Breakdown of View 2
When the Bible says, "no one seeks after God," does it mean that no one has a desire for God or that no one wants to do what is right? Does it mean no one has sought after the Creator of the Universe? This does not seem to be what is meant by these verses.
When God created us, He incorporated a "God-size vacuum" into our being, a vacuum only God can fill. This vacuum not only makes a person empty and restless until he finds Christ, it also makes him thirsty for Spiritual things. Man has a natural desire for God and for reconciliation. Religion is not something that has to be taught; it just comes naturally. This is why no matter how primitive and isolated a group of people may be, they always have a religion. The main reason some people have no interest in Christianity, or claim to be atheists, is because either some Christian has "turned them off" or something has happened that has made them bitter toward God.
These deep-down desires of wanting to do good and finding God that are found in everyone are very polluted. With these desires to do good are the desires to do evil. These bad desires are much stronger than the good desires. That is why Paul says in Romans there were certain good things he wanted to do, but, he ended up doing just the opposite. We all can relate to this. We can think of things that we know we should do, and yet for some reason, we deliberately do just the opposite even when we know it is wrong.
If some good wheat falls off a tractor into a pile of manure and gets mixed in by the horses walking over it, the wheat is contaminated. Though some good wheat is in the pile, it is worthless. In the same way, our good works and desires for God become uninfluential. We have so many bad desires that our good desires are overwhelmed. When the Bible says no man does good or seeks God, it is saying despite the good we have, we are more prone to do evil. Genesis states from our youth, the "imaginations of man’s heart are evil," and the book of Psalms says man goes astray as soon as he is born.
Thus it appears according to the Bible, the natural man, without some outside influence, does not "seek God," at least in the sense God is obligated to send him the gospel. As we will see later, God has chosen to use the presence of the Word of God (the Word written on paper or the Word living in the hearts of Christians) to "draw" people to Himself.
The main premise of View 2 is God will provide everyone with an equal opportunity to accept Christ and a lack of Christians willing to spread the gospel is not a limiting factor. View 2 implies God will not allow the disobedience or unfaithfulness of Christians to hinder a seeking person from hearing the gospel. God knows when someone is living up to the light and seeking. He also knows those who would accept Him if they had an opportunity. Therefore, God, according to View 2, must provide the gospel to these people and give them the opportunity to accept it.
Thus, with this assumption, the only factor involved in whether a person hears the gospel is the attitude of his heart. The failure of the Christian church to witness has no effect on whether the heathen hears the gospel. Since God is taking full responsibility for delivering the gospel, everyone who wants to accept Christ will be given the opportunity and will be saved.
It is estimated that 50% of the world’s population has never heard of the person called Jesus Christ. 75% of the world does not have a clear enough understanding of the gospel to become a Christian. Approximately 6.6% of the world has accepted the gospel. That leaves about 5.7 billion people who are unsaved. In the past 64 years, the world’s population has increased about 19 times faster than the number of Christians.
According to view 2, God will provide the gospel to everyone who would accept it if they heard it. We can then say everyone who would possibly get saved, will get saved. Since there is nothing we can do to increase the amount of people who will get saved, we must assume that world evangelism is taking place. If we can increase the number of people who will be saved, then some people have gone to Hell because of us.
There are more people being born than being born again. Not only is the church not gaining ground, it is not even holding the ground that it has. Many cults are growing faster than the Christian church.
Wherever there is a high exposure to the gospel, there is a higher percentage of Christians. Wherever there is little exposure to the gospel, there are few or no Christians.
The main premise of View 2 is God will give everyone an equal opportunity to become a Christian. This means nothing can increase a person’s probability or chance of becoming a Christian.
Yet, there seems to be a great amount of secular and Biblical information that indicates exposure does increase a person’s chance of becoming a Christian. As we increase exposure to the gospel in an area, we find an increase in the number of Christians. This means there are some people who would not become Christians under a limited exposure, but would become Christians under heavier exposure. This being true, then there are people who are living in underexposed areas who are dying and going to Hell only because they have not had enough exposure to the gospel.
