A common question?


                “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.  He who hates me hates my Father also.  If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both me and my father” (John 15: 22 – 24.)


                Jesus Christ preached throughout Israel for up to three years before being crucified.  He preached in the cities; in the wilderness; in the temple; in homes and on street corners; he preached to every capable Israelite (He was so famous that he needed to travel by boat to avoid being thronged by the crowds.)  Still, despite seeing the miracles and hearing God’s message of repentance and forgiveness, many willingly embraced ignorance (and refused to listen); while others who did listen rejected Him entirely (In this scripture, Jesus implies that involuntary ignorance is an excuse; those who were not made aware of the message are not under condemnation.) 

                In my years of evangelism, I have interacted with many skeptics, agnostics, and atheists, who often use a common question to challenge God’s perfect justice: “If you can’t get to heaven without accepting Jesus Christ; what about the child in Africa who dies without ever having heard the gospel?  Are they going to go to hell?”  The answer is no.  God does not condemn the naive.  Those who are ignorant are innocent; yet those who have heard “have no excuse for their sin.”  (In the United States it is hard to believe that a single person has not heard the gospel.)  Many are willingly ignorant because they don’t want to change; they refuse to open a bible or enter a church believing that by not rejecting or accepting Jesus they will avoid condemnation.  Unfortunately voluntary ignorance is no excuse (those who enter hell have no one blame but themselves.)

                The Followers of Jesus Christ continue to preach the gospel.  Some accept him; some deny him; and others simply refuse to investigate.  God forgives the truly naïve, but he condemns the willingly ignorant.  There are very few places on the earth where Jesus Christ has yet to be preached.  Perhaps some isolated tribe in the Amazon; maybe some young children in a Hindu household; there are definitely many infants who tragically pass away who aren’t old enough to accept salvation.  God is just and holy; He commits no evil; and it would be evil to condemn the truly ignorant to eternal damnation.  No matter how strange or perplexing the question might be, remember, God’s word provides the answer.  Read His word and He will prepare you to speak on His behalf.  Dive in to scripture and you will be equipped.  Meditate upon His precepts and you will be His messenger; and He will use you to preach to lost; to bring hope to the hopeless; and to grant eternal life to those who are dying in sin.  Through you, many may come to know His goodness, His mercy, and His love.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize Your perfect justice.  We acknowledge that You do no evil.  May we be equipped to answer those who seek to impugn your righteousness.  Empower us through Your Holy Spirit; may we be bold; may we illuminate darkened minds, and preach the gospel to those who are ignorant.  May we be Your messengers in this place; may we deliver the good news to those who are afar off.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.          

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