Thursday, February 20, 2014

What About the Guy on the Island?

We’ve all heard the question from doubting friends: “What about the person on some jungle island who has never heard of Jesus? Would God really send that person to hell?”

I have to admit, the question has sometimes left me stammering for a compassionate, yet biblical answer.

I know that God is just.

I know that He doesn’t desire that any should perish.

And I know that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father but by me.”

How are we to reconcile these truths?

God recently showed me a perspective I’d never seen before.

In Genesis 14, we read the story of Abraham’s nephew, Lot, being carried off following the battle between two groups of kings and their armies. Abraham defeats these kings to rescue his nephew and then receives an interesting visitor in verse 18:
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

We know very little of Melchizedek, king of Salem (Peace). Psalms tells us “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5-7 reveals that this is a reference to Christ.

Unlike the priestly line of Aaron, we know nothing of the genealogy of Melchizedek.

We know that he existed.

We know that he was a priest of the Most High God.

He was a priest of the Most High God living in the land of the Canaanites. It stands to reason, if he was a priest, that there were people he served as a priest. And those people worshiped the Most High God as well.

Too often we equate the fact that God chose to work through Abraham, and to share the story of how He worked through Abraham, with two ideas not supported by Scripture. First, we assume that because the story of Abraham and his descendants is the central theme of the Bible that God only worked through Abraham.

The reality is that while the Bible tells us all that we need to know about God, it does not tell us everything. In fact, John states in 7:25, “25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” 

God is omnipotent and omnipresent. He is capable of being with each of the 7 billion inhabitants of the earth at the same time, hearing their prayers, answering their prayers, and guiding their circumstances without breaking a sweat.

Our second erroneous assumption is that God worked through Abraham because he alone was uniquely obedient or devoted to God. Joshua 24:2 tells us that Abraham and his family were pagans before God chose him: And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River[a] in old times; and they served other gods.”

God’s choice of a vessel is indicative of God’s power and grace, not the vessel’s worthiness.

If we know that God is not willing that any should perish, which we do, and we know that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone, and it is, we can be confident that God is able and willing to provide even the most remote people on earth with access to the saving knowledge of Christ. In many instances, He does this through the obedience of believers to the call of the mission field. But God is able to work in whatever way He chooses, through Melchizedek, or someone else. God is able to ensure that each person who has ever lived has the option of choosing to follow Him.

Because He is not willing that any should perish.

And because He is just.

No comments:

Post a Comment