Gospel, Salvation, and Other Religions - Lesson 12
This lesson explores critical questions related to the gospel, salvation and other religions. It begins with an introduction to the concept of critical questions and the importance of asking them. It then looks at questions of homogeneity, essentialism and pluralism, providing definitions and examples of each. The lesson concludes by summarizing the importance of asking critical questions in order to better understand the gospel, salvation and other religions.
A. Definition of Critical Questions
B. The Importance of Critical Questions
II. Questions of Homogeneity
A. Definition of Homogeneity
B. Examples of Homogeneity
III. Questions of Essentialism
A. Definition of Essentialism
B. Examples of Essentialism
IV. Questions of Pluralism
A. Definition of Pluralism
B. Examples of Pluralism
- This lesson provides an overview of the various aspects of Theology of Religion, and explores the complexities of engaging in dialogue with other religions.
- You will gain an understanding of the exclusivity of Christ and its implications for other religions, as well as the challenges to exclusivity presented by atheism, theological pluralism, and other religions. You'll also learn how to engage other religions and live out Christian witness in a pluralistic world.
- This lesson will provide you a deeper understanding of how Jesus is the central figure of Scripture, and how Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the New Testament.
- You will gain insight into the similarities and differences between the religions of the Ancient Near East and the religions of the Bible, looking at concepts such as Hebrew monotheism, the theology of salvation, and the theology of creation. You'll also explore how mythology and evil are portrayed in both the Ancient Near East religions and the Bible, as well as how the Bible incorporates cultural elements from the Ancient Near East religions.
- You will gain insight into the implications of polytheism from a biblical perspective and understand the nature of God and the roles of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
- In this lesson, you will gain a better understanding of the New Testament and its relationship to other religions. You will gain insight into the theological messages found in the various books of the New Testament, and learn how the New Testament relates to other religions in terms of Jesus, salvation, evangelism, and relationships.
- This lesson you will receive an overview of universalism, its historical context, and its implications for the Bible and theology. You will learn the different types of universalism and examine the biblical passages related to universalism, as well as the theological perspectives on universalism.
- You will gain an understanding of what pluralism is and how it has evolved over time. You will also explore the challenges to pluralism and the implications it has for religious dialogue and multiculturalism.
- In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of inclusivism, its history and theology, as well as its application in missions. You will learn that inclusivism is an approach to theology that respects and works with different religious paths, and offers a robust theology of salvation that is both inclusive and faithful to the biblical message
- This lesson will teach you about the presence and role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, including Ancient Near Eastern Religion, the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, Wisdom Literature, and Prophets.
- You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the person and nature of the Holy Spirit, the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, the process of receiving the Holy Spirit, and the gifts and fruit of the Spirit.
- This lesson provides an overview of the critical questions related to the gospel, salvation and other religions, and the importance of asking them. It explores questions of homogeneity, essentialism and pluralism with definitions and examples.
With Todd Miles, Ph.D. Western Christianity’s interaction with world religions used to be, for the most part, overseas. Today, “religious others” often live next door. At a changing time when one public prayer spoken during the 2009 U.S. presidential inauguration festivities was addressed to “O god of our many understandings,” the evangelical Christian church should do more than simply dismiss non-Christian religions as pagan without argument or comment. The Church needs a theology of religions that is Christ-honoring, biblically faithful, intellectually satisfying, compassionate, and that will encourage Spirit-powered mission.
Dr. Todd Miles
Gospel, Salvation, and Other Religions
[00:00:10] Well, this is the last of our 12 sessions, and it's been my burden throughout to defend the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and a commitment to the necessity for saving conscious faith in the Gospel. The death and resurrection of Jesus for salvation. And what we've done is we've worked through all of this is to put together a theology of religions. And I don't know whether that's a term that we've used much in here, but but that is ultimately what we have done. We have put together a theology of religions. How are we as Christians supposed to think about other faiths? How are we as Christians supposed to interact with them? How do the other religions of the world fit into redemptive history? Do they have any place at all? It's been my burden throughout to say that the answer, the biblical answer to the question, what about those who've never heard the gospel is go tell them and we'll return to that at the end. As we've put together a Christian theology of religions, it's been a Christian theology of religions, right? It's we've approached this from a distinctively Christian perspective. I would suggest that that is the right perspective. But but it is a a position that privileges the Bible. It privileges the gospel. Again, the reason for that is because I think the Bible is the inspired word of God. It is true in all that it affirms without error and that the Gospel is, as the Bible indicates, the only way that we can be reconciled to God. But this this Christian theology of religions, though, is important. And everybody has a theology of religions. Most theology of theologies of religions are not contemplated. They are more ad hoc, it's more seat of the pants.
