this vid is a little old, but I forgot to post it.
A friend sent me a link to this video the other day and I felt like it was good enough to repost. Here’s what I liked about it:
- reinvention rather than tradition
- devotion rather than apathy
- impact rather than influence
- grace rather than giving up
- triumph rather than ineffectiveness
Here’s the vid:
In a recent conversation, a student said, “It doesn’t seem fair that people who never hear about Jesus would be sent to hell.” I decided to write a short response to this… I wrote it quickly…so be gentle if you have ideas to improve it… I’m sure it wouldn’t earn a good grade in seminary, but I feel it’s a biblical response. If this can help you in your ministry, great!
What about the people who never hear about Jesus; does the Bible teach that they will go to hell?
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)
Jesus is clear: to know Jesus is to know God. This phrase may create some difficulty: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” At a first glance, it may sound like “everyone must hear and accept Jesus to get to heaven.” If this was the only verse in the Bible, maybe I’d be inclined to accept that.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Wait, McGill, are you saying you can get into heaven without Jesus?” I’m saying we ought to dig a little deeper. Let’s see if we can understand who God is and how he works by looking at more then 9 English words.
Paul writes the following to the church in Rome:
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) (Romans 2:12–15)
In this passage, Paul is talking about those who have the law (Jews) and those that don’t (Gentiles). The law is one kind of God’s revelation, the revealing of himself to people. Jesus was another kind of revelation (as noted in John 14:6-7). Nature is also another kind of revelation from God (see Psalm 19).
Nature “talks” about God, so does scripture (Law), and so does Jesus. Nature paints broad strokes about God (and is technically called “general revelation”), while scripture and Jesus paints a more detailed picture about God (and scripture is technically called “specific revelation.”)
One analogy might be to compare radio with TV … listening to a song and watching a music video. Audio makes an impression, audio and video together makes a deeper impression.
It’s clear that people who don’t hear about Jesus, won’t be judged for knowing him or not. God doesn’t judge a person for what he or she doesn’t know.
Earlier in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul wrote:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18–20).
Not only has God revealed himself with nature and scripture and Jesus, he is also actively working on peoples’ hearts, trying to draw them to himself.
So then, what did Jesus mean, when he said he was the Way, and that no one could come to the Father except through him? While God doesn’t judge a person for what they don’t know, the other side is true: he does judge a person for what they do know.
If a person knows Jesus, hears about the real, biblical Jesus, and denies him…this is the same thing as denying God:
No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 Jn 2:23.)
For me, this leads to another question: “what does it mean to deny Jesus?” and that’s best pursued in a different article!
How do you feel about this? What are your thoughts? Where do you gain new insights? What new questions do you have?