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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : What about those who do not know?

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Oracio
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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2093
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Todd wrote:

Quote:
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 .”


Good point. I think it's definitely safe to deduce that anyone who is exposed to Christianity and rejects Christ (regardless of where they live) cannot be saved whatsoever because they are rejecting the testimony of Christ in their midst.

But as far as those who've never heard or will never hear of Jesus whatsoever, it's debatable among some Christians as to whether they can be saved without ever hearing of Christ. Christian apologist William Lane Craig believes it's possible one can be saved via Christ's atonement even if they never hear the name of Christ. He thinks it would be rare (based on the testimony of Scripture regarding man's utter depravity) but possible if they respond positively to general revelation.

Craig also argues from the standpoint of Molinism, that God may have decreed for individuals to be born in certain places and times based on how He knew they would respond to Him.

Personally I hesitate to affirm any possibility that anyone can be saved today apart from a specific knowledge of Christ. But I believe this can be debatable without dividing over it.

I also find it interesting to consider how certain Gentiles were saved before the Mosaic Covenant came into place, such as Job.


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Oracio

 2020/5/15 18:40Profile
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Joined: 2011/10/21
Posts: 1390
Dothan, Alabama

 Re: many years ago

A story about a missionary who traveled to difficult to reach peoples in the Himalayas (mostly Buddhist) to share the Gospel had been a suggested reading from a client/friend. As I read through his record it was interesting how his journey unfolded and how the Lord worked in him and through him.
Over the years he kept hearing of a particular monk that people kept making mention of and how he should visit him but, partly because he lived in a very isolated cave on the side of a cliff, things just never worked out to make the journey. If I remember correctly,... the missionary was scheduled to leave but something happened that prevented his departure, delaying him for a time so he decided to go visit the monk. After traversing such a precarious perch arriving at the opening of the monks cave and being welcomed, the missionary began to share the gospel of Jesus with the monk. After a time the monk began to weep uncontrollably but seemingly with an element of joy as relief had come to his heart. Puzzled by the response and thinking he had found a potential convert the missionary began to minister to the monk tho the monk stopped him and explained that the Lord had revealed Himself to the monk many years ago and that’s why the monk separated himself from the Buddhist in the village and secluded himself so he could learn from the Lord, explaining to the missionary that years ago he had asked the Lord what was His name and though for years he’d never known, now the missionary had come and shared the name of his Lord. Both were joyfully surprised and enjoyed fellowship until the missionary was to leave the region returning to his homeland.

“Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone opens....”
God is not limited in ways we imagine Him to be, just think of Job... there was no church, no law, no Israel, etc... yet Job enjoyed a marvelous and intimate relationship with the Lord and by all accounts was “saved”.
Sometimes, perhaps, our knowledge can hinder our faith if we see it as a substitute-


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Fletcher

 2020/5/15 20:44Profile
Oracio
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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2093
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Very encouraging post Fletcher. I remember hearing something similar before, maybe it was the same account if not another similar one. Considering God's loving character I am not surprised honestly, although it goes against some of our "mainstream" theology I guess. Although I've been hesitant to affirm such kind of testimonies I have been more open in recent years I guess.


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Oracio

 2020/5/15 21:14Profile
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Joined: 2011/10/21
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 Re:

That’s honestly from an older memory of the story so the semantics are a bit fuzzy, surely there is a more accurate account and even more accurate memories than mine. Tho the testimony abides and that’s the part that serves the Lord.

Knowledge and even wisdom are both valuable even needful but neither nor both could replace faith-
Often we approach things, topics, people, even God on the basis of our knowledge of scriptures and the wisdom we gleaned from it,... but faith is the only acceptable path, this is what He has been showing me... that His capacity to “draw people” is not limited by my ability to reason it and that there was more to the story ~


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Fletcher

 2020/5/15 22:14Profile
makrothumia
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Joined: 2005/5/19
Posts: 670
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 Re:

The scriptures rarely (if ever) directly address those who have never heard. There are words to designate those who do not "know", but very often there is an accompanying or underlying accountability for "not knowing".

