Apr 24, 2007

So they are without excuse

"Somewhere, and I can't find where, I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest,
"If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"

"No" said the priest, "not if you did not know."

"Then why," asked the Eskimo earnestly, "did you tell me?" -Annie Dillard

Maybe the priest forgot to read Romans 1:18-23.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

According to Paul, we do not have an excuse.

I know it doesn't seem fair that someone should go to hell just because they haven't heard of Christ. But I think Paul was anticipating this response, which is why he says in Romans 10:14-18:

"But how are they to 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? 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!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

"Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."

God's justice is not man-made. God doesn't "cut people a little slack" because they did not trust in the cleansing power of Christ's blood. After all, what would be the point of Christ's death? His blood shed for His people, so that the unregenerate men who refuse to believe can be accepted into heaven?

Where's the justice in that?

The lovely thing is, God's purposes in salvation will indeed come to pass. Those whom He's elected to be saved will indeed be saved! They will hear the Gospel. Thankfully He's not waiting for us to act, because if He were, He'd still be waiting.

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