Putting it all Together
The Bible is clear on the necessity of personally accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ. This basic theme runs throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament the believers were looking toward the Supreme Sacrifice of the Lamb of God, while New Testament believers now look back to this event. The Old Testament believers did not go to Heaven because they kept the 10 Commandments. The "law" was given only as a standard of God’s perfection and expectations. When a person sincerely tries to keep all God’s standards, he soon realizes his ineptness. Thus, he develops a better understanding of what is meant when God says "there is none righteous, no not one." When a person truly comprehends this, he understands the need for a salvation outside himself.
To demonstrate how the law reveals to a person just how sinful he really is, we can use the illustration of a freshly washed and waxed car. Under normal light the car seems clean and without blemishes. However, when the car is exposed to extremely bright light, the previously "hidden" nicks, scratches and streaks become visible. It is the same way when a person exposes himself to the "brightness" of God’s standard. The previously hidden needs and faults become visible.
Because Christianity is drastically failing to fulfill the Great Commission, we are faced with the sobering question of what will happen to those who are not reached with the gospel. The Bible teaches in Romans that everyone has a moral standard written in their heart. Because everyone has failed to even live up to this low standard, they are without excuse. Romans also states that those who live without the law will be judged without the law. These people are not going to be judged for violating a standard they know nothing of, but are going to be judged by the standard written in their hearts. James says that if a person knows that something is wrong and does it anyway, he has sinned. Even if the heathen do not have the Bible to point out their sins, they are aware of their wrongs and this condemns them.
There are two different judgments, the White Throne Judgment for nonbelievers and the Judgment Seat of Christ for Believers. If a person accepts the gospel of Jesus Christ, he is positively going to Heaven. Therefore, the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ is to distribute rewards. If a person has not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, he is positively going to Hell. Thus, the White Throne Judgment is to declare the sentence and "degree of punishment."
A study of the heathen involves many more people than what we usually consider. It is not a small handful of remote tribes that are heathen, but most of the world. Only about 6.6% of the world’s population has accepted the gospel; this leaves about 5.7 billion who have not. Our Christian influence is obviously decreasing. In the past 64 years the increase of the world’s population has been about 19 times greater than the increase of Christians. A striking majority of the world’s population does not have a clear understanding of the gospel. Their understanding of the actual plan of salvation is as limited as our understanding of other major religions. We have heard of other religions (like Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) but most of us could not thoroughly explain their method of salvation. Since most of the world has not heard a clear gospel message, we must include them in our study of the heathen.
Most Christians agree that in order for a person to go to Heaven, he personally has to accept the gospel. There is considerable disagreement, however, about those who have not heard the gospel and are "seeking" or "living up to the light" that they have. This is a subject on which the Bible is not specific. After you have looked at the facts, you must draw your own conclusions.
Although the Bible is not dogmatic on this subject, it is far from silent. There are many important issues that must be considered. The first issue is: does man really "seek" God and "live up to the light that he has?" Written in the hearts of all men is a desire for God, a desire to fill that "God-size vacuum." Yet, could God’s concept of seeking differ from ours?
The whole premise of God sending more light to those who are seeking stems from the concept that God will give everyone an equal opportunity to accept the gospel. If God is going to give everyone an equal opportunity, exposure to the gospel will not give anyone a greater desire to seek God than what he normally has. If it did, this "extra" exposure would give him more opportunity to "accept the gospel."
If more exposure to the gospel does not increase a person’s chances of accepting the gospel, we would expect to find an even proportion of Christians throughout the world. Yet, this is not the case. According to this view, God will ensure world evangelism. However, this world evangelism does not appear to be happening. This is evident by the tremendous rate at which Christianity is losing ground. Also, if exposure does not play any part, then we should not find a greater percentage of Christian children with Christian parents. Would we, as Christian parents, be able to raise our children as strong Christians if our Christian influence did not play a role?
If God will send more light to those who are seeking, can we assume that the non-Christians who stay in their religion, are not sincerely seeking? Some of these people seem more sincere and committed than most Christians.
Taking these facts into consideration, it appears that those who have not heard the gospel are still accountable for the standard that they have. Because all men sin against this low standard, they are "without excuse." The Bible is clear on the necessity of personally accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ to obtain atonement for sin. All men who have not personally accepted this gospel will be judged and condemned for their sins. Because the Bible teaches that there will be degrees of punishment in Hell, we can conclude that the heathen will be judged based on the light they have. Those who reject the gospel will come under heavier condemnation than those who have never heard.
If the heathen are going to Hell, what can we do about it? Is there an answer? The solution is not making a quick decision to do something "spectacular." The direction of your life should not be based on an emotional response of guilt or pity. Following the leading of God requires a close walk with Christ coupled with much prayer and meditation. There are two areas though, that all Christians can work on now while they seek God’s clear direction in their lives. These two areas are the dedication of our lives and the faithfulness of our prayers. God has chosen to use humans as vessels through which to channel His awesome power and might. When we dedicate completely our bodies to God as living sacrifices, God’s power is transformed within our lives. This is the quality that allowed the dynamic people in the Bible to change the world around them. Couple this with consistent prayer and we will truly rock the world.
To illustrate the need for total commitment, let us look at the simple game of bowling. If you knock down 9 pins (90%) you will earn 9 points. But, if you knock down just 1 more pin (100%) you have the potential of earning 30 points. In this game there is not that much difference between knocking down 50% or 90%. Yet, between 95% and 100% lies the potential for winning the game. It is the same with the dedication of our lives to God. We may have 50% or 90% of our life committed to God, but the real power comes when we are 100% committed to God. We would not expect there to be that much difference between 95% and 100%, but this is one of the dynamic keys to a powerful victorious life.
Acts 1:8 says that after we receive the power of the Holy Spirit, we should be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the world. To put the verse into a more contemporary setting, it is like God telling me to be His witness first in Jackson, then to expand my reach and influence throughout Michigan. After that, my witness should reach those living within the United States, and finally, to the rest of the world. Though there are many places in the world that I will never reach physically, my influence should extend to these areas. This is possible via my prayers, financial support or by the ministry that I play in the lives of others.
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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