The Way Of Salvation: An Addendum

Abraham005This morning I once again thought about inclusivism and salvation, Jesus and the unreached peoples, Abraham and faith–many of the same topics I covered in yesterday’s post “The Way Of Salvation.”

Why Abraham? Because a number of those in the Facebook discussion I was a part of mentioned Old Testament figures such as Noah and Job and Abraham as examples of people who, like the unreached peoples today, did not know Christ but who had faith in God.

I remember some time ago thinking about Abraham’s faith. Scripture says, “And Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (James 2:23b). What, I had to ask, did Abraham believe? It had to be more than that God exists–James makes the point earlier in the same chapter that the demons believe God is.

So what precisely did Abraham put his faith in?

I concluded by reading the account we have of his life in Genesis that Abraham believed what God told him, whether it was command or promise.

So when God told him to leave his home and go into a land he didn’t know and keep going until God told him to stop, Abraham said OK. When God said He would give him a son, Abraham said OK. When God told him to circumcise his household, Abraham said OK. When God told him to send Hagar and Ishmael away, Abraham said OK. When God told him to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham said OK.

At every turn, Abraham listened to what God said and did what God asked.

As I thought about Abraham today, I realized that he had this direct, special revelation from God and his faith was based on believing what God told him.

So if Abraham were a parallel with today’s “unreached people,” God presumably would give them the same kind of special revelation. He would communicate to them personally and specifically as He did with Abraham. Would their faith, then, be consistent with what Scripture says about salvation?

The question doesn’t go far enough. If God communicated with the “unreached people” today, giving them personal and specific revelation, wouldn’t He tell them about His Son Jesus? He wouldn’t have to tell them about circumcision or sacrifice. He could tell them specifically about His Son who came to be a blessing to the nations.

This kind of special revelation is absolutely within the power and possibility of an omnipotent, unlimited God. I have no trouble believing that God can reach down through miraculous means and save “unreached people” by preaching to them the gospel which they would believe.

I think God’s Word is clear that there is only one way for people to come to Him–through the Door, by the Way, by means of the one Mediator, the man Christ Jesus.

As I see it, those who believe in inclusivism have flipped God’s message on its head. They believe that God will bring them to Jesus so they can have salvation through His shed blood, but Scripture teaches that Jesus will bring us to God so that we can be reconciled to Him.

The inclusivism view seems to ignore the problem of sin. Scripture teaches throughout that sin is the problem humankind cannot overcome:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short
That it cannot save,
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear,
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hid His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

Praise God that He sent His Son Jesus to conquer sin once for all.

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Published in: on April 8, 2014 at 7:01 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 Comments

  1. I think that Romans, Chapter One, clears up this issue, perhaps because Paul anticipated unending debate far into the future. This chapter would then apply to those who lived before Christ, and had no direct knowledge or experience of Him. The angst likely exists because those who have known or do know Christ can’t figure out – if Christ is the only door to God, and He says – how this statement can apply to those unaware of Him, past or present. In short: We have trouble making sense of it.

    Nonetheless, if we take Paul at his word (God’s word), then God already communicates with unreached (those without His word) people. It appears that He will then judge them based what is detailed in Romans, Chapter One. It appears to be the beginning, middle and end of the story – or debate.

    To provide a personal illustration of how this might (does) play out: When I was a young boy I knew God was real. I never had to go inside a church, hear a verse of Scripture, meet a pastor or priest, be evangelized to, or receive “special” revelation. If one strays too far from what Paul wrote, then it can lead to unending debate on Facebook, keep one awake at night, or write addendums. Smile.

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    • Russ, the inclusivists are actually using Romans 1. Their contention is that God reveals Himself through nature and any who do not reject that knowledge of Him, though they’ve never heard of Jesus, will be saved because they believed the small bit of revelation they did have.

      Honestly, their conflict isn’t with Romans 1, I don’t think. If Scripture didn’t say many more plain statements about salvation, I’d actually think they were on to something. But I don’t see this interpretation of Romans 1 squaring with . . . well, any other passage about salvation. And so far, at least according to my recollection, no one has offered any.

      Becky

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