The other day I downloaded three Francis Chan books from Amazon. I was looking forward to reading them and if the first one is any indication of the other two it will be a great experience.
The first book I read is called “Erasing Hell”. I had heard of Chan but had never read any of his books and only heard a hand full of sermons. I thought he was a great preacher but was unsure if his writing would be as good. As I began to read the book I was reassured that he is as equally good a writer as he is a speaker, if not better. The book was honest, bold and real. If you haven’t read it I would encourage it. There are a few things that I came away with after reading it myself.
First, the book seemed to be, at least in part, a kind rebuttal to Rob Bells book “Love Wins”. He refers to Bell’s book a number of times while refuting points of “Love Wins” that he sees as contradictory to Scripture. However as he does this is is always kind and loving toward Bell and never once attacks him. This is something that I really like about Chan. Though I don’t agree with Bell I have seen many people meanly attack him for his views. Though Chan knows, by looking at Scripture, that Bell’s views are off he never onces calls him a heretic.
Secondly, Chan’s honesty is refreshing. He admits at least a dozen times that he doesn’t like the idea of hell, he wishes that it wasn’t real. He refers to the fact that he knows to many people that haven’t accepted the Gospel as his motivation for this. He knows that if hell is real then they are going to go there. There are a few times in the book where he says that he can’t even hardly write the chapter because when he looks up form the computer he sees people that might be doomed to hell for eternity and it troubles him. However he does end with a good and telling statement stating that he is not to judge Gods intentions and that in the end we must let God be God and trust that He is good. This honesty was surprising because you can tell that he struggles with the fact of hell but does accept it because he trust God and knows that God is good.
Lastly, Chan is persistent that the reality of hell should ster people up. That if we believe that there is a hell and that those that do not believe in Jesus will go there and suffer then we should be more evangelical in our lives. He presses hard on this point and for good reason. He states that if we say we believe in hell but don’t have any urgency to tell people about Jesus then we only say we believe it and are not living in such a manner. He refers to Paul a number of times using him as an example for what it looks like when someone realizes that hell is real. Paul stops at nothing to preach the Gospel knowing that if he doesn’t then more people will go to hell for eternity.
Chan is careful to make the reader understand that hell shouldn’t just be used as a scare tactic to get people to get saved, however he doesn’t discard either. He states a case biblically that Jesus did the same things on occasion to point people toward God and the wrath that is to come apart from salvation. Knowing this Chan is more determined, and encourages the reader to be just as determined, to go spread the Gospel to all the world so that people may know the grace of God. He says that the reality of hell helps us to better understand the beauty of the cross.
He ends the book, as I will end this blog, like this, “Do you know Him? Are you secure in Him? In love with Him?” (page 148)