Because of the consequences involved, this question about exposure must be resolved. Here are some important questions that should be considered. The more we are exposed to the protozoan parasite called sporozoite, the higher our chances will be of coming down with the disease, malaria. Our chances of coming down with the disease would be greater than someone who had never been exposed to it. Now, we know that we cannot directly compare the gospel to a disease, but the principles governing exposure are consistent regardless.
As Christian parents, we would like to be assured of raising mature, spirit-filled, Christian children. However, if a person’s salvation is not determined by his upbringing or exposure to the gospel, but by being someone who just happened to want to live up to the light, then, the chance of our children becoming Christians is no greater than a native in the deepest part of Africa. Yet, when compared, it is evident that Christian parents have a higher percentage of Christian children than non-Christian parents. In fact, many parents use the verse in Proverbs to show that their upbringing does play a part.
There are a couple of other points that should be considered also. The Bible says in Proverbs, a person offended is harder to win than a fortified city. It is easy to "turn a person off" and make their hearts cold toward us and what we represent. In Matthew, Jesus said that iniquity could cause a person’s heart to grow cold. Jesus also stated that the Pharisees had "shut up Heaven" and blocked others from entering. Thus, it must be possible to turn a person off to Christianity. Our inconsistent hypocritical lives decrease a person’s desire to want what we have. Unfortunately, many people have developed a bad taste toward Christianity because of the Christians who are stumbling blocks. When we look around, we find many Christians who have spent years of their lives bitter and angry with other Christians (i.e., bitterness resulting from church splits, etc.). If we as Christians can permanently (or at least severely) offend other Christians, then is it possible that someone who would have accepted Christ did not because we offended them or gave them the wrong impression of Christianity?
Follow this thought with the idea that peer groups can greatly control the life of a person, either constructively or destructively. Those around us influence our attitudes and values. This is why there are some locations that have an unusually high crime rate. It follows, then, that a person’s surroundings can influence him to want to "live up to the light."
Keep in mind that although we may be influenced by others, we are still responsible for our actions. We can never excuse ourselves by placing the blame on someone else. We may be influenced by others, but we still have a choice! It just happens that because of our sinful nature we usually make the wrong choice. We are conditioned, but not controlled. Others may influence us, but they cannot force us to act. Our response is our responsibility.
Here is another question that must be considered. Can the heart-melting message of the gospel influence a person’s desire for God and for repentance? Can this unusual and powerful message of grace and reconciliation cause a person to want to "seek God" and "live up to the light" more than what he would have had he not heard? Take the city of Nineveh as an example. When Jonah preached to this Gentile, wicked and heathenized city, almost the whole city repented and turned from their wickedness. There was a big revival among the Ninevites. What was it that caused this population to all turn to God simultaneously? What about other revivals happening around us where thousands of people turn to God simultaneously? Why are there so many people being saved at once? Why is it that large groups of people suddenly start "seeking" God?
Could it be that hearing the heart-melting gospel message powered by the Holy Spirit is the main, although not necessarily the only, ingredient that causes a person to turn to God? The reason large groups turn to God simultaneously is not because they all started to "seek God" at the same time. It is because they all are exposed to the power of the Holy Spirit and the gospel message simultaneously. Remember, the words of Paul, "Faith comes by hearing the Word of God."
Last, the Bible says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to Heaven. Is it saying that if the same man was not rich he would be more likely to go to Heaven? Does this not imply that our surroundings do influence our values and desires for God?
Listed below are a few verses that demonstrate it is possible to make a person’s heart cold or receptive.
There are some places in the world with very high concentrations of Christians and other places with very low concentrations of Christians. In fact, there are many places where there are large groups of people, some numbering into the millions, with no gospel message or Bible. There is no indication that anyone in these groups, including their forefathers, has ever had any knowledge of what Christ did on the cross.
