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A Review of “Love Wins” by Rob Bell

I’ve posted a review of Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins over at av1611.com.

While I do address Bell’s distorted, unbiblical view of heaven and hell, the real issue at heart is final authority: Bell has none other than his own heart (Jer 17:9). Bell is only taking one step further than the “fundamentalist” Christians who are currently criticizing him. If we don’t believe we can hold, read, and understand the very words of God given by inspiration of God (2Ti 3:16), disregarding what God says about eternal life and eternal death comes as no surprise.

Given the fact that scholars are busy publishing one translation of the Bible after another, based on the corruptions of Bell’s hero Origen, they really have no leg to stand on when they try to correct his error.

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Work of the Holy Spirit

I. H. Haldeman, in his book on Scripture study, has a wonderful chapter on the Holy Spirit. I just had to share this gem about the true presence of the Holy Ghost with us:

“Oh! the wonder, the joy of it, and the unspeakable glory! The Holy Spirit here! here to continue the presence of Christ to us, to make us conscious of Him, to fill us with Him till our hearts shall be as a Holy of Holies; so that we may enter in, even here, into the secret of His presence, and be glad with a great gladness.

“Thus the work of the Comforter in relation to us is subjective, in us and for us. We occupy the attitude of recipients, not of those who act, but of those who are acted upon. The Comforter will bring us into the place of power, no doubt, but power is not the objective of His work; it is peace, joy, companionship, increasing companionship. It is Jesus Himself with us, all the centuries blotted out, all the past history gone between Judea and this hour. Jesus with us, talking with us, feeding us, and every day revealing Himself to us.”

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What about “forgiving yourself?”

I was asked today what to tell someone who says that they know God has forgiven them, but they can’t “forgive themselves.”

So, I did a Bible study, looking out all of the forms of the word “forgive.”

The concept of “self-forgiveness” is not found anywhere in the Bible.

The word “forgive” and its forms (forgiveness, forgivenesses, forgiveth, and forgiving) appears 70 times in 62 verses.  It is always about someone forgiving a party who has done them wrong, or God forgiving a sin.  (Or not!) Not a single time can I find “forgiveness” to refer to someone forgiving themselves of something.

And this makes sense.

Our sins — particularly our sins against God — are for God to forgive:

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

There is no “self-forgiveness.” Believers have forgiveness in Christ, from the only one who can bestow such forgiveness.

And we are, of course, to forgive others:

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

I suppose that when someone feels the need to “forgive themselves,” and can’t, they are really experiencing unresolved guilt. To me, the answer to that is to recognize that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. Remorse is good. Holding on to guilt is not.

God forgave you. Whether or not you feel like you can forgive yourself doesn’t measure up to anything against that.

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The Blessing of Quietness

Quietness. It is a blessing to be desired above riches, friends, parties, and gatherings.

Isaiah 32:17-18 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife. (A house full of sacrifices is a house full of feasts of meat, as a portion of meat offerings were given to the priests. See Leviticus 2:3 and 7:31.)

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

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The Unborn have Spirits and are Alive

The Bible shows us that unborn children are just as human as the born are.

The Biblical term for pregnancy is “with child,” not “with fetus” or “with something not yet alive.”

Ge 16:11; 19:36; 38:24-25; Ex 21:22; 1Sa 4:19; 2Sa 11:5; 2Ki 8:12; 15:16; Ec 11:5; Jer 31:8; Ho 13:16; Am 1:13; Mt 1:18,23; 24:19; Mr 13:17; Lu 2:5; 21:23; 1Th 5:3; Re 12:2

“Child” begins at conception:

2 Samuel 11:5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

The Bible refers to born babies and unborn babies with the same term (babe). Also, unborn children exhibit awareness. Compare:

Luke 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The issue of the Spirit

A person must have a spirit to be alive.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

It is obvious to any who have been around pregnant women that unborn children are not “undead bodies,” so by this principle alone we know they have their own spirit. Compare this to Luke 1:44 above and the question is settled.

We also have specific and direct statements from Job:

Job 3:11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

Job 10:18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!

In Job’s grief he did what many of us have done at some time: he “wished he had never been born.” And even in this Job knew that if he had died in his mother’s womb that he would have given up his ghost (spirit). Further, to “die” one must have life first. We also see something similar from Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 20:17-18 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?

The issue of the law (an objection answered)

There is only one passage in the Bible that deals with the death of an unborn in the context of law.

Exodus 21:22-23 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

A misreading of this passage has caused many to conclude that unborn life is not true life, supposing that “if any mischief follow” must refer only to the mother. However, that is not the correct way to read the text, and is done so only if one has a preconceived position against life of the unborn. When the rest of Scripture is compared and the life of the unborn is understood as being a result of having a spirit (ghost), the magnitude of Exodus 21:22-23 is finally seen.

In the passage above, it is a case where men fight, and one causes hurt to a woman with child so that she delivers prematurely (her fruit departs). If either the child or the mother dies, the one who caused the death was to pay with his own life.

The objection to this hinges on what is meant by “her fruit depart from her.” But if the unborn life were not true life, it would make little sense for it to be even mentioned. The punishment for non-lethal harm is described in verses 18-19 and referenced here in verse 22. The death of the miscarried child is certainly “mischief following,” and as we have already seen, the death of an unborn child is “lethal” as it is described elsewhere with words like “die” and “slew” (see above).

Finally, the phrase “fruit of the womb” appears elsewhere in Scripture (such as De 7:13 and Ps 127:3) and means children:

Psalms 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

There is no cause to assume that “her fruit depart from her” must mean a miscarriage or stillbirth. It simply means birth (an in this specific case, a premature birth). So a reading of this passage compared with other verses regarding the life of the unborn clearly shows that Mosaic law provided for a death penalty for someone who directly caused the premature birth and resulting death of a child.

(Please note that I am not arguing for any particular law here based on “the Law” from Exodus — my point is to show that the Bible never imples that the life of an unborn child is any less human than the life of a born child.)

Conclusion

There are other points of debate (such as the “breath of life” which is claimed, by some, to be a literal breath of a human rather than a spiritual breath from God) that I have not gone in to.  Maybe I will at a future point.  But this short study should be enough to show the Bible believer that unborn children have spirits are are living human beings. While one may not be able to conceive of a days-old growing unborn baby being alive in the same sense as a days-old growing born baby, it is not for us to demand of God that we be able to comprehend his glorious works! We only need trust the witness of his word. I end with this:

Ecclesiastes 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

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Did Old Testament Saints “Look Forward” to the Cross?

When describing salvation in the Old Testament, it is common to hear one say:

“Old Testament saints looked forward to the cross, like we look back at the cross.”

While it is a nice, understandable saying, it is simply incorrect.

We need not even go back to the Old Testament to show the error of this teaching. Let’s just look at Peter for a minute.  Peter was an Apostle of Christ living with the Lord during his earthly ministry.  Surely of anyone was looking forward to the cross before Calvary, Peter would have been?

Here is the Lord Jesus Christ putting “the cross” in a nutshell:

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

What was Peter’s response?

Mark 8:32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.

Peter’s response was to rebuke the Lord. Today, when someone rebukes the Gospel, we call that person lost.

Peter certainly wasn’t “looking forward to the cross.” What about looking “back” to the cross?

Luke 24:6-11 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

What do we call someone who “believes not” the resurrection? Lost! If Peter (and the other Apostles) were “looking forward to the cross” they certainly would not have denied the resurrection after it happened.

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