The crux of the matter
And the subject at hand is, can the heathen be saved without the gospel?
And also, this is not going to be really a sermon, this is going to be more like my just giving you some insights from the pertinent scriptures so that you can understand the issue that is before us with regard to the gospel.
As if that’s not bad enough, Satan has added another level of confusion. Not only do we not really understand what the gospel is but we’re not now sure that we even need to preach the gospel because we’re being told today that people can be saved without the gospel, without the knowledge of Jesus Christ, without the Bible. And so, not only confused about the gospel but now confused about the great commission, the church is having its great power eliminated.
The door is narrow
Jesus Himself said that the door into the eternal Kingdom is narrow…narrow, Matthew 7, and few there be that find it. Those who advocate this sort of universal salvation through many means and many religions are hard pressed to fit that in to Matthew 7 where Jesus clearly says the door is very, very obscure, it’s hard to find and it’s very narrow so that few find it and few enter it.
Scripture and the Lord Himself has commanded us in the great commission to take the gospel to every creature, to take the gospel to every person on earth in every generation. And that great commission has been the church’s mandate, the church’s duty and the church’s passion since Pentecost.
Natural reason is not enough
This ideology last week I labelled as some have labelled “it is natural theology that man by natural means,” that is human intuition, human reason, can ascend to the knowledge of God. He doesn’t need a supernatural revelation coming down, natural reason going up is enough.
It says people can be saved in many contexts of religion or in no religion at all if they will just do the best they can with the information they have and with their natural inclination. This is also labeled by some evangelicals as the wider mercy view that says that mercy is wider than we think.
What about the people who don’t have the message?
Well, what about the people who don’t have the message? Well what about the people who don’t have the gospel?” Answer number one, you better get to them with it because that’s what we’ve been commanded to do. Number two, if God in His sovereign, eternal, elective purpose has determined to bring people to salvation, then He will be sure that they receive the gospel and we are to be instruments by which that gospel is proclaimed.
The Old Testament prophet said, “If you seek Me with all your heart, you’ll…what?…find Me.” Jesus said it in the Sermon on the Mount, “Seek and you shall find.”
Man unaided can’t get to God
Now to look at the Scripture, last week we looked at Genesis 3, Romans 1:18 and following, and 1 Corinthians 1:18 to 21. What we saw there was that man unaided by revelation, unaided by supernatural revelation from God can’t know God’s will, can’t get to God. In fact, in Romans 1 though he knows God to some degree through his reason, he knows there is a creator, that there is a cause to the effect in which all of the universe exists, he can reason that, he can reason something about God’s power, something about His Godhood, something about His morality because of conscience, as Romans 2 says, but he can’t get to God. He can only know enough to be without excuse, he can’t know enough to be saved because to know the way of salvation requires the revelation of the record of salvation in Jesus Christ. And so we saw that all that ends up for the man in Romans 1 is that he takes the knowledge of God, rejects the knowledge of God, becomes a fool and turns the truth about God into an idol and an image. So he perverts it and he ends up as an idolater who feels the fury and the wrath of God.
Foolishness with God
First Corinthians 1 tells us the same thing. The most erudite, the most educated, the most literate, the most elite, the wisest of the wise when they’ve reached the epitome of their human reasoning, the human rationalizing, the human religion end up as fools.
First Corinthians 1 says, “The wisdom of man is…what?…foolishness with God.”
They don’t get to God, it’s folly, it’s empty, it’s useless and 1 Corinthians 1 says, “Man by wisdom knew not God.”
You don’t get there through natural theology. You don’t get there through any process of human reason, intuition, or religion…
The end of verse 10, 1 Corinthians 2, starting at the last half of verse 10 says, “…The Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” Here’s a simple principle
…we have access only to that which is visible to us, that which is empirical, that which is on the surface, that which is manifest to the human senses. We don’t know spiritual things about God, the nature of God, the essence of God, the will of God, the salvation of God. Those things we don’t know. The Spirit does know them.
