What is the fate of those who haven’t heard the Gospel? #2

What is the Fate of Those Who Never Hear about Jesus?

Validation:

I think this is one of the first questions I had questioning what is revealed in the Bible, and the questions can run deep on this issue.  For example, ancient Chinese or American/African Tribes; they never had a chance to hear about Jesus, so how can they be placed on the same scale with someone that rejected Jesus purposefully? Also, what about other cultures during the time of the Israelites? They weren’t God’s chosen people and couldn’t be part of the covenant.  I believe that the Bible has an answer to these questions that arise when we think of those who have never heard the Good News of Jesus, but the answers might never fully satisfy us.

Socratic Method:

“Have you heard the Gospel?  So this question doesn’t apply to your eternal future, does it?”

“Is it possible for God to inadvertently and even directly reveal himself to mankind, apart from mankind?  If so, how could he do that and do you think he has?”

Answer:

Option 1 – God has Revealed Himself to Everyone Answer – These questions fail to recognize that God has revealed himself to everyone, even those who have not heard the Gospel message.  God has revealed himself in two different ways, general revelation and special revelation.  General revelation is what God has revealed about himself from what he has created.  Romans 1:18-20 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  If such people have suppressed the truth of what God has already revealed, what would ensure that they wouldn’t do the same with the Gospel?  Ultimately, God’s general revelation places everyone in a state of guilt.  Everyone is left without excuse.

General revelation itself is not enough for salvation.  Special revelation is God’s direct communication of himself to mankind through his Word and through the person of Jesus Christ.  Faith in Christ is explicitly required for salvation.  Faith receives the benefits of grace.  Scripture teaches that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Jesus directly speaks this truth to Nicodemus in John 3:16, stating, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   A person can only believe the good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, which served as a substitionary atonement for the penalty of our sins, if he or she has heard the good news!  (Romans 10:12-15)

Option 2 – We Deserve Damnation Answer – Sin is the cause of death.  God did not create sin.  He created the world and it was good!  God did not tempt Adam and Eve and he has no blame for sin or its effects.  Since he is a just God, he must punish sin.  These questions seem to imply that the people who have not heard the Gospel are going to perish and suffer hell, not because of their fault, but because of God’s fault or the fault of the church for not sharing the Gospel with them.  This is totally, and utterly, not true.   Those who have not heard the Gospel are sinners!  They still deserve eternal punishment for their sins, and general revelation leaves them without excuse.

Option 3 – Check the Numbers Answer – The numbers tell us that there are more people living now than ever before.  There are more Christians in this world than ever before too.  We can travel to far off lands and communicate with more people all over the globe without even leaving our house because of the Internet.  This means that in this period of time, more Christians can reach more people than ever before in history.  This means it is time for Christians to quit asking why and what if about the unevangelized from the past, present, or future, and simply get to work sharing the Gospel.

Option 4 – God Can Reveal Himself to Anyone – God is not limited to saving only people who have heard the Gospel through a proclamation of the message of Jesus Christ via a human agent.  God can and has stepped in to reveal himself directly to people through direct communication through vehicles other than men.  God can communicate the Gospel directly to people through dreams, visions, angels, and even through burning bushes and talking animals!  We have no guarantee that everyone will hear the Gospel at once during their life, but we do know that it’s possible for people to receive knowledge directly from God apart from human intercessory, if God chooses to reveal himself in this way.

Option 5 – We Must Trust God Answer – I know that these answers aren’t satisfying, but in this case the unsatisfying answer must be trusted.  When we look to the person of Jesus Christ, we see that he was a righteous man who upheld his own moral teachings.   He established his divinity through his public miracles and especially his resurrection from the dead.  In light of Jesus’ demonstrated love for humanity and his power to overcome death, we must come to trust God in areas of his revelation to us that our unsettling to us.   We might question the nature of God’s judgments, but Jesus gives us the assurance that God is just.

Scripture:

God speaks through a dream – Matthew 2:1-23 and Genesis 37:5-7.
God speaks through a vision – Daniel 2:19, Acts 10:9-17, Acts 9:10-14, and Acts 16:6-10.
God speaks through an angel – Daniel 10-12, Luke 1:26-38, and Judges 13.
God speaks through a burning bush – Exodus 3:1-4.
God speaks through an animal – Numbers 22:21-41.
Jesus directly reveals himself to Paul – Acts 9:1-9.

