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  1. #161
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    I think the diagram is too simplistic, and any summation I would force into a box there would require explanation. So I'm going to avoid filling out the graphic and instead, explain the standard. I'll try to keep this as concise as possible (although I'm usually terrible at doing so), and where there needs to be further explanation I will trust you to let me know.


    I'm defining and using the term "heathen" here as the unbeliever (or more precisely, an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible) because it is easier to type out, and theologically more accurate. In addition, 2 things need to be noted here: 1) ideas about the salvation (or lack thereof) of heathens may differ between Christians and the denominations. It isn't a core doctrine and people have different reasons for believing different things. I can only offer what I believe to be the most reasonable and what appears to be the most Biblical sound argument, as such, I can only defend this particular view, not others. In addition, 2) regardless of what which view someone has on the matter, there is one thing that we all can agree on...and that is it is not entirely clear how God will judge the heathen (that is, there is no explicit passage or explanation of how they are determined to be righteous). All we can do is offer reasonable possibilities. However, the "how" IMO, is inconsequential to the actual issue. We can know that something most likely is the case (the ontological) without knowing how it became or becomes the case ( the epistemological).

    That "concise" disclaimer being said...we can now move on to the actual issue. Laying the groundwork first of course...

    I. Through Christ


    When we say that salvation is through Christ alone, this applies to all people, regardless of their awareness. What we mean by this is that salvation occurs because of Christ's sacrifice for man. Without that sacrifice, people before Christ nor after, regardless of being aware or unaware, could not be saved (unless of course, there was another mechanism for salvation, but that's a different topic). It is true that not all people have the opportunity to know of Christ. But awareness of Christ is not what saves. God, being a just God will not damn people merely because they have not heard of Christ. Those in the OT were not damned because they did not explicitly know of Christ and as explained in the op, those who have come after Christ apparently were saved even though they did not know of Christ. So we can rule out "You must be aware and accept Christ in order to be saved." That is not the case at all. Being saved through Christ does not mean "You can only be saved by knowing and accepting Christ." Again, this is my particular view (and I'd argue, that of most Christians), I believe it has strong scriptural and logical support. I cannot defend or address alternative views.

    II. God has provided a way to salvation for heathens


    All people have sinned. All deserve punishment. So there are no "innocent" people (humans who are moral agents). Jesus did not come to save the innocent (for they are already saved, they are "stainless") but rather the sinners, the stained, the impure, the unrighteous, the fallen, etc...

    “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill.…I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12–13, NASV).


    Obviously, the sinner who comes to Christ is the sinner who is made aware of Christ. So the question we are addressing here is "What about the sinner who is not aware of Christ?" or "What about the guilty who have not heard of Christ?" And the answer to this question is simply "Those who have never heard the gospel will be judged according to the information about God they do have." (1 Tim. 1:13; Rom. 2:13–16; 5:15; Acts 17:30).

    That is, God will judge according to what we know, not according to what we do not know. The implication of this however is worth noting: it implies that those of us (mankind, moral agents) who have heard the gospel message and reject are far more deserving of punishment than those who have never heard of Jesus at all (Luke 12:47–48; Matt. 10:11–15; John 9:41).

    And although the heathen have never had the opportunity of hearing the gospel, they have had the opportunity (God assures us) of knowing God. The heathen will be judged not according to how they respond to Jesus, but how they respond to God the Father. Upon hearing the gospel, people can choose or reject God the Son. Without that opportunity, people can choose or reject God the Father with the knowledge that they have.

    This means that how much we know about God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is a key factor in our judgment by God. And it asks the question "How has God revealed Himself to the heathen?" And the answer to that question is simply a concept called "general revelation." It is how the heathen responds to general revelation that will determine how they are judged.

    III. Heathens are judged according to their response to general revelation


    First, it's important to understand something about the nature of sin. James 2:10 states that “whoever shall keep the whole law [God’s requirements of man], and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” As explained by author Dan Story..

    Even one sin, regardless of how small it is, causes a person to fall under divine condemnation and require a savior. Why? Because God is not only love but also holy. A holy God cannot tolerate any sin, and He must punish it. Jesus, as God’s only acceptable sacrifice, took the punishment in our place, thereby providing the only path to salvation. But His work must be appropriated individually by faith—it is not automatically given to all."
    Story, D. (1997). Defending your faith (125). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

    However, this does not mean that all sins are of equal weight. In fact, we know just the opposite according to scripture. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus mentions the “weightier matters of the law,” and in John 19:11, He talks of a “greater sin” (see Luke 12:42–48; 1 Cor. 11:27–30; Matt. 12:31–32). The implication of these passages is that there are degrees of sin and probably degrees of punishment.

