Look about you! Do you really think you are witnessing God’s best efforts to save the world? Think of it: only a tiny minority in any given era have been affotded the opportunity of hearing and accepting or rejecting the gospel message. And is God using his best efforts to get that message to humanity through a few dozen priests, six or eight young Mormon missionaries, a few Baptists, some Jehovah’s Witnesses and a smattering of missionaries from a couple dozen other denominations entering a region of earth like Laos, or Cambodia, or Vietnam a century, or so, ago? Most of humanity live out their short lifespans and die with no knowledge whatsoever of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on Calvary! Yet scripture assures us that Jesus did “taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 and 2 Timothy 4:10). The apostle Paul flatly declared, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (2 Timothy 2:15). Did He come to save some sinners or all sinners? Why taste death for all if only a tiny minority would ever even have knowledge of the offer of salvation?
Rather confusing, isn’t it? Of course God is not the author of confusion – Satan is. (See I Corinthians 14:33). Satan knows that God “desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (See I Timothy 2:4). He, therefore, works diligently to thwart the plan of God. But God cannot be out-smarted. There is no real contest being waged between God and Satan. God could snap His fingers and Satan would be reduced to a bit of ash at His feet in a millisecond. Remember, God alone is truly wise. (See I Timothy 1:17). He is “Lord of the harvest” of salvation. (See Matthew 9:35). He knows exactly what He is doing, and He has appointed Jesus Christ to be the Captain of our salvation. (See Hebrews 2:10). And God is permitting Satan to maintain the role he now plays on the earthly stage for a good and wise purpose and reason.
Few seem to understand that God is working out the plan of the salvation of mankind according to a time-table and in successive stages. And He is right on schedule with that God created plan. In I Timothy, chapter 2, we read this clear declaration: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for ALL, TO BE TESTIFIED (TO ALL) IN DUE TIME.” (Verses 5 and 6).
Yes, there is a due, proper time for all who have ever lived or ever will live to hear about Jesus Christ’s atoning work accomplished in ancient Judea nearly two thousand years ago. In fact, your Bible clearly states that one must reject Christ in order to be eternally lost! Jesus Christ Himself plainly declared, “If you do not believe that I am He (the Savior of the world), you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Jesus Christ told the hypocritical Pharisees, “If you were (spiritually) blind, you would have no sin…” (John 9:41).
Satan has deceived humanity, even many professing Christians, into believing that there are but two categories or classes of humans recognized by scripture – the saved and the lost. There are actually THREE classes. And it is that third largely forgotten class that contains the overwhelming majority of father Adam’s posterity. That is the class, or category, of the “uncalled.” These people are not saved as they have never accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior – billions of them lived and died never even hearing of any such Person! But neither are they irrevocably lost as they have not rejected Him either. They are “lost” only in the sense that they are not now saved
“This is the condemnation (this is what condemns) that light has come into the world and MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT…” (John 3:19). Yes, it is only when people are given an intelligent choice – a choice between light and darkness, truth and error, an acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice or rejection of the same, then, and only then, do they stand eternally condemned before God and have their sins irrevocably charged against them. Then, and only then, do they become irrevocably LOST!
Speaking of the people of His own generation, Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22). Members of the human family stand before God without excuse for rejecting the way, the truth and life only when they have the truth clearly presented to their minds by one of our Lord’s anointed spokesmen who know that truth and can plainly present it to their fellow human beings.
It is a true saying that no one can get to hell without going around Mt. Calvary, or the cross. The cross stands directly in the way. God’s indignation and wrath are reserved for those who “do not obey the truth” (See Romans 2:8). They, of course, have to first be aware of the truth in order to disobey the same.
To the Corinthian believers, Paul wrote, “For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh (scientists, college professors, the world’s intelligentsia), not many mighty (various and sundry celebrities in every field of human endeavor), not many noble (the royal families of earthly nations, the aristocrats) ARE CALLED (to salvation)” (I Corinthians 1:26). God TEMPORARILY passes over such in drawing men and women to salvation, knowing that they are at a grave disadvantage and would not be open to such a call. And if God doesn’t “call” one to salvation by convicting them of sin and enlightening them to the truth about Jesus Christ, then it is absolutely impossible for such a person to be saved! (John 16:7-12). Yet, remember, scripture is clear on this point, God intensely “desires ALL men (all mankind) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4).
For thousands of years God dealt solely with the nation of Israel. To them, He plainly declared, “You ONLY have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2). Again, the Psalmist writes, “He (God) declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and his judgments to Israel (Jacob and Israel, of course, being one and the same). He has not dealt thus with any (other) nation, and as for His judgments, they have not known them” (Psalm 147:19-20). Such texts as these, and several others, must be duly considered when reading Romans 1, and Paul does not reveal who he is speaking of in Romans 1 until one reads down to Romans 2:17!
Think of it! Millions of human beings lived and died CUT OFF from any knowledge of the one true God. The Shang Dynasty of China ruled from about 1700 to 1100 B.C. Peru’s Paracas culture thrived between about 1000 and 100 B.C. In these two cultures alone you have millions of human beings living and dying centuries before Christ appeared on the scene. Have they no hope of eternal life? As the apostle Paul so aptly put it: “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher (one anointed of God with the truth)? And how shall they preach unless they are sent (by God Himself, NOT by some humanly devised “mission board”)?” (See Romans 10:14-15). The answer is obvious, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?
