What Happens When We Fail to Warn

Today, more than ever, we need to engage in the revolutionary act of telling the truth.

Author Rob Bell attends the premiere of 'Heretic' at Laemmle's Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre on February 24, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

By Michael Brown Published on July 5, 2018

I heard a tragic story recently, some of the very bad fruit coming from Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. (This was Bell’s hell-denying book in which he effectively announced his apostasy from evangelical faith.) In light of a growing epidemic of deception in the Church today, a deception that is making people deaf to divine warnings, it seemed that now was a good time to share the story.

Earlier this year, a university student was responding to my lecture on God’s love for the LGBT community during a time of Q&A. He tried to undermine the authority of the Scriptures and accused me of using violent language. To him, any form of justice or judgment was inherently violent, and he would have none of it as a professed atheist.

I subsequently learned that, just a few years earlier, he was planning to go into the ministry. He was an avid reader of the Bible. Then he read Love Wins, and it was downhill ever since. (This was according to a report from his roommate at that time.)

Love Warns

It would have been far better (and far more biblically accurate) if Bell had written a book titled Love Warns. That would have been in greater harmony with the truth. (Click here for my 2015 article titled “Love Warns.”)

But we don’t want to hear warnings today. We only want positive words. Words that make us feel better about ourselves. Words that increase our self-esteem and enhance our self-image. Anything negative will be rejected out of hand.

Don’t tell me I’m on the wrong path. Don’t tell me there’s danger ahead. By all means, do not warn!

Everybody has to win these days. There can be no losers.

Every path is valid and every perception has truth.

Correction is a micro-aggression. Reproof is for our grandparents’ generation. Rebuke is tantamount to assault.

Yes, that’s the world we live in today. And I don’t just mean in the secular, non-religious society. I mean in the Church. Preachers, do not warn!

Outraged at Truth

On a daily (sometimes hourly basis, sometimes by the minute), we receive angry comments to our video “Can You Be Gay and Christian?” (Apparently, it continues to circulate on LGBT social media outlets, getting new viewers all the time who are furious with the biblical content.)

One viewer wrote, “Reported this as a hate video,” which is the expected response these days. Telling the truth, even with love and grace, is branded “hate.” Truth has become toxic.

Christian musician and singer Keith Green said, “I’d rather have people hate me with the knowledge that I tried to save them.” Do we have any excuse for not trying?

This reminds me of a quote from the Christian musician and singer Keith Green (who died in 1982). He said, “I’d rather have people hate me with the knowledge that I tried to save them.” Do we have any excuse for not trying?

Others viewers of our video were outraged that I would have the temerity to state that the Bible was God’s Word and that it was still relevant.

Still others were shocked to hear me say that there is a right way and a wrong way. That we were created and designed by God with specific, moral intent. How dare I speak such things!

A Revolutionary Act

But it’s not just here, in this controversial area of LGBT issues, that we find resistance. For years now, right within the Church, there’s been a growing tide of no-judgment preaching.

We’re only allowed to say nice things, to encourage. We’re not allowed to plead with tears, to warn of coming danger, to urge our listeners to flee from impending judgment, be it in this world or the world to come.

Not a chance. Such preaching is dubbed “Old Testament” (as if the New Testament wasn’t filled with warnings). Such preaching is called legalism and going back under the law (as if grace didn’t plead and admonish). Such preaching is deemed out of style, inappropriate for our enlightened age.

As a result of this growing trend, rather than the flock being awakened, the congregants go like fattened sheep to the slaughter. Who will sound the alarm?

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By all means, we should encourage. By all means, we should lift up. We should preach with love, preach compassion, preach mercy, preach longsuffering.

But we should warn our hearers and viewers of the consequences of rejecting that love and compassion and mercy and longsuffering. We should, in Paul’s words, present (and consider) both the kindness and the severity of God (Romans 11:22). Both are essential to our right understanding of the nature and character of our Lord.

Decades ago, George Orwell famously wrote, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Today, more than ever, we need to engage in this revolutionary act of telling the truth. If we who claim to know the Lord don’t do it, who will?

