Monday, October 12, 2009

How Narrow Is The Narrow Gate?

By Michele Rayburn

A prominent Christian evangelist has said that he doesn't want to “speculate” as to whether heaven will be closed to other religions other than Biblical Christianity. But this would indicate that he actually is “speculating” that Heaven will be open to them apart from regeneration.

Some Christians want to rationalize that most, if not all, people will be saved somehow, some way, because they can't deal with the fact that some will never hear the gospel and so they can never be saved.

It’s as if they want to bypass the sovereignty of God by forming their own beliefs, as if changing the means of salvation will be acceptable to God and will actually save souls. It's as if they think that they can change God's mind!

To give people false hope that they can be saved apart from hearing the gospel is simply unbiblical. We are not called to “speculate” that they can be saved without hearing the gospel or the name of Christ, any more than we are called to “speculate” that they are saved with hearing the gospel.

But we do know that those that believe will be saved, and those that do not believe will not be saved. And even then, only God knows their hearts, if they truly believe.

Because I was born and raised a Roman Catholic I have had the opportunity to witness to many of them. I have never personally known a Roman Catholic who indicated that they knew the gospel. No matter how well-meaning they are, or how religious, without hearing the gospel, how can they be saved?

They have heard the name of Christ, but they never in my experience have known why Christ died on the cross. Though they may wear a cross, or have a crucifix on the wall in their home, they do not know why He died on that cross.

So, when I asked one Roman Catholic if she knew why Christ died on the cross, and she couldn't tell me, I explained it to her, and she became “enlightened”. Her eyes were “opened”. This was something she had never heard before.

And it wasn't until she heard the reason for Christ's death on the cross that she began to grow in her knowledge and understanding of Christ, and began to put her trust in Him.

To assume that we can bypass the knowledge of Christ and His finished work on the cross, and still presume that people can be saved is just not dealing in Scriptural truth.

The Scriptures are clear that “the message of the cross” must be preached in order for people to believe and be saved. And, yes, the name of Christ must also be preached for it is He in whom we are putting our trust.

What sets Christianity apart from the other religions is that we have a Savior...and a risen Savior at that. If people don't hear about Jesus and the cross, they will have nothing and no one to put their trust in.

This prominent evangelist also said, “I believe the love of God is absolute. He said He gave His Son for the whole world, and I think He loves everybody regardless of what label they have."

Yes, “God so loved the world”, but don’t forget that “He gave His only begotten Son" so that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
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6 comments:

Larry Eiss said...

Brother, I am curious how you understand the passage in Romans that tells us (paraphrased here) that what may be known about God is clearly understood, being seen through that which is created so that man is without excuse? I understand there is also a passage that says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God... and how can they hear if no one preaches...etc. I am just interested to know your take on the other passage.
Grace and peace, Brother.

Larry Eiss said...

Sorry, Sister. I failed to notice this was not written by Terry. Grace and peace to you just the same.

Terry Rayburn said...

Hi Larry,

Terry here.

The above article is by my wife Michele, but since you address "Brother", I'll take a stab and she may want to comment later.

The Romans 1 passage makes it clear that by the creation itself every person knows there is a God and they know something of His power and attributes.

They then have a choice of moving toward Him and embracing Him as best they can, or rejecting Him by suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

By [fallen] nature, they choose the latter, they "suppress the truth in unrighteousness". Thus by nature and by action, they deserve the wrath of God.

As Romans 3 puts it, there are NONE good. There are none who seek after God.

BUT :)

God has chosen to open the hearts of some by Grace, through the preaching of His Word.

By a divine miracle, through the hearing of His Word (specifically the good news of Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins), the Lord opens the hearts of some, who then change their minds and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

That "preaching-hearing" thing can, of course, be through writing as well (the Bible itself, a book, a tract, etc.).

But back to Romans 1, left to themselves in their original sinful nature inherited from Adam, they all reject the Lord.

There are no true atheists. Even in the passage that says, "The fool has said in his heart 'there is no God'", the phrase "there is" is not in the Hebrew.

Literally, it is, "The fool has said in his heart...'No God'."

Suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

Thank God He didn't leave us in that state.

Terry Rayburn said...

LOL...

I just published my comment letting you know Michele had written the article, and there was your comment already acknowledging that.

Larry Eiss said...

Terry, Thanks for your input on the Romans 1 passage. Given your comments, how can it be that the so-called heroes of faith in Hebrews (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, et al) came to salvation? Surely they had not heard "the Good News" since the events it entails had not yet occurred. Yet we know that these faithful ones are with the Lord because, for example, Moses and Elisha appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration.

I'm sure you surmise that I am thinking about certain somewhat controversial alternate views of God's love vs. God's sovereignty.

I am interested in your views, Brother, (and those of your gentle wife if she has interest) and not at all interested in arguing.

Your Brother,
Larry

Ike said...

I think Matthew chapter 7 "really" narrows the gate. It says that of all the people who profess Him as Saviour....only a few of them are genuine.

I think the American evangelical church is one of the biggest mission fields on earth. We have reduced the Gospel of Jesus Christ down to a couple spiritual laws that you must know and a superstitious prayer...that if you ask Jesus to come into your heart...you are saved. That is no where in the Bible.....that door Jesus was knocking on in Revelation was the door to the church. Preachers should stop telling people that they are saved because they repeated a "prayer".

It takes more power of God to raise one dead sinner to life...than all the power of God in creation.