    If it is true that some sins are greater than others and deserving greater punishment, we have a basis for assuming that sins done in ignorance are less blameworthy than sins done in the full knowledge of God’s disapproval. If we apply this principle to the problem at hand, we can conclude that the heathen’s failure to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, when they never had the opportunity of meeting Him, is deserving of less condemnation than those who have heard the gospel message and have rejected it. The following passages seem to support this conclusion:

    Luke 12:47–48

    This passage reflects a key biblical principle that to those who have been given much, much will be required. In theological terms, the parable explaining this concept plainly states that the person who knows God’s will and fails to do it will receive greater punishment than the one who does not know God’s will.

    Romans 1:18–25

    This passage is the clearest biblical presentation of general revelation in nature. It states that God considers the heathen “without excuse” if they do not accept His revelation in nature and respond to it. If God will punish the heathen for this, it seems logical that those who do respond to Him in light of general revelation will be less blameworthy than those who do not.

    Romans 2:12–16

    This text teaches that God’s moral law is written on the hearts of all human beings, and they are judged according to how they respond to it because a proper response to the moral law is a proper response to the moral Lawgiver. On the other hand, rejecting this moral law is tantamount to rejecting God. Verses 12–13 state that those who do not respond appropriately to their moral conscience will certainly be punished whether or not they have heard of Jesus.

    Acts 17:30–31; Romans 3:25

    These passages seem to imply that, before the coming of Jesus, God was not judging heathen peoples for worshiping false gods out of ignorance because salvation through Christ alone had not yet been revealed. This is not to say that these people were innocent of idolatry and would not be punished. They too will be judged through the work of Christ (Acts 17:31) because His judgment includes both past and present sins (Rom. 3:25). They were guilty, yes. But their guilt lay in the fact that they rejected the God of general revelation and willfully sought after false gods. Their punishment lies not in rejecting Jesus but rather in rejecting God the Father. They had an opportunity to receive salvation prior to the first advent of Christ.


    Conclusion

    I've said previously there are 2 standards...one for the heathen and one for those who are aware of the gospel. But that may be a more short-sighted view on the issue and perhaps not the most accurate way to phrase it. The standard, according to scripture, appears to be based upon what each of us as individuals (since we are accountable for our own actions) know about God (the Father and/or the Son) and what we do with that knowledge (accept or reject it).

    Those with more knowledge will be judged with more scrutiny, with more strictness. Those without appear to be given a bit more leniency. This does not mean that those who are unaware have the advantage however. General revelation is only a "general pointer" to God. It may be satisfactory to tell us that God exists, that He is the creator, and that He judges man for his failure to acknowledge Him, but it does not give a clear plan of salvation. It could be argued that without that plan (heathen limited awareness/information), it is a more difficult to respond favorably to God than those who have received a clear presentation of salvation through Christ.

    As Christians, we may not know how those who have not heard are judged, how they will be dealt with by God. We can know however that none who are innocent will be damned, God is a just God, people will be judged fairly and by what they do know, and God does not desire that anyone not receive salvation. But none of that absolves us (as Christians) of our responsibility to bring the gospel to those who have not heard. Having a clear gospel presentation affords an easier opportunity of salvation, taking out much of the guesswork and potential for steering off path and worshiping the creation instead of the Creator (Romans 1: 22-23, 25).
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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  2. #162
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    First, it's important to understand something about the nature of sin. James 2:10 states that “whoever shall keep the whole law [God’s requirements of man], and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” As explained by author Dan Story..

    Even one sin, regardless of how small it is, causes a person to fall under divine condemnation and require a savior. Why? Because God is not only love but also holy. A holy God cannot tolerate any sin, and He must punish it. Jesus, as God’s only acceptable sacrifice, took the punishment in our place, thereby providing the only path to salvation. But His work must be appropriated individually by faith—it is not automatically given to all."
    Story, D. (1997). Defending your faith (125). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
    This text teaches that God’s moral law is written on the hearts of all human beings, and they are judged according to how they respond to it because a proper response to the moral law is a proper response to the moral Lawgiver. On the other hand, rejecting this moral law is tantamount to rejecting God. Verses 12–13 state that those who do not respond appropriately to their moral conscience will certainly be punished whether or not they have heard of Jesus.
    The implication to this seems to be that any heathen who violates their own moral conscience (God's law written on their hearts) is judged for punishment. And not just in a general sense, but at any point. A heathen need only violate their moral conscience once in order to receive damnation.

    And yet you say....

    All people have sinned.

    Therefore, even if God has provided an avenue for the heathen who has not heard of Christ, then it is almost guaranteed that they will violate their moral conscience at least once and will thus be damned. In essence, those who have heard of Christ have an escape route for violating their moral conscience but those who have not do not. Especially when recognizing that all people are sinners, than the conclusion is that 100% of heathens will almost certainly be damned. So we arrive at our original point of unfairness.