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  • Trilemma

    From “100 Scriptural Proofs That Jesus Christ Will Save All Mankind” by Thomas Whittemore:

    4. God hath given all things to Christ, as the moral Ruler of the world. “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Psalms 2:8 “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” John 3:35 “All things,” here, means all intelligent beings. So say the best commentators. (The word things is in italics in the KJV which means it is not in the Greek. We are not talking about trees here.)
    5. God gave all beings to Christ that he might save them. “Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” John 17:2 This plainly evinces, that it was God’s design, in giving Christ dominion over all flesh, that they should all enjoy eternal life.

    6. It is certain that Christ will save all that the Father hath given him. “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out.” John 6:37 These three propositions are irrefragable evidence of the final happiness of all men. 1st. God hath given all things to Christ. 2d. All that God hath given him shall come to him; and 3d. him that cometh he will in nowise cast out. All are given; all shall come; and none shall be cast out. What is the unavoidable conclusion?

    Love wins.

    • JP

      “41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” Matthew 25

      • Trilemma

        Matthew 25:41 YLT “Then shall he say also to those on the left hand, Go ye from me, the cursed, to the fire, the age-during, that hath been prepared for the Devil and his messengers;”

        It’s age-during not eternal.

        • JP

          Keep reading:
          “46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25

          • Trilemma

            The YLT also says age-during in verse 25. It means there’s an age during which some experience life while others experience punishment.

          • Patmos

            Yeah, and that age is eternal. Again, the Greek word in that context means everlasting, perpetual. You are trying to insert English into the text, that is, if you’re even being honest here which I sincerely doubt.

          • Trilemma

            An age has a beginning and an end. An age cannot be eternal.

          • JP

            Its eternal punishment they will experience.

        • Patmos

          “It’s age-during not eternal.”

          The Greek word there means eternal. Your selfish lies are piling up.

          • Trilemma

            The Greek word for eternal is aidios which is not used anywhere in the book of Matthew. If the writer had wanted to say eternal life/punishment, he would have used aidios instead of aionios which is the adjective form of aion which means age. The adjective form of age would have mean of an age or age-during.

          • Patmos

            It means eternal, perpetual. You are taking it out of context and resorting to literal translation, meaning you have zero understanding of the Greek language, The Holy Spirit, and all that is of God. Do you not find it strange that none of your rubbish is backed by any scholar, the text itself, or even little children who can understand these things not having their conscience seared like yours? I mean seriously, why is it that you think you are receiving some great revelation that pretty much no one agrees with, and for good reason? Are you just that full of yourself? Or are you just that much of a deceitful liar? Those are the only two options.

          • Trilemma

            Why is the literal meaning of the Greek wrong? Why is an English translation that means the exact opposite of the literal Greek meaning right?

          • Kevin Quillen

            you should seriously look into this deeper. there is much church history for this view. it was the majority view for many, many years.

          • Trilemma

            Then why are there bible that translate the Greek word with something other than eternal?

          • Kevin Quillen

            there are many that would disagree with you. Young’s Literal Translation and the Concordant Literal New Testament use “age during”. The is an adjective. An adjective cannot be bigger than the thing it describes. For instance, Matt 25:46 uses this adjective for punishment and for life. This is often used as an argument against Christian Universalism. Same word. same meaning. Consider this…..I have a BIG house and a BIG car. Do you think my car is as big as my house? Of course not. The meaning of the adjective is controlled by what it describes. Eternal punishment is torture. Punishment has purpose. It brings one to repentance. The Greek for punishment here is “kolosis”(sp?) The idea is to “prune” as a tree to make it better. There is precedent in the Bible for Christ preaching to those who were dead. Can He not do it now?

    • Patmos

      Ignore the fake Christian troll everyone. This person has been exposed here as a fraud numerous times, and should be banned from this site.

      • Patmos

        Lol, the evidence mounts up: This person is taking a lot of this stuff almost verbatim from Wikipedia.