Back to the Gospel:

Because God is not at fault in our sin, He didn’t need to give anyone a second chance. If God chose to damn everyone, he would still be holy and just. We must remember that God suffered dearly in the process of bringing about salvation for mankind.  He sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die as a ransom for the sins of all of mankind. When we see the price that God himself had to pay for there to be salvation for any of us, our response should be one of repentance, praise, and thanksgiving, not ridicule and disdain.

I know that this answer isn’t satisfying, but in this case the unsatisfying answer must be trusted.  When we look to the person of Jesus Christ, we see that he was an upright man who upheld his own moral teachings.   He established his divinity through his public miracles and especially his resurrection from the dead.  In light of his demonstrated love for humanity and his power to overcome death, we must trust that God him when he says he is just in his judgments.

Contradict #14 – God Bless All Nations and Postmodernism

This is the first Contradict – They Can’t All Be True video that does not present the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For that, I apologize.  Watch the other videos to hear the Gospel message.

Before the Modern world, we blindly trusted in authority.  For God, that meant we just trusted the Bible as the Word of God and believed whatever the Church taught us.

In the Modern world, we trusted in logic, reason, and science. These were helpful tools in helping us interpret the Bible.

In the Postmodern world, an emerging worldview that hasn’t yet fully replaced Modernism, we are confronted with many opposing beliefs, religions, morals, and customs and many of us can’t apply our logic and reason to justify why one belief system is true and another false, especially since we can see elements of truth in all of them.  This has led to relativism.  We now trust in experience and intuition to guide our beliefs concerning God.

I found a God Bless All Nations bumper sticker.  This is a good depiction of postmodernism.  Words and symbols can be deconstructed to mean anything an individual wants.  In relativism, everything goes.  What’s true for you is true for you.

Overtime this can leave us in a state of being dazed and confused, and when it’s been so long, we can’t tell what’s true anymore.  God Bless All Nations!  If God is blessing nations why don’t we see flags representing countries?  Are religions now nations?  Or it is trying to say that religions are now so spread out over the world that these religions can be found in many  nations, and since God blesses all nations, then he must therefore be blessing all religions too?  Of is it trying to say that God can be found in all of these religions and that that God blesses all nations?  Or is it saying that America isn’t a Christian nation?  Or is it saying that Americans shouldn’t say “God Bless America,” they should say “God Bless all Nations?”  In postmodernism, it can mean anything I want it to mean, and you can’t tell me I’m wrong, except I think words do have meaning, and so do symbols… these meanings can change overtime, but we still have to be able to recognize the different definitions, but in postmodernism changes can happen overnight based on some video or image going “viral,” and we don’t have to recognize the contradictions anymore, since everything is now true! So I am left in complete frustration.  Come Lord Jesus, Come!

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“Jesus could have had a twin brother.” – the script.

Since I had a conversation recently with someone who actually believed that Jesus probably had an identical twin brother that no one knew about who faked the resurrection, rather than Jesus having real bodily resurrection, this student written script from my apologetics class came to mind.  Hopefully, you like it.  Share some comments so the students can get some feedback on their work from outside our class.

Scenario: Jesus Christ had a twin brother

Setting: Ash Wednesday Chapel at school

Twin 1: Hey! Why did you get one?

Christian: This is symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from physical death to life. 

Twin 2: Resurrection sounds rather impossible. 

Twin 1: Yeah, what if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was all a lie? A fragment of people’s imagination?

Christian: What do you mean?

Twin 2: What if Jesus was like one of us? What if he had a twin brother?

Twin 1: Yeah, what if people mistook Jesus’ unseen twin brother as Jesus Christ?

Twin 2: As you can see, we are identical twins. [Pause] People mistake us for each other all the time. What if it was the same for Jesus? After all, Jesus Christ was fully human – so there is no possible and rational explanation for his coming back from the dead. 

