Today, I will begin a short series dealing with the person and work of Jesus regarding salvation. Throughout the entire timeline of human history, there are doubtless many who have never heard the name of Jesus. What is their fate? At the end of their lives, will they face an eternity in hell? Or will they be held to a different standard?
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is the only way to receive eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV)
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, ESV)
Paul, in Romans 5, contrasts the entrance of sin into humanity through the actions of one man, Adam, from whom condemnation has spread to all people, with the redemption available to us through the death and resurrection of the one man Jesus.
The whole of the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament prophecy, predictions, and foreshadowing of redemption through a coming savior, and culminating with the fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that overwhelmingly encompass the New Testament, is ultimately about the life and works of Jesus.
When looking at the Bible as a whole, it is unmistakable that the object of saving faith is not subjective but is Jesus alone. Many believe that faith must be accompanied by works, which I have argued to the contrary in my book Eternity in View and other posts on this blog, but the object of Biblical faith is rarely in doubt. With or without works, the consensus understanding among believers is that salvation is possible only because of the sacrificial atoning work of Jesus through His death and resurrection.
The Bible’s claims regarding Jesus and salvation are indeed exclusive, but if what the Bible teaches is true, there is no room for the inclusion of or synthesis with other world religions in any way. All other religions are based on the efforts of individuals to attain a goal of salvation, enlightenment, or other such achievement, whereas Christianity is built upon the finished work of God through Jesus Christ. People are saved not by what they do or don’t do, but only through a relationship with God through His Son. Opening up the means of salvation to other belief systems contradicts the core doctrine taught in scripture.
So if salvation is through Christ alone by grace, what about those who never heard the name of Jesus? What part, if any, do we play in our salvation?
These and other questions will be addressed, with the foundation laid here to begin the discussion. Next time, we will take a closer look at human nature and the sovereignty of God.
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.