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Thorny Questions!
By NiteOwlDave
The idea that eternal salvation is through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ raises two thorny questions with me:
1. How were people saved from their sins before the cross of Christ?
2. How can people today, who have never heard of Jesus Christ, be judged for rejecting Christ?
The Bible says God is fair.
Where is the justice?
Well, let's try this set of responses on for size.
Before salvation became available through Christ's death on the cross, people were "saved" by obeying God's laws.
Once a year, followers of Jehovah brought an animal (size depending upon their wealth) to the priest who would enter the holy-of-holies and place blood on the "mercy seat" on behalf of the people.
Instructions are given in Leviticus 30:10.
This blood sacrifice symbolized the future sacrificial blood of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed at Calvary.
So what about the non-Jew, or "Gentile," as they were called in Scripture?
They were saved by submitting to the God of the Jews and obeying His instructions.
Most Gentiles continued worshipping their own false gods. The Bible speaks of certain Gentiles, such as Rahab and Ruth, and even whole cities such as Nineveh, which repented at the preaching of a humiliated Jonah after he was barfed up on a beach by a huge fish 400 miles from that city.
How were people saved before the flood?
They were saved by a blood sacrifice.
The first sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, got into a dustup over the sacrifice issue—God accepted Abel's animal, blood sacrifice, but rejected Cain's produce, non-blood offering.
Out of jealousy, Cain killed Abel.
People lived hundreds of years back then.
Noah lived over 800 years, while Methuselah lived 969 years.
The populus heard of the preaching of Noah, who took 120 years to build a monstrous ark.
Hebrews 11:7 tells us no one heeded Noah's preaching of a coming flood, which would destroy all of mankind.
Only his family boarded the ark and was saved.
One year later, when the ark lurched aground on a mountain top, the first thing Noah did after disemb"ark"ing was to build an altar and sacrifice an animal.
Blood again!
Not learning the lessons of their forebears, man again turned from God.
The grand culmination was the tower of Babel where God confused the tongues of the people, thereby creating the different languages we have today.
The truth was always available from preachers whose lives spanned centuries.
Throughout the Bible, God demanded a blood sacrifice as the payment for sin.
Animal offerings were representative of the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ.
Hebrews 9:22 says, "Without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin."
The first blood sacrifice was initiated by God in the Garden of Eden, when he killed an animal for skins to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, the first couple and the first sinners.
Their sin prompted God to send His Son to the cross several millennia later, to shed His blood for all mankind.
Why did Messiah-God slip into humanity as a Jew?
God never explained why the Jews are His chosen race.
The fact that Jesus was born a Jew was the final flourish of their hefty benefit package.
The country of Israel is geographically the center of the "world," the crossroads of three continents—Europe, Asia and Africa.
Throughout Scripture, the Jews are identified as the "chosen people," the nation of God.
Interestingly, the Jews have had a roller coaster ride since day one, because of their on-off relationship with almighty God.
Since God's chosen people rejected Christ as their Messiah they have paid a huge price.
In World War II, six million, of a world population of 16 million, wound up in Nazi concentration-camp ovens.
And a study of Bible prophecy reveals the worst is yet to come for Israel.
Sounds unfair, but Israel, like the Gentile, has been given free will—free choice.
Question number 2, about how a loving, fair God can judge someone who has never had the opportunity to accept or reject Christ, is somewhat tougher.
What of the poor Hindu who is faithful to his religion but is never exposed to the teachings of Christ?
Consider this: First, we must accept as gospel truth biblical promises that anyone who genuinely seeks God's way will find God's way.
The Bible states that God evidences Himself in two ways:
1. Through creation;
2. Through the God-given moral law written within the consciousness of every human.
Romans 2 records that man is "without excuse."
How could a searching mountain Hindu then find the Christ of the Bible?
He could be prompted to head to a village and accidentally:
1. Run across a witnessing Christian missionary;
2. Come across a Bible in a language he understands;
3. Be given a gospel tract outlining the plan of salvation;
4. Hear the way of salvation on radio or TV;
5. Meet a national believer who shares the story of the cross.
Failing that, the serious seeker could learn the "way" in a dream, in a vision or by a direct visitation by the Holy Spirit.
The Bible is dotted with such accounts, and there are reports of missionaries who have made contact with tribes "anxious" to hear the Word to fill a void.
The fact is that man "loves darkness rather than light".
He actively suppresses light.
Eventually, through habitual sinful choices, he sears his conscience and extinguishes the light that illuminated him.
The Holy Spirit is in charge of world evangelism.
He rushes to any vacuum where a humble and seeking soul cries out to God.
Psalms 34:18 states,
"The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as to be of a contrite spirit."
We must never forget that Christ grieves over anyone who is going to Hell.
He offers mankind the opportunity to reach out to Him.
God is love, fair, and just.
Man chooses his own eternal destination.