J.C. Ryle Confronts False Teacher Rob Bell

Imagine that. The words of Bishop J.C. Ryle, penned back in the 1800s, condemns false prophet Rob Bell from the grave. For those of you who are not up on Rob Bell, he is the latest liberal pastor to come forth and espouse such nonsense as the fact that people do not really need Jesus to get into heaven. In his book, Love Wins, he puts forth the premise that all people will eventually get into heaven after they die because love wins. This basically means the God is truly cruel in making His Son go to the cross, die the most shameful death ever, for no reason at all. I always think it odd that when guys like Bell try to emphasize the love of God, at the expense of His other attributes, they always end up making God out to be even more cruel than they imagine. Remember, in their minds, they think it cruel that God would send anyone to hell.

The reality is that men like Bell fail to understand mankind’s sinful nature. Paul shows us in Romans (8:7-8) that we are at enmity with God in our natural state. This means our flesh is at war with God. We are rebellious to the core against our Creator and He has every right to do with us as He pleases. We ALL deserve hell for we ALL have rebelled against Him. Out of His love, He does choose to save some from everlasting punishment through His Son Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Christ for salvation are saved, and do not perish (John 3:16). Those who do not believe in Him for salvation stand condemned already (John 3:18).

Bell, and others like him, go on to make the case that those in hell, if they repent, knock on the door, etc., will be graciously accepted into God’s holy presence. This is not what Scripture puts forth for two reasons. First, they will not ever repent. Remember the flesh is at war with God. Romans 3:10-20 also shows us that no one seeks after God. No one! Not on this side of death and especially on the other side of death.

God must seek us first before we will believe in Him. He must change our hearts and convert us for us to become members of the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:5), for we are spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Secondly, we see from Scripture that they cannot pass between heaven and hell. Jesus tells us (notice that they are the words of Christ) in the story of the Rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) that there is a great gulf fixed between heaven and hell preventing those on one side crossing over to the other side. Going between the two is not possible even if one in heaven wanted to take a day trip into hell. This is one of the deeper truths of Scripture. Jesus is telling us that when we reach our final destiny, it truly is a final destiny. This is how He created heaven and hell (Matthew 25:41, Colossians 1:15-18).

This story is instructive because it shows us that the rich man doesn’t desire heaven. Those in hell do not desire heaven. They merely want relief from their anguish. There is no desire to repent and trust in Christ, even after judgment. They remain in their sin and the very sin that kept them from ever trusting in Christ on this side of death, keeps them from trusting in Christ on that side of death. So the entire premise of Bell’s book is wrong. This is what happens when you emphasize human free will over and against what Scripture tells us. We can say that we are free to choose Christ, but not capable to choose Christ because out of the abundance of the heart, we speak and do as our heart desires. Since our hearts are rotten to the core to begin with, we will never freely choose Christ on our own accord. We need the new birth to take place in order for us to even see our need for Christ. That doesn’t happen in hell. (Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for me to die once, but after this the judgment). There are no second chances. Bell, in his sinful, fallen attempt to make God out to be so gracious and loving, ends up making God out to be cruel and wicked for causing Christ to die needlessly.

Ryle, in his fantastic book Practical Religion, writes:

“Every reasonable conception that we can form of a future state is directly against these teachers (those who teach universalism). Fancy a heaven which should contain all mankind! Fancy a heaven in which holy and unholy, pure and impure, good and bad, would be all gathered together in one confused mass! What point of union would there be in such company? What common bond of harmony and brotherhood? What common delight in a common service? What concord, what harmony, what peace, what oneness of spirit could exist? Surely the mind revolts from the idea of a heaven in which there would be no distinction between the righteous and the wicked,–between Pharaoh and Moses, between Abraham and the Sodomites, between Paul and Nero, between Peter and Judas Iscariot, between the man who dies in the act of murder or drunkenness, and men like Baxter, George Herbert, Wilberforce, and M’Cheyne! Surely an eternity in such a miserably confused crowd would be worse than annihilation itself! Surely such a heaven would be no better than hell!”

