In an earlier gracEmail, I stated that God will judge all people by the light they had and not by truth they could not know. A missionary in South America asks, “If that is so, am I wasting my time here? Why preach the gospel today? Are you saying that people are saved apart from Jesus Christ?”
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Not at all. I am saying that no one will finally be saved except through Jesus Christ and what God accomplished through him. That includes people who lived before Jesus and after Jesus — within Israel and among the nations. That is not to say that all those saved people knew in this life the details of God’s work in Christ, although they all did relate to God in the kind of creaturely faith we see in the patriarch Abraham, “the father of the faithful” (Acts 4:11-12; Rom. 2:11-16; Rom. 4:1-16).
Are you wasting your time? Absolutely not! You are obeying Jesus, fulfilling his Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). You are speaking because you believe (2 Cor. 4:13) and are sharing the way of life (Acts 11:18). You are turning people from darkness to light (Col. 1:13-14), introducing people to the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9-10) and spreading hope of eternal life (Titus 1:1-3). You are giving freedom over fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15), inspiring a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3) and filling people with joy and peace in believing (Rom. 15:13). You are giving assurance of God’s mercy which transforms lives (Titus 2:11-15). You are sharing many, many other blessings through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
In the process, you are being used by God as an agent in the salvation of those who through your ministry receive the grace of God (2 Cor. 5:18 — 6:2). The gospel is God’s power for saving believers — in the fullest sense of the word “save” (Rom. 1:16). The kingdom of God brings wholeness and healing of all kinds — spiritual, emotional and physical (Acts 4:10-12). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). We are privileged to tell people what God has done for sinners through him, and how God has revealed himself most fully through his only-begotten Son, the divine Word made flesh, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Our success depends on God. His success does not depend on us.