Breakdown of View 1
The Bible is clear and straightforward about the fact that all humans are sinners and responsible for their actions. Jesus, Himself, taught the doctrine of eternal damnation. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is the only way a person can enter Heaven. Everyone must personally accept what Jesus did on the cross to receive forgiveness for their sins. Just being a good person, or even being a very "religious" person, will not get anyone into Heaven. Personally accepting the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only way sins are forgiven. If a person has never heard the gospel, he is unable to "accept it." Thus, he will die in his sins and go to Hell. Sin is what sends a person to Hell, not his "rejection of Christ." The human race was condemned and destined to go to Hell long before Christ died on the cross. We are not condemned for "rejecting" Christ, but for violating the law written on our hearts and transgressing our own moral standards (however high or low they may be). Romans says that we are "without excuse" even if we have never heard about God's standards.
Paul teaches in the book of Romans that a person who lives without the law will be judged without the law. He is not responsible for light he does not have, but will be held accountable for the moral standard that he does have. James states that if you know you should do something and you do not do it, you have sinned. Being without the law (the Bible) does not exclude a person from being judged; he must still give an account for his sins. The Bible states clearly the penalty for those sins is eternal damnation.
We are not aware of any passages in the Bible that imply God will use any way other than humans to spread the salvation message. God uses His supernatural power to enable us to spread the Word. He does not use it to deliver the gospel message by giving visions, sending angels, or "dropping Bibles out of the sky."
There are many places in the Bible that talk about how it pleases God to use humans for spreading the gospel. 1 Corinthians states God has chosen to use the foolishness of preaching to save them that are lost. Throughout the Bible, God has used only humans to spread the salvation message. Revelation 14:6,7 refers to an angel flying around preaching the "gospel," but here the gospel (which means "good news") is the good news that the tribulation is almost over. It has nothing to do with eternal salvation.
In Numbers 22:28, an ass talked to Balaam, but this was not a salvation message. In Luke 19:40, the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke His disciples for giving Him praise and glory. Jesus responded that if His disciples held their peace, "the stones would immediately cry out." This passage has often been used to show God will even use rocks to give the salvation message. Yet, it is actually talking about giving God His due glory and praise. If we do not give Him the glory He deserves, it will come from elsewhere, even the stones. There is no doubt that God could use these means if He wanted, but, He has not given us any indication from the Bible this is His intention. In fact, even secular anthropological studies of remote tribes offer no evidence of God using these supernatural means.
The life of the Christian is more vital in spreading the gospel than the actual preaching of the gospel. The Bible says our bodies are vessels into which God will pour His power. The Spirit works through the Christian. Thus, when the Christian presents himself as a living sacrifice, dynamic power is channeled through him and lives are changed.
In a study of the heathen, one of the most difficult questions to answer is what will happen to the person who never hears the gospel. The Bible seems to point in one direction though our feelings point in another. Of all the questions concerning the heathen, you probably will find the answer to this question hardest to understand and accept.
The Bible appears very dogmatic on the necessity for personal acceptance of Christ to go to Heaven. It also appears that God has chosen to use humans to deliver that gospel message. Yet, we know there are vast areas throughout the world that do not have any knowledge of the gospel. Billions have died without ever hearing the gospel. So, what is going to happen, or actually has already happened, to these people. Since they have not accepted the gospel, we must assume they have been condemned to Hell.
However, this leads us to a very disturbing question. Why have the unsaved not accepted the gospel? Obviously, the gospel was not available for them to accept. Yet, why was the gospel not available? Was it because they were not "seeking or sincere"? In the Chapter "Breakdown of View 2," the implications C, D and H deal extensively with this subject. It appears that seeking and sincerity are not contributing factors. God has chosen us, Christians, to be His witnesses and to deliver His gospel message.
This brings up a sobering question: If we do not go, will people needlessly go to Hell? Hosea says "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge." Also there is the familiar verse from Ezekiel about the "watchman" who was to warn the wicked. If the watchman does not warn the people, they will "die in their iniquities" and he will be responsible (their blood will be required at his hand).
Before Christ came and died on the cross, what happened to the Gentiles who were not exposed to the Jewish religion? Contrary to what some people think, the Hebrews did not go to Heaven because they kept the 10 commandments. The Jewish religion was based on the coming Supreme Sacrifice of the Lamb of God (Jesus) dying on the cross. It was an absolute requirement that everyone, Hebrews and non-Hebrews, adhere to the Jewish religion to go to Heaven..
Several times the Bible says Israel was to be a lighthouse for the rest of the world. It was their responsibility to show the world the power, glory and salvation of God Almighty. Israel failed in its mission. Ephesians says that before Christ came, the Gentiles, who had not been exposed to the Jewish salvation, were "without God, having no hope." In Matthew, Jesus said the Pharisees had "shut up Heaven." As a result, not only were they not going to Heaven themselves, but they were blocking others from going too. This shows that people do go to Hell because of us. In Luke, Jesus said, "the harvest is great and the laborers are few." There are not enough willing Christians to reach the world with the gospel.
Just as there are degrees of rewards in Heaven, there seems to be degrees of punishment in Hell. It is possible that the severity of a person's punishment in Hell depends on how much "light" he had and what he did with it. Romans states that if a person does not have the "law" (the Bible) he will be "judged without the law." In other words, if a person has the Bible, he will be responsible for living up to the moral standards contained within it. If he does not have the "law," he will not be judged by it. Instead, he will be judged for not living up to the moral standards etched in his heart or shown him in nature.
There will be two judgments for the world: The "Judgment Seat of Christ" and the "White Throne Judgment." The "Judgment Seat of Christ" is for Christians. This judgment is not to determine whether they will go to Heaven, that was already determined by their acceptance of Christ, but to distribute their rewards. The White Throne Judgment is for non-believers only. After it they will be sent to Hell. This judgment will determine the degree of punishment.
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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