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makrothumia
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Joined: 2005/5/19
Posts: 693
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 What about those who do not know?

This question takes various forms: What about the nations that were not a part of the covenant God made with Israel? What about men then and now who never had the truth brought to them by a prophet or servant of the Lord?

We must acknowledge that there are limits to what we can know about this with certainty; we only know in part. However, there are passages that address the difference between those who know and those who do not know. Perhaps we can share from the passages we are familiar with and glean insights from one another.

For example:

We know that it will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than it will be for the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida. Our Lord said -
"Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."

Several passages speak to the greater accountability and stricter punishment for those who know:
Luke chapter 12:
"And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more"

James chapter 3 "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."

II Peter chapter 2
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

Hebrews chapter 10
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Even in the passage in Romans 10 where Paul sets forth the connection between faith, and hearing, and preaching, and being sent - He brings this charge against the people of Israel -
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. 19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. 20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."

What we can deduce from these and other passages is that God recognizes and takes into consideration the opportunities men have had to know the truth. We can also deduce that His judgments are based upon degrees of accountability; for example, it was the generation 20 years an older who were condemned to die in the wilderness.

I would be interested in considering other related passages and insights from those here on the forum.

mak


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Alan and Dina Martin

 2020/5/15 11:57Profile
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 Re: What about those who do not know?

When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. (Deut 32:8)

"From the Biblical perspective, the historical role and destiny of nations receive significance only in relationship to the prophetic future of Israel. In the New Testament, Paul discusses this concept of salvation history in Romans chapter nine through eleven. It is not meant, however, that the purpose of God in His providential workings in the arena of history is by any means for Israel's sake only. Though Israel's election remains central, both testaments declare the universal scope of God's redemptive purpose for all nations." (Reggie Kelly)

"The revelation in God's Word of His plans for Israel has a vital, practical application for people from all other nations. When we consider God's plan for Israel, we cannot stand aside, as citizens of other lands, and say, "Israel's fate does not concern us." The fact is, the well-being of every nation is at stake. Until Israel enters its full inheritance (in Christ - docs) the other nations can never enjoy the blessings that God has in store for them also." (Derek Prince)

Jesus' last words were to go into every nation and preach the gospel to all men. It has always been the Church's commission and responsibility to let those men and nations know who do not know. And ALL MEN in ALL NATIONS will ultimately be affected by the unfolding of God's prophetic plan for Israel. It's my opinion that this has been left out of much of the modern Church's overall perspective.


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David Winter

 2020/5/15 12:36Profile
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 Re:

I think it would be good for us to consider how God dealt with Gentiles during Old Testament times.

From certain passages we learn that it was not necessary for Gentiles to become full proselytes to Judaism and to become circumcised in order for them to be saved. There were what are termed Gentile "God-fearers" who believed in and obeyed the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Some lived outside of Israel and experienced God's favor as God revealed Himself to them in one way or another.

Cornelius is a clear example of one of these God-fearers. God told him, "Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God."-Acts 10:31

I think one mistake that can be made here is to think that God only chose Israel for salvation in Old Testament times and that He sovereignly left the Gentile world to be doomed and damned.

God's ultimate purpose for choosing Israel was to bring the Messiah into the world. Christ is the true Israel and all those that trust in Him are grafted in Him and become a part of His Olive Tree and Vine. He chose them for other reasons also but that was His ultimate reason, the climactic purpose.


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Oracio

 2020/5/15 13:49Profile
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 Re: What about those who do not know?

Quote:
This question takes various forms: What about the nations that were not a part of the covenant God made with Israel? What about men then and now who never had the truth brought to them by a prophet or servant of the Lord?



I think these verses have to come into view when considering this question;

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
(Romans 1:18-20)

Not all men have had the revelation that Israel had but Paul testifies that men have known of God's existence and God's justice since the creation of the world. They knew enough to prove that they had no excuse for their sins.

I would agree that there are degrees of accountability in God's judgments. This makes me tremble to consider my own accountability before God since much is required of those who are given much. (Luke 12:48)

In Christ,


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Ron Halverson

 2020/5/15 13:51Profile
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 Re:

/God's ultimate purpose for choosing Israel was to bring the Messiah into the world. Christ is the true Israel and all those that trust in Him are grafted in Him and become a part of His Olive Tree and Vine./

I'm thinking His Olive Tree and Vine is Israel and the covenants made with them. All men and even nations who become part of this Olive Tree are thereby ultimately affected because of God's calling to Israel. They only receive their significance and salvation because of God's prophetic purpose for Israel.