What he is saying is that heaven really won’t be heaven if the likes of Peter and Adolf Hitler are there together. Where is the bond of fellowship? Where is the unity? One followed and died for Christ, the other despised Christ and wanted to become his own god. Peter sought to build up the church, Adolf sought to destroy it and replace it with his own religion. Peter was humbled time and time again for God’s glory, Adolf exalted himself over and over, even in his death, he refused to be humbled by God, and his sinful pride won out.

Ryle continues:

“The interests of all holiness and morality are directly against these teachers. If all men and women alike are God’s children, whatever is the difference between them in their lives,– and all alike going to heaven, however different they may be from one another here in the world, — where is the use of laboring after holiness at all? What motive remains for living soberly, righteously, and godly? What does it matter how men conduct themselves, if all go to heaven, and nobody goes to hell? Surely the heathen poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome could tell us something better and wiser than this! Surely a doctrine which is subversive of holiness and morality, and takes away all motives to exertion, carries on the face of it the stamp of its origin. It is of earth, and not of heaven. It is of the devil, and not of God.”

This last point is why this doctrine keeps coming back. What Bell is proposing is nothing new at all. The error was there in the Garden of Eden when the serpent said, “Did God really say…“Satan was challenging Adam and Eve with this premise: “does it really matter whether or not you obey God?” The answer is absolutely yes it matters. Our very conscious tell us this. How we live matters. For Adam and Eve, their righteousness was at stake in the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They lost that righteousness and we did too. So now the difference comes in belief. If we trust in Christ for salvation, then we have His righteousness and are accepted into His fellowship and His heaven. If we refuse to believe, then we get to keep our own rotten righteousness and spend eternity in hell with it.

Bell brings us absolutely nothing new in his book Love Wins. He just recycles the same old lies of Satan. For that, Bell’s writings need to be condemned and he needs to get out of the ministry, return to the secular world and sell Blue Bell Ice Cream for a living. He would do mankind a much greater good than he is currently doing with his drivel.

BTW, I wonder if Rob Bell ever realize how much his universalist doctrine must anger the new atheist. Think about it. The new atheist is spending all his time and energy trying to say that there is no God, and that we are intellectual idiots for believing that there is a God. Then along comes Rob Bell and tells them: “Hey, it doesn’t matter that you don’t believe in God. You are going to end up in heaven any way.” The very point of the atheist is the fact that he wants nothing to do with God, and here Rob is telling them, “too bad, so sad. You’re going to heaven regardless of your beliefs!” I’m sure Bell is writing in such a manner so that he can “reach” the atheist. But he has to get past the point of angering them, and… looking like an stupid fool, for bringing down the condemnation of those of us who stand for the truth.

For more on Rob Bell, check out my earlier post here, and Neil’s post on Rob Bell’s take on John 3:16 here along with another post entitled Interesting Facebook Chat About Rob Bell. For more J.C. Ryle Quotes, go here.


13 thoughts on “J.C. Ryle Confronts False Teacher Rob Bell

  1. “must anger the new atheist.”

    Actually I’m quite pleased.

    If more people believed the way Rob Bell does, the world would be a better place. He’s still wrong. But he’s significantly more harmless than other believers.

    So I’d still debate with him. I still think he’s just as wrong. But I’m not legally, politically or physically concerned based on his beliefs.


  2. I laughed and laughed when I read that Rob Bell should sell Blue Bell Ice Cream. That is a good one. Wow! May the LORD pierce his heart and return him or bring him to the Truth found in JESUS alone.


  3. NotAScientist,
    Are you saying that other Christians are harmful? Just wondering. OK, I have to leave here in a few moments, and meet up at the church where we will pray, sing, read the Bible together and assemble bombs to blow up infidels. OK, just kidding on that last part. But you know how we are, always blowing up people and everything since we are so harmful. 🙂

    I hope the Lord pierces his heart as well.


      • No. Let’s play Paschal’s wager. If he is right, then you are right. But if what the Bible says is true, then he is more destructive because he says there is no need for Christ. I’m not willing to say that. It goes agaisnt what Christ said.

