In reading an article about the “Son of God” movie I came across a quote that went like this…
How can someone receive the Lord without a clear presentation of the Gospel?
This quote got me thinking a little deeper than normal about the “way of salvation” ? How are people really saved? In this musing you’ll find more questions to contemplate than answers…
The above quote really got me thinking about whether what I believe is really real or true…I mean, if I believe the above I have to be honest about what that really means and most importantly whether what I believe is just slick theological sound bites or what the Bible actually teaches?
Because if that quote is really true, that means a whole lot of people were and are destined to Hell. ( The final, eternal place of punishment for the unredeemed) Does the Bible truly teach that no matter what a person’s circumstances or lifestyle, if they did not hear the gospel AND follow Jesus specifically then they will be cast into Hell fire for ALL eternity? Does God really leave the salvation of billions of souls in the hands of fallen and disobedient men who are commissioned to share the Gospel?
If that is the case, Hell is the destiny of every person who never heard a clear gospel presentation and put their faith in Jesus: Every handicapped person, every poor and destitute person, every deaf and illiterate person, every person that suffered their entire lives under the hands of abusive parents, dictators, pimps etc. etc. from the time man started to multiply on this earth to the present: Whether it’s millions of years or only 6000 years of human history that’s an incredibly sad picture and an unbelievable number of people who never had a chance. Word’s cannot even begin to describe the horror of that reality. SOOO MANY LOST SOULS!
Furthermore, we are taught that God doesn’t make any exceptions for those who are abused and oppressed by evil people because after all it’s not about our righteousness, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…He does not OWE anyone salvation.
If this is true that would mean every person suffering from deafness, illiteracy, or incurable illnesses in the most godawful third world conditions…never knowing love, kindness or prosperity of any kind…will be sent directly to Hell, no passing “Go”, no collecting $200. Of course it also means the same for every single person (the good, the bad and the ugly) that ever lived on the face of the earth: in the city, the country, the jungle, the remote valleys, the mountains, the arctic and the deserts; worse, no matter how sincerely they lived their life and loved the Creator and their fellow man they are destined to Hell for all eternity because Christians failed to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t know how many people that is, but basic reasoning tells me that the over whelming majority of people have never been presented with a poor gospel presentation let alone a clear gospel presentation. The Joshua project has some stats on unreached people groups.
So I’m left with asking…
Does God ever work salvation apart from the presentation of the gospel?
Do people actually need to hear or read the gospel in order to be saved?
When exactly did God flip the toggle switch in the course of history and make salvation a condition of placing one’s faith in Jesus?
Was Saul’s heart converted by a “clear gospel presentation?”
What happened to all the people of the diaspora living by faith in YHWH at the time of Jesus, but who never got the memo that the rules were changed and now they need to believe that Jesus is God and Messiah in order to be saved?
When and where in history was a “clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ” made concrete to the masses?
Is the gospel clearly presented in the Tanakh? (i.e. the Hebrew Scriptures, also call the Old Testament)
Can God save someone through the Hebrew Scriptures alone?
What scriptures were being used to present the Gospel in the first century (and after) since the Bible (OT and NT together) had not yet been compiled and the epistles and gospels were not available to all congregations?
If faith only comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, how is/was the physically deaf and blind person saved?
If there was a way of Salvation for those prior to Jesus’ coming, is that same way available to people born after Jesus’ coming?
What is Salvation?
What is the Gospel According to the Torah?