No Thank You, Mr. Trump

Suppose I decide I want to talk to Donald Trump, the American business magnate. I hunt up a number, call, and wonderfully am answered on the first ring by one of his many assistants.

I explain I want to talk to Mr. Trump himself. The assistant tells me he just happens to be on site and available. In seconds I hear Mr. Trump’s suavely grumpy voice.

I eagerly identify myself, then move on to the reason for my call. Thank you, I say, but Mr. Trump I’ll have to say no. I just can’t accept a million dollars from you.

He pauses, clears his voice, then says, There must be some mistake. I never offered you a million dollars.

As you know, this scenario is completely fictitious, but I think there are parts that are analogous to our perception of Mankind’s relationship with God.

Jesus clearly said that

he who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
– John 3:18 [emphasis mine]

As I understand this passage, there are only two camps — he who believes and he who has not believed. In other words, no one is in the state of my fictitious scenario in which no offer has been made.

We frequently talk about accepting Christ, yet we don’t take much time thinking about what rejecting the Son means. Instead, we assume that first a person hears about Jesus, then he “makes a decision.” That way of looking at things suggests the third category — those who have not heard.

I want to postulate that the decision to reject the Son of God has more to do with our heart attitude than it does with hearing the name of Jesus.

I realize I am walking a dangerous line here, one I think some of the universalists traverse. However, I hope I am coming at it from a Biblical perspective.

More and more, people claiming to be Christians speak of the “innocent” people who haven’t heard the gospel (as Rob Bell did in his ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos). At best that position is tapping into the “blank slate” theory, that man is born neutral and can decide to be good or evil. At worst, it aligns with the belief that man is good and something from the outside — society or government or Satan or an evil parent or traditional religion — drags him into sin.

The truth is, none is innocent. None is righteous. We are all in “reject” mode, dethroning God and enthroning ourselves.

Let me turn the page for a minute. When Jesus was teaching in the temple one day, He began a discussion with the Pharisees about who their father was. They claimed God was their father, but Jesus said no. Their father was the devil (see John 8:18-59).

Whether Jesus stood in front of them or not, their father would still have been the devil. He did not become their father because they rejected Jesus as their Messiah. The devil already was their father.

Jesus, of course, knew this about them because He is omniscient. He knew they were slaves to sin. The only thing that could free them would be His shed blood.

But today so many are coming to the issue of salvation as if it is a matter of imparting information — giving everyone a chance to hear the truth, and if they haven’t had that chance, then God is either unfair or He’ll give them that chance later or the information we thought they needed, they didn’t really need because their own belief system is a good substitute.

All of this rejects the idea that an omniscient, all powerful, good God who forms us in our mothers’ wombs can know our hearts and that He calls those who are His. It’s an uncomfortable idea.

We don’t know, can’t understand why God put us in America where we could so easily hear the gospel.

But we must marvel just as much about Tisquantum, better known as Squanto, who was kidnapped with the intent to be sold into slavery. As a result, he had the opportunity to learn about Jesus and escaped the plague that wiped out the rest of his people group.

Or how about Mincayani, one of the Huaorani tribesmen that killed Jim Eliot and the others martyred with him. His act of violence did not stop the truth of God from coming to his people and specifically to Mincayani himself.

The stories of people coming to Christ are many, varied, and no less miraculous if the miracle is about being born where the gospel is readily heard or if it is about one hearing the unexpected and unsought truth of God’s Son.

My point is this. I don’t believe anyone will be judged for rejecting an unoffered gift. God is not Donald Trump.

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Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 Comments

  1. Good post.

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  2. Wait – Jesus in his pre-glorified corporeal body was omniscient?

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  3. Bram,
    Jesus had both a human and a divine nature. While on earth He refrained from usurping His divine power – to fully act as the substitute and later compassionate mediator – relying AT TIMES on the Spirit to reveal only what Divinity could know. That is why, as a man, He could say to his disciples that He didn’t know when He would return. You can bet He knows when He’s coming back now.

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  4. Well stated.

    As I was reading this I thought of John the Baptist leaping in the womb when Mary greeted Elizabeth. It’s not like anyone told him God was his father. But God was his father, even then.

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  5. If God were Donald Trump, I’m sure with all the sins we bear, He would say, “You’re fired.”

    Yes..we can get that way with info dumping on people about Christ not taking into account that head has to connect with heart for a decision to be made and that decision is never made with sincerity the first time a person hears Jesus’ name.

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  6. Thanks for the feedback, all.

    Bram, I agree with what Bob said for the most part. Jesus is God, completely, though He volunteered to lay aside His glory.

    If you read the gospels looking for evidence of Jesus as God, you see it in lots of ways: He displayed His authority over demons; used his omnipotence to calm the wind and waves and to walk on water, multiply bread and fish, raise the dead, heal the blind and lame and diseased and deaf; and yes, exercised omniscience when He knew what people were thinking, that Peter would find a coin in a fish’s mouth, that there would be a catch of fish for Peter and company after they’d fished all night and found nothing, that He’d be crucified and raised the third day, that Judas would be the one to betray Him, and on and on.

    Hope that helps.

    Becky

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  7. I’m conflicted here, mostly because we simply don’t know how God handles those who never heard of Him. Take, for example, the first convenant God established with Isreal back with Moses. We presume that prior to Jesus’s arrival, the old covenant allowed man to come to God (correct me if I’m wrong here, Becky, but I believe that to be Scripturally based). We know that others could be accepted into the old covenant besides Jews, like Rahab and Ruth. But what about the people of China, of Africa, or even Europe at the time? How do we deal with the fact that there were groups of people who had no contact with the Jewish kingdom of the Old Testatement?

    Fastforward to the new covenant, established by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The great commission He gave out upon His ascension was to go into all the world, preaching and baptising. Again, it took some time to reach the farthest corners of the world, and there are still places that have yet to receive ready access to the Gospel. What, then, do we say about these people?

    I believe God is righteous and that He means what he says, namely that He requires a perfect sacrifice for our sins in order to gather us unto His presence. I don’t believe there is an in between, a “maybe I’ll accept God, maybe I’ll be a good person” lukewarm salvation possible: either He is savior and lord to you, or not. However, I also believe He is just and compassionate, and that we can not understand all of His ways. We are not told exactly how He plans to deal with those who have not heard His name, or stillborn children, or those who are mentally handicapped. I simply don’t know what God has in store for these people; I do believe whatever it is, it will be right and just, but I don’t know that we have a specific divine relevation on the subject to guide us. I think here we have to trust and have faith in both God’s perfection and mercy.

    Finally, while I recognize that we are all lost and unable to achieve salvation without trusting in God, it seems like the conversation is straying toward the predestination side of things (especially the idea that a person could be saved or lost in the womb). As someone of the Armenian tradition, I recognize my ideas about free will are probably different from others. Still, I think we need to be careful that we don’t swing the pendelum too far in an attempt to counter a different extreme.

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