Baptism/Amazing Grace: A Conversation Over Lunch, Part 5

Available light

And so those who’ve never even heard the gospel are punished? Surely not!

Jesus certainly seems to say so here, doesn’t he? But we need to look deeper.

We begin by noticing that ignorance lessens the punishment. A good man, unaware of the gospel, may receive very little in the way of punishment. But even a very good man has sinned and cannot claim to deserve eternity with Jesus.

No one deserves heaven, just as no one deserves a denarius for less than a full day’s work. But God is allowed to be more generous to some than to others and yet still be good — so long as he treats all no worse than justly, taking into account his perfect knowledge of their lives and hearts.

I think we get off track by thinking along these lines:

1. God has saved me.

2. God hasn’t saved people better than me.

3. They deserve salvation more than I do!

4. Therefore, surely they are also saved.

This is a very normal and very human way to think — especially in the Western world where our culture places a huge premium on egalitarian thought: “All men are created equal …” There may even be a little bit of “survivor’s guilt” in there.

But the Bible teaches us something very different —

(Deu 7:6-8 ESV)  6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,  8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

(Deu 9:4-6 ESV)  4 “Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you.  5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  6 “Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.”

The same is true for us —

(1Pe 2:9 ESV) 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

We are chosen, not because of our righteousness or our numbers or the uprightness of our hearts, but because of God’s promise to Abraham — his promise to count those with faith as righteous.

We are also a stubborn people, utterly undeserving, and yet God chose us because we have faith, and so we are within God’s covenant.

Is it fair? Not even a little. It’s far, far better than fair. Those outside the covenant get fairness. We get grace. No, we don’t deserve it. And neither do those who are more righteous than we. They don’t deserve it either — and therefore they don’t deserve it more. Neither of us deserve it at all.

Is is an unfair system? Is it fair to pay a man a day’s wages for one hour’s work? No, but it’s the nature of God.

Therefore, we cannot argue that the righteous pagan is saved just because he never had a chance to hear the gospel. No, he receives a perfectly just result. He deserves no more.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
This entry was posted in Amazing Grace, Available Light, Baptism, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Baptism/Amazing Grace: A Conversation Over Lunch, Part 5

  1. Price says:

    Jay, how do you answer those who point out Romans 2:13-15? When I read it I see that God….. A) justifies those that abide by the law (if that is on what one depends); B) God is the author of the “law” (right and wrong) and writes it on the hearts of those that haven’t heard the law; and, C) Those that have the law written on the hearts by God are then judged by “it” rather than a “law” to which they have not been given access…. Since it seems to paint God as a gracious Father to His children and not just throwing people in hell that have never heard the good news…something must be wrong with my understanding of that passage as many seem eager to throw them all in eternal punishment for not having heard…

  2. Alabama John says:

    This will cause a stir!

    I believe there will be far more people in heaven that will be in hell.

    How different from the COC sermons that practically all throughout time will be burning while only a few of US are in heaven.

    The good is I see the COC changing slowly in this thinking to lowering their heads and saying, “well, we just don’t know, it’ll be up to God”.

    It is very encouraging.

  3. hank says:

    Alamama believes that there will be far more people in heaven than in hell. But, Jesus himself said there are many going to hell and few going to heaven.

    As far as Romans 2, people keep forgetting that Paul was referring to a time when the Law of Moses was in effect. A time when the gentiles had there own law. A time when there were 2 folds of Gods sheep. A time when God allowed the nations to walk in their own ways. A time of ignorance which God overlooked.

    However, those times are over. Today, all will be judged by the words of Christ. There is now only one fold which is the church and whoever is saved must be added to it.

    The Bible is just so clear about that.

  4. Robert says:

    “We are also a stubborn people, utterly undeserving, and yet God chose us because we have faith, and so we are within God’s covenant.

    Isn’t it rather that we have faith because God chose us?

