A Question Many Entertain
Brave Enough To Ask
So, if Rob Bell’s Love Wins is an accurate representation of the truth about heaven and hell and we, therefore, can believe that those who die without Christ WILL have a chance to embrace God and salvation after death, why are we in such a hurry to share the Gospel?
- Wouldn’t that possibility be a good reason for people to wait till later?
- Shouldn’t people be allowed to find their own way to God without interference or intrusion?
- Must we be in a hurry or make large personal sacrifices to carry the message to everyone if time is allowed for this later?
These questions may sound impressive but they don’t hold up under scrutiny. Fleshing them out with human experience proves they do nothing to diminish the Gospel’s urgency. It gives us a different, but still very good reason, to stay evangelistically focused. For example:
- What would have been different if Hitler had heard and accepted the Gospel before he became the chancellor of Germany? Given the social/political/spiritual climate of the day, it wouldn’t take much imagination to believe some other mad man would have filled his boots had he not come to the fore but let’s assume that Hitler’s salvation would be indicative of an overall climate change for the better. I mean if the Gospel was prevalent enough for Hitler to get saved wouldn’t that be true for others also? And wouldn’t more salvations have encouraged a different outcome?
And there are other examples to consider:
- Who might still be alive if Ted Bundy had embraced Christ before his killing spree?
- How many would have avoided addiction had they been influenced with the Gospel.
- How many cases of abuse could the Gospel have averted.
- Would it still be legal to trade slaves if William Wilberforce, having been effected by the Gospel, hadn’t spent much of his life opposing it?
And more. Who knows how many lies, thefts and failures of all kinds could have been avoided if more people had been introduced to belief. No, I’m not suggesting the Gospel can create a perfectly sinless world but it does change hearts which in turn encourages the cultivation of soil in which life is bettered not battered, even if it can’t be made perfect.
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But all of those questions have to do with life as we live it now, before we die. There is another very intriguing question we need to consider about the life we experience after death.
If a person can get saved after they die, how long will it take following death for him or her to reach the end of their prideful sinful selves and believe? This question addresses the issue of character. Character, good or bad, is ingrained over a long time and when it is bad we don’t easily see it. We become delusional. How long might it take for those delusions to dissolve?
Even when we see the bad character for what it is, no change will occur unless our desire for the change exceeds the attachment to our weaknesses and that raises a question about humility. It is humbling to admit wrong and seek corrective change. The Prodigal Son serves as the proof and the example of this fact.
It is unlikely that any change will occur without personal desire and sufficient humility to admit the need for it.
There is nothing to suggest that death will make delusions and inclinations immediately disappear. The Rich Man proves that character flaws are resilient even after death (Luke 16).
The human capacity for self destructive tendencies is quite large, the sense to recognize it for what it is dull and the tolerance to withstand it high. How long will the after-death pain and misery last before one says enough?
To that question, we do not have an answer.
Rob alludes to these problems several times in Love Wins (character development takes time, p51; the rich man didn’t change immediately, p75-76; we don’t know how character will be effected after death or how long it will take, pp104-107 but we know there are consequential realities to our choices, p197)
It stands to reason, therefore, that heart changes now can reduce human misery in this life and circumvent after-life struggles as well.
So to conclude: even if people can get saved after death that gives us no reason to slacken our efforts to share the Gospel now. You never know how much misery might be averted or how much blessing can be encouraged both now and later by sharing the Gospel with just one person.
More Discussions Inspired by Love Wins
Check out what Rob Bell believes here.
See a review of Love Wins, chapter 1, here.
See a discussion on the “Age of Accountability” here.
The Love Wins Companion offers valuable information for anyone wanting to explore further: insights and commentary by qualified individuals, in-depth exploration of significant Bible passages, detailed chapter summaries of Love Wins with questions and guides for discussion, historical evidence demonstrating the breadth and diversity of Christian ideas about heaven and hell and more.
In The Reason For God Timothy Keller confronts head on the questions that skeptics are asking, yet without a confrontational style. It is sensible, rational and engaging. A must read for every thinking person, Christian or not. His approach to hard questions about God not only provides answers it encourages us to develop analytical thinking skills. Also available is a DVD with discussion guide for small group interaction.