2004-04-12 - Six Feet Under Confessions
Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."
Lately, I have received some emails concerning a question which we have touched on before. The question regards those who never get a chance to hear the gospel. What happens to them? There are various thoughts on this topic, but they all boil down, really, to two. The first answer that some believe, is that those who don't get a chance to hear while alive will be given a chance to hear the gospel and respond after they die. The problem with this hopeful view is that the Bible does not support it. The second view is that those who do not hear the gospel and believe upon Christ for salvation from sin are not saved.
The second view is the one that is commonly held. However, I wonder if we live as if we believed it. We tend to live in a "You're OK, I'm OK," world, and act as if this will continue through eternity. The painful reality is that apart from Christ being our propitiation for our sin, none of us are OK. Apart from Christ, the wrath of God abides upon all of us, (Romans 1:18). Christ says in John 6:39, "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me, I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day." The answer to the question, "What about those who have never heard," is that the Father did not give them unto the Son for redemption. It doesn't seem fair, really, but in truth, fair is that we all deserve wrath. It is a mercy beyond description, that any are saved.
I have mentioned the Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon many times. He was known as the Prince of Preachers and is probably the most famous Baptist preacher ever. I came upon a comment he made in a sermon preached in 1865 recently, that has bothered me. It does not mesh with his theology, and I can only wonder if it was simply a slip of the tongue. He says, "For every man of Adam born, who has believed or shall believe on that (the atonement of Christ), or who is taken to glory before being capable of believing, Christ has made a complete atonement; and there is none other plan by which sinners can be made at one with God, except by Jesus' precious blood." I think Spurgeon is wrong here. There is nothing that I can find in Scripture, that says that anyone will be taken to glory before they are capable of believing. The Bible puts it the same way every time, as with the woman who anointed Christ's feet with perfume (Luke 7:36-50). Christ says to her, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace," Luke 7:50.
Over and over again in Scripture, it is faith in Christ and His offer of salvation that saves. I really hope there is a chance to hear after death, for those who did not get a chance while on earth. I just don't see it in Scripture. Regardless of what anyone's view on this topic is, we still have a clear responsibility to share the offer of salvation to those who have not heard. You may not think that you know anyone who has not heard the gospel, but if you know a non-Chrisitian, then you know someone who has not heard the gospel. There are many who, "while hearing, they do not hear," Matthew 13:13. If someone has heard and not believed, then they have not really heard, nor do they understand. As ambassadors for Christ, we are to beg those we know to become reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Soli Deo Gloria,