[00:02:08] But but everybody has a theology of religions. Every Christian has some sort of idea. It might be uninformed. It might be very, very infantile in terms of of maturity, of thought. But every Christian has some idea, some convictions from which they act. Regarding the role of other religions in the redemptive purposes of God. And so what I've wanted us to do in here is to obey the mandate of Second Corinthians ten. We are not going to be seat of the pants Christians. We're not going to operate in an ad hoc fashion, but we're going to think rightly because we're instructed to take every thought in captivity to Jesus Christ. So our theology of religions is a Christian theology of religions. That is, it is seeking to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. We want to think rightly about this issue because it is one of the most important issues that is out there for for the Christian. In order to to wrap this up, though, we need to answer some questions. And so in this last session, what I want to do is just ask six questions and then I'll answer them. I will give you my my thoughts and my convictions on them. These are key questions that a Christian theology of religions has to answer. These questions are as follows. Is general revelation sufficient for salvation? Does special revelation require a human messenger? I mean, why can't God just tell the gospel to other people on his own? Is there truth in other religions? Is there salvation in other religions? Is inter-religious dialog beneficial? Is inter-religious social cooperation legitimate? I think these are six of the most pressing questions that we have to answer. And so. So let's just take them in order. I'm going to spend more time on some than on others.
[00:04:08] The first one is general revelation sufficient for salvation. That is, is it possible to be saved apart from any sort of gospel proclamation? Now, we've launched in some categories here what is general revelation and what is special revelation? General revelation is general truths about God that are sent out to a general audience. That general audience would be everybody whose faculties are working rightly. We see evidence of this in Psalm 19, where we're told that the heavens declare the glory of God. So so people who are aware of their surroundings, who can see a sunrise, who can feel the wind on their face as they walk along the coast, they are they are confronted with the reality that God is creator and that this did not happen by accident. ROMANS Chapter one tells us that everybody has knowledge of God based on this general revelation, revelation in creation and revelation in conscience that the. Work of the law is written on everybody's hearts. People have an idea of of moral understanding because God is their creator. And just as he has created the physical universe, he also created the moral universe. And he is Lord of both. And he speaks loudly. He will not be shut out of his world. It's interesting in Romans one that Paul tells us that everybody does have knowledge of God. That is from God's perspective. There is no such thing as an atheist. People think they're atheists, but everybody knows something of God. They know that he is powerful. They know that he is creator. They know that he is eternal. They know that he is God morally. They they know that He is the law giver and that there are certain ways that they're supposed to behave. They know from we know this from the end of chapter one that when you transgress those laws, punishment and judgment is coming and that, frankly, people deserve death.
[00:06:02] It's interesting that in our world today, people suggest that why is punishment even necessary? Well, according to Romans, when they're lying to themselves, they know punishment is necessary and they know that the right punishment is is death. And then then we also learn something in Romans two of God's mercy as well, because this this judgment that everybody knows in their hearts ought to come. It it doesn't come. God is holding back. He is patient. Interestingly enough, Paul tells us that that that waiting that that that holding back by God demonstrates truly that God is patient and that and that patience is supposed to lead us to repentance, but instead we even suppress the truth of that in unrighteousness. So that's general revelation, general truths about God sent out to a general audience. Special revelation is special truths, particular truths sent out to particular people. Best example of this would be Moses at the burning bush. Here God confronts Moses and he tells them of his plan to save the Israelites. How many people in the world know that plan at that time? There's God and then there's Moses, and nobody else is privy to it at all unless Moses happens to tell them. We could say that that's not fair, but that's that's just the way that it is. Only Moses knew and only Moses knew the particularities of the plan as well. So we have special revelation in God's mighty acts. We have special revelation, of course, in Scripture. And then all of that is is fulfilled and culminated in a par excellence manner in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Word of God, the special revelation of God. We encounter God in Jesus, and Jesus is the most particular and the most special of our special revelation.