  5. eric says:

    I wonder and I’m not saying these things should not be discussed by the way, if it’s not clearly stated in scripture to a point where we could point to Jesus or someone saying if you don’t hear about me you are doomed to nonexistence or torture to some degree forever maybe it’s okay just not to know. I would like to know everything but until I’m sure on a subject like this I’m okay saying I don’t know. I would like to think there is an avenue for those in this life who try to do the right thing but for some reason culturally or otherwise don’t know Jesus like I do can be with Christ in the end. Maybe the people in the streets the servant is going to invite to the feast are these. I realize some are further along than I in their understanding so maybe it is clearer to them, but for me I’ll wait for further revelation. God always has real good reasons for His actions in my experience so if He has a wonderful surprise for us all at the end I won’t say hey why do they get a days pay they just got here. With love the more the merrier.

  6. Alabama John says:

    Jesus came to earth and gave His life for us. God rules the universe and allows the devil to exist and temp us. God set the rules. In the end, God doesn’t lose, He wins over the devil.
    Do you really believe the devil will do the dance of victory while our God hangs His head in defeat?

  7. Robert says:

    What would entail defeat?

  8. hank says:

    AJ,

    I don’t believe you are correct in thinking that Satan gets to dance in Gods face and cause God to put his head down in defeat it more people end up in hell than in heaven, as Jesus clearly said will be the case.

    That is straight absurd

  9. hank says:

    In fact, if the remainder of mankind goes to hell, it wont be because God is a loser, as you seem to suggest. To argue such seems borderline blasphemous in my opinion

  10. gt says:

    AJ, are you saying that if any are lost then God has failed, or if just more are lost than saved? Is there a certain number where it can be determined when God has been defeated by Satan?

  11. Alabama John says:

    It is pretty obvious the majority believes most humans will go to hell. No wonder as that is what we have been taught most of our lives. Be careful or the devil (boogeyman) will get you!!

    God created man and put His spirit in each human. It will return.

    There was once a biblical contest allowed by God, between God and the devil, and no matter how the devil tempted and tortured, God won. That should be encouraging to us. That was the purpose of the story as is so many more.

    The same result will be in the end time whether we believe it or want it to be so or not.

    In this contest with you and me and all others being as Job, I pick God!

  12. hank says:

    You avoided the question, AJ

  13. laymond says:

    gt, according to the bible story, God’s plans have pretty much gone astray, from the outset. and he has been trying to get it back on track ever since. unless of course he planned all this so he could prove to his creation, he really is God. According to Jay the fall of man was a good thing. I think we are still missing something, somehow.

  14. laymond says:

    Alabama John says:
    This will cause a stir!
    I believe there will be far more people in heaven that will be in hell.

    AJ. are we going to heaven, after the thousand year stay on the “new earth” ?

  15. Alabama John says:

    Mercy rejoiceth against judgment. James 2:13.

    To show mercy will gain you mercy. How many scriptures say this in the Old Testament as well as in the NT. Matt.5:7, 7:1,2 18:28-35, 25:41-46, Luke:6:37. just to name a few.

    We seem to spend far more time condemning others that on verses like these.

    Hank,
    I appreciate your comments, but, I didn’t see a question as I stopped at blasphemous and absurd.

    laymond,
    I don’t know, I just want to be among those going ever how we get there. I my case it will take a lot of mercy triumphing over judgment. I try hard to fulfill the requirement by showing it as well.

    gt,
    No, those that were not merciful will be judged accordingly, that is very clear.
    Some will certainly go to hell and deservingly so.
    Mercifulness is an act going all the way back to our beginning and didn’t just start with Jesus walking on this earth or those in the NT time, so in ALL cases it will triumph over judgment.

    So, mercy will be shown over judgment to ALL regardless of the time or where they were in this old earth.

    We cannot make the suffering of Jesus a losing nothing, He will win!

    Is this not legalistic enough?

  16. hank says:

    AJ, if the thought of Satan victory dancing while God hangs his head in defeat is not absurd (as well as blasphemous), I don’t know what then would actually be. I stand by the charge.

    And the question(s) you are avoiding were not even asked by me. Not fair to take offense to my charges and in return not answer the direct questions of others.

    Several of us are now curious as to the number of lost souls that would allow Satan to dance and force God to hang is head in defeat. Any? 50%? 75%?

    Its a fair question for a guy in your position.