Christian: Hmm….. That is an invalid argument. As seen in Scripture, Jesus’ town knew of his family well, many people grew up among them (Matthew 13:55-56 “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers– James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us.  Where did he learn all these things.”). Also people didn’t find Jesus in the tomb,  there were guards there the whole time (their life was on the line so they didn’t lie) and the rock that covered the tomb was way too heavy to move.  The shepherds came to the stable and saw him right after birth with his mother and father.  There was no way for Joseph and Mary to hide a twin, because they had no idea that Jesus was going to die in 33 years.   

Twin 1: Okay. So then, Jesus really did come back to life?

Christian: Yes. There are six evidences that support the resurrection of Christ. These are the empty tomb, the postcruxifixion appearances, the transformation of the apostles, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, emergence of the Christian Church, and a switch to Sunday as a Day of Worship. I would love to spend more time discussing these evidences in more depth, but we are running out of time. Chapel is about to end. 

Twin 2: Okay. Now, Jesus’ resurrection makes more sense. Hmm.. we should get the ashes! 

Twin 1: Yeah!

Christian: Let’s go!

Jesus Claimed to Be God

Muslims say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  Some religious pluralists might say this too.  Some humanists will likely say this also.  And many people will not care.

I believe that we can trust the Gospels to be Historically reliable.  With that being said, I believe Jesus actually claimed to be God and that he backed up such claims by living the perfect life that none of us can live, dying the death that none of us can die, and rising from the grave, something that we all will do, however, some to everlasting life, and others to everlasting condemnation (Daniel 12:1-3).

People struggle to admit that Jesus claimed to be God, because they really like his teachings of universal love and compassion towards others.  They like his don’t pay back evil with evil mentality, because although we all break his commands, we recognize that they are the highest road of morality, and the path that most be followed for world peace.

People who want to embrace the Jesus of pacifism, but reject the Jesus who is the Messiah, will sometimes say, “Well, he never said the exact words, ‘I am God,’ so what Christians interpret to be claims to be God, must somehow be misunderstood.”  So, I’ll change the lyrics of the Animals song slightly to fit this situation, “Oh Lord, please don’t let him be misunderstood.”  Make no mistake, Jesus claimed to be God.  Here is how he claimed to be God as recorded in his biographies, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John:

Divine Titles Proclaimed by or attributed to Jesus Christ:

God (John 1:1, John 20:28, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1)
Lord (Mark 12:35-37, John 20:28, Romans 10:9-13, 1 Cor. 8:5-6, 12:3, Philippians 2:11)
Messiah (Matthew 16:16, Mark 14:61, John 20:31)
Son of God (Matt. 11:27, Mark 15:39, John 1:18, Romans 1:4, Galatians 4:4, Hebrews 1:2)
Son of Man (Matt. 16:28, Matt. 24:30, Mark 8:38, Mark 14:62-64, Acts 7:56, Dan. 7:13-14)

Divine Names, actions, or roles proclaimed by or attributed to Jesus Christ:

Creator (John 1:3, Col. 1:16, Hebrews 1:2,10-12)
Sustainer (1 Cor. 8:6, Col. 1:17, Hebrews 1:3)
Forgiver of sins (Mark 2:5-7, Luke 24:47, Acts 5:31, Col. 3:13)
Object of prayer (John 14:4, Acts 1:24, 1 Cor. 1:2)
Object of worship (Matt. 28:16-17, Phil. 2:10-11, Hebrews 1:6)
Object of saving faith (John 14:1, Acts 10:43, Romans 10:8-13)

Divine Attributes or Qualities proclaimed by or attributed to Jesus Christ

Eternal Existence (John 1:1, John 8:58, John 17:5, Hebrews 13:8)
Self-existence (John 1:3, John 5:26, Col. 1:16)
Omnipresence (Matthew 18:20, Ephesians 1:23, Ephesians 4:10, Col. 3:11)
Omniscience (Mark 2:8, Luke 9:47, John 2:25, John 4:18, Col. 2:3)
Omnipotence (John 2:19, Col. 1:16-17)

Jesus equated himself with the Father

To know Jesus is to know God – John 14:7
To see Jesus is to see God – John 14:9
To encounter Jesus is to encounter God – John 14:11
To welcome Jesus is to welcome God – John 5:23
To hate Jesus is to hate God – John 15:23
To obey Jesus is to obey God – John 14:23

Jesus made direct claims that many Jewish religious leaders considered to blasphemous – John 5:17-18, John 8:58-59, John 10:30-33, and Mark 14:61-64.