        But that is more than you probably wanted to hear.


      • BTW, just a thought for you NotaScientist,
        If you are looking for debate, I’m not your man. There are other sites where those there will debate Christianity vs. Atheism, etc. That is not my goal with my blog. I really am writing for those who are professed believers. Your comments are welcome, but please know that I really don’t feel like debating with you. If you have any legitimate questions about my beliefs or what the Bible says, or why we interpret things the way we do, I’m here for you. But other than that, debating with you, or other atheist, those of Islam, Mormons, Peruvian witch doctor’s etc., is not what I’m interested in doing.

        Hope you understand.


  4. Great post. There’s also an outstanding section in “Holiness” where Ryle sounds as if he had just read Bell’s book. I’d give you the link to a post on my site with some excerpts, but I’m afraid I’d end up in your spam filter!


  5. A message for atheists, unbelievers, doubters and mockers. Remember, the Bible has NEVER been proven wrong. It is scientifically correct, archaeologically correct and historically correct. Not only is it the worlds best selling book of all times but It is unique amongst all religious scriptures because it is prophetically correct too – something you will not find in ANY other religious book. Many of the specific biblical prophecies written thousands of years ago have already been fulfilled and others are yet to come with horrible consequences for mankind because they continue to turn away from God and His son Jesus. They would rather depend on manmade science or their “reason” or on false teachers that will tell them what their itching ears want to hear.

    2000 years ago Jesus warned that in humanity’s end times there would be many false teachers and also many natural disasters, wars, famines and other calamities (more so then ever before in history).

    When all of Jesus prophecies are fulfilled the entire world will know that the Bible is true and that Jesus is the only way to salvation (from a real and eternal hell) ….but when it happens it will be too late for many. …and there is no second chance…especially not for anyone who deliberately reject God’s free gift of salvation or anyone who follows false teachers or false religions.

    Do not be fooled. God does not lie. If the Bible says there is a real burning hell where everyone is hopeless and in constant eternal agony then it will happen….. and there is nothing anyone can do about it no matter how much they reject or ignore this notion.

    The only way to be saved “from hell” is to repent of your sins and turn to Jesus Christ – simple as that. Jesus himself said “I am the way; the truth and the life, no one can come to God except through me”. This means there is no other way – no other religion – to find the true living God and salvation from hell.

    If you have never read the Bible before then you are cheating yourself from knowing the truth….but worst of all you are putting your very soul in danger of eternal hell. Read the Bible today while you still can. Tomorrow may be too late.


  6. I’m a little confused.
    Jesus came to earth to spread His word, love and die for our sins.
    Now the part that confuses me is wher eJESUS tells a tale of a lost sheep, of leaving the rest of the ‘saved’ flock to go and bring that one lost sheep back. In my mind, maybe I’m just being silly, but that taught me that God wants each and every one of his children with Him in heaven and that He will go out and find the lost ones to bring them back home and also that He wants us to go out and spread the word and find the lost sheep out there in our communities.
    Now the part where i’m totally lost, is the part where YOU are saying that all of that means nothing and that God has already chosen who will be with Him in heaven and that the 10 friends of mine who have started believing in our Lord Jesus Christ and who have started walking a path with Him will not be allowed into heaven, because they only came to believe through Rob Bell?


    • Dedre,
      You are confused. You need to go back and re-read the post itself. Bell is arguing for universalism, which is never given in Scripture anywhere. Yes, Jesus came to die for His church. Yes, Jesus will redeem all that the Father gives to Him. Yes, Jesus goes after those who are of the flock that belong to Him and not one of them will be lost.

      But no where does the Bible teach universalism, in which all will eventually be saved. Jesus was instructive on this Himself. Go read His words in John 3, not just 16, but the entire chapter, along with what John the Baptist testifies as well. There is a clear dichotomy between those who believe and those who don’t. Those who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation will be saved. Those who do not believe in Him are condemned already and God does nothing against them because their sinful nature condemn them enough. If you are still confused after re-reading the post and John 3, let me know.


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