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February 2019


by John Carter
Excerpts from a sermon

I have often been asked, “What will happen to people who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, especially those who have never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel?”

This indeed is no trivial inquiry.  It concerns the fate of millions, even billions of souls, because vast multitudes have never even heard about Christ.  The question is therefore fraught with momentous issues.

Over and over I have heard the standard answer: “God will judge people according to the light they have.  If they have lived up to that light, they will be saved, whether they are Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, etc., etc.”

Others tell me, “If people have not had the opportunity of hearing the Gospel of Christ, they will be saved because God is too loving and just to let them perish in their ignorance.”

Quite frankly, I don’t believe any of this.  I think it is wishful thinking.  More than that, I think it is a delusion, and one of the main reasons the Anglo Church in the West, where this idea is widespread, is marching backwards.  This idea that people are saved by living up to the light they have is an opiate.  It drugs its advocates into a state of indifference, even somnolence.

I would like to believe it.  It certainly takes the pressure off, doesn’t it?  Why work your heart out going to Russia, Africa, China, India and elsewhere to preach the Gospel if they are going to be saved in their ignorance by living up to the light they have?

Now, dear friend, the purpose of this article is to consider, from a Biblical perspective, the fate of the unbeliever.  But before we get any deeper into this subject, we need to pause and define our terms.

Firstly,  What is the Gospel?  
“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...”  
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NIV.  

In spite of a thousand sermons to the contrary, the Gospel is not good advice.  Advice is about what you and I ought to do.  The Gospel is the good news about what God has already done.  It is the good news that God, the Creator of a billion galaxies, became a human being in the person of Jesus.  He did this because this world was lost.  It was lost because our representative Adam sold us out to Satan, God’s adversary and archenemy.  Jesus lived among us for around thirty years, and was perfect in all His ways.  He was the sinless, holy, and righteous Son of God.  Not only was He the Son of God, He was the Son of Man, and understood our trials, temptations and afflictions.  He was the real thing, the best, the kindest, the strongest, the bravest, the most loving and forgiving person who ever walked the streets of this planet.  The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell us about Him, but particularly describe His last days and hours.  They concentrate on the closing scenes, because it was during those times of agony He accomplished His mission.  He was handed over by the Jewish leaders to the Romans who crucified Him.  His death, however, was the result of His bearing the sins of the world.  On the cross He made a complete sacrificial atonement for all the sons and daughters of Adam’s guilty race.  When He cried, “It is finished,” He was telling the World, the Universe, and Heaven that He had won the battle for us. Three days later He rose from the dead and today He is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  The Good News is that all who truly believe in Him and accept Him as Lord and Savior receive the gift of eternal life.  That, in a nutshell, is the essence of the Gospel.  It is tremendously important because without Christ and His Gospel we can’t be saved.

The Bible, which is not politically correct, maintains that the Pagan-Heathen world is lost, and in desperate need of redemption.  In fact, the Bible declares that all of humanity is divided between the saved and the lost, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the Devil.  It’s as plain and simple as that, and a serious recognition and acceptance of that uncompromising fact might just jolt us out of our spiritual complacency and indolence.  The cry of some church committees seems to be: “No evangelism please. We really don’t want to be disturbed.”

All men and women are born in a state of sin and in need of a Savior.
• “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
Psalm 51:5
• “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and
in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…” Romans 5:12   
We were ruined ages ago when Adam, the representative of the human race, plunged the world into sin and darkness.  Our father Adam was in the driver’s seat and when he took the car off the road into the ditch, we were right there in the back seat.  We are born in the ditch and only Christ’s Gospel can save and restore us.

Next time : Who needs saving and how to be saved.

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