"The prophets were inspired interpreters of history and have given us a philosophy of history that derived from Israel's experience in that history. The past is a pattern and a promise of the future, a prophetic point of reference that discloses the ethical and redemptive purpose of God unfolded in the progress and future of salvation history. The meaning of Israel is the meaning of history. The Lord of history and of all the earth, and of all nations, has, for a profound reason chosen to identify Himself as the God of Israel."




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David Winter

 2020/5/15 14:03Profile
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 Re:

Brothers,

do you think these words have any bearing on the answer to the question posted? To me they do but perhaps you have a different take.


Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-
remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. - Ephesians 2:11-12


God has been so compassionate, beyond our imagination or understanding, to all mankind around the world for thousands of years. All of it undeserved and if any man could see the exceeding sinfulness of sin and man's heart the way God does, we might be in greater awe of His grace.

Yet, there is some mercy from God that requires conditions to be met and these are really promises of God that must be communicated to be enjoyed. These must be communicated in order to be obtained. How could you do the condition unless you are aware of it? The Gospel being a perfect example. The heavens do declare God but do not declare these conditional merciful promises.

The example of Cornelius is an interesting one. In his case, Cornelius had faith. He believed God was God and he believed God would reward him if he diligently sought Him as he did in prayer, alms giving and fasting. But remember that he was exposed to the covenants and teachings of God about this.

As Mak has pointed out, God reaches out at times proactively to draw people to Himself if they will humble themselves and fear Him.

In years past, there have been a multitude of people groups who have not had the Gospel or a message of repent and be saved brought to them. Were all these left without that hope because God had forseen they would not respond anyway? Was it just a coincidence that so many lived in the same place and time and failed to have a witness to the promise all because none of them would have responded positively anyway?

I'm not asking these things in this way to shock the conscience or provoke the heart but rather to make sure we've thought through what we say when we suggest certain truths about God's outreach that are difficult to back up Biblically or experientially.

Again, God's character is unassailable. He is merciful and He delights to show mercy. The record is clear. But, the record is also clear that Israel, His chosen and beloved spouse, enjoyed certain mercies, great mercies, that were not extended to all mankind until Christ came or so the Bible seems to say to me.


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Robert

 2020/5/15 14:19Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
I'm thinking His Olive Tree and Vine is Israel and the covenants made with them. All men and even nations who become part of this Olive Tree are thereby ultimately affected because of God's calling to Israel. They only receive their significance and salvation because of God's prophetic purpose for Israel.


I do have Scriptures I can point to to prove my point about Christ being the ultimate Olive Tree and Vine into Whom we are all grafted. But I am concerned about derailing this thread off topic from the OP's main issue being addressed.


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Oracio

 2020/5/15 14:28Profile
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 Re:

Robert said:
//Were all these left without that hope because God had forseen they would not respond anyway? Was it just a coincidence that so many lived in the same place and time and failed to have a witness to the promise all because none of them would have responded positively anyway?//

In your paradigm why would they not respond?

It seems a tad disingenuous to suggest that they didn’t hear because they wouldn’t respond, when God is deciding who will hear and who will respond.

I think it is far preferable and accurate to just say “we just don’t know what will happen to folks who have never heard .”


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Todd

 2020/5/15 15:53Profile
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 Re:

Quote:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
(Romans 1:18-20)

Not all men have had the revelation that Israel had but Paul testifies that men have known of God's existence and God's justice since the creation of the world. They knew enough to prove that they had no excuse for their sins.



This is exactly the verse in my mind as well.

I grew up as a Hindu for the first 25 years of my life. Never heard the Gospel preached to me during those days. Nor did my religion teach anything regarding personal God to whom our actions are accountable. God to Hindus are just an entity to bless us.

But deep inside me, I always knew that my actions are not correct. I knew that God is not pleased with me. I would often confess my sins to Hindu Idols and repent from them. I would also donate blood frequently to cleanse my sins. But when I read the Gospel everything made sense. I understood that God had already shed his blood for my sins and I no need to shed mine!

I do not believe God chose me because I had this conviction deep inside my heart about my sins. I believe there is nothing good in me. God my his mercy allowed me to read his word.


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Sreeram

 2020/5/15 17:10Profile
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 Re:

Hi Todd,

This Scripture is pretty clear about what happens I think:


.....when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. - 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.

the line seems to be for those who have not heard the gospel that they "know" God. That I think would be the fault line.


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Robert

 2020/5/15 18:07Profile





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