    However, this does not mean that all sins are of equal weight. In fact, we know just the opposite according to scripture. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus mentions the “weightier matters of the law,” and in John 19:11, He talks of a “greater sin” (see Luke 12:42–48; 1 Cor. 11:27–30; Matt. 12:31–32). The implication of these passages is that there are degrees of sin and probably degrees of punishment.
    You talk of degrees of punishment, but the only suggestion I've heard is hell. Does hell have different levels, ie Dante's interpretation could be a metaphor for what actually occurs? Is punishment always eternal, but there is just a question of severity?
    ~Zealous

  3. #163
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by ZealousDemon View Post
    The implication to this seems to be that any heathen who violates their own moral conscience (God's law written on their hearts) is judged for punishment. And not just in a general sense, but at any point. A heathen need only violate their moral conscience once in order to receive damnation.

    And yet you say....

    ]Therefore, even if God has provided an avenue for the heathen who has not heard of Christ, then it is almost guaranteed that they will violate their moral conscience at least once and will thus be damned. In essence, those who have heard of Christ have an escape route for violating their moral conscience but those who have not do not. Especially when recognizing that all people are sinners, than the conclusion is that 100% of heathens will almost certainly be damned. So we arrive at our original point of unfairness.
    There is no logic in that whatsoever. You'll have to expand.

    Being judged more or less harshly based upon the knowledge one possesses and how one responds to that knowledge does not mean that those with less knowledge are all damned. See the entire post you just read...again as to why this is not the case. That all deserve damnation is not the same as all actually being damned. That's the whole point in Jesus' sacrifice ZD.

    You talk of degrees of punishment, but the only suggestion I've heard is hell. Does hell have different levels, ie Dante's interpretation could be a metaphor for what actually occurs? Is punishment always eternal, but there is just a question of severity?
    Yes. Just as there are degrees of rewards in Heaven (but that's off-topic so I will only provide article links if you are interested, I have no intention of discussing degrees in this thread):
    http://www.apologeticspress.org/apco...11&article=212
    http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2012/are...hment-in-hell/
    http://carm.org/questions/other-ques...unishment-hell
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  4. #164
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    There is no logic in that whatsoever. You'll have to expand.

    Being judged more or less harshly based upon the knowledge one possesses and how one responds to that knowledge does not mean that those with less knowledge are all damned. See the entire post you just read...again as to why this is not the case. That all deserve damnation is not the same as all actually being damned. That's the whole point in Jesus' sacrifice ZD.
    You said that heathens will be judged according to how they respond to general revelation.
    That is because general revelation is the moral conscience (God's law) that is written upon men's hearts.
    Therefore, rejection of the law is rejection of God.
    Thus, if the heathen rejects God's law, then he rejects God, and it is assumed that he would reject Christ.
    If the heathen sins once, is this not a rejection of God's law?

    Further, while I haven't skimmed every single biblical citation you posted, I was drawn to your citation of Romans 2:12-16. Let's read the passage in full.
    God’s Judgment and the Law
    12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For wit is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
    Romans 2:14 is problematic for your interpretation. Paul says that the Gentiles do not have the law. If that is the case, then the "law" being spoken here is actually an explicit reference by Paul to the various rules governing the Jews. We are in fact talking about the 613 commandments written in the OT. That he says that the Gentiles do not hold the law is how Christians have justified avoiding these commandments for centuries. They eat shrimp and get tatoos like the rest of us.

    In other words, your interpretation of "the law" as God's moral conscience written on men's hearts means that the heathen thus rejects God's moral conscience if he ever starts gathering and eating clams on a Saturday.
    ~Zealous

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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by ZealousDemon View Post
    Does this mean that those who have heard of Christ have an additional requirement to achieve salvation? In other words, if you have heard of Christ, are you saved both through faith to Christ and by being moral, while the ignorant are only required to be moral? Or are these two groups judged by separate standards, with those knowing of Christ saved only through faith while those who are ignorant are saved through being moral?
    God doesn't allow any sin in his presence so there are only two kinds of people he will allow to enter heaven: those who have never sinned and those whose sins have been forgiven. He judges each person according to how much he knows about right and wrong. A person who hadn't heard of Christ but fully lived up to what he knew would be regarded as being sinless and wouldn't need salvation. The problem is that the only ones who meet this requirement are babies who die before they know the difference between right and wrong.