For example, the expression most of us know in Hosea 4:6
ὡμοιώθη ὁ λαός μου ὡς οὐκ ἔχων γνῶσιν, ὅτι σὺ ἐπίγνωσιν ἀπώσω, κἀγὼ ἀπώσομαι σὲ τοῦ μὴ ἱερατεύειν μοι, καὶ ἐπελάθου νόμον θεοῦ σου, κἀγὼ ἐπιλήσομαι τέκνων σου (LXX)

Here is the English translation: "My people have become like those not having knowledge, because YOU THRUST AWAY full knowledge, I also will thrust you away so that you will not serve Me, and you FORGOT the law of your God, I also will forget your children."

We should take note that the biblical record is filled with this underlying reason for "NOT KNOWING." The words that God inspired the writers to use indicate this.

For example: the word translated "disobey" in both the New Testament and the Old Testament LXX is ἀπειθέω. The root meaning of this word is "refusal to be persuaded." I encourage you to do a thorough study of how and where this word is used. You will find that it underscores "conscious, willful, persistent, refusal to be persuaded."


πειθέω - "to persuade" is what Paul sought to do in all the synagogues he entered. II Corinthians 5:11 - Εἰδότες οὖν τὸν φόβον τοῦ κυρίου ἀνθρώπους ⸀πείθομεν (knowing the fear of God we PERSUADE men"

Refusal to be persuaded is linked to the many other inspired descriptive words used to define those who receive judgment.
Romans 2:8 - τοῖς δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας καὶ ἀπειθοῦσιν ⸆ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ πειθομένοις δὲ τῇ ἀδικίᾳ ὀργὴ καὶ θυμός (but to those who are contentious and refuse to be persuaded; refusing to be persuaded by the truth, but are persuaded by unrighteousness, anger and wrath)

Whatever thoughts we may have about who God has sovereignly chosen to receive mercy, here we have the Apostle Paul's understanding of who will receive judgement and why they will be judged. That which is definitive should govern that which is speculative.

It is far more beneficial to read the indicative record underscoring God's just wrath and take personal warning than to engage in speculative philosophy about a theoretical category of "innocent" men (those who have not heard). We should not place any confidence in our own suppositions like this.

The passages that contain the warnings of judgment, the history of judgement, and the prophetic warnings of coming judgment, all contain the underlying evidence establishing the righteousness of God's wrath.

God does not judge men arbitrarily; He renders unto men according to their deeds. "To those who by persistence in well doing, seek glory, honor and incorruption - eternal life - but to those who are contentious, who refuse to be persuaded by the truth, but are persuaded by unrighteousness, wrath and anger." This is the truth for both the Jew (God's chosen) and everyone else!

This is Paul's understanding of God's just wrath. Peter was in perfect agreement when he chose one word to summarize those who were living upon the earth when God brought the flood upon them - they were UNGODLY - men who refuse to show reverence for God.

If we will devote our time to understanding the inspired language chosen to describe men who receive judgment, we will look forward to the day of the Lord when He after His longsuffering and patience, He will finally cleanse His creation of the source of its pain and suffering.

Our hope for the new heaven and earth, the home of righteousness, is that when our Lord takes His throne, He will winnow out ALL EVIL, and establish the home of righteousness where men can enjoy Him forever without the sorrow and pain that we are forced to endure in this world.

mak







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Alan and Dina Martin

 2020/5/16 6:19Profile
Oracio
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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2093
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Robert wrote:

Quote:
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.


I'm thinking that that Scripture may apply to two types of lost sinners:

1. Those who do not know God and

2. Those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Of course, those who reject the gospel after hearing it also do not know God, and they will be punished for both.

But the first part of that may involve or include those who never hear the gospel of Christ.

I don't believe it would make sense for God to punish someone for not obeying the gospel of Christ if they've never heard it. It would make sense for Him to punish them for their many other sins against His moral Law and for rejecting the light they have.

In case someone objects to my use of logic when considering this issue, think about this. Would it be just for God to condemn a completely or perfectly innocent or sinless person (whether an adult or child) if there ever was such a person on this earth (besides our Lord Jesus who voluntarily sacrificed himself for our sins)? Of course it wouldn't be just, our conscience recoils at that thought, and for good reason. Both Scripture and reason make it abundantly clear that that is unjust and evil. So too, based on common sense and the testimony of Scripture it's reasonable to deduce that God would not hold it against someone if they don't believe in the gospel message which they've never heard.

