Friday, December 29, 2006

The Timing of Salvation

Anonymous writes, questioning a plan of salvation that could not possibly have helped until that message had time to reach other lands. He is right. Unless there is a way for us to find hope without believing certain facts about Jesus, then many who lived have never been given a chance. He writes:

Consider the following:

You are a person living in North America around 30 AD. Jesus has just died on the cross and risen again. For that matter, let’s say he’s already ascended into heaven and the 11 apostles have been given their mission. Now, let’s say the guy living in North America dies almost immediately after this event. Thus, it is IMPOSSIBLE for any missionary in any possible way to ever have reached this person. In addition, the guy had no idea of the OT laws, since there were no Jews in North America . Is this person going to hell even though it is IMPOSSIBLE (not just inconvenient) for him to know about Jesus? I find this hard to believe, but maybe you have something to add.

The issue is really about the timing of salvation. Several preachers press the urgency of believing NOW because you may not get the chance later, but the guy in North America never got the chance. Also, why did God wait so long before providing the sacrifice for sins? Why did he not do it immediately after Adam and Eve sinned or after the flood around Noah’s time so that we wouldn’t have the problem with the guy in North America . Why do people have to be told they are a sinner with scriptures several years later? Why couldn’t God just come down after Noah’s flood, tell them they made him mad by basically being alive, send his Son to die for everyone’s sin, and leave it at that? For that matter, why did he have to destroy mankind with a flood? Why couldn’t he just send his Son then so that those people could be redeemed without being drowned? Going back even further, why did he have to punish Adam and Eve to begin with? Couldn’t he just let Eve or maybe one of her daughters have his Son so that everything could be made right immediately and everyone could live happily ever after?

This also brings up the question of why did Jesus have to be killed by the Jews? Couldn’t God just do the tormenting himself without involving mankind? After all, he expected Abraham to kill his son (which he seemed more than willing to do); can’t God get his hands dirty without involving people?


One finds it hard to believe that God would have designed salvation so restrictively that so many people never had a chance. These are good questions.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

RE: THOSE THAT COULDN’T KNOW THE GOSPEL

There is only one way to eternal life and that is through Jesus Christ. He died once to cover all those who would receive eternal life, both those who lived before he died, and those who lived after he died. The difference between Christians and non-Christians is that for Christians (and also those declared as righteous in the eyes of God through faith from before Christ), there is no judgment. God has already paid the price for their sin (no matter how great or small), through His grace and their faith. The deal has already been done, the ransom paid and they are free.

"I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee." Isaiah 44:22

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19

"…and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1:7

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24

(Young's Literal Translation)
24`Verily, verily, I say to you -- He who is hearing my word, and is believing Him who sent me, hath life age-during, and to judgment he doth not come, but hath passed out of the death to the life. John 5:24


The question is asked – what of those who never hear of Jesus Christ? Well let’s see what God says about the judgment of people such as these.

Romans 2:13
For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

Matthew 12:36
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

Matthew 6:14
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

It would appear to me that through Jesus Christ - who died for all (not just those that hear of His fulfillment of the law), that those that did not hear, will be judged upon what they did in accordance with what their heart told them was right, and their degree in offering and expecting forgiveness.

See what was said about the people of Sodom which God destroyed because of its wickedness, compared with a town that rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Luke 10:10
But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' 12I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

We see from this text that ignorance of Jesus Christ is viewed on with more tolerance by God (even the ignorance of those destroyed because of their wickedness) than the rejection of Jesus Christ by those who have been offered His gospel.

It would appear to me that the judgment is not an automatic condemnation to eternal death (as some would like to portray), but a weighing up of a persons words and actions, against his level of knowledge, understanding and expectations of others – in accordance with what we all would imagine a just judgment should be.

If anyone can point out where I err in this regard I would be grateful for their enlightenment. I have not done a detailed study of the matter, but I present these verses above from the scriptures for consideration in support of my belief on the matter, and I speak with confidence that with relation to the final judgment, God will act with justice to those deserving of justice, and with vengeance against those deserving of His vengeance. What then does a good person with a forgiving heart who has not heard of Jesus have to fear?


RE: THE DEATH OF CHRIST

God allowed the Jews in their hypocrisy and jealousy of Jesus Christ to demonstrate the contrast between the self-centeredness of the heart of man, and the perfect Divine Love that reaches out in forgiveness, fulfilling through Jesus Christ the living and ultimate truth that LOVE COVERS SIN (sin as I understand it, being that which stands in opposition to love).

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 17:9
He who covers over an offense promotes love..

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

And here are Jesus perfect words from the cross

Luke 23:34
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

The circumstances of Christ’s life and death, resurrection, and the subsequent gift of eternal life is the perfect demonstration by God to man of this supreme truth of Divine Love – a truth that He delights in us to live by. This was the purpose of Jesus Christ’s human manifestation, and the fulfillment of what went before (the law). God’s love is the perfect way.

Honey

Noogatiger said...

So Honey,
There are other ways to heaven than Jesus Christ? This is what you just told me right?

"those that did not hear, will be judged upon what they did in accordance with what their heart told them was right, and their degree in offering and expecting forgiveness."


As long as the native american people, or Incas, or Aztecs, or even the pacific island people, had goodness in there hearts, God would allow them into heaven, right?

Only thing is, there are other sciptures which say that Christ is the ONLY way, so which is it?

Anonymous said...

Actually I didn't mention the word heaven at all.

I did make it very clear that Jesus Christ is the only way to Eternal Life.