    Once a person sins he is separated from God by his sins and his only hope of salvation is the removal of those sins by a blood sacrifice. The only sacrifice acceptable in this case is the sacrifice of Christ. Once someone has knowingly sinned his only hope of salvation is to hear the gospel and put his faith in Christ. His salvation is based on faith alone, not on anything he does. A person who is saved is expected to live a holy life but that is the result of his salvation, not the means of acquiring it.
    The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that we are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use.
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  6. #166
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by ZealousDemon View Post
    You said that heathens will be judged according to how they respond to general revelation.
    That is because general revelation is the moral conscience (God's law) that is written upon men's hearts.
    Close. It isn't merely moral conscience (the articles expand on that).

    Therefore, rejection of the law is rejection of God.
    Thus, if the heathen rejects God's law, then he rejects God, and it is assumed that he would reject Christ.
    It is not assumed, it is the case.

    If the heathen sins once, is this not a rejection of God's law?
    Yes, but not necessarily of God. There's a difference between sinning by "falling short" intentionally or unintentionally and rejecting God (and/or Jesus) outright. The heathen sinning is the same as the Christian sinning. Both can be saved, they will simply be judged by what they know and how they respond to that information.

    On the other hand, the heathen outright rejecting God altogether is the same as the Christian doing so and no longer being a Christian.


    Further, while I haven't skimmed every single biblical citation you posted, I was drawn to your citation of Romans 2:12-16. Let's read the passage in full.

    Romans 2:14 is problematic for your interpretation. Paul says that the Gentiles do not have the law. If that is the case, then the "law" being spoken here is actually an explicit reference by Paul to the various rules governing the Jews. We are in fact talking about the 613 commandments written in the OT. That he says that the Gentiles do not hold the law is how Christians have justified avoiding these commandments for centuries. They eat shrimp and get tatoos like the rest of us.
    First, no, we are not talking about the "613 commandments in the OT. Paul is referring to the Mosaic Law. See below. Secondly, the part in bold is where your error lies. He is not talking about any justification. Paul is saying that those who know the law (of Moses) and sin anyway, will perish...as will those who do not know the law and do that which is contrary to their moral compulsions.

    All will be judged according to the standard they had. The Gentiles will perish (i.e., face final judgment) because of their sin (cf. vv. 14–15) even though they are without the law (they don’t have the written laws of the OT). The Jews are not spared judgment simply because they possess the law (of the OT), for those who transgress the law will be judged for their transgressions.

    Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (2160). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

    Here is the passage in full:

    12For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13*For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14*For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15*They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16*on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    in v13 Paul reaffirms the principle enunciated in vv. 6–11, that the doers of the law are the ones who are righteous before God, and that their justification will be pronounced on the last day.

    in 14-16 Paul explains here why Gentiles who do not have the law (of Moses) will face judgment apart from the law (see v. 12). The reason it is fair for God to judge them for their evil is that God’s law is written on their hearts, so that their consciences attest to what is right and what is wrong in their behavior. Paul does not imply that the testimony of human conscience is always a perfect moral guide (for people have conflicting thoughts about their moral behavior, sometimes excusing themselves from wrongdoing), but the very existence of this testimony is sufficient to render people accountable to God. (Elsewhere Paul indicates that people’s consciences can be distorted by sin; see 1 Cor. 8:7, 10; 10:29; 1 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:15.)

    So, if you KNOW the law (have the law of Moses) you will be judged by it. If you do NOT KNOW the law, you will be judged by a different standard, the moral law that is written in their hearts by God Himself. This passage is in support of my view, not in contrast to it.

    Additional support for my view with this passage and helpful explanations/clarifications:

    God’s judgment (Rom. 2:1–16). Paul then made it clear that God will surely judge the sins of humankind. No human being can lightly condemn others, for we too have sinned, and deserve judgment. What is called for is repentance. The Jew might be proud because he knew more of God than the Gentile. He had received God’s Law. But what God is concerned with is not knowing good. It is doing good that counts (vv. 7–11).
    Verses 14–15 are an interesting aside which have often been misunderstood. These verses read:

    Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the Law, do by nature things required by the Law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the Law, since they show that the requirements of the Law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

    Paul here was pointing out that the Jews, recipients of the revealed Law, were not the only ones with moral standards! The Gentiles too had a moral nature, and a conscience that identified moral issues and led them to set up standards of right and wrong by which to judge themselves and each other. “By nature” they do what the concept of Law requires: they weigh, measure, and evaluate human behavior by moral criteria. They realize that moral failure calls for judgment, and they try to excuse and defend their failures. When God’s Judgment Day comes, both Jew and Gentile will be shown to have fallen short of whatever standards each approves!
    This is helpful for those who are honestly concerned about God’s “unfairness” in failing to reveal His standards to everyone. God will not judge pagans by Scripture’s standards of right and wrong. He will judge all men by their own standards.
    But it makes no difference. For all fall short. The failure of individuals and of societies to live up to standards they themselves establish is additional evidence that men are both lost and dead. There is no help for us in ourselves.

    Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (810). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

    and
    2:1–16 God’s impartial judgment Paul’s purpose in this section is to place the Jew in the same category as the Gentile sinner in ch. 1. He proceeds in the three stages. Vs 1–5 contain the heart of Paul’s indictment: the Jew (the ‘hidden target’ behind the ‘you’ Paul addresses) does the ‘same things’ that the Gentiles do and is therefore liable to the same judgment. Paul follows this with two paragraphs in which he departs from his ‘accusation’ style to explain and elaborate the charge he has made in vs 1–5. Paul defends his accusation of the Jew by showing that God’s impartiality, taught in the OT and in Judaism, demands that he should have no favourites but treat every person, whether Jew or Gentile, in the same way (6–11). Nor does the Jewish people’s possession of the Mosaic law make the situation of the Jew significantly different from that of the Gentile; for it is not having the law, but doing the law that matters before God and, in any case, the Gentiles also have God’s law in a certain sense (12–16).

    v 12-16 A Jew listening to Paul’s argument to this point would surely have offered a crucial objection: does not the fact that the Jews are God’s chosen people and have been given his law as a sign of his covenant, put them in a very different position before God’s judgment from the Gentiles? Paul anticipates this objection and provides a preliminary answer in vs 12–16. As in vs 6–11, Paul’s purpose is to iron out any distinction between Jew and Gentile with respect to the ultimate judgment of God. He does so by making two points. First, it is not simple possession of the law that will excuse the Jew from judgment; only if it is actually obeyed will it do the Jew any good (12–13). Those who sin apart from the law and those who sin under the law (12) are clearly Gentiles and Jews, respectively. This makes clear that Paul uses the word ‘law’ here (Gk. nomos), as he usually does, to refer to the law of Moses. Both Jews and Gentiles will be condemned by the law (12) because it is only the one who obeys the law who will be righteous in God’s sight (13). The logic of these verses assumes that there is no person who is able to obey God’s law sufficiently so as to become righteous before him.

    The second point Paul makes here is that Gentiles themselves possess God’s law, and so there is not really as much difference between the Jew and the Gentile as the Jew might think (14–15). Gentiles do not have the law of Moses, but in doing by nature things required by the law, i.e. by following some of the standards of God’s law—refraining from murder, theft, adultery; honouring parents—they reveal that they are a law for themselves. What Paul means by this is spelled out in v 15: the requirements of the law are written on their hearts. By their occasional conformity to the demands of God’s law, these Gentiles show that they have access to God’s moral demands. While not possessing the written law, they have some knowledge of God’s requirements from within, so that their consciences can, to some extent, accurately monitor their conformity to God’s will (15b). Here Paul supplements his ‘natural revelation’ teaching of ch. 1 by reminding us that every person has some knowledge of God’s moral will. As with natural revelation generally, however, this knowledge cannot lead to salvation; v 15b means not that some Gentiles might actually be saved at the judgment, but that each Gentile will have some thoughts that ‘accuse’ him and some that ‘excuse’ him.

    New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (Ro 2:1–16). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

    lastly, some backdrop (or context) as to why Paul is writing this...

    God’s Law (vv. 12–24). Paul’s statement in Romans 2:11, “For there is no respect of persons with God” would shock the Jew, for he [the Jew] considered himself deserving of special treatment because he was chosen by God. But Paul explained that the Jewish Law only made the guilt of Israel that much greater! The Gentiles had “the work of the Law written in their hearts” (Rom. 2:15). Wherever you go, you find people with an inner sense of right and wrong; and this inner judge, the Bible calls “conscience.” You find among all cultures a sense of sin, a fear of judgment, and an attempt to atone for sins and appease whatever gods are feared.

    The Jew boasted in the Law. He was different from his pagan neighbors who worshiped idols! But Paul made it clear that it was not the possession of the Law that counted, but the practice of the Law. The Jews looked on the Gentiles as blind, in the dark, foolish, immature, and ignorant! But if God found the “deprived” Gentiles guilty, how much more guilty were the “privileged” Jews! God not only judges according to truth (Rom. 2:2), and according to men’s deeds (Rom. 2:6); but He also judges “the secrets of men” (Rom. 2:16). He sees what is in the heart!

    The Jewish people had a religion of outward action, not inward attitude. They may have been moral on the outside, but what about the heart? Our Lord’s indictment of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 illustrates the principle perfectly. God not only sees the deeds but He also sees the “thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). It is possible for a Jew to be guilty of theft, adultery, and idolatry (Rom. 2:21–22) even if no one saw him commit these sins outwardly. In the Sermon on the Mount we are told that such sins can be committed in the heart.