        The troll strategy is: Take fringe and debunked theology and propose it as being the real, to cast doubt on faith and drive people away.

        And if that isn’t a dead giveaway, believers think to yourselves, would God really leave such an important point tucked away? No. If there were any truth to what this person is putting forth it would have been far more prominent, and not suddenly uncovered by one of the many many modern mistranslations.

        Toss this nonsense out next to all the others, replacement theology, etc.

        • Trilemma

          Would God really leave such an important point such as eternal torment tucked away? The Old Testament never mentions eternal torment. The first Christian creeds such as the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed don’t mention eternal torment. Why did the doctrine of eternal torment only become prominent in the Middle Ages?

          • Kevin Quillen

            good point Trilemma. The modern version of Hell was concocted to control people. There is plenty of evidence for this in history. I know you know this. This was posted for others.

        • Kevin Quillen

          if by replacement theology, you mean that the church replaced Israel, then you better not toss it out. It is the truth. The silly belief that the rebirth of Israel in 1948 is prophecy fulfilled has already been proven false by the time that has passed. The end spoken of in Matt 24 was the “end of the age”(old cov.) not the end of the world. Where is the “great parenthesis” in scripture? How come in Daniels prophecies there are 4 kingdoms spoken of yet modern “scholars” turn it into 5. Where is the justification for this? Why does the scripture say that the gospel has been preached to the “whole world?” Col 1:6, 23, and in other places. Why did John say in 1 John 2:18 that it was the last “hour”? Do you really think God would honor sacrifices in a third temple, when Jesus was sacrificed once for all? The third temple was attempted to be rebuilt in 363 AD. Look up what happened to those who attempted it. No, Jesus came and died and rose again, once for all. Romans 9:6 makes it real clear the Jews are NOT Israel unless they have accepted Christ. Physical Israel ended in 70 AD.

      • Kevin Quillen

        Patmos, you want to ban someone for holding beliefs that you disagree with! Trilemma holds some of the views I do, and we disagree on some. Perhaps, you would be one of the Christians who killed those considered to be heretics in days of old. Think about it.

        • Kathy

          Hi Kevin, I can’t speak for Patmos, but I agreed with him because there may be new believers reading Tri’s posts that are still not grounded in God’s Word. Like I believe Rob Bell has done, he/she is deceiving people and leading them astray. Realize you two don’t agree on all issues, but if you are wrong about universal reconciliation, you have done a grave disservice to many. As I’ve said in the past, you don’t want to be guilty of that. Know you believe it’s the loving stance to take, but why take the chance that it’s actually the opposite?

          • Kevin Quillen

            each person is responsible for himself/herself. all ideas presented should be food for thought and send one seeking. this is a good thing. because I encountered many different views as a new believer, many years ago, I searched seriously and independently. I believe my theological positions are sound. Even if I am in error though, I will stand before my Heavenly Father someday and He will know that I had a sincere seekers heart and tried my best to understand and DO His will according to the Word. How can this be bad? My effect on anyone I talk to should be to make them question and seek for themselves.

          • Kathy

            This is an excerpt from AW Tozer’s book ‘Living As A Christian’: “As Christians, we ought to think of ourselves as being what God says we are. We cannot allow false modesty, doubts or unbelief to prevent us from accepting God’s favor and putting ourselves in faith and humility where God puts us. If we are not there, we can get there, for the door of mercy stands wide open for all who come.
            Christians are a people for God’s own possessions. They are a peculiar people, a marked-off people, constituting a nation apart of priests, royal priests, rising out of this new thing that is born in the midst of the earth, the Church. We are exactly what God says we are. No more, and certainly no less.”

            What are your thoughts?

          • Kevin Quillen

            I agree completely with Tozer. I live my life daily as a peculiar person, as compared to the world. My wife and I reject materialism, and live lives of integrity. I am always willing to help people in need, and represent Christ’s love to all I encounter. I try to lead people to the Father, sometimes even using words.
            Have you visited the Auburn site?