We have received this information
So, if we’re going to know the saving truths, if we’re going to know the deep truths of God, the spiritual truths, then we’re going to have to have them revealed to us. And so verse 11 says, “The thoughts of God are not known to anybody except the Spirit of God.” And then he goes on to say, “Now we,” this is the apostles, this is Paul and the other apostles who wrote the Scripture, “We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things freely given to us by God.”
…And then he says, “We speak these things…verse 13…not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit.”
The things of God are not available to natural man
Now look at verse 14 and we could take this verse and drop it right before the eyes of anybody advocating natural theology.
Listen to this, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised, or understood, or evaluated, or examined.”
Here’s the problem. A natural man that is unaided by supernatural revelation, unaided by Scripture, a natural man cannot know the things that only the Spirit of God knows. He can’t know the deep things. To him they are foolishness, they are completely nonsense is what he’s saying. He can’t comprehend them. He can’t understand them. He can’t grasp them because they are spiritually appraised, they are not rationally appraised. They can’t be examined by a rational mind. They can’t be examined by any empirical study. They can’t be attained by any human intuition. It’s not available.
“But for those of us who know the Scripture, who have been taught by the Holy Spirit through the Scripture…the end of verse 15 says…we have the mind of Christ.”
Man on his own ends up a fool
You say, “How do we know how Christ thinks?” Because it’s revealed here, right? We know how He thinks. We know God’s thoughts on salvation. We know Christ’s thoughts on salvation because the Holy Spirit has revealed them to us here in Scripture. Natural man, unaided by the mind of Christ revealed through the Spirit gets nowhere. He ends up with no understanding.
That’s why it says we live by every word that proceeds…what?…out of the mouth of God, Matthew 4:4.
That’s why Jesus in John 14:26 said to the disciples, “And the Holy Spirit is going to come upon you and He’s going to do this, He’s going to teach you all things and He’s going to bring all things to your remembrance.”
God has overlooked the times of ignorance
And you know what? Verse 30, “God has overlooked the times of ignorance.” You know, God has been patient with you up to now, but God is now declaring to men, all men everywhere should…what?…repent of…what?…your religion, repent of your religion, repent of your idolatry, repent of your false gods, repent of your false understanding of God, repent…
Sacrifice to demons
I want you to get the picture here. Verse 20, this is exactly the scenario here in Corinth, verse 20. No, he says, an idol isn’t really anything, an idol itself, a stone idol isn’t anything, “But I say the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God.”
You get that?
That’s not a sacrifice to God. By the way, Gentiles…what are Gentiles? Anybody who is not Jewish, the nations, ethnos, the nations, everybody, the pagans, the heathens, the whole…heathen…the whole world, all of them and everything they sacrifice to their supposed stone and silver and gold idols and wood idols and whatever. It isn’t offered to God, it is offered to…they’re not engaging the true God, they’re engaging the forces of hell. They’re linked with Satan and demons. Don’t ever misunderstand that.
The bible is the only authority and Christ is the only saviour
It’s not just neutral. It’s not just “too bad they’re ignorant.” It’s not just too bad they’re sort of in limbo, they’re not. Natural reason trying to find God ends up ignorant. Natural reason trying to find God ends up idolatrous. Natural reason trying to find God ends up demonic.
Demons are behind all false religions. They are behind all philosophical and religious systems. They are behind, and that marvelous passage, 2 Corinthians 10:3 to 5, they’re behind every lofty thing lifted up against the knowledge of God.
Any anti-God idea is demonic…it’s demonic. Any…anything that’s untrue about God, anything that’s unbiblical, it’s demonic.
Satan is disguised along with his demons as angels or ministers of light. The god of the Buddhists is a demon. The god of the Muslims is a demon. The gods of the Hindus are demons. The god of the Mormons is a demon. The god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a demon…and every other religion that rejects Christ. It’s all demonic. This goes way back to Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch, the old law.