Think of Jesus as the gate/door(Luke 13:24, Matthew 7:13) Before Christ died there was no access for anyone (they lived by faith that Christ would come and fulfill the law that the way would be opened). If God allows people to enter into eternal life at the judgment, they would still enter it through the same gate/door (Christ), because it is the only access.

Don't make the mistake though, of thinking that many people will be found weighing on the 'good' side. I only need to look at myself to know how bad a person's heart can be despite outward appearances (and a free will to be otherwise). I certainly can't speak for others, but the Bible defiantly indicates that I am not alone in my self-centeredness, which was the purpose of Christ being made manifest in flesh as a living sacrifice – to bring us into an awareness of our selfish condition (a problem borne in the giving of free will) and demonstrate the superior way of Love.

Like I said I have not studied the matter, so am interested to see what people think. What I rely on is my sound knowledge of God's demonstration that His Love, Mercy, and Justice, can be greater than His judgement.

Honey

Noogatiger said...

Here is the biggest problem for Christianity.

Christ's message was delivered to only a handful of Jewish converts. The holy book only came to the world through generations of one people, the small nation of Israel.

People all over the world who never had access to this word, or a missionary, or a church, will go to hell if they sinned, even once, yet never got this message of redemption.

People who never got the true message, and may have actually been good people, but believed in a different God will go to hell.

It is a brutally harsh system, but them’s the rules I guess?

However now you tell me that if they were "good", they could still get eternal life, just not go to heaven, but then in this state Jesus will minister to them I suppose, and maybe at that time they can decide to go to heaven with him, or hell without him.

The question is how good is good? Will one bad thing send them to an eternal hell, two, three, four, even though their ancestors a hindered years later gets to go to heaven even though he may be totally wicked, but he got to hear the message, so now he is saved.

Honey, your explanations get more convoluted with each blog.

Why didn’t God simply deliver this very important message to all mankind, all over the world, if he truly loved them so much to send his son to die for them? Because this is a manmade religion that is why.

Anonymous said...

You question why God does things the way He does? Good! Then you should give deep consideration to what He did, how He did it, why He did it, what He says about it(not what you make up) and the impact of those whats, hows, and whys, and you will come to an understanding that all was done for maximum impact and effectiveness in achieving His Divine purpose.

Or maybe you would have preferred if He had just put you in a paradise created specifically for you, with a beautiful woman created from your own being and for your own pleasure with only ONE VERY SIMPLE REQUIREMENT...maybe then everything would have turned out simply - the way you want it.

Honey

LorMar said...

noogatiger said:

"Why didn’t God simply deliver this very important message to all mankind, all over the world, if he truly loved them so much to send his son to die for them? Because this is a manmade religion that is why."

That's a good point; I wonder the same. Then I ask myself how I know for sure that God didn't reveal that message all over the world. Many cultures have messianic stories/prophecies. Some would use that as proof that the story of Christ was actually borrowed from other cultures. But I'd wonder if God did in fact reveal a messianic promise to many different cultures as time went on. Of course, this could have become a phone tag situation. But it's just a guess...

manyverse said...

Forget that. The major flaw is that nobody achieves very much by dieing. Jesus supposedly took the punishment of our sins, so how exactly is a punishment valid if someone else takes it? The point of a punishment is to learn from it, so what good would it do if the receiver had not committed a crime the punishment was for? Targeting Christianity is embarrsingly easy, and yet so necessary

Anonymous said...

Manyverse you are quite incorrect to say that no one achieves very much by dying, because statistics show us that the death of Jesus Christ has had a greater impact on the world than any other single event in history.

Sin is that which stands in opposition to love. The penalty for sin is death whether God sets the rules or not. The rules just ensure that there is a level of justice involved ie. the guilty party receives a punishment so that he might quickly learn that he should not kill his neighbour. The law brings accountability for sins perpetrated against others.
It is through the law that we become aware of what sin is. There is a better law however; a law that governs one's own behavior and that is the law of love. We see through the development of a child that the law of love is something that must be learned, as the law of the sinful nature (the serving of self at the expense of others) is the law that naturally takes precedence in our lives from a very early age.

So what did the death of Jesus serve to do? It was the ultimate act of love - the ultimate sacrifice to give one's life even unto death as a demonstration of the extent of His love and the extent of our sin. The very people chosen to deliver the Messiah to mankind (the Jews), where the same group of people who put the Son of God to death because of the self-centeredness of their hearts. It is the ultimate contrast of love and sin. Jesus had done nothing wrong but had served the people of Israel, healing their illnesses and teaching of God's love and kingdom(something that the Jewish leaders had forsaken in preference for conceited hypocrisy), and it was even one of His own apostles that betrayed Him. This is our nature. Christ was the mirror that reflected to mankind the darkness within ourselves.

The benefit that came from Christ was that through this demonstration God showed mankind a better way - better than the physical hand of punishment and justice - and that is the spiritual hand of love. In reaching out to us in this way God was saying/showing that sin brings death, but love can conquer sin and bring life. Those who recognise and accept this truth are given the right to become children of God.

The aspect of Christ's death that was relevant to the law had to do with the sinful nature and life of man, but the aspect of Christ's death that was relevant to Love had to do with the spiritual nature and life available to man in God, through Christ.

What mankind can learn through the life and death of Christ, was how to reject the selfish nature that we might give of ourselves in love. If we can learn this through the example of Christ then what need is there of any more punishment?

Honey

manyverse said...

i feel that for the son of god he could have found a more effective way of demonstrating his love. If he was the son of god he would have found a way of reaching out that would have meant that everybody would be christian