“Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie,” Revelation 22:14-15.
Would an all-loving, all-powerful God who has no favourites, allow some people to die before they have a true and realistic opportunity to respond to the Gospel, while others seem to have numerous opportunities to respond? If this is true then God is unfair or has favourites, and is not all-loving and not all-powerful.
- Are the exclusive claims of the Gospel true?
Jesus who is the complete, final revelation of God, emphatically stated of Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6. The early apostles continued to proclaim this same exclusive claim, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. Because Jesus died for this claim, and many of the early apostles also died for the very same claim, we can safely say that it is historically true. It is also very clearly the God-given and appointed first priority of the church today to continue to make Jesus known as the only way to God, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. BUT how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:13-14
- Does everyone get an opportunity to respond to the Gospel before they die?
When God started his work to bless all people through his choice of Abraham, as is explained in Genesis 12:1-3, it was, and still is a long term plan that cannot fail. Of course God always knew that the human element in this plan, which includes Israel in the Old Testament and the church in the New Testament, would often fail, so He made provision for that by the whole plan’s success not hinging on human obedience but on Jesus’ obedience, to die and be resurrected. John put it this way, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (1:29). Because this plan of God has always been for all people to have an opportunity to respond to the Gospel, we can safely say that God always has and always will somehow get the Gospel to every human being, who He knows will respond to the Gospel. That does mean that sometimes representatives of isolated people in remote regions or in inner cities may ‘appear’ to go to a lost eternity without hearing the Gospel, but we don’t know how God may have made Himself known to them before they die. And there may also be those who never hear the Gospel, but God knows they would not have responded positively, no matter how many times they heard the message of salvation.
- Will all people respond to the Gospel and be saved?
The answer sadly of course is, no. There have been many since the days of Noah up till today who have chosen to reject God’s plan of grace and salvation, and not climb into the boat of salvation. The book of Revelation tells us who walks through the gates of heaven and who has brought judgment on themselves and is not allowed access, “Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie,” Revelation 22:14-15. These blessed people who make it into heaven, in the end, are not there by any virtue of their own, but only on the merit of the finished work of Jesus, in who they have believed and put their faith. The people left outside the gates of heaven from all generations since humankind was first created, are not people who did not receive the Gospel while they were alive, but are rather the truth suppressors, of both general and special revelation Paul speaks about in Romans 1:18-20. They have chosen not to take on the responsibility of personal repentance, despite the full revelation God has made clear to them.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that your wonderful unchanging plan is for all people to hear and respond to your Gospel of Grace. Inspire us to make your church flourish, so that our first priority will always be to make Jesus known to all people, as the only way of true salvation.