Biblical: A Global Theology of Missions
When considering the question asked at the end of McQuilkin’s article, “How could a loving God condemn those who have had no opportunity to respond to Christ (Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, pp. 175)?” Romans 11:22 comes to mind; it says, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness” (NKJV). God’s attributes never change; He is immutable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Hebrews 13:8). Another verse comes to mind, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (Romans 9:20 NKJV) I am not God. Who am I to question God and His word. I can only turn to the scriptures which is God’s authoritative truth.
Robert McQuilkin starts out by explaining what lost means. We must consider this if we are to defend and understand the part of the question which says, “Those who have had no opportunity to respond to Christ.” “Those” are the lost because they have not yet heard of the Gospel. How can God condemn “those”? We must turn to the Holy Bible and find scripture that can help us (Romans 15:4, and 1 Corinthians 10:11). First we can turn to John 3:16-18.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-18 NKJV).
Looking at this scripture, we find that those who believe not or reject God’s gospel are condemned already. Knowing this, we can say there is a judgment which leads to eternal life and eternal condemnation. McQuilkin even says, “The Bible does not teach that God will judge a person for rejecting Christ if he has not heard of Christ” (173). Where again are those who have not heard? What about Sodom and Gomorrah? Do you think those in Sodom and Gomorrah heard the word of God? In Genesis 18:17-33, Abraham’s conversation with God reveals that he knows God is a just God and will not punish the righteous when he asks God, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25 NKJV) God is immutable; He cannot do wrong. He must do right and judge justly. How could anyone trust or believe in a god who was flippant about what he said. God does not forget our sins as some may say. The word says he remembers them no more (see Hebrews 8:12). How can you believe a god who forgets? Maybe he will forget he saved you. God has to do what He says because God is True and He speaks the Truth.
Today we have those who want to water down the word of God through Universalism. Three points of Universalism believe first, that all will be saved if God is merciful and good. Secondly, a Wider Hope belief is “Not all will be saved, but many who have not heard of Christ will be saved because God is just and will not condemn the sincere seeker after truth” (171). Thirdly, the New Wider Hope believes at least those who live by the truth may be saved on Christ’s merits or at least be able to be given a chance at the pearly gates. Each of these Universal beliefs get a little closer to the truth but never reach it. God’s word says there is only one way and that is through the belief in Jesus Christ’s finished work (see John 6:29, Romans 10:9-13).
McQuilkin points out that those who reject Christ will be condemned in proportion to their rejection and those who continue to apply what they have been given will receive more. For a minute, I thought he might be talking about stages of condemnation. A compartmentalization of the condemned in Hell or even Heaven (173). But then I believe he redeems himself in “No Other Way” (174). I believe the word is quite clear for there are many verses that proclaim that Jesus is the only way to be saved from our lost state of being unto eternal life (John 14:6, 6:44, Acts 4:12).
In summary, we can live by God’s word and believe all that it says or make an excuse for our lack of comprehension. God’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine. I can only believe the authoritative truth of God’s word. In His truth it says there will be a judgment of the just and the unjust (Daniel 12:2, Acts 24:15, Romans 14:10, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:10-15). Where are “those”? They must be in the no excuse explanation of Romans 1:20 or maybe in the dispensational age of 5:13-21 or maybe in the purpose of God to make His Glory known through vessels of honor and dishonor 9:11-24. “Those” who are condemned, who did not have an opportunity to respond to Christ, may very well have had an opportunity in their lifetime. God can reveal Himself to those even if they have never heard of Jesus Christ. Ours is not to judge unto condemnation but to bring the truth and the Gospel message to those who have not heard, so they can receive the blessings of God and eternal life. “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7 KJV) Let it be you and me.