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A Simple Question, Part II

A Simple Question, Part II

by Joy Martin, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries

The “simple” question that inspired last week’s blog also sparked a series of questions that I think a lot of people struggle with. They are all seemingly simple questions that don’t always have such simple answers. To help shed some light on some of these issues, we’re going to start a series of blogs that address these questions.

I’d like to say up front that at Set Me Free Ministries we have one and only one source of truth, and that’s the Bible. When we have a question we need answered, we turn to the Word of God. So the answers we will be sharing don’t really come from us at all—they come straight from the mouth of God as recorded in the Bible.

So, let’s kick it off with a tough one. During the same conversation I referred to last week, I was also asked about people who have never heard about Jesus. Can’t they go to heaven if they are good people? After all, if they’ve never heard that Jesus died for their sins, how can they accept Him as Savior? 

The person I was talking to was referring specifically to people who weren’t raised in the church and had never had someone explain the Gospel to them, but there are also people who live in such remote areas of the world that they don’t have any way to access a Bible. Although it may sound harsh or even unreasonable to hold these people to the same standard as someone who grew up in a Christian home, there still remains only one way to God the Father, and that’s through His Son.

What does the Bible have to say? In Psalm 19:1, David writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” And in Romans 1:20, Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

So the world itself speaks to the existence of its Creator. Paul tells us that God’s power is clearly seen through His creation. In fact, in Luke 19, Jesus Himself attests to this. As Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem on what we now know as Palm Sunday, His followers praised Him, shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (verse 38). But the Pharisees spoke out, demanding Jesus rebuke His disciples. In verse 40, Jesus answers: “‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” See, creation cannot keep silent. If we don’t acknowledge God for who He is, the stones on the ground will, because He cannot be denied.

The truth is that if you were born in the civilized world, chances are you have heard the name of Jesus. Certainly here in the United States, I can only imagine a few extreme circumstances where someone may grow up and enter adulthood having never heard anything about God, Jesus, or the Bible. And once we have heard, we have a choice. We can either accept God’s word as truth or deny Him. In Matthew 12:30, Jesus is very clear on this point: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Yet, Jesus also says in Matthew 24:14 that He will not return until all of the world has heard the Good News of the gospel.

I think it’s important to point out that I firmly believe God’s desire is for all of His children to spend eternity with Him. It logically follows that He will make himself known to all those who seek Him.  After all, even those who live in the most remote and isolated jungles of South America or deserts of Africa are witness to God’s miraculous creation, which cries out in testimony to His existence.

I have heard stories of missionaries who have traveled to remote villages to share the Good News of Jesus only to find that the people they meet have already discovered Him. They may not know the name Jesus, but they somehow know Him all the same. That is nothing short of divine intervention.

Before I wrap up this entry, I think it’s important to share something that Stephanie says to me. It has served as an important reminder to me on a number of different occasions, but it’s fitting as a part of this discussion more than any other perhaps. And that’s this: God is God. It’s a simple statement, I know, but take a minute to really think about it.

God is God. And at the same time, we are merely human. We look at things from a very limited human perspective. But God, on the other hand—well, He knows it all. He looks down on the world from a completely different point of view, so who are we to question Him? We can’t possibly understand how God works. Things that seem impossible to us—like an African tribe who has never seen the written word, let alone a Bible, somehow knowing the story of Jesus—are well within the scope of God’s power.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.’”

He is the Creator. He is God. And He loves you and wants to hold you in His arms as His child. I call Him Father. Do you?

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