Just recently one of our ministry partners at Advancing Native Missions, a brother from East Africa, visited the seminary of a major Evangelical denomination. He spoke to a group of graduate students in a class on missiology. You would think that such a group of missiological students would be pretty well grounded in a biblical worldview, especially when it comes to evangelism, missions and a Christian understanding of salvation. You would think…
Our indigenous missionary friend asked these students a few questions. He sort of wanted to test the water. One question was this: If a person is not a Christian, and has not heard the Gospel, will he be eternally doomed to hell? Simple question. And from a biblical understanding of things… a simple answer. But in this situation—not so! A minority of the students immediately answered in the affirmative. A minority! The rest of the students were not sure. There ensued a discussion/debate as to the fate of those dying without the Gospel.
I was shocked, and disheartened to hear this report. What has happened to us? How far has the church fallen from its heritage? How bankrupt have we become? Have we really wandered that far from a Christian paradigm… a biblical understanding of truth?
Sad to say, the answer is “Yes!”
Need I recount the clear biblical teaching on this subject? For the Bible is clear:
- Jesus is THE Way to the Father, and no one comes to the Father but through Him – John 14:6
- There is salvation in NO other name than that of Jesus – Acts 4:12
- He who does not have the Son of God DOES NOT have life – 1 John 5:12
- He believes in Jesus has life; He who does not believe in Jesus SHALL NOT see life – John 3:36
- And, He that does not believe the Gospel “shall be DAMNED!” – Mark 16:16
So the Bible is plain. The biblical view is evident. Indeed, this very issue is dealt with great perception and insight by Paul in Romans 1:16-25.
Yet this very simple understanding of biblical truth was not within the thinking of these students. This raises a lot of questions. Indeed, there are several very serious issues here.
1. The matter of missions and evangelism itself is the first issue. If people without Christ are not lost, why the mandate from Christ to go preach the Gospel? Missions is unnecessary, if people are not lost without Christ. Did Jesus send us on a millennia-long wild goose chase just for the fun of it? If so, explain that to the martyrs who have given, and even today are giving, their lives for the sake of the Gospel!
2. The integrity of Christ Himself comes into question. It was Jesus who claimed to be the ONLY way to the Father. It was Jesus who mandated world evangelization. It was Jesus who sent out His witnesses/martyrs for the proclamation of the Gospel. It was Jesus who declared that anyone who does not believe is condemned eternally. Was He mistaken? Did Jesus lie to us… or was He just ignorant of the truth? Was He ignorant of the real situation? Did He only think He was THE Way? The very Person of the Savior Himself becomes suspect here.
3. The trustworthiness of the Bible becomes dubious. It is the Bible, in the passages above and many others like them, which proclaims the doctrine of the lostness of mankind without the Savior. If the Bible is not true, not doctrinally dependable in this matter, what about its other teachings? Are men lost at all? Is the Fall real? Do we need the Savior? Is Jesus really the Savior? The truth of who God is becomes doubtful. The reality of who Christ is—His true deity, His very humanity, His dual nature, His sinless perfection, the atoning work, the bodily resurrection, His authority and power—all is based on a historical faith grounded in the revealed Word of God. Toss out the doctrine of Christ as (necessary) Savior and everything else is up for grabs with it.
Do you see what is happening here? This is but another example of how things are shifting in the church. Our worldview is changing. A thoroughly Christian worldview is slipping away from the Body of Christ, and we are sliding into… what? Humanism? Existentialism? Postmodernism? Naturalism? Something else? It really doesn’t matter. Each of these is a dead end. No let me take that back. The sliding away from a Christian and biblical worldview is not a dead end. It has a very precise, well-defined end. It is called heresy, a broad path that leads to destruction—in other words, hell. And no debate can change that.
“Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4)