Question: Does John 14. 6 imply that the unevangelised heathen will be lost?
E W Rogers, Oxford
Answer. The questioner has written a long letter and the above question merely gives the gist of the correspondent's honest difficulty. His perplexity is and has been that of many others.
We must seek to be content with what is written and not to “go beyond” it. “The secret things belong unto the Lord but those which are revealed belong unto us.” We may be sure that the “Judge of all the earth will do right” in all matters; that God's “judgment is just” and that judgment will be proportionate, dependent upon the divine assessment of guilt, which will take into account every contributing factor, including whether the privileges of Christian influence were enjoyed or not.
John 14. 6 which is cited is a universal negative; it admits of no exception. Access to the Father is by the Lord Jesus and by none other; nor is it ever apart from Him. If the universality of the truth of this utterance is doubted the reliability of the Lord Jesus Christ is itself brought into question in respect of all that He said, for an error in one of His statements throws the door of possibility open to the error of all others.
The correspondent speaks of the millions in India who have never heard the gospel, but we must not “judge the Lord by feeble sense.’’ It was the Persian perishing millions that drove F. W. Newman into infidelity. We cannot give an account of all God’s ways and God does not give to us an account of all His matters. Why did the Gospel go to Europe and not to Asia? Why does God elect any? If we see that He is effecting a calling out of a privileged number to the high dignity of being the body of Christ we shall at least understand something of the selective activities of God. Things which appear to be contrary often run parallel in Scripture, such as divine election and human responsibility An election alone will be saved but we are notwithstanding to proclaim the gospel to all seeing that they are responsible to believe. The responsibility of believers to spread the gospel, moreover, presupposes that all the human race will spend eternity somewhere, and that there is Divine wrath which may be avoided.
Romans 2 is referred to by our correspondent but that passage need constitute no difficulty. It demonstrates the fairness of God Who is willing to give to men the highest blessings provided they comply with His standard. Nothing short of that will suffice but where that standard is reached the blessing of Glory and peace and eternal life will be given. The condition laid down is “patient continuance in well doing,’’ but there is “none that doeth good, no not one”; therefore on the ground of work none can obtain the blessing. Who will doubt that God has the right to stipulate the conditions? Who can doubt His fairness in offering blessings if such conditions are met?
Luke 12. vv. 47-8 speak of those who “knew” and those who “knew not.” The latter are not dealt with so severely as the former. While by no means all have heard the gospel, all men everywhere have the lamp of the Lord within, namely conscience. It is a very delicately adjusted scale and where allowed to work, it affords man the capacity to weigh up things and determine whether they are right or wrong. There is also the testimony of creation available for all men everywhere to observe and from it to learn of the Creator’s “Power and Godhood.” But greater will be the punishment of Christ rejecters who have had the additional advantage of the gospel.
Finally, in such a solemn matter as this two things should ever be present with the child of God. (a) His constant sense of duty as a trustee of the gospel to the unsaved both near and far and (b) a calm contentment to leave with God the problems and mysteries of the eternal destiny of those who have never heard the gospel, being assured that they are altogether wrong who affirm that the “ways of God are not equal.”