Friday, December 14, 2012
Only One Way
I was leading a Bible study group once when the question was asked ... "If someone never hears of the name of Jesus, could they make Heaven?" What they were asking was ... is there another way, other than through the death of Jesus on the cross that God will accept in place of the blood of His Son.
Knowing that some people will never hear the gospel story, never hear the name "Jesus" spoken to them even one time, brought this next question. "How can God hold them responsible for sin without having a knowledge of the Law, the same way He does with those who do have the Law or those who hear and reject the Gospel?"
Have you ever heard that ... ignorance is no excuse? Evidently God agrees with this statement.
In Romans, the Apostle Paul is arguing that even though the average Gentile, having no knowledge of the Law given to Moses, no written revelation of God; although invisible to their eyes, if they attentively considered the apparent beauty, order and operations of the natural world, they will know and perceive that there is a God and that He is everywhere. God's power, dominion and providence is so evident they cannot plead ignorance as their excuse.
Romans 1:18-20 ... "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men ... Because that which may be known of God is apparent and evident to them, for God has shown it to them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood and comprehended by the things that are made ... so that they are without excuse."
God has given those without the Law and those who have never heard the name of Jesus, so clear and abundant evidence of His existence, that they have no excuse. Nature itself is saying, open your eyes, look and see. And if that's not enough, God has also sent His Holy Spirit into the world to draw all men unto Jesus through the conviction of sin. Men intuitively, or instinctively know right from wrong.
Because all men are without excuse, Paul explains that God does not show partiality or favoritism to those with or without the Law in Romans 2:11-15 ...
"For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law ... for when those which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves ... and therefore show the law as being written in their hearts ..."
Those who want to believe that even the heathen, who have never heard about Jesus or the law of God; who do by nature or know intuitively what is right or wrong, by following their own consciences as works of righteousness; therefore ... become a law unto themselves ... and through these natural acts, God will allow them to gain entrance into Heaven.
Let's say, for sake of argument, if this was true ... would they then, be saved by their own works? If this was truly the case, when doing by nature the things contained in the law ... wouldn't they then fall under the judgment of the law?
If so, I ask this question ... "can the law save anyone?"
Paul's answer to that question is found in Galatians 2:16 ...
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
If I understand the essence of what Paul is saying; then by observing any law, God's Law or even being a law unto yourself (by nature) ... no man can ever be "saved," meaning to be justified and declared righteous with God ... by keeping legal rituals or by doing the works of any law.
In the third chapter of Romans, Paul asks if Jews are better off than Gentiles because God gave the Law to Israel. His answer is ... (v9-10) "No, that they are all under sin; there is none righteous, not one." And in (v20) he says ... "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
In this portion of scripture, we see that both, Jews with the law, and Gentiles doing by nature the things contained in the law, therefore have ... the knowledge of sin ... and as such are without excuse.
Sin requires a sacrifice ... and our works, even if we could keep the law, which we can't, would not be a sacrifice.
God made a covenant with man when He said it would take the shedding of blood to cover sin; and even in the new covenant it took the blood of Jesus to not just cover sin; but to do away with it once and for all time, thereby making our own works through the law ... useless and unable to save us.
So, if the works of even believers in Jesus won't save us ... how then will doing good works by nature, (what is right and wrong) save those who have never heard of the name of Jesus?
The Apostle Peter made it pretty clear when he said this in ...
Acts 4:10-12 ... "Be it known to all of you ... that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth ... there is not salvation in any other, for there is no other name ... given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Salvation is based on the blood of Jesus. If there could have been another way, why did Jesus die?
If there is another way, then Jesus died for no reason, He suffered for no reason, and He left His position in Heaven to be born of flesh, to become man for no reason ... if there was another way.
Consider the words of Jesus in John 14:6 ... "I am the way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by me."
There's only one way ... Jesus ... and that's as it should be.