Sometimes we may reason thus: "We should just be child-like and accept what the Bible teaches even if it doesn't make sense to us. We should be careful not base our beliefs on our reasoning which is tainted by sin."

To a certain degree I agree with that, but we must be careful not to go too far with that, because our reasoning capabilities are also God-given for the purpose of getting to know God more and more. In Isaiah 1:18 God says, "Come now, let us reason together."

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, and part of that diligence involves rightly dividing His Word of truth; we do that by using whatever tools God has granted at our disposal. If we have the ability to know Greek and Hebrew then we can use that gift and God will be pleased and glorified and honored and the Body of Christ will be edified (as in this case of our brother Mak breaking it down for us), but if we don't have that ability we can do our best with the tools we have and God will be glorified in it.


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Oracio

 2020/5/16 12:23Profile
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 Re:

//Yes but... “fair” is a very subjective term whereas the scriptures use the phrase “impartial”, which God is in fact impartial and/or “not a respecter of persons”.//

Agreed- But I believe he is truly impartial and not pretend impartial.

This requires that we perhaps be a little more understanding of those with little or no knowledge.

By “understanding” I mean to accept that some folks just don’t get any light, or it is dim at best.

I just don’t like the standard Christian line of “well, if they don’t repent and seek the Lord they’re goin to burn.” If God says that, so be it. But Christians shouldn’t because they have no idea what they are talking about and should not hold forth on such matters.


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Todd

 2020/5/17 15:53Profile
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 Re: Brother Todd

firstly- my bad on posting reply in wrong thread :/
Had copied your quote and realized I wasn’t logged in and clicked wrong thread to reply after logging in... good catch and thanks for redirecting ;)

Yes I believe that is a reasonable course of action... as long as it’s one done in faith toward God.

I’m gonna be totally transparent here and it may cause some to view my person differently but that’s ok-

Once I got to a place where I really needed and wanted to know the Lord,.. He knew and in every way possible made His comfort, mercy, grace, love and discipline known to me. As I began to respond consistently to Him in faith, He was very attentive and let me know it in a plethora of ways. I was, as are many when they’re a young immature believer, somewhat legalistic in my thinking yet the Lord was not offended. He walked every step, read every word, participated in every musing and meditation I had - always willing... always patient... always present.
After a time of Him requiring me to openly (and in cases publicly) repent, having broken down the wall between us, I began to literally talk with Him just about everything even down to where to go eat lunch or even if I should eat lunch. I figured that He may have something for me to do, share a word of hope or be in a particular place for some reason beyond me. Several times He led me into a situation, literally dictating where to turn and when to stop etc... that brought about connections and opportunities to serve others, with each producing fruit that glorified Him. After “getting to know” Him, I realized He’d been there all along, even when I was very young I could remember His counsel, His “voice” and how He handled me yet I didn’t “know” it was Him till decades later...because it took many years and even more tears to break me down to where I was poor enough to be willing to accept the charity of Heaven. He never gave up and even when He was silent He was working to help me see Him more clearly even though I wasn’t giving Him any of the credit before I “knew” Him. For at least 20 years I ran from Him though I didn't admit it. Ultimately that running led me to prison in a foreign country and even tho I wasn’t looking for Him, He was looking for me. I’m no different than anyone else in that I believe and have observed the Lord does this with everyone. Yet how we respond definitely affects what He is allowed to do as He will not act against our will on our behalf but will definitely use the circumstances to influence or convince us to yield to His will. Sometimes taking years to “condition” us.
Some people genuinely understand and still openly reject His offer, not because they didn’t have enough light to see but because they aren’t ready to yet. Others have only a little light and they walk upright according to their conscience but in both cases as it is in all cases- everyone has as much of God as they want... some just don’t know His name or that it was Him they were having that internal conversation with. In my observation, lots of people know about Him but mistake this for a relationship with Him. Many others actually fellowship with Him but don’t realize it’s Jesus with whom they are speaking just like on the road to Emmaus, or with me- it’s only realized after the fact. So in all cases, it’s how we respond to Him with the faith He gave us to be able to respond to Him with. Sometimes having so much information available, so many opportunities to hear and learn can help us be a bit complacent and entitled, spiritually overweight and out of shape as it were,... feasting on information and discussions but not on a person, the person of Jesus.
Personally I believe you are correct that “believers” should be more mindful how they speak regarding the reality of repentance and eternal torment and in all cases more mindful to “live out” their beliefs before man and they wouldn’t have to spend time trying to convince others with their words only but their actions, their very lives would be a living testimony of the fear wherewith they pursue holiness and righteousness and peace and meekness in all humility not arguing or complaining so that when others saw this type of life it would stand in sharp contrast to those whom walked not by faith and not according to the spirit- then their words would have weight if offered in response to a question but mostly those types of admonishments to “turn or burn” are but the mask of hypocrisy otherwise known as the “flesh” of man, and tho there is a kernel of truth in the declaration, it is often devoid of love and so dead on arrival and but a clanging gong.
The parable about the wedding, where the initial invited guests were too busy to attend and the offer fell to a “less worthy” lot in the hedges and highways seems (for me) to tidy up this subject nicely... everybody is invited but not everyone responds, and some who do “didn’t put on the wedding attire” and are cast out. Ultimately we can only trust that the Judge of all the earth will do right :)