How would you like to have been born the son or daughter of a Chinese couple in the year 1500 B.C.? Are you so blind or scripturally ignorant as to think such circumstances would automatically and quite effectively deny you entrance into the eternal kingdom of God? Don’t you realize that such reasoning would make a monster out of our Creator? God would also be proven to be a liar! Howso? Because your Bible says, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense (Adam’s offense) judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one man’s (Christ’s) righteous act the free gift came TO ALL MEN, resulting in justification to life” (Romans 5:18).
Now, if words mean anything, that scripture clearly says that the same all who were made sinners through kinship to Adam will have a chance to find justification through Jesus Christ.
Again, Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all (that same all) shall be made (potentially) alive” (I Corinthians 15:22). Truly God is “not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Well, scripture declares that it is God who grants repentance. God is “running the show,” so to speak, and He is doing a grand and wonderful job at it even though few comprehend just how He is doing this.
And, remember, “there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11). God will not afford a white, English-speaking citizen of modern-day America a better shot at eternal life than that granted a yellow-skinned Chinese peasant who lived, suffered and died many centuries before Christ! And God forbid that any child of God should think – even for a moment – that BILLIONS of such unfortunate human beings are denied any chance at all.
2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “God was in Christ reconciling THE WORLD to Himself.” Yes, reconciling THE WORLD – that would include the ancient Chinese, the Babylonians, the Assyrians – and any other human beings you care to name of any previous century living in any country or nation you care to name, also.
You see, “Known to God from eternity are all His works” (See Acts 15:18). God had all of eternity past to devise and think out a fail-safe, perfect plan that would grant every single human being who would ever be born a marvelous, unmistakable opportunity to take full advantage of God’s offer to join His great spirit family and live forever and ever and ever. Satan did not take God by surprise in the Garden of Eden. He didn’t sneak in the back way while God was preoccupied with some other matter. NOTHING can be hidden from God. The light and the darkness are the same to Him. A tiny sparrow cannot fall from its nest without His notice! Nor did Lucifer dumbfound the Most High when he thought he could contest His rule. God is not playing some hit or miss game of chance with human lives here below. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” (John 6:44). It is quite obvious that the Father has made no attempt to draw entire nations of men to Himself through Jesus Christ. For many long centuries Japan, Korea, and many other nations had not one single Christian missionary enter their borders with the good news of salvation and the offer of eternal life for their citizens. Those ignorant of the scriptures, especially the Hebrew scriptures – commonly called the Old Testament – believe such people, consisting of billions of human beings, died forever lost, having had no chance or opportunity to inherit eternal life. How absurd!
God knows exactly what He is doing with the human family. And in His great and awesome wisdom He has taken into account every conceivable obstacle one might encounter that could even remotely hamper his or her chances of becoming a member of the family of God.
There is a California winery that boasts, “We will sell no wine before its time.” Well, scripture clearly affirms that God will call no one to salvation before their appointed and most opportune time. (See Acts 17). Few have seemed to notice the implications of a passage of scripture found in the 16th chapter of Acts: “Now when they (Paul and his companions) had gone over Phrygia and the region of Galatia, THEY WERE FORBIDDEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO PREACH THE WORD IN ASIA. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (verses 6 and 7).
Who denied, who prevented the gospel message from being preached and presented in the Roman province of Asia Minor at that time? Was it Satan? NO! It was God – the Master of the harvest of salvation. Read that text again. It says that the Holy Spirit would not allow Paul and his companions to preach the word of God in Asia at that time. Death did not take a holiday then. Those people still died daily having no knowledge of Christ’s sacrificial death and God’s offer of eternal life through submission to His Son – mankind’s Savior!
For many long centuries God sent no prophets, preachers, or ministers to ANY Gentile nation. Think of it! Millions and millions of human beings were cut off from God. God made not the slightest effort to reach them – THEN! Yet God’s Word affirms, “And ALL FLESH shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6). And, again, “ALL flesh shall come to worship before me, says the Lord” (Isaiah 66:23).
Why can’t we break free of our preconceived ideas and long cherished beliefs and accept what God has to say in these matters?
In Part 2 of this article we will look at just HOW God intends to give such people as the long-dead ancient Chinese and others their fair opportunity at salvation.
WARNING: Long held, preconceived ideas and beliefs color the thinking of many believers, thus effectively preventing them from seeing or accepting anything contrary to their present body of beliefs. They are 100% certain they already have and know God’s truth in these all-important matters. They can quote verses of scripture that seemingly support their doctrinal stand. It never dawns on them that they might have overlooked a host of other critically important texts that speak to this subject. Perhaps, my friend, you have done so yourself.
And don’t think, “All these people can’t be wrong!” Scripture WARNS that “Satan deceives THE WHOLE WORLD” (See Revelation 12:9).
Christ’s servant (Galatians 1:10),
Donald Wiley, 902 Pleasant Court, Brookville, OH 45309 Tel. No. (937) 270-5681