Deuteronomy 32:17 Moses wrote, “Of those who sacrifice to demons who were not God.” You can also compare Psalm 106:37. They’re not going to God, they’re going to Satan and demons.
You know, a good way to illustrate this is in 2 John there’s three verses, 9, 10 and 11. And in 2 John 9, 10, 11 John writes that if you deviate from what the Bible teaches about Christ, if you deviate from what the Bible teaches about Christ…we’re not saying that you deny Christ, that you deny that He lived, that you deny that He died, but if you deviate about what the Bible says concerning Christ it says this, “Anybody who does that does not have God.” The point being, you can believe in the trinity, you can believe in the birth of Christ, you can believe in the life of Christ, you can believe in the death of Christ but if you say He’s not God…that detail…if you say He didn’t live a sinless life, if you say well, He didn’t really die a substitutionary death, if you say He didn’t literally raise from the dead…if you deny anything that is biblically revealed about Christ, you don’t have God. So listen to this, if you’re even wrong about Jesus you don’t know God…to say nothing if you don’t even know about Jesus.
You’re just engaging with demons.
Is there a lot of satanic religion in our society?
People have asked me, “Is there a lot of satanic religion in our society?” Yes, everything but the truth.
Everything but true Christianity is satanic to one degree or another and in one manifestation or another. It’s not that everybody like some worship Satan. There are some people who just worship Satan as such. But anybody who doesn’t worship the true and living God through Jesus Christ in effect worships Satan.
You don’t want to do that, I don’t think because God gets very jealous. Verse 22, “You want to provoke the Lord to jealousy.” “You can’t go to the table of demons and to the table of the Lord,” it says in verse 21. Verse 22, “You don’t want to provoke the Lord to jealousy.” Deuteronomy 32:21, God said, “Israel made Me jealous with what is not God and they provoked me to anger with their idols.” God…God doesn’t look at an idol and say, “Oh, that’s a good try, I think that’s a good enough try to get you in.” God looks…God looks at an idol and says that makes Me jealous, that provokes Me to anger. You don’t want to provoke the Lord to anger. Why? Because you’re not stronger than He is. I don’t think you want to engage God, do you? The only way you would want to take God on is if you were stronger than He is and you’re not…pretty serious.
So, the best that man can do, his best religion, his best reason he comes up…foolishness, ignorance, idolatry and engages the forces of hell and pulls them into his life.
Human effort is all ‘bad good’
Romans 3 verse 10, here is the universal indictment of humanity. Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous,” how many? “Not even one.” Somebody, if that hadn’t been there, would have said, “Except me,” and so God said, “No, not you.” “There’s none righteous, no not one, nobody. There’s none who understands.” We saw that in 2…1 Corinthians 2:14. “There is none who seeks for God.” They don’t go that way.
You don’t get there on the natural path. “Instead, all have turned aside, they all go the wrong way, they all become useless.
As John Gershner used to say, “It’s bad good, it may be good on the human level, it’s kindness or being nice to somebody or charitable. But it’s bad good because the motive is not to glorify God and anything less than that is a wrong motive.”
They don’t do good. In fact, the truth of the matter is they’re wretched on the inside, their throat’s like an open grave. They open their mouth and out comes the stench of death. “With their tongues they keep deceiving the poison of asps as under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery in their paths. And the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
You see, these…these heretical views of inclusivism and wider mercy, or as one writer called it, “later light,” or natural theology.
Later light referring to what Peter Kreeft said, “When you die and go to heaven, what you don’t know will get straightened out up there.”
All of that is frightening in its implications. It is a damning and deadly heresy because we must reach people with the gospel so they can hear and be saved. God Himself, Augustus Strong said this in his theology not in these words many, many years ago, God Himself is the only source of knowledge with regard to His own being and a relationship with Him. And God as the only source must disclose it to us and He has by the Holy Spirit who knows the deep things of God, revealing it to the writers who wrote it down and thus we have the mind of God and the mind of Christ.