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...
Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So based on these claims…

Who do you say Jesus is?

Was Yeshua a Common Name in the First Century?

According to the James Cameron produced mystery documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, Jesus’ body was stolen by the disciples, who according to Jewish burial tradition would have taken his bones and put them in a box and buried him in his family’s tomb a year later.  I know this tradition is what likely prompted some of his disciples to say, “Yea, we’ll follow you, but first let us bury our Father who died.”  Jesus responds by saying, “Let the dead bury the dead; let’s take care of the living.”  It seems cold of him to say that in our tradition of a quick burial that is completed in a day, but in light of a year-long burial and the short span of Jesus’ earthly  ministry; yea, “Let’s get the move on” sounds more like an appropriate response.

Never mind the burial tradition, would the disciples have actually stolen the body, to then lie about it, claiming he was raised from the grave, and then preach such nonsense in the face of persecution and martyrdom?  Nope!  They wouldn’t, unless they were massively crazy!  But there is no sign in that, in fact, people were astounded by their teachings, and even their miracles!

Cameron’s big fantasy scenario comes from a tomb that was found, dated to around 2000 years ago, that had a box with the name Yeshua Bar Joseph on the side, Jesus, the Son of Joseph.  Is this Jesus’ family tomb?  Are these the bones of Jesus?  Finally, we can disprove the resurrection!

English: James Cameron introduce scenes from t...
Finally, we have good reason to believe that Jesus was not raised from the grave! Trust me. I made Avatar and Titanic.

Again, why would they steal the body and lie about it to their deaths?  How does it explain the post-crucifixion appearances, especially the one in which Jesus appeared to 500 people at once?  Were those 500 people all apart of the masterpiece conspiracy to become persecuted for a lie?  How does their stealing of the body explain the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, to the Apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul?

But let’s say, none of this other evidence existed… just to humor James Cameron a little bit.

Is it really compelling evidence that the box was actually that of Jesus’ corpse because of the name on it?  Nope.  You want to know why?  Because Yeshua was a common name in the 1st Century.  Yeshua is the same name as Joshua, basically.  Other tombs from that time frame have been found with the name Yeshua on them.  How many haven’t been found?

For more on how Jesus was a common name in the 1st century, read this article: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2008/12/happy_birthday_dear_yeshua_happy_birthday_to_you.html

Quit reading Hindu Scriptures, James Cameron.  Read the Gospels, Matthew-John.  See the Real Jesus for yourself.

One Nation Under God #1

One nation under God.  Which God?  I’ve heard a lot of people make the argument that a majority of the founding fathers were deists and not Christians.  I however was taught that America was founded as a Christian nation.  Here are some quotes from some very influential founding fathers:

From John Hancock – Signer of the Declaration of Independence:

Principally and first of all, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it; and my body I recommend to the earth… nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mercy and power of God.

 

The doctrine of a general resurrection would have come from a Biblical, Christian worldview for Mr. Hancock.

Patrick Henry – Governor of Virgina:

It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wow!  Partrick Henry claims that America was founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ!  That isn’t generic deism by any stretch of the imagination.  If Patrick Henry was wrong in this statement, other early prominent American leaders would have corrected him.  Do we have any such corrections?

English: Peter F. Rothermel's "Patrick He...
English: Peter F. Rothermel’s “Patrick Henry Before the Virginia House of Burgesses”, a painting of Patrick Henry’s “If this be treason, make the most of it!” speech against the Stamp Act of 1765

Benjamin Rush – Signer of the Declaration of Independence:

My only hope of salvation is the infinite, transcendent love of God manifested to the world by death of His Son upon the cross.  Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins.  I rely exclusively upon it.  Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!

 

Benjamin Rush, Painting
Benjamin Rush, Painting (Photo credit: Marion Doss)

Benjamin Rush definitely wasn’t Jewish or Islamic, or simply believing that there was some unknown Creator directing the course of history from afar without any direct revelation of himself to mankind.

John Adams – Second President:

The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.

 

John Hancock and John Adams:

We recognize no sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!

 

All quotes were pulled from In God We Still Trust by Dr. Richard G. Lee.