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March 28, 2014

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Jesus said that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ( i.e. embrace Christianity in a true sense).

He also said "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."

"But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

It is my experience that those whom God regenerates will believe the Gospel despite all of the arguments pro or con. It is to the regenerate heart what air is to the lungs, or what food is to the stomach. It's a perfect fit that other religions or philosophies fail to arrive at. Even a doubting mind cannot stop God's regenerative work.

One of the truths which I hold and defend of the Most High God, Lord God of hosts, is that He is just God.

I look at great world religions from a different perspective, seeking to find wisdom gleaned by people of other, less complete, and less certain faiths.

If they are trying to find God, and loving thir neighbors, I trust, and Matthew's Gospel supports', that the just will be surprised to learn that the Christ welcomes them into His Kingdom.

@Crews Giles: I can sense your compassion and love for those who are of other faiths and see your concern for their salvation. I'm wondering about some of the theology behind your thinking and hope you will clarify some of it for me. You remarked that you hold to and defend the justice of God--and, indeed, He is all just! You mention those who are "trying to find God" and I'm a little less clear on that point. Is it not God who draws US to Himself? He is not hiding where He cannot be found, surely. So are you making a reference to those who have sincere hearts and want to be good folks but don't have a relationship with Christ--that they are the ones you believe that Christ will welcome into His kingdom? Since that seems to contradict the words of Christ that, "No one comes to the Father except through me", I'm wondering how you square the two. Then, in your final statement, I'm concluding that you are defining those same people who are "trying to find God" as just, and that they will be welcomed by Christ into His kingdom. Can you explain your use of the word "just" here and also help me understand the necessity of the cross if it can be bypassed?

I look forward to your reading your reply--thanks.

I too am hoping to hear CG's response. But until then, I would like to say that I believe Carolyn and CG are both right....sort of.

What about those beyond the reach of the Gospel?

Does God save people because they believe the Gospel? Or, Do people believe the Gospel because God saved them?

While it is true that God saves no one apart from Christ, I believe it is equally true that God saves many through Christ who are beyond the reach of the Gospel.

However, if they hear the Gospel, they will repent from their pagan beliefs, false doctrinal and philosophical beliefs, and embrace Christ.

An example would be Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feared God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, Ac 10:22.

He obviously had the fruit of a regenerate heart before hearing Peter’s Gospel message. It also says he was a just man. The same word “just”, describes other justified saints throughout the New Testament.

The Westminster Confession of Faith speaks of elect infants and others beyond the reach of the Gospel who die going to Heaven.

10:3 Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth: so also, are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

Hi dave, I think one needs to consider or distinguish ordinary means against extrordinary means. Though God chose the foolishness of preaching to save men, and accordingly the preaching of the gospel is the ordinary means, God is free to save outside of the ordinary means[preaching], but it is always through the gospel aka, the good news--what Jesus did.

The WCF cited is meant to address the issue where mental ability is limited by either under developed or immature ones who cannot understand or show any credible evidence of regeneration and faith. Nonetheless, He saves those by extraordinary means through the gospel by faith, like every regenerative act...all of it administrated by the Holy Spirit.

btw, you first post in this thread is right on, and I couldn't agree more with what you said.

@ Brad B,

Thanks for your comment. I guess it comes down to an issue of Justification by Faith through Christ. Or Justification by Christ through Faith. Both are closely related but are different.

Justification by Faith through Christ places the emphasis on Faith. Justification by Christ through Faith places the emphasis on Christ.

Many think that belief in the Gospel is the means of salvation. That a person isn't actually saved until they hear and believe the Gospel.

It's kind of like the Pro-Choice argument that says a baby doesn't exist, more or less, until he or she breaths on their own.

I believe the spiritual "New Birth" is the manifestation of salvation, and that the Gospel is the announcement and "hand book" about this new life in Christ.

There are so many references to Christ having purchased us with his blood which seems to tip salvation more towards His atonement making faith one of the many out-workings of it.

The book of Revelation says Heaven will hold many from every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. Obviously, the Gospel, if you can find a pure version of it, can cover this prophecy today with the Internet. But centuries have passed where these lands were beyond hearing.

And in Romans the apostle Paul asks "how will they know if none are sent?". And then "how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news". If gospel ministers...aka missionaries arent sent, those who have not heard are lost. Some have said that on the day of Pentecost, the gospel was preached to all nations. I think WCF is clear on the necessity of the word preached as being THE ordinary means. Anything else is surely extraordinary, even miraculous.

@ Brad B. Thanks for your input. I believe that the preaching of the Word is the normal method for directing regenerated souls into the kingdom of God. But even if you make the preaching of the Gospel a work or sacrament, the fact remains that even the WCF makes exception for this, for some of the Elect beyond it's reach, even if the number is ever so small. Who's to say how large or small the number?

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