          • Kathy

            Are you only peculiar for the admirable reasons that you referenced? There are many people of other persuasions that live the same way, of course without the thought of sharing Christ’s love as their reason for doing so.

            As Tozer wrote, it seems that you accept God’s favor, believe you are marked off and a royal priest. Seriously, do you feel a little uncomfortable or even guilty about it because not everyone you know is in your position, enjoying that reconciliation to God now? May that be your reason for desiring that there be another chance for everyone after death?

            No, did not visit the site. I have info on Universalists (Unitarian), as Tri said he/she is, and assume you believe the same other than you say you are a Christian one. If you both think all will be reconciled, there is no difference in the main tenet of your belief.

          • Kevin Quillen

            I am not Unitarian. Totally different. Christian Universalism or sometimes called Ultimate Reconciliation is nothing like Unitarian. Please look at the Auburn site. I am reconciled to God now and feel no guilt,,only thankfulness and appreciation and love for my Savior and Lord. I have recommended the tentmaker(dot)org site and hopebeyondhell(dot)com before. You really should take a look. Info on these are fully backed by scripture and history.
            I do believe that ALL will be restored to the Father, but it will be through Christ, and Christ alone!

          • Kathy

            Why are you in particular reconciled to God now and others after death through punishment? If you tell them there is a punishment (whatever that might be) after death, why would they choose that over just trusting in Christ? Why bother “trying to lead people to the Father” now if all will be restored in the end? Everyone could live as they please and believe anything they want knowing that they will eventually live in God’s presence anyway. You do realize, though, that there are those who do NOT want that? What kind of paradise would it be if Christ haters live with those of us who know and love our Savior?

            Tri recommends those same websites as well, so can’t be too different.

          • Kevin Quillen

            Kathy; 1 Tim 4:10 “especially them that believe”. Believing in this life has benefits. But, as the verse says, He is Savior of ALL.
            If you are not willing to look at the evidence for Christian Universalism, then I cannot continue with you. All the questions you asked are answered on the sites I recommended. But, I will answer one of them. “Why bother “trying to lead people to the Father now if all will be restored in the end?” “Everyone could live as they please and believe anything they want knowing that they will eventually live in God’s presence anyway?” Because one believes and accepts Christ’s gift………one will not experience the wrath of God. This is the point of 1 Tim 4:10. Those who do not accept, will be punished for their sin. Then after the punishment has brought them to repentance, they will be restored to the Father. They will bow their knee and confess that Jesus is Lord.(not by force, for that is impossible, 1 Cor 12:3) Isn’t this reason enough to believe? But, the reason I, and hopefully you, believe and follow Christ, is because He loved us while we were yet sinners. He is worthy of our love and devotion. I hope you research this, it is truth.
            In Christ, Kevin

          • Kathy

            ESV Study Bible on Tim 4:10 ” …..could seem to teach universalism, that every person will eventually go to heaven. However, the rest of Scripture clearly denies this idea.”

            Tozer wrote in that same book I mentioned previously that “obscure Scripture often attracts false teaching”. “Universalism teaching that every human being would finally be saved is a dream born of desire and springs from humanitarian motives, no doubt. (I thought the same thing before even reading that) Humanitarian feelings will at best lead us to desire the salvation of all, but it does not talk of the Scriptures”.

            If you are right and I am wrong, no harm done. If I am right and you are wrong, there is plenty of harm done. I could go on and on, but that’s the main objective to your sharing your ultimate reconciliation beliefs with others. Representing Christ’s love is wonderful, but please refrain from teaching those beliefs…that may not be love at all. Don’t take that chance, Kevin.

          • Kevin Quillen

            believe Tozer and others if you wish. My belief comes from YEARS of personal study and prayer. Throughout history the majority is often wrong. Would you have told Luther to stop?
            Blessing to you Kathy. You really should look at this deeper, but to each his/her own.

          • Kathy

            I absolutely agree with “the majority is often wrong”. Through my husband, I had years of experience in the RCC…many false teachings, only one being the concept of purgatory. (Like I’ve said in other posts, what you believe sounds a lot like that) They tend to focus on one passage and run with it without verifying how it relates in the context of the rest of the Bible. So no, I would have strongly encouraged Luther.