  17. gt says:

    So, mercy will be shown over judgment to ALL regardless of the time or where they were in this old earth.

    So all will be saved, right?

    No, those that were not merciful will be judged accordingly, that is very clear.
    Some will certainly go to hell and deservingly so.

    Except those who weren’t merciful?

    AJ, you lost me

  18. gt says:

    gt, according to the bible story, God’s plans have pretty much gone astray, from the outset. and he has been trying to get it back on track ever since. unless of course he planned all this so he could prove to his creation, he really is God. According to Jay the fall of man was a good thing. I think we are still missing something, somehow.

    Laymond, maybe I’m just too dense to understand what either you or AJ are trying to say. AJ seems to be coming across as a Universalist where all will be saved(except for the unmerciful or legalists) and I think maybe you are just being sarcastic.

  19. Alabama John says:

    Hank,

    That is between God and satan. None of us can answer that question as it is absurd. To ask such is just being argumentative.

    I did not create this earthly contest and am only a pawn in it just as we all are. Same as Job was. Don’t you think satan would of celebrated if he had won the contest where Job was the pawn? I think he would of been very happy. How he would of shown that is anyones guess and I simply picked one. I could of said acted like we do at a great dunk at a basketball game, or turned a flip. The devil lost and so he in a manner of speaking, hung his head in defeat, cried, whipped himself, who knows. We do know God celebrated and showed his happiness in winning the bet by rewarding Job with two of everything lost but his dead family and we know why that was.

    The ultimate outcome will be decided by God and He has changed His mind many times that we know of and loved and rewarded those that did wrong. David is one example I am thinking of right now.

    WE have made things much harder than God in so many cases. But that is nothing new with us is it? With our attitudes, are we encouraging others and showing mercy to obtain mercy or discouraging (defeating) them? Something for us all to consider.

  20. Alabama John says:

    gt

    Merciful will receive mercy over judgment. Non merciful will not receive mercy. That is very clear.

    To what degree or what else is involved with judgment, who among us knows as we cannot understand Gods mind in any way as it is so far above any of us.

    The point to me is to strive to be merciful. Just that simple. Plenty of opportunities all around us.

  21. Robert says:

    Is there much dialogue on this site or do most posts get ignored and not answered?

  22. I’m sorry, Robert; did you say something? I wasn’t paying attention. :)

    Seriously, yes; our faith is a response to God’s faith in us, if you want to put it that way. He had faith in Job’s integrity. He had faith in Abram’s willingness to obey. He had faith in His Son’s willingness to sacrifice Himself.

    Why He has faith in us, I may never understand. But whatever faith I can muster in Him as a a grateful response for His faith in me … I feel compelled and honored to share.

  23. Grizz says:

    Alabama John,

    I guess you must think Jesus was mistaken when He said,

    “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy F19 that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV)

    Last time I checked a dictionary for these words (many, few), ‘many’ was a greater number indicated than the number indicated for ‘few’ …

    But you know better than Jesus did, right?

    God have mercy,

    Grizz

  24. hank says:

    Good point, Grizz. I just checked and also found that “many” is more than “few”. Lol

  25. Alabama John says:

    Grizz,
    I quoted right out of the scriptures and gave them to be read. Also, there are many that say the same thing in the old testament I could of referenced.
    Me, I am nobody, but I can read and if the scriptures disagree then one is wrong, which is it? You tell me please.
    Or, maybe we are misunderstanding something. I say we as its possible you do to.
    I’ll always take the Jesus died for us, all of us, and we have a merciful God that loves us all and that is a bigger number than many.
    If that shows my ignorance, then so be it

  26. Alabama John says:

    Grizz,
    Look up the meaning and significance of the two gates in relation to cities gates back then and see if it makes more sense and coincides with the scriptures I posted.

    What really bothers me is how would you treat a person disagreeing with you that you wanted to teach the gospel to and bring to Christ? Is this the attitude and method used today?

    How many would this behavior bring to Christ?

    I wouldn’t think very many.

  27. Robert says:

    Thanks, Keith!
    See, by sticking my neck out I got to meet you. I’ll peruse what you said…..
    Bob

Leave a Reply