back out of slavery and restore our inheritance.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” – Romans 4:25
“… when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” – Romans 5:10a
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures …” – I Corinthians 15:3-4
“… and if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” – I Corinthians 15:14
This is another essential doctrine of salvation. Jesus died as a sacrifice to pay the penality of our sins. On the third day, He rose again in a spiritual body: a body of flesh and bone indeed, yet no longer merely mortal. As Paul says in I Cor. 15, if you don’t believe that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead your faith is in vain.
It should also be noted that we are free from the demands of the Old Testament laws. Men are simply incapable of obeying the laws of God on their own. Weakness and sin are in our nature. However, through the death of Jesus, we now have a new law. This new law is based on grace and forgiveness rather than obedience to rituals, dietary restrictions and observances. It acknowledges our failings and allows sinful man to be righteous before the holy God.
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify” – Romans 3:21
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1-4
“The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:20-21
“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” – Romans 6:14
Once we are truly born again, God adopts us into His family, making us co-heirs with Christ in His kingdom.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ …” – Romans 8:16-17
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” – Romans 8:22-23
“So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” – Galatians 4:7
“… so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” – Titus 3:7
Although some younger Christians find this a little hard to understand, this is the point of salvation. If we are saved from sin and death, what does God intend to do with us? He, in His love and grace, makes us co-heirs in Christ’s kingdom. Forgiving all our sins. You see, since no sin can be in His kingdom, all in the kingdom are given Christ’s righteousness as white, spotless robes in place of our own filthy rags.
“… and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” – Philippians 3:9
Now to the meat and potatoes of this issue. If we were once children of God, reconciled and forgiven, can we reject God and walk away from the Kingdom? Is it possible for those truly born again to be unborn?
In Revelation, John, recording the words of Christ, writes the following:
“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” – Rev 2:7b
“He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” – Rev 2:11b
“To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations” – Rev 2:26
“He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” – Rev 3:5
“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” – Rev 3:21
These square well with what Jesus said about the end of the age:
“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” – Mark:13:13
It seems obvious that one must overcome to be saved and that overcoming involves standing firm in the faith. James, the brother of Jesus, confirms this conviction and also adds some practical theology:
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” – James 1:12
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” – James 2:18
Paul, however, speaks of those whom God foreknew being predestined:
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will …” – Ephesians 1:4-5
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will …” – Ephesians 1:11
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” – Romans 8:29-30
And so the obvious and inevitable question arises: Is Paul contradicting John, James and Jesus? The short answer is: no! Paul himself writes in Romans:
“… in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:4
To reconcile these two views, however, I always turn to Peter, the early head of the Church.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” – I Peter 1:1-2
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”
“… who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood …”
What I told the young man with the curious question was this:
Unfortunately, we can’t see the world like God sees it. We don’t know who will and who won’t remain faithful to Christ. We have no idea who God has predestined to salvation. So, how should we respond?
Well, there it is. I welcome comments and suggestions.
Blessings on all my brothers and sisters in Christ.