IF SALVATION IS ONLY THROUGH JESUS, THEN WHAT ABOUT THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD OF HIS NAME? DOES GOD HAVE ANOTHER WAY OF SAVING THEM? OR WILL THEY BE DAMNED?
Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, told the leaders of Israel about Jesus:
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
The name of Jesus is the only name that brings salvation. Jesus speaking about Himself said:
Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Believing in Him brings us salvation. In His prayer to the
Father, before His death, Jesus said:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
In B.C. and A.D. periods it is only Jesus who saves. It is Jesus who is the theme of the entire Bible. Talking about the Scriptures that the Jews had, our Lord said:
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me... For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. (John 5:39, 46)
The Scripture that Jesus referred to was the Old Testament, as the New Testament was not yet written. And the New Testament is full of Jesus too! He is the one linking Heaven and earth, standing between God and man. Paul wrote:
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy 2:5)
Nearly in every generation many would not have heard of Jesus, the only way of salvation. But Jesus the Good Shepherd knows all His creatures. It is not we who save ourselves; it is Jesus who saves us.
Many wonderful people, who did not know Jesus by name, are not lost, because Jesus knew them personally.
The rule of the Bible is clear. God does not condemn anyone for not knowing Him or the truth. If they live up to the light they have,
God will accept their devotion and save them.
The same Peter who said earlier that Jesus is the only way, also said, God accepts even the gentiles (who know Him not by name),
who do righteous deeds. In the house of a gentile, by the name of
Cornelius, Peter confessed:
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:34, 35)
God accepted the worship and prayers of Cornelius, a Roman, though he did not know Jesus at that time. Since he lived to the light that he had and was doing righteous acts, God considered Cornelius as His own child. God sent Peter to his house to teach him about
Jesus and shed more light on the truth. Cornelius accepted the advanced light.
Jesus clearly told us about who stands condemned. It is not the ones who do not know the light, but the ones who refuse light when
it comes. Jesus told Nicodemus:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
Isn't God fair? In fact, God winks at acts of ignorance. Paul told the gentiles:
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now
commandeth all men every where to repent. (Acts 17:30)
When God winks it is a good sign, but be careful when He stares! When you know what is right and still do wrong, God will not wink.
I have seen some people trying to "outwit" God. They have heard of the text of Acts 17:30 and they want to remain in ignorance and have God wink at them. That is being willingly ignorant, which is dangerous. Peter talked about people opting to be ignorant. He wrote of such:
They willingly are ignorant. (2 Peter 3:5)
And what is the end for these "smart" ones? Peter continued:
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2
These "willingly ignorant" people are called "ungodly men", and their destiny is fire on the Day of Judgment.
The rule of God is-Live to the light that you have and He will shed more light on you; and when that happens, advance with the light!
Everyone who is born into the world is enlightened with some knowledge of God. Because of Jesus being our Mediator, the Holy
Spirit enlightens everyone with the light of Jesus in a small degree to start with.
John wrote of Christ's light shining on every person who is born into the world. He wrote:
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:9)
In the book of Job, it is written:
Upon whom doth not his light arise? (Job 25:3)
A person who lives to whatever light he has is called a righteous or a just man. And God gives him more light as he keeps obeying and walking in the moral and spiritual light of God. The wise man wrote:
The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18)
And on the other hand a person who does not live to the light that is shining upon him will even lose the little light that he has, and will be walking in darkness ultimately. Such a man is called an unrighteous or a wicked person.
For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. (Proverbs 24:20)
Whatever he does is a trap to him, as he cannot see when the moral light is blown out. It is written:
He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso
breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. (Ecclesiastes
Jesus added to this truth. He said:
And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Matthew 15:14)
Advance with the light or else you will backslide into perfect darkness. There cannot be a static experience in a Christian's life.
The Lord Himself said:
Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:29, 30)
God is clear in His Word. If anyone is true to the light he has received, he will be saved, whether he knew the intricacies of the Gospel or not. If, in his lifetime, he receives more clear knowledge of Jesus and His Gospel, he has to fall in-line, or perish. We need to praise God for the fairness of His judgment.
Our main worry should be-whether we are living to the light we have, and not whether others know the light. God will send light to them. Once we live to the light, we will, for sure, share this light in the wisdom of God.
Read the following passage of Scripture carefully and see how several of the gentiles pleased God, while most of the Jews didn't!
Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus
Christ according to my Gospel. (Romans 2:6-16)
The Jews knew more than the gentiles, but did not live up to the great light they had. But many of the gentiles did what they knew best and God was pleased with them and not with the "enlightened" Jews.
James too spoke on the same theme of how God judges an individual.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)
That is it! When you know what is right, and do not do it, it is sin. If you don't know, how can you do it? It will be terribly unfair to punish someone who has not got information about it. If we, human beings, punish people only when they are enlightened, and disregard the light, how much more God!
Paul wrote that a person is not in a position to believe unless he has been given the opportunity to do so. He wrote:
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? (Romans 10:12-15)
The sins of ignorance God takes care of. He will not write it against our names in the Heavenly records. The blood of Jesus will cleanse it freely. He died for all sins, which includes the sins of ignorance too. Paul wrote of the priests, who reflect Christ, the
High Priest, that they were to show:
Compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way. (Hebrews 5:2)
What sins we have knowledge of we need to confess. You cannot confess what you do not know. John wrote:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
The ones who did not know anything about Jesus, how will
God cleanse them? He cleanses them freely by His grace and compassion! As mentioned earlier, if they live to the light they have, and do not know anything more, God will forgive them of the other wrongs freely.
Please notice carefully what John says about how God cleanses a person:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus
Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
John could have said: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin, therefore we need to walk in the light, as he is in the light". But what he said was, if we walk in the light (obviously, the light that one has) God cleanses us all our sins. That does not mean that we needn't confess our sins. We confess all our known sins, but they are cleansed finally on the judgment day only when we start walking in the light. All who live to the light that is shining their way, Christ cleanses them of all sins.
ONE MIGHT SAY: How can God save someone who has not known Him?
But I ask you-How much of God do Christians know anyway?
God is infinite, and whatever we know of God is like a drop in the ocean. And if we think they don't deserve to be in Heaven, do we deserve it anyway?
All who will ultimately be saved at the Second Coming of Jesus would have been cleansed with the blood of the innocent Lamb of God. All are qualified for Heaven only because of the merits of
Jesus. He knows who are truly His. There will be several thousands of people who never would have heard the precious name of Jesus whom He will save by His grace and love. They will ask Him in
Heaven about the scars in His hands, not knowing that it was because of these cruel marks of Calvary they are there! Listen to the beautiful answer of Jesus to them:
And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in
thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (Zechariah 13:6)
What a question from the ignorantly innocent ones! And what an answer from the Lamb of God!
Finally, let us read a passage each from the apostles John and
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also. (Romans 3:29)