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Fletcher

 2020/5/17 22:55Profile
makrothumia
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Joined: 2005/5/19
Posts: 670
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 Re:

I take comfort in God's own description of evil. In Jeremiah 18, at the potter's house, the Lord defines what He considers "evil"

vs. 9 - καὶ πέρας λαλήσω ἐπὶ ἔθνος καὶ ἐπὶ βασιλείαν τοῦ ἀνοικοδομεῖσθαι καὶ τοῦ καταφυτεύεσθαι,† 10 καὶ ποιήσωσιν τὰ πονηρὰ ἐναντίον μου τοῦ μὴ ἀκούειν τῆς φωνῆς μου καὶ μετανοήσω περὶ τῶν ἀγαθῶν ὧν ἐλάλησα τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτοῖς

And finally, when I speak to a nation and to a kingdom to build them up and to plant them and they shall do the evil - NOT TO HEAR My voice, I also will repent of the good concerning them which I spoke to do to them

We can speculate on how God views someone who has not heard, but it is clear that God considers it EVIL - NOT TO HEAR His voice.

This is underscored in Hebrews chapter 3 where the writer addressing believers exhorts them to "see to it that there be in none of you an EVIL HEART of UNBELIEF in departing from the living God."

Since faith (belief) comes by hearing - the evil heart spoken of is the heart that refuses to hear what God has spoken.

Our Lord in His wisdom spoke directly to the heart of the matter, knowing the history of Israel's refusal to hear. "He who has ears to hear - LET HIM HEAR." Hearing to receive is a choice, just as refusing to hear is a choice.

Receiving the implanted word spoken by God will save our souls - this is the "hearing of faith". Resisting and refusing to receive (hear) the living word is EVIL.

The indicative must govern the subjunctive. God attempts to show mercy to men by speaking to their wrong ways. He shows by this a willingness to forgive and restore. Only after prolonged refusal to hear, does He impute upon their heads the evil of refusing to receive correction.

Israel broke the yoke and tore asunder the covenant God made with them. Jesus offered restoration to the people of Israel by inviting everyone who was weary and heavy laden to "take MY yoke upon you".

The words that accompany passages where God's judgment was most severe are worth becoming familiar with: insolent, proud, abusive, defiant, rebellious, stubborn, unyielding, stiff-necked, abandoning, effacing, annulling, etc.

There is no doubt why God considers THESE attitudes, EVIL!


In addition a rare word for refusing to is used in the NT - that word
“Parakouo” and it means to “hear aside” or refuse to hear. It is through one man’s “parakouo” that sin entered the world:
The problem of refusing to hear is the evil in the world - not having the chance to hear is not.
mak


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Alan and Dina Martin

 2020/5/18 6:16Profile
BranchinVINE
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 Re:



Hi Mak,

Mark 4:3-4 –
Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up.
v. 14 – 15 –
The sower sows the word.
These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.

Are these ones victims to be shown mercy or are they villains to be punished without mercy?


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Jade

 2020/5/18 8:01Profile





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