Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Posing a question...

This is something I've been thinking about lately, and I've come to my own conclusions... Now I'm interested to hear yours!

Say you meet two different people. One is someone who labels themselves a "Christian" and lives and/or acts in a way that's completely unlike Christ would (maybe even the opposite). The second person is someone who maybe has never heard of Christ/Christianity...or has but doesn't give themselves the label of "Christian". But this person lives and/or acts the way Christ did/would.

Which would you think REALLY knows Christ? Why did you choose the person you did?

19 comments:

Abomidable said...

Em,

I finally have a few minutes to comment on one of your blogs!

Anyway, the Bible tells us that only the person who has heard of Christ can actually know Him (Rom 10:14). We also know that Christians are those marked by humility, so when they are informed that they are not acting in a Christ-like way, they admit their failure and work to change their ways (Matthew5:3-10, 18:15-19).

So I really see 2 choices in your situation. The only one that can be a Christian is the one who has heard of Christ. The one who has never heard of Christ is definitely not a Christian, and depending on his/her behavior, the one who claims Christ may not be a Christian either.

Sorry if I confused you. :)

Himz

So in short

Emily said...

People in other countries, especially those who don't have the gospel in their language, is what made me think of that first part...Can someone know in their heart that God exists and live like it, and go to heaven without hearing/reading it?

I agree with that last part of the second to last sentence, too. :-) That's why that's what I compared it to.

WarrinerDaD said...

Christian #1: Can we doubt they are truly saved? Can we be sure of the repentance they felt and whether it led to salvation or not? Since we have no promise of achieving perfection on earth are we to make a decision (or judgement) on how far they have come in their walk and what battles they may be facing internally? What about fruit of the spirit that may not be visible to us? Hebrews 10:14 Says salvation is instantaneous and purification takes time.
I would be careful to make a call on Christian #1. I wouldn't want to say saved or not saved unless I really could see inside to what was going on.

Christian #2: Some people can model Christ in their behavior even though they do not know Him. In some cases it could be a better representation of Jesus than some Christians. Truth is truth and people can have reflections of truth in their lives without having a complete, salvific knowledge of Christ.

My prognosis-there isn't enough information to tell which one really knows Christ. But I wouldn't conclude #1 doesn't know Christ.

Emily said...

Dan, I'm with you on both people here! Love the last sentence on person 1!

I like what you said about person 2, too. I have seen Jesus in some places/people that others might say that He's not in at all... In some people who I think know Him more than they/we understand or know...from all different places and "religious" backgrounds...and that's going to continue I'm sure! Made it a lot less black and white for me than it used to seem, if you couldn't tell.

Matt and Jaymee said...

I think there is definitely enough information to determine that person number 2 is not a Christian. We know that he/she is not a Christian because of all the verses that tell us of the requirements in order to become a Christian:

1. This person does not believe that Jesus is the Christ (I John 5:1) because he/she has never heard of Christ.

2. You can only be saved through the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12)

3. You can only be saved by believing in the name of Jesus (Acts 16:31)

4. We must place our hope in Christ to be saved (Rom 8:24)

5. We must confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9, 13)

6. We must believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins (I Cor 1:18)

7. We must have faith (Eph 2:8)

In the end, it seems likely that person #2 cannot be a Christian.

The real answer to this question comes down to how someone can be saved. How can someone be saved? If what Jesus says is true (I am the way the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me) then person #2 absolutely, definitively cannot be a Christian, having never heard of the one person you need to know about in order to be saved. Like Dan said, however, those who are not Christians can model Christ better than some Christians.

Person #1 is a different story. Dan is right - we cannot ever know for sure in this life. Again, the Bible can help us, but the ultimate judgement is the Lord's. John writes "These things I write to you so that you may know that you have eternal life (I John 5:13). "These things" are the preceeding 4 chapters. And if they help us figure out whether or not we have eternal life, cannot they also help us figure out whether or not someone else has eternal life?

Again, we cannot say for sure, but we can use Biblical evidence to make an informed conclusion.

Matt and Jaymee said...

I think there is definitely enough information to determine that person number 2 is not a Christian. We know that he/she is not a Christian because of all the verses that tell us of the requirements in order to become a Christian:

1. This person does not believe that Jesus is the Christ (I John 5:1) because he/she has never heard of Christ.

2. You can only be saved through the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12)

3. You can only be saved by believing in the name of Jesus (Acts 16:31)

4. We must place our hope in Christ to be saved (Rom 8:24)

5. We must confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9, 13)

6. We must believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins (I Cor 1:18)

7. We must have faith (Eph 2:8)

In the end, it seems likely that person #2 cannot be a Christian.

The real answer to this question comes down to how someone can be saved. How can someone be saved? If what Jesus says is true (I am the way the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me) then person #2 absolutely, definitively cannot be a Christian, having never heard of the one person you need to know about in order to be saved. Like Dan said, however, those who are not Christians can model Christ better than some Christians.

