God's Plan for Eternity
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Some believe that all who seek God with a sincere heart will be admitted to heaven, even if their quest is via a non-Christian religion. Others vehemently protest that no one can be saved apart from Christ.
This controversy reflects a major philosophical dilemma in mainstream Christian theology. Only a minority of the world's population even claims to be a Christian. Are all non-Christians lost and condemned to hell? If so, how does this fit the Bible description of an all-powerful God of love who does not want anyone to perish? But to suggest that someone can attain salvation without Christ contradicts the teachings of the Scriptures.
The Bible lays down conditions for salvation:
Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Obedience to God: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
And living according to the Spirit: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1) and, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13).
Some non-Christian religions involve human sacrifice, temple prostitution and even bestiality as part of their worship. Could a sincere adherent of such a religion be welcomed into eternal life with God? Jesus said following human tradition is vain worship: "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9) How much more so if those traditions violate the law of God?
It is not even enough to confess Jesus as Lord (Matthew 7:21 quoted above). Peter wrote, "Now 'If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear?'" (1 Peter 4:18). Jesus concluded, "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14).
What is the fate of non-Christians? Eternal life with God or condemnation to the fires of hell? Few have considered a third option that can be demonstrated from the Scriptures. Most Christians assume that God is trying to save everyone in this life. What if He isn't? If God is allowing most of mankind to live life without the knowledge of His plan, He could forgive them for their ignorance. This is precisely what Paul taught in Romans 11:32, "For God has committed them all in disobedience, that He might have mercy on all." He explained in Romans chapters 9 through 11 that the failure of most of Israel is only temporary. All Israel will yet have an opportunity for salvation "So all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins" (Romans 11:26-27). God will resurrect them to physical life to allow them to learn His ways (Ezekiel 37:1-14). They will have an entire lifetime to live God's way and compare the results with how they lived in their previous lifetime. Most will repent and be saved.
Since God is not a respecter of persons, this opportunity will be available to all who never had a chance for salvation in this life. They are neither destined for bliss nor doomed to destruction. Their fate is yet to be determined. God has a better plan for eternity than most realize.
One more point should be made regarding the eternal destiny of any person--Christian or non-Christian. Our fate does not lie in the hands of any human being. Nor is it determined by rulings or doctrines of any church organization. Only God can make that determination. Instead of arguing over who God will let into heaven, we need to let God decide who will spend eternity with Him and do all we can to make sure that includes us.