“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me.” (John 14:6)
Nature of God
Anyone who says that the Christian idea of Salvation is too narrow-minded either:
1. Does not grasp the idea of a Sovereign God
2. Does not believe in a Just God
3. Does not think God is a Loving God.
-A Loving God gives the Choice to anyone who is willing to receive it. Love cannot exist without the ability to not love. That choice is the intent towards Him or away from Him. If God is Life, then apart from God is death.
-A Just God deals fairly in all issues whether it be Judgment or in Grace. It is a common theme in the Bible that “to whom much is given, much is tested.” Consequence is always greater where stakes are higher.
-A Sovereign God Knows all situations and grants each individual the capacity of Choice in accordance to their dilemma. No burden is too great for the gift of strength God gave to handle the burden.
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
An Example: A person may live in a distant island as an aborigine and have little to no contact with the Gospel. Creation is evident to him and he may find Grace by revering the One who Created him as well as be hopeful for his imperfections to be forgiven (faith in salvation by God). Though he may also reject God for the condition of his imperfection. To live for God means Salvation. To live for himself means damnation. In essence, we are in the same situation as him.
He may not have scripture to back these ideas, but it may also mean that God has put less responsibility on him because of his innocence by way of ignorance. He may have less scripture, but we have more of a responsibility in following the scripture.
Does this mean that he will be given less of a reward in Heaven? I cannot answer for God, but I wouldn’t say so. I would say that reward is based on our actions accounting for the opportunity of our situation.
“The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard” is the Perfect example of all 3 Attributes in play. Matthew Chapter 20 (NIV):
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.
2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.
4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’
5 So they went.
“He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing.
6 About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.
11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.
12 ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?
14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.
15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Limits of Knowledge
-It is easy to see the veneer of a situation and cast judgment. How are we so certain that we know the inward struggles of a man?
-The workers who came at the eleventh hour may have been given the gift of humility at the price of weakness; likewise the men who came early in the morning may had been given the gift of strength at the price of pride.
-Just because we don’t see the measures by which the Landowner balanced the value of labor doesn’t mean it was unfair.
-And who’s to say that the Landowner did not already know that the men who came in the early morning would not cry out injustice?
-Perhaps they would have been given more through an act of gratitude.
-Perhaps the men who came at the eleventh hour would have been given more if they came sooner.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 The wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s Love is with those who revere Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children–
18 With those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his Commandments.
19 The LORD has established His throne in the Heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
“For just as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so My Ways are higher than your ways and My Thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 NLT)
Jesus IS necessary as our Savior and we must all go through Him. Specific knowledge of Him may not be necessary, if circumstances do not allow, to go through Him (and I say that very carefully because with God all things are possible and He can reach them through dreams, messengers, etc.).
As an Aside: This is not to say Christ is not necessary. Christ’s act of Atonement was needed regardless of whether knowledge of specifics has been revealed to its recipient.