    Instead of glorifying God among the Gentiles, the Jews were dishonoring God; and Paul quoted Isaiah 52:5 to prove his point. The pagan Gentiles had daily contact with the Jews in business and other activities, and they were not fooled by the Jews’ devotion to the Law. The very Law that the Jews claimed to obey only indicted them!

    Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Ro 2:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Yes, but not necessarily of God. There's a difference between sinning by "falling short" intentionally or unintentionally and rejecting God (and/or Jesus) outright. The heathen sinning is the same as the Christian sinning. Both can be saved, they will simply be judged by what they know and how they respond to that information.
    So at what point does one go from rejecting God's law to rejecting God? Is God the judge of this, and there is no way for humans to know where this line is?

    First, no, we are not talking about the "613 commandments in the OT. Paul is referring to the Mosaic Law.
    I'm afraid that I don't recognize the difference?

    We're talking about all the laws written in the Mosaic books in the Bible, right? Can't work on the Sabbath. Can't get a tattoo. Disobedient children have to be stoned to death. Can't eat shrimp. No clams. Can't mix beef and dairy. Etc etc etc? If the Mosaic Law is not these, then what is it?

    Secondly, the part in bold is where your error lies. He is not talking about any justification.
    When I talk of justification, I am not speaking of Paul, I am speaking of Christians.

    Typically, when I ask Christians why they do not keep the Mosaic law, they point to the writings of Paul and the New Covenant. The Mosaic law was written for the Jews, not the Gentiles. Therefore, Gentiles can eat as much shrimp as they want and it is not a sin. Or something to that effect, at least.

    If it is the case that the Mosaic law reflects God's conscience, then I would expect that Christians would be more inclined to follow it, even if it is not required of them. Afterall, that seems to be what Paul is implying in this passage?

    I do recognize that whether or not Christians follow the law is irrelevant, but I am trying to get an understanding by what you mean when you speak of God's conscience, and what that conscience that is written in our hearts is.
    ~Zealous

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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by ZealousDemon View Post
    So at what point does one go from rejecting God's law to rejecting God? Is God the judge of this, and there is no way for humans to know where this line is?
    From someone who has knowledge of the gospel but rejects? Or from someone who lacks knowledge of the gospel and rejects? Either way, I don't know that there is a clear distinction here as to "when" that occurs and I don't know that it is relevant. That is, the truth of the gospel is not dependent upon God telling mankind how far he can go in his rejection before it is officially damnable. What is important however, is that any offense is damnable yet despite this, there's a way out of such damnation depending upon the knowledge that one possesses and how they respond to it.

    I'm afraid that I don't recognize the difference?

    We're talking about all the laws written in the Mosaic books in the Bible, right? Can't work on the Sabbath. Can't get a tattoo. Disobedient children have to be stoned to death. Can't eat shrimp. No clams. Can't mix beef and dairy. Etc etc etc? If the Mosaic Law is not these, then what is it?
    Yes sorry, I'm getting sloppy due to all the threads I'm participating in at once here.

    To be clear...there are 2 types of laws here Paul refers to:

    1) Mosaic Law - the sacrificial, ceremonial, festival, civil, etc.. laws found throughout the Books of Moses.
    2) God's Moral Law (that which is in man's heart), many of which are part of the 10 Commandments.

    When I talk of justification, I am not speaking of Paul, I am speaking of Christians.
    I understand that.

    Typically, when I ask Christians why they do not keep the Mosaic law, they point to the writings of Paul and the New Covenant. The Mosaic law was written for the Jews, not the Gentiles. Therefore, Gentiles can eat as much shrimp as they want and it is not a sin. Or something to that effect, at least.
    That's true, but not what is being referenced here by Paul. See the commentaries I offered.

    If it is the case that the Mosaic law reflects God's conscience, then I would expect that Christians would be more inclined to follow it, even if it is not required of them. After all, that seems to be what Paul is implying in this passage?
    No, not at all. And the Mosaic Law does NOT reflect God's conscious. The Mosaic Law was given to a particular people at a particular time at a particular place for a particular reason. There have been several covenants that God has made with His people throughout history. Christians are under a new covenant, which would be applicable to them and representative of God's expectations of them. That's been discussed in numerous other threads already however (I can link them if you like). It has nothing to do with this topic or what Paul is saying here.