Person #1 is a different story. Dan is right - we cannot ever know for sure in this life. Again, the Bible can help us, but the ultimate judgement is the Lord's. John writes "These things I write to you so that you may know that you have eternal life (I John 5:13). "These things" are the preceeding 4 chapters. And if they help us figure out whether or not we have eternal life, cannot they also help us figure out whether or not someone else has eternal life?

Again, we cannot say for sure, but we can use Biblical evidence to make an informed conclusion.

Emily said...

That person 2 stuff has always bugged me...if we're all created in His image and all somewhere in us know Him...to me it's pretty clear that they're not rejecting Him, but exactly the opposite. And if they don't have God's Word in their language, how is it their fault? God rejecting someone like that has never made sense to me. Same with God accepting someone who "accepts" Christ, but doesn't live life in a way that's Christlike at all. We're all going to mess up, but if that NOT living right is consistent....

I guess in one sentence, someone who is Christlike not going to heaven over someone who ISN'T Christlike at all...makes no sense to me.

Hannah said...

I would argue that neither really know Christ.

Jesus taught the Gospel. Real Christians believe it. If you really know Jesus and follow Him. It will change your life and it will show. Real Christianity is dying to yourself to live for Christ by loving our neighbors. I was considering become a youth leader at my church in college and I asked one of the current youth leaders "What happens when I fall/fail? Because I know I am not perfect! I know I will fail!" I'll never forget their answer he said "Grace. The kids will see grace from Jesus in your life when you fail and that is the difference. If they only saw a perfect person they wouldn't believe, if they only saw a sinner they wouldn't believe, when they see a sinner with Jesus' grace in their life. It becomes worth believing."

I sadly think alot of "Christians" don't really know Christ.

Emily said...

Hannah, can we flesh out the other person a little? That person (in my head...maybe not explained well) lives in a way that's Christ-like, but might live in an area that doesn't yet have a Bible in their language and has not heard the gospel.

We're all created with some knowledge of Him, right? Maybe that's why the person lives their life as Christ would. So why would they automatically be a no?

You may have the same answers as other people, but I thought I would ask. :-)

Hannah said...

I was referring to people in the US basically in my previous comment.

I don't really know what to say about people in remote regions who never heard about Jesus. All I will say is I am thankful I don't have to make that call but I'm pretty sure the One who does is perfect so however that is dealt with is better than if you or I made the call. Remember we all deserve worse...we are all blessed beyond measure.

Emily said...

Hannah, I love that last comment! Yeah, in the U.S. we definitely have a lot of access to the Gospel, to the point that it may be impossible not to hear it, so that might be different...

Flea said...

Interesting question. We know someone by their fruit. Fig trees don't produce apples (I'm not a big fan of figs, BTW). Does it really matter, would be my next question? We, as Christians, are to be witnesses with our lives. If that's the case, coming in contact with either person will make a difference on their life in some way, right?

The first one sounds very much like a Pharisee, or a religious person, not a fruit bearing tree. Does it matter that we know where they're spending eternity, or that we act as a mirror with our words and actions? The Holy Spirit will work in their heart, if they truly do believe. Or their heart may harden if they're only pretending to believe. Either way, we live as Christ.

The second one, if they act like Christ, will probably be drawn to Him as a result of the Holy Spirit acting through us. We live as conduits. The Holy Spirit does the wooing.

I think we often ask the wrong questions. Sorry. That came out wrong. Accusatory. I mean, we get wrapped up in who is going where for eternity, when we should be focusing on other things, especially since we will not know this side of Heaven. Are WE living Christ? Are we asking the Holy Spirit to make Himself evident to others through us?

Abomidable said...

I don't have a lot of time, but here's something else to think about:

Christ-likeness is not the criteria to get to Heaven, otherwise none of us would get there.

Emily said...

hmm interesting...and true. *sigh*

Emily said...

Thanks Flea! Awesome!! When this started in my head/heart a LONG time ago, it mattered because it made NO sense to me. Putting the two side by side, what I interpreted out of what I've learned didn't seem...fair. It's really bugged me.

Matt and Jaymee said...

Fairness is a whole different issue in the context of salvation. Some questions to consider:

Is it fair that we insult God's character and name every time we sin and He continues to take us into Heaven?

Is it fair that instead of giving the punishment for sinning to us, He punished Christ for our sin?

Fairness is not what we want, otherwise we would all go to Hell. None of us would ever be able to get to Heaven because we have all sinned and because we have sinned deserve the punishment of eternity in Hell. But by God's grace, He is allowing some to spend eternity in His presence, while giving to all others what is fair - Hell.

Gabe said...

Em,

This isn't an easy one. Are you familiar with the terms 'inclusivism' and 'exclusivism'? Someone who says (2) is not "saved" is probably an exclusivist (also known as particularism). Someone who says (2) is "saved" is probably an inclusivist (or maybe even a pluralist).

Gabe

Emily said...

Hey Gabe,

No, I don't believe I've ever heard that. Hmm, interesting... Time to research! (If you didn't know I'm kind of a nerd...now you know! LOL)

Em

Abomidable said...

Hey,

check out our blog for a new update!!

http://thehimseyfamily.blogspot.com/