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Can it really be true?

Posted by NandCard , 12 July 2011 · 1249 views

It doesn't take a lot to make me stop and ask this question, especially when I travel the many countries of the Alliance's new North and Central Asia Region. This is a place where for long centuries almost everyone has grown up an adherent of a major world faith that doesn't introduce them to Jesus.

Can it really be true? Can all these people, who for centuries have been looking for God through the window of the world's major non-Christian religions, be lost?

In Acts 4 we read regarding Jesus, "Salvation is found in noe one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (NIV). Jesus, himself, said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me (John 14:6, NIV).

It is one thing to have sat in my Pennsylvania home church and pondered these words with an almost romantic vision of people waiting in darkness for the Gospel to come. It is quite another to reflect on them while watching sincere would-be worshippers who don't know Jesus flock to a mosque at the appointed time, or climb to a high hill to tie a ribbon onto a prayer tree.

Living and traveling daily where there is flesh and blood proof that millions of the world's lost people sincerely try t oapproach God through means other than His Son causes me pause. It truly shakes my faith to consider that a large majority of the world's people for whom Jesus died will not find salvation because they have not had a chance to meet Him.

Can it really be true? Isn't it more likely the case that God will somehow accept the earnest and penitent seeker who doesn't know about Jesus, or even a sincere one who has been taught since birth that His name is a dirty word? Can we really believe that billions of people are lost simply because, by accident of birth, they grew up in families and cultures that for generations have followed other religious paths?

In this struggle, I return to words such as those of Peter and Jesus, quoted above. Either their words are part of a fairy take, represent a once-held ethnocentric view that is outdated in our present age of globalization, or they are God's own Word that would dare to make sober sense of our pluralistic world today, just as much as it did when the Israelites lived among the people of Canaan or when Jesus and his disciples walked around in the Roman Empire.

If the truth is in the latter of these options (and please rest assured that I believe it is!), then it brings the question of the world's need for the Gospel into alarmingly sharp relief. The New Testament teaching that Jesus is the only way, if honestly owned up to, leads us from doubt that it really could be true directly into a shocking realization of the overwheming, day-after-day tragedy that people of the world's faiths are dying without finding the only One in Whom there is life. Perhaps in our modern, pluralistic world, wrestling to the point of doubt over the audacity of this doctrine has become a requirement for truly grasping the moving importance of Peter's words, "there is no other name."

To see wonderful people who've for generations followed other paths go about their busy and productive lives, yet remember Jesus' sober words about their need, is to dial down on the uncomfortable reality of lostness. This is not a romantic picture. But it is a profoundly moving one, and all the more so because it is almost too hard to believe.

Unsure? Well, come walk with me in this part of the world. It could cause you to doubt, but it could cause you to awaken anew to the motivation that comes from seeing the world as it truly is, seeing the world as He does. So if you do come, be sure to bring your honest questions.

Nandcard is the MyCMA name for Tim, and Alliance worker in North and Central Asia

Angela Sawtell
Aug 09 2011 08:54 AM
Nancard, thank you for posting this. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of holding fast in the truth of God's Word. "There is no other name."
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You're welcome, Angela! God's Word does not change, but what it takes for us to thoroughly, not superficially, understand and obey it in this complicated world does change. I hope this post helps.
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