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Ignorance, Other Religions, and Salvation

What is the true basis of salvation?

Thanks for your question.

Your point about "some kid in Africa" being born into a completely different religion could just as easily have been phrased, "Some kid in Chicago." The Africa reference is rather stereotypical, don't you think? Indeed, Africa probably has more Christian activity these days than North America. I foresee a day when Africa will be sending missionaries to the benighted ignorance of North America

Since you are from Northeastern State U. in Oklahoma (does the wind always come right behind the rain?), I assume your reference to Indians is to Native Americans and not to residents of the Indian sub-continent. Mind you, it's a valid question whatever the geography.

First of all, salvation is not based on race. The Apostle Peter had to learn this lesson in terms of his racist exclusivity. In the early days of the church, he felt that salvation was the exclusive domain of Israel. In Acts 10 he was taught differently. Here is the bottom line of the lesson he learned from the events of that chapter (10:34,35): <>

Ultimately, we are responsible to God according to the level of knowledge and understanding of His will and purpose. Those who persist in idolatry are without excuse for, as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 1:19,20 <>

We are all responsible to God - the Father, the all-creating spirit in whom we "live and move and have our being." In terms of salvation and eternal life, we must come to the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. As Peter says in Acts 4:12 <>

Jesus himself said, <> John 14:6. This is a hard saying in the light of modern sensibilities. We live in a pluralist society which, in terms of religion wants to believe that one way to God is as good as another. I think that underlying that sentiment lies an essentially atheistic philosophy which considers religion to be an artifact with no grounding in objective reality and that we have no particular or well-defined responsibility to the Creator to do what He requires. In other words, it's ok to make it up as we go because, in the end, it doesn't matter anyway. This existential angst declares that since, in the end, none of this is real anyway but is only an evolutionary strategy to help us make it through the day, how dare anyone say that one way is correct and another wrong? The Bible dares to say just that because it declares what is true and firmly grounded in what is real. The Gospel is the Father's way of bringing His children back to Him. The Gospel is grounded in the ultimate reality against which all of the artifice and invention of mankind is but an illusion.

The Bible clearly teaches that there is no salvation apart from faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, are non-believers who die in ignorance damned to a burning hell? It may surprise you to learn that the Bible nowhere teaches that evil doctrine, the product of a fevered and sadistic medieval mindset. The wages of sin is death not eternal torture. The gift of God is eternal life. End of story. The Bible teaches that the only hope of life after death is the resurrection when the Lord Jesus returns to earth. The only hope of participating in the resurrection is to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Will there be exceptions to the rule for those, who through no fault of their own, have not become related to God through faith in the Gospel? I guess that is the real heart of your question. There may well be. I would not be so presumptuous as to tell the Creator of all things what He must or must not do. In the words of Abraham, who in the New Testament is called "the father of the faithful" (Romans 4:16): <> (Genesis 18:25). If there are exceptions to made, the Creator will make them on His own terms. He doesn't have to conform to my prescriptions for salvation or yours either. However, for those of us who have the opportunity to know Him and His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a tremendous privilege and responsibility. One way or another, we are called upon to respond to the Gospel of His salvation: <> John 17:3. Our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

Here is a good website for you to explore if you would like to learn more: The Gospel of Your Salvation. If you would like to learn more about basic Bible teaching, return to This Is Your Bible and sign up for the on-line course, "Exploring The Bible."

Thanks again for your question. If you would like to continue this dialogue, please feel free to do so. I look forward to hearing from you

May God bless and keep you,
Mike


Robert responds,

Dear Mike,
Thanks for your response. First i was not trying to be the least bit stereotypical when it came to saying some kid in Africa, i was just using them as an example of remote tribal villages who go about with their own way of life. I respect your faith in Christianity, and I too believe that Jesus will come back to Earth and save mankind from its sins. I just can't grasp the fact that only the certain privileged that are lucky enough to hear the gospel will be the only ones. I believe and love god with all my heart. I pray every night to Yahweh for everything that I have. I hope he gives me the strength to endure pain in my life, and the humility for any greatness that might come my way. I would like to leave with a little quote form Country music singer Don Williams. "I dont believe that heaven waits for only those who congregate I like to think of God as love, He’s down below, He’s up above He’s watching people everywhere, he knows who does and doesn’t care And I’m an ordinary man, sometimes I wonder who I am."

May God bless and keep you,
Robert

P.S. I don't know why I am writing this stuff to you but I feel compelled to. I do enjoy your website, and I know you guys are doing a great job with goodness and God in your heart. I just question that the people of the Holocaust or the Indians of the Americas, who were brutally murdered and attacked, will not see God and the truth because of their faith or lack thereof. To me to say that the last images of their lives will be death, is not a Christian attitude, but more of a pessimistic outlook. These people in many instances were killed for keeping their faith.

Hi Robert,
Thanks for the response. I understand exactly what you mean. I take some comfort in the fact that those non-believers who remain on the earth after the tribulation attendant upon our Lord's return will survive into God's kingdom as a mortal population and eventually be themselves gifted with eternal life.

Also, when we share the divine perspective when granted immortality, we shall appreciate God's justice in this matter in ways that we can't even imagine now. Rest assured, if it's the right thing to do, He will save those who, from our limited knowledge now we might consider to be outside the sphere of salvation. We can't be presumptuous about this though. If it is His will that they do indeed perish, we will understand the reason why.

Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker? (Job 4:17)

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25)

The answer to the first question is NO but the answer to the second is a hearty YES

If the moral sensibilities given to us by our Creator lead us to believe that the deliberate exclusion of some through no fault of their own is not just then we must conclude that there is an explanation. If it is currently beyond our understanding, we must await that explanation in faith knowing that the Judge of all the earth will indeed do what is right.

Thanks for sharing the quote from Don Williams. If we substitute "the Kingdom" for "heaven" we are more scripturally accurate but the thought is the same. If we are searching for who we are we must find the answer in the arms of our loving Father. Our role, as His child participating in His new creation after the pattern of His son, is to grow in grace and knowledge, and with His help and by His grace, work out our salvation. The fact that others, for whatever reason, ignorance or wilfull disobedience, do not have the opportunity to share in His family of faith, may be a source of sadness and, at times, perhaps even perplexity but it must never cause us to lose faith. Let's just rest in faith that He will do the right thing and we, for our part, will live in gratitude and joy witnessing by our lives to the power of His word and the coming of His Kingdom.

May God bless always,
Mike

Robert responds,

I got your email, and it was great. I appreciate you sharing your faith. You guys keep up the good work and I’m sure I will write back again.

 
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