Thoughts from the weekend
Well....quite the game last night.
I was pulling for New Orleans. Not really against Indianapolis winning - but I, along with many, many others thought it would be great for the city to experience some success after all of the tragedy that they have gone through.
The Colts weren't giving Drew Brees anything long, so he completed 32 of 39 passes, almost all of them short routes and throws. 228 yards.
Give it to the Saints - they took what the Colts gave them.
And then, the coaching. Sean Payton. What a call to open up the second half. An onside kick. Brilliant (if it succeeds).
What I liked about the game is that each team played hard, without minimal penalties and few errors - although of course Mannings interception at the end was huge.
Debbie and I watched the game at Gary and Joyce Arvin's home. They have a TV screen in their basement as big as Milwaukee - great place for a game. Our life group was there as well as a couple of other couples.
Sunday morning, I talked about Jesus being the only way to God. Towards the end of the first service, I realized that I needed to make it a practical teaching (as well as doctrinal) and believe that the Holy Spirit led me to emphasis the fact that we have the responsibility to connect people to Christ.
And so - I took questions from our church family. Great questions and hopefully I gave good answers. I was thrilled as the students in our youth group participated at the end of the second service during the Q and A time.
Debbie went to a wedding in Springfield over the weekend - it is good to have her home. I am always kind of lost without her.
Anyway, there was a question that I actually brought up in my teaching and then was brought up in the Q and A time. I shared with everyone that I would blog about it today and so here it is:
The question is:
“What about those who live in an isolated place and who haven’t had a chance to hear about Jesus? What’s going to happen to them?”
This is one of the most commonly asked questions about Christianity — and, frankly, we don’t have the complete answer. God hasn’t explicitly told us all we’d like to know about this.
But we do know a few things.
Let me give a quote from Lee Strobel that helps us with this (check out his book, "The Case For Faith."
Lee Strobel writes:
"First, we know from the Bible that everybody has a moral standard written on their hearts by God and that everybody is guilty of violating that standard. That’s why our conscience bothers us when we do something wrong.
Second, we know that everybody has enough information from observing the world to know that God exists, but people have suppressed that and rejected God anyway — for which we rightfully deserve eternal separation from Him.
But we also know from the Bible that those who sincerely seek God will find Him. In fact, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is seeking us first, making it possible for us to seek God.
And this suggests to me that people around the world who respond to the understanding that they have and who earnestly seek after the one true God will find an opportunity, in some way, to receive the eternal life that God has graciously provided through Jesus Christ.
I’ve seen this happen in seemingly impossible circumstances.
I remember meeting a man who had been raised by gurus in an area of India where there were no Christians. As a teenager, he concluded there were too many contradictions in Hinduism for it to be true. So he called out to God for answers — and in a remarkable series of events, God brought people into his life who shared Christ’s message with Him. And today he’s a follower of Jesus.
There’s something else that’s reassuring, too, which is that God is scrupulously fair.
Genesis 18:25 asks, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” It’s comforting for me to know that each person will be judged uniquely and justly, according to what they knew and what they did. After being judged by a loving and righteous God, not one person will be able to walk away claiming that he or she had been treated unfairly.
We know that apart from the payment that Jesus made on the cross, nobody has a chance of getting off Death Row. But exactly how much detailed knowledge a person has to know about Jesus or precisely where the lines are drawn, only God knows.
The Bible says in First Corinthians 4:5 that only God can expose the motives of a person’s heart."
And then Lee Strobel concludes his thoughts by saying:
"Nobody will be excluded from heaven solely because he or she has lacked some information.
The reason people will be denied admittance is because they have told God their entire life that they can live just fine without Him.
On Judgment Day, God will say, “Based on your own decision to live separately from Me, you will now spend eternity apart from Me.” God won’t violate our will — and that’s only fair."
Great quote. Do you agree? Disagree?
And...as I mentioned...the greater question is not whether people who do not have the opportunity to hear the gospel will go to heaven or hell - but what are we doing to connect them to Christ?
That is a challenge to me - and I hope to you.
Let's continue to do all we can to minister and share with those who don't know Christ.