Wow – I know I don’t have very many people reading my blog but I thought someone would comment on my last post – but I am new to blogging and still learning so I am going to assume I took the wrong approach and I will try again…
As a Christian one of the things I have been thinking about during the last couple of years is the Christian belief that salvation is through faith in Christ alone and only those who have faith in Christ will be saved and have eternal life in heaven. Everyone else (with maybe some exceptions, like infants/children or mentally challenged persons) will go to hell and be eternally punished.
Now let me throw a couple of things in here at the beginning so we don’t get too sidetracked. I am opposed to the idea that the main reason to become a follower of Jesus Christ is to get a ticket to heaven and think that is a whole discussion in itself. Also, I am aware there is a whole discussion to be had about understanding what heaven and hell are and believe there are a lot of different ideas worth hearing. But, I am thinking I cannot be the only person who is struggling with the idea that anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ is going to hell. Don’t misunderstand and think I need you to convince me or need you to come here and “witness” to me. I do have faith in Christ alone and I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ. I am wrestling with the idea that people who don’t believe in Christ are going to have to endure some sort of eternal punishment.
Here are some of my thoughts:
Why would God limit salvation? If Christ’s death on the cross was sufficient and paid the price for all then why aren’t all granted eternal life? I understand knowing Jesus has a lot of benefits but I don’t understand that not knowing Jesus would limit the effectiveness of his work on the cross.
One answer I get regarding my question about limited salvation is that I shouldn’t ask why God isn’t doing more but I should consider we don’t deserve to be saved and we should just be thankful and amazed God would offer a way for anyone to be saved. In other words: “Why would/should God save anyone at all?
But, that answer (or question) doesn’t help me. I believe with all my heart God loves all of his creation and I don’t think love has much to do with deserving. When I love I don’t say: “I am going to or not going to do this or that for this person because they deserve or don’t deserve it.” When I love I do loving and good things because I love. I can’t imagine that God loves the way I believe he does and at the same time believe he has an attitude that says “they don’t deserve it but I will offer one narrow way for them to be saved”. I don’t think God has that attitude and I believe he even calls us away from such an attitude.
Then there are people who quote scriptures to me. For instance, I might be told John 3:16 is the answer. But when I hear John 3:16 I don’t hear anything about those who do not believe in Jesus. Or I might hear John 14:6 in which Jesus says he is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him. Again, I don’t hear Jesus saying if someone doesn’t believe they will be eternally punished. That verse may make me believe Jesus (who he is and what he did) provides access to God – access which would not be there otherwise, but it doesn’t make me believe
someone must do something in order to gain that access. Analogies are always lacking but just to give you an idea of how I am thinking consider that unless I turn on the light switch my child (who can’t reach the light switch) will not have access to light in the room he/she is in. The child does not have to do anything – they don’t have to ask, they don’t have to believe (in me, or electricity, or the light switch, or anything). I have a way to make the light accessible to my child and think it is a good thing and so I do what is necessary to make it accessible and “ta da” they have light. I know the analogy can be torn apart but I am not using it to convince you, just to help you understand my thoughts. I am wondering why it is unbelievable (according to scripture) that what Jesus “did” took care of the “thing” which
was separating humanity from God and now no one will ever live eternally separated from God.
In addition to all of that there are scriptures like 1 Timothy 4:10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. This scripture seems to come right out and say Jesus is the savior of “all”.
I could go on but I would really like to hear your thoughts and beliefs (or even any of your own questions you wrestle with).