We’re studying David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream chapter by chapter.
[W]hile some professing Christians have rejected universalism intellectually, practically they may end up leading universalistic lives. They claim Christ is necessary for salvation, yet they live their Christianity in silence, as if people around them in the world will indeed by okay in the end without Christ. (p. 142)
It’s certainly a lot easier to condemn Rob Bell’s Love Wins for its universalistic leaning than to actually act on your convictions and live as though the lost are, you know, lost.
Platt then leads his readers in a walk through Romans to make his point. Of course, many want to use Romans to argue that those who’ve never heard the gospel just might be saved. Platt (and I) disagree. That misses the point of Romans entirely.
Here are the seven truths he presents —
1. All people have knowledge of God.
2. All people reject God.
3. All people are guilty before God.
4. All people are condemned for rejecting God.
5. God has made a way of salvation for the lost.
6. People cannot come to God apart from faith in Christ.
7. Christ commands the church to make the gospel known to all peoples.
(Rom 10:14-15 ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Amen. I’m covering the scriptural arguments in some detail in the “God is Not Fair” series, and so I won’t cover those points here. That’s what the Bible says. I don’t think there’s a Plan B either.
I would add this point: The church’s mission is not only to preach the gospel but also to redeem the world. Well, God will do the redeeming, but the church is an essential part of the plan. If the church doesn’t spread the gospel, the world not only will go to hell, the world will live in hell.
Think of any hellhole on the planet — the horrors of the Sudanese massacres of Christians, the brutality of the Taliban, the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. Not a one would have happened if the church had been truer to its mission. Not one.
The north of Sudan, which is now Muslim, was once entirely Christian. Islam conquered Christianity in large part because —
* The Christians hated each other so much they were unwilling to defend their brothers. Catholics wouldn’t lift a finger for the Orthodox. The Orthodox wouldn’t lift a finger for Nestorians (most of Christianity in Asia).
* “Christianity” had become all about the right doctrines and elaborate philosophy and so had failed to touch the hearts of the people. The “Christianity” being preached and practiced in these nations was of so little vitality, and did so little to change lives, that Islam seemed preferable.
* Many “Christian” rulers were so un-Christian that city-states voluntarily submitted to Islamic rule to avoid the authority of the “Christians.”
Mohammed didn’t have superior weapons or numbers or wealth. He just had an opponent that had little to defend. As one writer put it —
The Muslims easily forced the Greeks out of Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. The largely Christian populations were tired of paying taxes to the Greeks. The Arabs among them welcomed their brothers and embraced the new faith, which was much less complicated than Christianity [as taught by the Byzantines] and much easier to believe.
The Persian Empire was also easily conquered. It had been weakened by decades of war and the inhabitants hated their corrupt and oppressive rulers. A rapidly
expanding Arab empire based on equality and social justice promised to be a much more favorable place to live.
Just like Communism did in the 20th Century, Islam defeated Christianity by promising the equality and social justice that Christianity had promised but not bothered to deliver.
How could Christianity have prevented Islamic control of so much of the world? By being Christianity.
How could Christianity have prevented the horrors of Stalin and Hitler? By being Christianity.
How can Christianity redeem the world today? By being Christianity.
You see, much of the hell on earth today is our fault. And when millions are sent to gehenna on Judgment Day, that’ll be our fault, too.