100 Answers in 100 Days

More questions answered on this blog:

Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

#4: If Christ is the only way to heaven, what about people who live their whole lives and never hear about Christ at all?

Thus far I've made the case that Jesus Christ is the one and only saviour of mankind, and that salvation comes through faith in Christ. I've also said that faith is given to us by God as we begin to seek Him. Interestingly enough, the Bible says “no one seeks for God.” (Romans 3:11). So how can I say that God will reveal Himself to those who seek Him? What the Bible says is that no one, of their own volition, will seek God. But if someone comes to you and tells you what the Bible says, and tells you to seek God because of who He is, then you might begin to seek Him. And so, typically, people are brought to faith through the preaching of God's Word. The Apostle Paul, the author of Romans, discusses:

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:13-14)

And then he encourages Christians to go and tell others about Jesus. The Bible acknowledges that missionary work is crucial to the salvation of people since people must believe in Christ to be saved.

Often people will say that this is unjust of God. How can God send someone to hell for not believing in Jesus when they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus? Well, let's consider this. The Bible says:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

As we look at the “things that have been made”, it's clear to us that they have indeed been made. There is evidence of complex design all around us in nature, which causes us all to conclude that there must be a “designer” responsible. But we all reject and turn away from God, which is why we are all guilty before God and deserving of an eternity in hell. We ask the question “How is it just to condemn someone to hell when they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus?” Well, in fact, they're condemned already for rejecting the God who is evident in creation. No one is condemned for not having heard of Jesus, they’re condemned for not so much as seeking to know God.

In this day and age, the theory of Evolution tries to explain how the apparent complexity of nature could come about by natural means; but we'll leave that discussion for another day. The truth is that the evidence in the world around us is sufficient for us all to come to the conclusion that there is a God. And then, if one genuinely desired to know who God is, God would reveal Himself to them. But as I mentioned before, “no one seeks for God.” It simply never happens... “no one seeks for God” because we are all sinful people and wish to hide from Him because of that. It is God who so loves all of mankind, and desires to do something about this, that He sends out missionaries around the world to preach Jesus to all people, and to tell them to seek God; namely, Jesus Christ.

Now let me tell you a true story; and I will tell it precisely as it was told to me. A certain missionary was climbing a mountain to preach to a village of natives in Vanuatu. He'd packed a whole lot of rice in his backpack for himself so that he would not need the people there to give him any food out of their own supply. But the backpack was too heavy for him; he hadn't realized how arduous the journey would be. So he prayed and said, “Lord, if I meet a native around the next bend, I will take this as a sign from you to give him my rice.” Low and behold, around the next bend sat a native man on a rock. So the missionary went over to him and communicated to him that “My God told me to give you this rice.” The man took it, and the missionary went on his way. Now some time later the missionary was returning down the mountain, and as he came to that bend there were 30 or more natives all waiting for him! They took him aside to their village, and the man that he had met and gave the rice to, greeted him. This man was the chief of that village. His daughter had been ill and they desperately needed the food they had been given to help make her well. The chief had been in despair... as he had prayed to the “rock gods” and the “leaf gods”, he knew deep down that they weren't real and couldn't help him. He had thought to himself, “There must be a true God out there who can help us!” And so he had gone off that day in search for the true God who was able to help his daughter.

In this, we see how God will reveal Himself to those who seek Him. God orchestrated the events which had caused this man to seek God. And if that missionary had come to them merely saying “I know the true God”, they may not have believed. But in the events that God had caused through His divine sovereignty, the whole village was already convinced that the man who would return down the mountain knew the true God and could tell them about Him.

The truth is that all people naturally reject God, and so God takes the initiative and comes to us. It was God who sent His Son to us, as that well known verse states:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

People say “What about those who haven't heard?”; yet they themselves, who have heard, aren't exactly reaching out in earnest to believe and follow what they've heard. Imagine if they did? Imagine if our whole nation believed the gospel that we've all heard, how quickly the rest of the world would also have heard it.

Until tomorrow...
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

No comments:

Post a Comment