I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. (notice alligator by the river bridge)
Thursday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “What about folk who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel presented in a clear manner? Are they all automatically lost? As you think about your answer, don’t forget to take into account God’s universal love for all humanity. How can you learn to better trust the Lord on this difficult question?”
Sometimes I don’t think we realize how legalistic we are even when we think we aren’t. We just can’t imagine salvation being as easy as the Bible says. We dwell on the thousands who were lost at the flood while only eight were saved, forgetting that dumb animals were saved who simply did not resist the draw to the ark. The Bible never told us salvation was hard or is suppose to be hard. It is the way of the transgressor that is hard. Proverbs 13:15.
We think we have left legalism and the works of the flesh when we tell people they can be saved if they understand and believe the steps to salvation. However in that case all we have done is transferred the legalism from the works of the flesh to the works of the brain. We quote Ephesians 2:8 and tell people we are saved by our faith, but that is not what that verse says. It says we are saved by grace. So many of us have things backwards. We look at Ephesians 2:8 and think that if we have faith God will recognize it and then give us grace. “Oh they believe in me so I will be graceful and save them.” Wrong! Our faith is in response to God’s grace, NOT God’s grace in response to my faith! At the cross Jesus saved us and gave us our free choice back.
A few weeks ago I was sharing a verse in my Revelation Seminar from Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” A beautiful verse for sure but so many of us read that verse with a legalistic slant. We think that we must know that name and if we know it then we can be saved. That is not what the verse is saying. The verse is not saying that our salvation depends upon us knowing that name. We are saved by that name knowing us! There is no other name that knows or will save us other than Jesus Christ. I have had people lament to me that their wife or brother doesn’t believe in God. I tell them don’t worry, God believes in your wife and brother!
In closing consider this passage from The Desire of Ages p. 638 “ Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God. How surprised and gladdened will be the lowly among the nations, and among the heathen, to hear from the lips of the Saviour, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me”! How glad will be the heart of Infinite Love as His followers look up with surprise and joy at His words of approval!”
You can find more studies and devotionals on my personal website at http://www.InLightOfTheCross.com