Items posted on 10 February 2012
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1 John 5.10-13 – Christ as the only means of salvation
(and how that can seem unfair).
Posted: 10 February 2012 in 1 John

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Set out in the above passage is the reason for the early Christians’ driven desire to take the Gospel to the furthest corners of the Roman Empire – quite unlike Judaism, either then or now. And the reason is simply that, without hearing the Gospel, salvation is impossible.

Today when an atheist, or somebody else, wants to make a Christian feel uncomfortable, they will typically pose a question regarding the fate of those who, through no fault of their own, have never heard of Christ. A common response from Christians is to say that God will make special provision for those who do not know of Christ, and judge them upon the basis of the kind of life they have lead. After all, anything else seems distinctly unfair. The problem with that response is that it does not appear to have any scriptural justification. The Bible only says that Christ is the only means of salvation, and there is nothing said about there being any alternative available.

If there is such an alternative, it becomes extremely difficult to understand why Paul, and others, felt so driven to take the message of Christ everywhere they went. There is no evidence that they believed such an alternative to exist, and Jesus’ great commission (Matthew 28.19-20) would have given them no reason to believe it existed. That some should be condemned through no obvious fault of their own may seem unfair, if salvation is viewed as something which we have a right to, rather than as something we have no right to, but which must be received as an unmerited gift.

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