See evangelism through the glasses of Jesus

427 evangelization

During a drive home, I searched the radio for something that might interest me. I landed at a Christian station where the preacher just proclaimed, "The gospel is good news only if it is not too late!" It was about Christians evangelising their neighbors, friends and families, if they did Have not yet accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. The underlying message was obvious: "You must preach the gospel before it is too late!" Although shared by many (but not all) of the evangelical Protestants, there are other understandings that are shared by Orthodox Christians today as well have been represented in the past. I will briefly outline some of the views that suggest that we do not need to know exactly how and when God leads people to salvation, so they can actively participate in the existing evangelizing work of the Holy Spirit today.

Restriktivismus

The preacher I heard on the radio represents the gospel (and salvation), which is also called restrictivism. This view maintains that for a person who has not explicitly and consciously accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior before their death, there is no opportunity to be saved; God's mercy then no longer applies. The restrictivism thus teaches that death is somehow stronger than God - like "cosmic handcuffs" that would prevent God from saving people (even if it is not their fault) who are not expressly referring to Jesus as their Lord during their lifetime and redeemers have known. According to the doctrine of restrictivism, the lack of exercise in life of the conscious belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior seals the fate of 1. those who die without hearing the gospel, 2. those who have died but accepted a false gospel and 3. those who have died but have led a life of mental retardation, failing to understand the gospel. By setting such tough conditions for people who enter into salvation and those who are denied it, restrictiveism raises startling and challenging questions.

inclusivism

Another conception of evangelism, which many Christians advocate, is known as inclusivism. This view, which the Bible considers authoritative, understands salvation as something that can only be obtained through Jesus Christ. Within this doctrine there are many views on the fate of those who, before their death, have not made an explicit confession of their faith in Jesus. This diversity of views can be found throughout the course of church history. Justin the Martyr (2-C) and CS Lewis (20-C) both taught that God saves people solely on the basis of the work of Christ. A person can be saved, even if she knows nothing of Christ, as long as she has an "implicit faith" that was worked by God's grace in her life with the help of the Holy Spirit. Both taught that the "implicit" faith becomes "explicit" when God guides circumstances to allow the person to understand who Christ is and how God, through grace, has made possible their salvation through Christ.

Postmortal evangelism

Another view (within inclusivism) refers to the belief called postmortem evangelization. This view maintains that the non-evangelized can also be redeemed from God after death. This view was taken at the end of the second century by Clement of Alexandria and popularized in modern times by the theologian Gabriel Fackre (née 1926). The theologian Donald Bloesch (1928-2010) also taught that those who have had no opportunity in this life to know Christ, but trust God, will have the opportunity of God to stand before Christ after death.

universalism

Some Christians support the view known as universalism. This view teaches that (in some way) everyone will necessarily be saved, regardless of whether he was good or bad, repentant or unrepentant, and believed in Jesus as the Savior or not. This deterministic direction is that, in the end, all souls (whether human, angelic, or demonic) are saved by the grace of God, and that the individual's response to God does not matter. This conception has evidently been developed by the Christian leader Origen in the second century and has since produced various derivations that are supported by their followers. Some (but not all) doctrines of universalism do not acknowledge Jesus as the Savior and consider the human response to God's generous gift irrelevant. The idea that someone can reject grace and reject the Savior and yet attain salvation is completely absurd for most Christians. We (GCI / WKG) regard the views of universalism as unbiblical.

What does the GCI / WKG believe?

As with all the doctrinal themes we deal with, we are first and foremost committed to the truth revealed in the Scriptures. In it we find the statement that God has reconciled all humanity in Christ (2, Kor 5,19). Jesus lived with us as a human, died for us, rose again and ascended to heaven. The work of reconciliation was completed by Jesus as he spoke on the cross immediately before his death: "It is finished!" Because of the biblical revelation, we know that whatever happens to men in the end, is not lacking in God's motivation, purpose, and purpose becomes. Our triune God has really done everything to save every person from the terrible and terrible condition called "hell." The father gave his only son vicariously for us, who since then has been our high priest for us. The Holy Spirit is now working to draw all people to share in the blessings they have in store for them in Christ. That's what we know and believe. But there are many things we do not know, and we have to be careful not to draw conclusions (logical implications) about things that go beyond what we have in terms of secure knowledge.

