As American Christians we celebrate the idea that “all men are created equal.” This statement is from our Declaration of Independence is grounded in the biblical teaching that every person in the world has been made in the image of God and therefore has intrinsic worth. Its a beautiful idea.
Subtly, however, this equality of persons shifts into an equality of ideas. Just as every person is equally valued, so every idea is equally valid. Applied to faith, this means that in a world where different people have different religious views, all such views should be treated and fundamentally equal.
In this system of thinking, faith is a matter of taste, not of truth. The cardinal sin, therefore, is to claim that one person’s belief is true and another person’s belief is false. The honorable route is to rest quietly in what you believe and resist the urge to share your belief with someone else.
This line of thought has pervaded American Christianity (and Christianity in general) in two particular ways. On one hand, many professing Christians have embraced this universalistic idea that religion is merely a matter of preference or opinion and that in the end all religions are fundamentally the same. People do not have to trust in Christ in order to know God or go to heaven. Therefore, there is no need to encourage someone else to embrace the truth of Christianity.
On the other hand, while some professing Christians have rejected universalism intellectually, practically they may end up leading universalistic lives. They claim Christ is necessary for salvation, yet they live their Christianity in silence, as if people around them in the world will indeed be okay in the end without Christ.
I think that each of us tends toward either intellectual or practicality universalism. If you lean toward adopting universalism intellectually, I invite you to hang with me in this next set of sermons. Together, lets explore with open minds the question of what God’s word teaches about this. Similarly, if you lean toward practical universalism, living each day as though its not absolutely urgent to tell others about Christ, then I invite you to approach these sermons considering the practical and eternal implications of what the Bible teaches.
Lets not forget what’s at stake.
More than 4.5 billion people in the world today are without Christ. As if this was not serious enough, more than a billion of these people have never heard of the gospel. So what happens to them when they die? I am convinced that this is one of the most important questions facing Christianity today. If people go to heaven simply based on their native religious preferences, then there is no ugency for any of us to go to them. But if they will not go to heaven because they have never heard of Christ, then there is indescribable urgency for all of us to go to them. If people are dying and going to hell without ever even knowing there is a gospel, then we clarly have no time to waste our lives living an “American dream”. So what does the Bible say about people who never hear about Jesus?
I invite you to take a brief journey with me through the book of Romans to discover 7 truths that help us understand what what Scripture teaches about all who have never heard of Jesus. Then I implore you to consider the urgent need before us to forsake our dreams and desires now in favor of radical abandonment to the person and purpose of Christ.