    I do recognize that whether or not Christians follow the law is irrelevant, but I am trying to get an understanding by what you mean when you speak of God's conscience, and what that conscience that is written in our hearts is.
    I think you are talking about God's law here, that which according to Christianity, is instilled in man's heart and man knows. This was explained in my previous post:


    The second point Paul makes here is that Gentiles themselves possess God’s law, and so there is not really as much difference between the Jew and the Gentile as the Jew might think (14–15). Gentiles do not have the law of Moses, but in doing by nature things required by the law, i.e. by following some of the standards of God’s law—refraining from murder, theft, adultery; honouring parents—they reveal that they are a law for themselves. What Paul means by this is spelled out in v 15: the requirements of the law are written on their hearts. By their occasional conformity to the demands of God’s law, these Gentiles show that they have access to God’s moral demands. While not possessing the written law, they have some knowledge of God’s requirements from within, so that their consciences can, to some extent, accurately monitor their conformity to God’s will (15b). Here Paul supplements his ‘natural revelation’ teaching of ch. 1 by reminding us that every person has some knowledge of God’s moral will. As with natural revelation generally, however, this knowledge cannot lead to salvation; v 15b means not that some Gentiles might actually be saved at the judgment, but that each Gentile will have some thoughts that ‘accuse’ him and some that ‘excuse’ him.

    But Paul explained that the Jewish Law only made the guilt of Israel that much greater! The Gentiles had “the work of the Law written in their hearts” (Rom. 2:15). Wherever you go, you find people with an inner sense of right and wrong; and this inner judge, the Bible calls “conscience.” You find among all cultures a sense of sin, a fear of judgment, and an attempt to atone for sins and appease whatever gods are feared.

    The Jewish people had a religion of outward action, not inward attitude. They may have been moral on the outside, but what about the heart? Our Lord’s indictment of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 illustrates the principle perfectly. God not only sees the deeds but He also sees the “thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). It is possible for a Jew to be guilty of theft, adultery, and idolatry (Rom. 2:21–22) even if no one saw him commit these sins outwardly. In the Sermon on the Mount we are told that such sins can be committed in the heart.
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    From someone who has knowledge of the gospel but rejects? Or from someone who lacks knowledge of the gospel and rejects?
    From someone who lacks knowledge of the gospel and rejects.

    Either way, I don't know that there is a clear distinction here as to "when" that occurs and I don't know that it is relevant. That is, the truth of the gospel is not dependent upon God telling mankind how far he can go in his rejection before it is officially damnable. What is important however, is that any offense is damnable yet despite this, there's a way out of such damnation depending upon the knowledge that one possesses and how they respond to it.
    I am asking for more precision about the standard upon how those without knowledge of the gospel are judged. You have said that a single rejection of God's law is not rejection of God, but it would also seem that somebody who makes a habit of rejecting God's law is judged to be damned. So all that has been established is that the line is drawn is somewhere between 1 and "habit"? Our line for those with knowledge of Christ is much more explicit and predictable by comparison.

    Yes sorry, I'm getting sloppy due to all the threads I'm participating in at once here.

    To be clear...there are 2 types of laws here Paul refers to:

    1) Mosaic Law - the sacrificial, ceremonial, festival, civil, etc.. laws found throughout the Books of Moses.
    2) God's Moral Law (that which is in man's heart), many of which are part of the 10 Commandments.
    I'm not convinced. A plain reading seems to indicate only the Law of Moses being referred to here. If he's talking about two different laws then he's doing so with the same word within the same sentence. e.g. "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires"

    Does Paul ever make reference to God's Moral Law being distinct from the Law of Moses in other passages? Do we have any clear stating of what this moral law actually is? Or would that be even required, since I guess it is implied that every man knows what is in the moral law and thus writing it down would be redundant?
    ~Zealous

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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by ZealousDemon View Post
    I am asking for more precision about the standard upon how those without knowledge of the gospel are judged. You have said that a single rejection of God's law is not rejection of God, but it would also seem that somebody who makes a habit of rejecting God's law is judged to be damned. So all that has been established is that the line is drawn is somewhere between 1 and "habit"? Our line for those with knowledge of Christ is much more explicit and predictable by comparison.
    Well, again, there is no clear line. And it isn't really relevant. What we do know is that it is based on one's knowledge of God and how they respond to that knowledge.

    I'm not convinced. A plain reading seems to indicate only the Law of Moses being referred to here. If he's talking about two different laws then he's doing so with the same word within the same sentence. e.g. "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires"
    Again, it doesn't matter to the issue it hand.

