The depths of human depravity knows no bounds. One day it's the callous murder on our door-step of sixteen innocents and their teacher. Then hundreds are cindered in a disco fire in some far-off land. Each year earthquake, fire and flood carry off thousands.
And nearly all die "without Jesus ", and without salvation!
Where is God in all of this? Is He on vacation? Perhaps, deservedly, He has washed His hands of humanity? Why hasn't He made a move to rescue us? Does He not love the world enough to deliver us from our natural and man-made disasters? And to save us eternally?
Most Christians, of course, believe that if you're not saved during this human lifespan then you are without hope of salvation. Translate that into understandable words and it says that without Christ the bulk of humanity will forever burn, but not burn up, in hell's fires - the "popular" idea of what happens to those who die "without Jesus". Challenge most evangelical preachers and they will, perhaps reluctantly, admit to this. And challenge that sweet, gentle Christian lady renowned for her undoubted good works - and she, too, will agree that this fate awaits any who die "unsaved".
Since Creation, then, only a tiny fraction of earth's billions - according to the accepted Christian teaching - have "gone to glory". Virtually none before the death of Jesus Christ. And certainly merely a minority since. The rest have suffered through a lifetime that is, in effect, purposeless.
And God has, apparently, failed.
Most Christians believe God is trying to save the world. That He is battling Satan for the souls of mankind. Before Christ's death - absolutely no chance of salvation. Since then - opportunity for salvation, but only if you are in the right place at the right time.
Has the Christian missionary failed to reach you? Too bad. Are you one of the two billion or so alive today who have never even heard the name of Jesus? Too bad - your chance of eternal life is remote, unlikely. And too bad for those born before the Christian era.
Certainly there is powerful argument that God has failed and is failing in His plans. Which, of course, is quite ridiculous!
The fact is, the Word of God is quite explicit about God's plan. (Yes - He has a plan!) That plan is beautiful. It is fair. It is exciting. Of course each man and each woman who has ever lived will face judgment. Each of us will answer for our every word and every action. Every murderer or thief or extortioner or liar or adulterer or terrorist - even if he now escapes true justice - will surely face judgment. The ledger isn't closed in this life!
But every man, woman and child who ever breathed on this planet will be given his or her chance of living for ever!
In God's plan for mankind there's provision for what some despise as a "second chance". But even if that were so - what's wrong with it? Did you ever give your child a second chance? That first failed attempt at walking - did you stuff little Mary into her crib saying "You've had your chance. Just stay there"?
Of course not. Nor does God. He is not less merciful than His creation. And in such a serious matter as eternal life. However, we don't in fact get a "second chance" at salvation. For few in this life have a first one!
God invites (calls) into His Family and to salvation (John 6:65). The call is highly selective, and not everyone who is called accepts the invitation (Matthew 20:16). Further - not all stay faithful (Revelation 17:14). (It is selective. But God does not often call mankind's "giants" - I Corinthians 1:26-29!)
For the vast majority of mankind, however, the phone doesn't ring. They don't ever, in this life, get a call!
The billions alive before Christ, the billions since who never heard his name, the young children who die from disease or accident or by some act of human depravity, the billions whose hope of salvation lies with their good works, or with Allah, or with a multiplicity of Hindu gods - none of those have yet been called to "get salvation".
But they will have their chance! Jesus tells us (Revelation 20:5) that they will live again. But that resurrection won't take place, he says, until after the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ. That thousand years hasn't even begun! And when resurrected to face Jesus Christ they will be judged in the flesh "out of the books". The same standard for judgment, In other words, that face Christians today - the books of Scripture.
But if you hear God calling - you had better answer it, now!
It may be your only window of opportunity to live forever.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 11, September-October 1998. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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