Not sure how it came to my attention, but it did. There was a woman in an Arab nation that had a vision of Jesus in a dream. Through that vision she decided to forsake everything she knew to become a Christian. She packed what belongings she could carry and trekked off into the unknown world in search of a church, leaving behind all comfort and safety of home and family.
I brought the topic up the next day at lunch at the college cafeteria. It sparked a good and lively conversation which was also a bit of an eye opener. We narrowed the discussion down to the main point of interest for us: What is the fate of people who never hear of Jesus? Do they go to heaven, and if so, on what grounds. Or, are they lost without ever having a chance. We decided to reconvene and present our ideas at our next gathering.
After spending a week studying scripture I felt I was ready to present my ideas. The others had also prepared their findings and we eagerly met again with scripture verses ready in hand.
I was going to be the last to present and I hoped I would have enough time to give my opinion as well as have time for rebuttal. I was the only Calvinist in the group so I was expecting resistance.
The first presentation was based on the fact that since God is a loving God and that according to many scripture verses God loves everyone and wishes that none should perish, then Jesus did indeed die for everyone, thus none is lost. In essence, everyone goes to heaven no matter what.
The second presentation promoted the idea that if the person in question had no opportunity to hear of Jesus, then they would be judged by their works and/or the faith they demonstrated to the god or gods what they did know about pleasing God.
The third stated that once weíve died we would wait for our judgment. Being present before god would be such a powerful experience that we would fall to our knees and worship God giving us one final chance to repent and enter heaven.
Next, we heard the opinion that if one did not call on the name of Jesus to be saved, we would simple perish.
Now it was my turn.
I started by summing up my objections to the previous presentations. What I was hearing was that the views of salvation were based on the understanding of Godís character. The first presentation depended on Godís loving nature. The second focuses on the mercy of God; the third on the holiness of God; and, the fourth, on the judgment of God. Now each of these characteristics are attributes of the Christian God but God is not only one of these at any one time. Rather, He is all of them at the same time. By putting emphasis on only one attribute we get an unbalanced doctrine of salvation.
My proposal states that God is loving, merciful, holy, and a just judge, as well as all-knowing. Since God is all-knowing, He has the foreknowledge to know who is His. We can only be saved through Christ. None of us disputed that. But we are told that faith comes from hearing, believing, and repentance. If there is someone that God wants and who is far removed from any Christian influence, I believe God knows of that person and will send someone to them or direct them to someone who can share the gospel with them.
I invite my readers to search the scriptures and their hearts for their own answer to this question. And please, remember our missionaries in prayer and support.
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