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April 01, 2010

God, the heathen and the believer's responsibility

As a Christian studies the way of salvation laid out in the Bible and then observes the world, seeing that some people have Biblical resources so readily available to them and others do not, it begs the question: does God require the same thing of all peoples? Are people outside of “Christian” cultures saved differently? The question of the eternal condition of pagan peoples worldwide is “too frequently, because of its possible tragic in favour of subjects of far less importance.”* Yet the answer is of monumental significance. An unsatisfactory answer to this question can leave nagging doubts about God's character or dim the Christian's zeal for sharing God's story. What does the Scripture tell us about God, the heathen, and consequently, how should the believer respond?

Recently I took a basic class through a theological school and chose to write one of my papers on this topic. If you're interested to read the paper, I've posted it in pdf form here [link]. You can read it online or download the pdf. I've placed the thesis and outline below as well. (Comments, corrections and suggestions welcome!) Writing papers on Biblical topics is much more than academic--God stirred my heart as I studied His Word. He reminded me of the fervor, focus and boldness that should be mine because of these truths. God has done and is doing His part. But will I?

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Thesis: God will justly condemn all those who have not trusted in His salvation. This includes people without special revelation.

I. What do the heathen know and how they know it?
    A. God has communicated through general revelation to all peoples
    B. Scriptures detailing God's communication through general revelation
        1. Communication through nature
        2. Communication through conscience

II. What is the response of the heathen to what they know?

III. What is God's response to the heathen?
    A. In justice, God gives man the fruit of his choices
    B. In mercy, God continues to show Himself to the heathen
        1. The Scripture teaches God's mercy
        2. Mysteries of God's mercy

IV. What should be the believer's response to the heathen?
    A. A fervor for missions
        1. The Scripture fuels fervor
        2. Universalism dampens fervor
    B. A focus for missions
    C. A boldness in missions
*J. Oswald Sanders. What of the Unevangelized?
(London, Great Britain: Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1967), 33.


  1. Hey there. I read your paper this weekend and thought it was excellent! This is definitely an area where DVP is paramount lest we draw seriously faulty & saddening conclusions. I love Don Richardson's Eternity in Their Hearts; it's one of my favs & I re-read it annually. It blows my mind every time! Did you know he went to PBI? Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to be reminded of the details of God's justice and they are beautifully laid out in Scripture...and the response we should have in light of these truths regarding missions. ~Les

  2. Les, I didn't know if anyone (except my mom) would read it. I'm glad it was beneficial to you. It was good for me to have to write it/study it.
    To be honest...I've never read all of Eternity in their Hearts (yes, I knew he went to PBI), but I would like to sometime. I like that you reread it lots--i think that helps to cement truth in your mind when the world is always telling you "Christianity is just your private religious ideas that you're trying to press on others."