For example, we must not overtax God's mercy by dogmatically propagating the universalist view that God, in the salvation of all human beings, will violate the freedom of choice of those who willfully and resolutely reject His love, thereby turning Him away from Him and rejecting His Spirit. It is hard to believe that someone will choose this, but if we truly read the Scriptures (with their numerous warnings not to oppose the Word and the Holy Spirit), we must acknowledge that it is possible that some eventually do Reject God and his love. It is important to remember that such a refusal is made on the basis of your own decision - and not simply its fate. CS Lewis has said it in an astute way: "The gates of hell are locked from the inside." In other words, hell is where you have to resist forever the love and grace of God. Although we can not say for sure that all human beings will eventually accept God's grace, we can only hope that it will. This hope is one with God's desire that no one be lost, but that all come to repentance. Certainly we can not and should not hope for less and should help with the Holy Spirit to bring people to repentance.

God's love and God's wrath do not face each other symmetrically: in other words, God resists everything that opposes his good and loving purpose. God would not be a loving God if he did not do the same. God hates sin because it defies his love and good purpose for humanity. His anger is therefore an aspect of love - God resists our resistance. In his grace, motivated by love, God not only forgives us, but disciples us and changes us as well. We must not think God's mercy is limited. Yes, there is a real possibility that some will choose to resist eternally the loving and forgiving grace of God, but that will not happen because God has changed their minds - his meaning is made clear in Jesus Christ.

See through the glasses of Jesus

Because salvation, which is personal and relational, concerns God and persons in relation to each other, we should not assume or limit ourselves to God's judgment as far as God's desire for relationships is concerned. The purpose of the court is always salvation - it's about relationships. Through judgment, God separates what needs to be removed (damned) so that a person can experience the relationship (oneness and communion) with him. Therefore, we believe that God holds judgment so that sin and evil condemn, but the sinner is saved and reconciled. He separates us from sin so that it may be "as far away as the morning of the evening". Like the scapegoat of ancient Israel, God sends our sin out into the wild so that we may have a new life in Christ.

God's judgment hallows, burns and purifies in Christ to save the person being judged. God's judgment is thus a process of sorting out and segregating - a separation of things that are right or wrong, that are against or for us, that lead to life or not. To understand both the nature of salvation and judgment, we must read Scripture, not through the glasses of our own experiences, but through the glasses of the person and ministry of Jesus, our Holy Redeemer and Judge. With this in mind, consider the following questions and their obvious answers:

  • Is God limited in His grace? NO!
  • Is God limited by time and space? NO!
  • Can God act only in the context of the laws of nature, as we humans do? NO!
  • Is God limited by our lack of knowledge? NO!
  • Is he the master of time? YES!
  • Can he put into our time as many opportunities as he wants, so that we open ourselves to grace through his Holy Spirit? DEFINITELY!

Knowing that we are limited, but not God, we must not project our limitations on the Father, who knows our hearts exactly and completely. We can rely on his faithfulness, even though we have no definitive theory of how his faithfulness and his grace are reflected in every person's life, both in this life and in the next. What we know for sure is that in the end, no one will say, "God, if only you had been a little more gracious ... you could have saved Person X". We will all find that God's grace is more than sufficient.

The good news is that the free gift of salvation for all humanity depends entirely on Jesus accepting us, not that we accept Him. Because "all who call the name of the Lord will be saved," there is no reason for us not to receive His gift of eternal life, and to live by His word and in the Spirit that the Father sends us, so that we may today be full To share in the life of Christ. Therefore, there is every reason for Christians to support the good work of evangelization - to actively participate in the work of the Holy Spirit, which is to lead people to repentance and faith. How wonderful to know that Jesus accepts and qualifies us both.

by Joseph Tkach


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