Holiness and Love Win

This title is obviously inspired by the title of Rob Bell’s newest book Love Wins, but I have not read that book.  I have however seen it reviewed in a handful of places.  So I will say a bit about it here then move on to my point in this post.  If the quote from Russell Moore’s blog, The Blood-Drained Gospel of Rob Bell, is accurate, (and it is) then Rob Bell is simply not a Christian.  One cannot claim to be a Christian and deny the necessity of the blood of Christ.  The cross is the center of Christianity.  If it is unnecessary, then we can toss out everything else the Bible has to say.  Let me put that a slightly different way.  Why would someone feel the need to call themselves a Christian if they deny the atoning work of Christ?  If the cross is merely “the  Jesus story in language listeners would understand.”  That is a denial of the atonement.  The person who says that is Christian in title only. In past generations Christian liberals abandoned the scriptures because they didn’t want to be embarrassed by academics.  Now it appears Christian liberals are denying the gospel because they don’t want to be embarrassed culturally. It’s the same story just a different generation, and it is sad.

There is, however, something about the character of God that all Christians struggle with.  This struggle is what starts someone like Rob Bell down the path toward universalism and it is the same thing that causes other Christians to feel as if God would never redeem certain “types” of people.

The Bible makes it clear that God is Love.  In fact, it directly says, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) The Bible also makes it clear that God is Holy and says so directly. (Leviticus 11:45)

The Holiness of God means that He hates our sin.  Has a hatred of it more than we can imagine.  And even the sins we think are cute, or the ones we are somehow proud of, God hates.

The love of God means that he is willing to forgive, and even forget, all of our sins. Through the Son He has justified us and does not see those sins.  He loves us more than we can imagine.

Here is where it gets difficult for every Christian I know.

We all tend to place the holiness and love of God on a continuum and we find that we view God far on either side of that continuum.  If we overemphasize the holiness of God we become legalists and think we are somehow righteous because we are able to keep God from squashing us.  If we overemphasize the love of God we become antinomians (or universalists) and think that we can behave however we wish because God will forgive.  (Apparently Rob Bell would say that God will forgive even if we desire to reject Him)

Neither of those views of God are true or fair.  God is perfectly holy AND perfectly loving. He hates our sin and he loves us enough to forgive it.  The hard part is understanding this and living accordingly.  I do not want to worship a god who is not loving, neither do I want to worship a god who is not holy.  Fortunately, I do not have to make this choice.  The God of the universe is both and all Christians will do well to remember this.

I hope I have been able to say this clearly.  I welcome your comments.