Normally, i blog about women’s issues, children, family, etc…but just feel led to blog a bit more on this. Scripture teaches that “…the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter find it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).
So, what if someone has never heard the gospel or the name of Jesus? Are they still accountable? Or is there some other means by which God grants them salvation?
Let me state the biblical position right off the bat: Speaking of Jesus the Christ, in the Book of Acts, Peter states this: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is NO other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Jesus made it clear in John 14:6 that He was the only way to the Father and no one comes to God except through HIm (Jesus).
There are many people who have never heard clear teaching concerning Jesus Christ; and many who have never heard about Jesus. So, what about them? How can God hold them accountable and judge them? Well, if we look at Romans 1:18-21, we see that, first of all, God has revealed Himself to all mankind.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they (those who suppress the truth, or don’t respond to the truth), are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Hims as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Rom. 1:18-21)
This is the principle of General Revelation; given to all men. If man does not respond to the general revelation of God; why should God send him Specific revelation,i.e. the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ? On the other hand, we see in Scripture that those who do respond to General revelation; God will send specific revelation. A prime example is Cornelius, a Roman centurion mentioned in Acts 10, who “…prayed to God continually .” He also gave alms to the Jewish people. What Cornelius knew of God, he responded to with inward conviction and outward acts. You can read the account in Acts 10, but via an angel, and a vision given to Peter, God supernaturally brought Peter and Cornelius together, in order that Peter could share the gospel of Jesus with him. The result: Cornelius and his entire household believed and were saved!
The other problem is that we often attribute to people ‘seeking hearts’, when in fact, they are not actively seeking a relationship with God, nor acknowledging Him by giving thanks, or praise. Oh, i meet people all the time, who, when asked if they “believe in God” don’t hesitate to reply in the affirmative. i used to do that all the time prior to receiving salvation. They mean they believe in their head that there is a God, or a ‘god’. But, it’s just a knowledge ‘about’ God; nothing more. Throughout Scripture we are encouraged to seek God. and God says, “….you will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Hosea 10 talks about a “time to seek the Lord….” Most people, unfortunately are not seeking God. By not seeking, they are suppressing the truth which is written on their hearts by General revelation.
Jesus came to “seek and to save those that are lost”. God does not withhold Himself from any of us. He longs to have a relationship with each of us, but, being a holy God, He cannot allow sin to dwell in His presence. But, praise be to God….He gave us Jesus. For God so loved the world that He gave us His very own Son, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells. And that Son, Jesus, became a man; a sinless man, Who took the penalty of my own sin….and suffered for it. God’s wrath was poured out upon Jesus for my sake on the cross…..and God’s justice was satisfied. All that is required of me is to respond, by faith, in what Jesus did on my behalf. He was the perfect, sinless sacrifice required. i had no righteousness of my own. Scripture teaches that i couldn’t make payment, because of my sin nature. i had nothing to offer God. But, Jesus could make payment….and He did!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” (Romans 3:23). “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) I can’t “earn” God’s favor, Jesus earned it for me.
i’m still sinful, however, when God looks at me, He now sees the righteouness of Christ dwelling in me. When i trusted Christ as my Savior, the Holy Spirit took up residence in my heart….and has been at work to change me; little by little, and day by day. [And with me, the Holy Spirit has His work cut out for Him!]
O, Beloved people…..God loves you and longs for a relationship with you! No matter whether you have many years ahead of you or few; God longs to forgive your sins and to give your life purpose! No sin is too great, or small, that God will not forgive. But the means by which we receive that forgiveness is through Jesus Christ. No other person in history made the radical claims He made. No other person in history has fulfilled all the claims He made about Himself, not to mention prophecies made about Him centuries before He was born into this world. If you read the accounts of his death and burial, it would be easy….if Jesus was a liar….or a lunatic….to prove that He did not rise from the dead. His body was guarded by Roman soldiers; the disciples were too afraid to try to ‘steal His body’; besides, it’s rather hard to roll a 2+-ton stone away without getting caught. Founders of other religions have all died and been buried….we can dig up their bones. Only Jesus’ body cannot be dug up….because He was resurrected….and not only the apostles, but at least 500 other witnesses testified to seeing Him physically after He rose from the dead. Liar? Lunatic? or LORD?
So, i would say to you that if one truly experienced “heaven”, then the King of Heaven, the Lamb of God who reigns in heaven, would surly be mentioned. i don’t know what ‘heaven’ these ‘near-death’ people experienced, but it wasn’t the ‘heaven’ of the Bible.
Dearly Beloved….don’t run after experiences….run after the Lord. “Seek the Lord while He may be found!”