How to Relate to Non-Christians. Can people who do not know Jesus and who do not knowingly follow him be saved in a kingdom where Jesus reigns as king? That is the question addressed in our lesson for this week.
- Without excuse. What do the first two chapters of Romans (esp. Rom. 1:18-20; 2:14-16) tell us about how God deals with those who have never heard the story of Jesus?
- Only through Christ. If, as Jesus said, the only way to God the Father is through Jesus the Son (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12), what will be the fate of those who have never accepted Jesus as Lord? Is it possible to be saved through Jesus Christ without ever knowing that it was through Him that you are saved? Note the following Old Testament examples of the breadth of God’s mercy:
- Naaman (2 Kings 5:15-19). The prophet granted him permission to bow down in the pagan temple of Rimmon, even though Naaman had already confessed that Yahweh was the only God worthy of the name.
- Salvation for Assyria and Egypt (Isa. 19:18-25). The prophet envisions a time when Israel’s great enemies, Assyria and Egypt, will actually be worshiping the Lord with Israel.
- All things to all people. In 1 Cor. 9:19-23, Paul trumpets what thoughtful students of the Bible would already have found out to be the case: God reaches people where they are. What are the implications for evangelism of this “all things to all people” approach?
- Surprising adaptation. Acts 16:1-3, the story is told how Paul had Timothy circumcised even though circumcision was no longer required for membership in the new Christian community. But some Jews were still very conservative and God adapted to their growth level. Thus Paul had Timothy circumcised. What are the potential dangers of this kind of adaptation?