            Just one more question, Kevin. If you share the gospel with, say, a professed atheist and they continually reject the message, do you tell them “Well, you won’t be enjoying Christ’s love now during this life like I do, but you will later, so keep on rebelling as you wish”?

          • Kevin Quillen

            Kathy; type into google, Auburn University and universalism,
            you will see why what I believe is not strange or heretical.

    • Ken Abbott

      “In ‘Universalism False and Unscriptural,’ Archibald Alexander aims to put to rest the misconceptions of universal salvation. He not only argues that universalism directly conflicts with Scripture, but that it also cannot stand on its own merit. In fact, those who promote universalism underestimate the extent of human corruption to their own peril.”

      Alexander was one of the leading American Protestant theologians of the 19th century and a contemporary of Whittemore. Alexander wrote against the faddishness of universalism that appeared in his day. Why should we take Whittemore’s stance as definitive for the subject?

      • Trilemma

        Universalism is not faddish. It’s been around since the beginning of Christianity. Why should we take Alexander’s stance as definitive for the subject?

      • Kevin Quillen

        if you are serious about truth, go spend some time at tentmaker(dot)org, and or hopebeyondhell(dot)com The kicker is John 12:32, in this verse Jesus says He will draw all to Himself. Draw here is actually “DRAG” in the Greek. Also Heb 12:2 tells of the JOY Christ gets from dying on the cross. How can this be? Joy for saving a tiny portion of humanity? No, friend, He is the SAVIOR of the WORLD! He cannot be your SAVIOR unless He actually saves you. He is not the potential Savior, or possible Savior, but the Savior of ALL! Study the history of Christian Universalism, or as some call it, Ultimate Reconciliation. Been around since the beginning. In the early history of the church there were 6 theological schools, 4 were Christian Universalist, one taught annihilation, one taught eternal punishment. Never judge quickly, if you are correct in your theology and mature, looking into other beliefs will not harm you, but rather give you understanding of the other views. Look into it. Pantelism is the only theological view in which all the pieces fit into the puzzle. Unlike, dispensationalism, no need to twist or ignore scripture.

    • tz1

      Judas Iscariot.

  • David Hess

    so true Dr. Brown!! so much of the Church today not preaching/teaching the full counsel – ignoring huge portions of the NT, and seeking to explain away the clear teaching of Jesus and His Apostles. keep sounding the alarm Dr. Brown! Love does warn – sadly, many have no idea what real love is. thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Charlene

    Sorry, but Mr. No-Hell Bell is not my source of authority.

  • Chip Crawford

    Increasingly the Bible will outrage and we must stand the test of standing on it. We will be upheld by the word of his power in that event. So many have never heard it, so they have that initial shock at the difference from anything they have heard, whether in content or tone, and with today’s imposed culture change, it is now diametrically opposed to that.

  • Patmos

    It’s especially sad that in the day of judgement these people will see things as clear as day and wonder why they didn’t heed the call to repent, as it would have allowed them to have their sins blotted out and become a new creature in Christ! It’s going to sting all that much more for them, especially the user Trilemma who posts here.

    • Kevin Quillen

      Patmos, type into google, Auburn University and universalism
      you will find much info on the history of Christian Universalism and see that it is not new, or just a few wierdos.

  • Andrew

    I fear the ‘sugar coated’ gospel. Is this part of the deception that was foretold as part of the end times apostasy? More than ever do we need a return to Biblical preaching, be it politically correct or incorrect. The souls of humanity depend on it. Lord send revival to the church.

    • michael

      I do believe that we must warn people because we are in a time of great deception from the right and the left. There are people who believe that they must seize control of the planet in order for Jesus to come back

  • Alex DeSurveyor

    Absolutely 100% true; the promises in God’s Word must be balanced with the warnings in His Word. Warren Wiersbe once said that even the warnings come from God’s compassionate heart, and I completely agree with him.

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