View 2 implies that God will give everyone an equal opportunity to accept Christ. The deciding factor of whether a person will hear and have a chance to accept the gospel is not the amount of opportunity, but the sincerity of the person’s heart. Since the attitude of the person’s heart would be random and not based on his environment or exposure to the gospel, an equal distribution of Christians would be expected throughout the world. The law of Random Distribution dictates when something is distributed at random, it will spread out proportionately. For example, let’s say you have 1000 red marbles and 1000 yellow marbles intermingled in a bag, and you poured them on the floor at random. You will find a fairly even mixture of red and yellow marbles distributed throughout the room.
When we look at the distribution of Christians throughout the world, we do not find the proportions even close to being equal. Wherever there is a heavy gospel witness, there is a high concentration of Christians. Wherever there is little or no gospel witness, there is a low concentration of Christians. If you take these areas with the low concentration, and increase the gospel witness, a proportional increase in the amount of Christians will also be seen.
So, we are faced with this question: Could there be other factors that contribute to whether a person will accept the gospel? Could geographic location play a part? Could constant exposure to the heart-melting gospel play a part? These questions must be answered.
There are over 5000 religions in the world (not including the different cults) and many of their members are, in some sense of the word, "sincere" and "devout." Are we saying that all these religious people are not "living up to the light"? We know that billions of people are raised in a religion completely different from Christianity. Most of these people have lived their lives, never knowing anything but their religion. Probably the majority sincerely feel they are practicing the correct religion. How then can we to say all these people are not sincere or living up to the light they have?
A nurse was putting what she thought was silver nitrate into the eyes of a newborn baby. This is a common procedure for the prevention of blindness from the venereal disease, gonorrhea. However, mistakenly she used sulfuric acid and blinded the child. Even though she was sincere, she was still wrong. Misguided sincerity is still sincerely wrong.
Cults are especially successful in attracting people who seem sincere. They trap many who are looking for more, and are not finding it in the lukewarm and backslidden churches that they attended. When cult members do leave their cult, they do not usually join or attend another church. This seems to indicate they do not leave the cult because God is "leading them out," at least not in the sense that they were "seeking" and God has shown them the true gospel. They usually leave because they are disillusioned, or feel betrayed by their group.
If it is true that "If I do not go, God will send someone else," then the only result of not going when directed by God, is missing the blessing of being used by God. This is not true though. God has given us the responsibility of reaching the lost. People who do not hear the gospel are needlessly going to hell.
Two different places in Ezekiel speak of how we are to warn the wicked. If we do not, they will die in their iniquities, and we will be responsible for them perishing. 1 Corinthians states it is to our shame that some people still have no knowledge of God. In Hosea, God says because of a lack of knowledge, His people are destroyed. Ephesians adds that before Christ came, the Gentiles were, "without God in this world ... having no hope."
Finally, what is meant in Luke when God says the "harvest is great but the laborers are few"? Could this mean there are not enough willing Christians to reach the world with the gospel? For more information, refer to the chapter "Breakdown of View 1," implication C.
The main premise of View 2 is God will provide the gospel to those who continually live up to the light. Since there are vast locations that have no gospel, we must conclude that the unsaved are not seeking. Let us carry it a step further. View 2 also implies that God will give everyone an equal opportunity to accept the gospel. If this is true, then a person’s attitude of wanting to "live up to the light" cannot be influenced by his upbringing or surroundings. So, if a person’s attitude changes, it changes only because of his inherent values. We must then conclude when a person is born, it is already determined whether he will or will not "live up to the light." Yet, the scriptures tell us that everyone is born with the same attitudes, and they are opposed to God and what is right.
Other Chapters in this Section
Quick Visual Aid of View 1
Quick Visual Aid of View 2
Quick Visual Aid of View 3
Quick Visual Aid of View 4
Quick Visual Aid of View 5
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