    Does Paul ever make reference to God's Moral Law being distinct from the Law of Moses in other passages? Do we have any clear stating of what this moral law actually is? Or would that be even required, since I guess it is implied that every man knows what is in the moral law and thus writing it down would be redundant?
    Some examples are:

    For of this you can be sure, that no sexually immoral, or impure, or covetous person, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
    Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Eph 5:5-6

    Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lack of restraint,Idolatry, sorcery, hatred, arguments, jealousies, rage, selfishness, divisiveness,
    Envies, murders, drunkenness, revelries [partying], and the like; which I warn you before, as I have also told you in times past, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21

    Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor passive male homosexual partners, nor dominant male homosexual partners,
    Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor oppressive cheaters; these will not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor 6:9-10

    For all [non Jews] who (continue to) sin without the law will also perish without the law; and all [Jews] who (continue to) sin under the law will be judged by the law. Rom 2:12


    Again, the commentaries I offered above seem pretty elementary to me. What about them do you disagree with exactly?
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    I don't think it is correct that a god who sentences people to eternal torture for not listening to their son could know how to judge fairly.

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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaspar View Post
    I don't think it is correct that a god who sentences people to eternal torture for not listening to their son could know how to judge fairly.
    I think this is slightly inaccurate for the claim of Christianity. Christianity says that we all have failed God, we all separate ourselves from him by sin. It is only those who accept Christ as a pardon that can escape that reality. It isn't that we end up separated from God because we fail to accept Christ, we end up there because of the evil we do.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Do you not see you're using circular references to prove the bible? You can't use the bible to price itself, anymore than one could use Harry Potter to prove Voldemort exists.

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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by cupper3 View Post
    Do you not see you're using circular references to prove the bible? You can't use the bible to price itself, anymore than one could use Harry Potter to prove Voldemort exists.
    Welcome, cupper. What points, specifically, are you addressing with your objections?

    Your objection seems to be directed at a perception that someone has made an affirmative claim of God's existence as a main point of their argument and used only the Bible to support the claim. I have not seen such an argument, so I am confused as to exactly what you want to rebut.

    This thread, by its nature, must stipulate the existence of God as a precondition of the debate, or the entire discussion is pointless. Furthermore, we must use the Bible as a primary reference, since the discussion is about a core tenet of Christianity. Devolving back to an argument against stipulations already accepted for the sake of argument is counterproductive.

    If you want to discuss the validity of the Bible as a sufficient source for a discussion of whether God exists, that's a fine discussion, and I encourage you to start a thread on it. If you want to discuss the topic in this thread, you will be well served to read and digest the thread - which I feel is a pretty dense one - and figure out which points you want to address.
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    I'm not sure of your position on evolution I believe it to be true. If we accept it then recent findings suggest that man is a mixture of humanoid apes
    The most well known being Neanderthals. What about them have they souls? are they judged of God? Just where is the dividing line between human and animal? Christianity relies on clarity but evolution reveals a slow dawn of conscious awareness.
    It took us millions of years to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by kaptonok View Post
    The most well known being Neanderthals. What about them have they souls? are they judged of God?
    DNA study shows thatNeanderthals were simply another branch of the human race.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...l#.VZqqJBvpdHw

    Like other humans they were sinners who needed redemption. Immediately after sin entered the world God promised to send a redeemer to atone for sin.

    The LORD God said to the serpent,
    “Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all livestock
    and above all beasts of the field;
    on your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
    I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
    he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”
    (Genesis 3:14-15 ESV)

    All of the descendants of Adam and Eve, including Neanderthals, were saved by faith if they believed that promise.

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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    I believe the ultimate perfection of society is contained in the Christian vision ' love your neighbor as yourself'.
    I do nt embrace Christian doctrine.
    Thinking men realised the limitations of human nature from our behaviour. Man is hopeless they said he can never reform with out supernatural help.
    In order to universalise justice mortality was extended to immortality so we would all have to pay for our wicked actions.
    This unified system was soon abused by the human nature it sort to reform.
    The Christian doctrine required man should be created ready-made with inborn morality.
    Evolution has shown this is not the case, humans have evolved from animals through humaniods to modern man.
    The process it infinitely slow and we have not changed much in the last few thousand years.

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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    Quote Originally Posted by kaptonok View Post
    The Christian doctrine required man should be created ready-made with inborn morality.
    Evolution has shown this is not the case, humans have evolved from animals through humaniods to modern man.

    The process it infinitely slow and we have not changed much in the last few thousand years.
    Christian theology also shows that man was given the option to compromise that morality which theoretically could have put man on the path of evolution.

    If the process is governed by man’s choices, that doesn’t mean there is no option to speed things up. It could just mean we've gotten comfortable with status quo. How fast would you like to go?
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    Re: Those who have never heard of Christ

    My own reading of Genesis tells me man was innocent until he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In other words he had no morals he did not know he was naked. This is speaking of the birth of moral sense for the ancient writer knew man was an ex eptional animal.
    I do not think our knowledge of evolution has explained our moral sense inspit of endless reading on the subject, but I do know cats kill mice and birds with out compunction. Dogs copulate in the street without embarassment ect ect.
    Nature and the universe around us has no morals it crushes the good, the bad and the indiffdrent.

 

 
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