[00:07:49] And so is general revelation sufficient for salvation? And here's my answer to this. And let me let me do this in two parts. The first part would be to suggest this general revelation was never meant to function apart from special revelation. General revelation was never meant to function apart from special revelation. I mean, before sin entered the world, God was there giving instruction and interpreting general revelation for Adam and Eve. He was there to describe to them how things work and how they function. And so general relation and special revelation always go hand in hand. At least that was the intent at the very beginning. What we find, though, is that when sin entered the world, our dependance upon God for special revelation was severed. We were still dependent, but we didn't have that access anymore. And so the very fact that special revelation has been separated from general revelation is evidence of of of our sinful hearts and God's punishment as well. And so is general revelation sufficient for salvation? No, no, it's interesting that that in our quest, in our desire to to come up with a way that those who've never heard the gospel can be saved, maybe they can be saved through general revelation. What we're doing is that we're placing a burden, a salvific burden upon general revelation, that the general revelation of God was never, ever meant to carry General revelation, special revelation always need to function together. I think in your in your notes there I have a quote from from my book, A guide of many understandings. And it summarizes, I think, well, general revelation, special revelation. We're never meant to be separated. Even before sin entered the world, humanity was dependent upon God. Special revelation to interpret rightly God's general revelation.
[00:09:51] Of course, this need is made more acute with the fall in Genesis three. The fall also introduces the need for God's redemptive action in the world and God's announcement of those redemptive acts. And so. So of course, general revelation doesn't carry the gospel because general revelation. Precedes the gospel. And the gospel is necessary because because of human sin, the very sin that causes separation of general and special revelation to begin with, general revelation has always been dependent upon special revelation for right understanding. It can't carry the good news of Christ's salvific work. I mean, how is a person saved through the Gospel, through the proclamation of the Gospel, through belief in Christ, through Romans ten tells us it's it's got it's it's the it's the confession of the Lord Jesus Christ is believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Paul said in First Corinthians 15 what his gospel message was that Christ died for sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was raised according to the Scriptures. This is the special revelation that brings the good news of the possibility of salvation, the absence of special revelation that interprets general revelation and announces redemption through Christ is evidence of God's just judgment on sinful humanity. And so is general revelation sufficient for salvation? I mean, Romans one is very, very clear on this, and we can think that this is not fair. We can wish that it were another way. But the reality is, is that the very truths of God that are evident to to all people are suppressed in unrighteousness. And Romans three paints a very dismal picture of of of humanity. Let's go look at Romans three very briefly. Romans three tells us this No. One, and he's talking about Jews and Greeks who are under sin.
[00:12:00] That's everyone. Jews and Gentiles, everyone. None is righteous. No, not one. No one understands. No one seeks for God at all have turned aside together they've become worthless. No one does good, not even one. And so the answer to the question, and I'll give you Paul's response. The answer to Paul's answer to the question, what about that guy who doesn't have access to the gospel, who is earnestly seeking God? Paul would say, Who is this person? That person doesn't exist. According to Scripture, no one understands. No one thinks for God unless the Lord does something unique in that person's heart. Second question, this special revelation require a human messenger. This is really interesting. It's very, very interesting to me. The special revelation require a human messenger. Well, we know from the logic. Turn, turn with me to Romans chapter ten. We know that the logic of of salvation going out to people is that they need to hear the gospel. So pick up in verse 14. How will they call on him calling the Lord in whom they have now believe? How are they to believe in Him, of whom they have never heard? How are they to hear without someone preaching? How are they to preach unless they're sent as it's written? How beautiful are the feet of those who evangelize, who preach the gospel, who preach the good news? So the logic here is that God has entrusted to us this message of salvation. And again, we can question God's wisdom, I suppose, on that if we want it to be blasphemous. But but he has given to us this this message of salvation. The sinner is saved by the Lord when he repents and believes the Gospel. Now, why does God involve humans? Why can't God send dreams and visions? Why can't God appear Him himself? Why can't Jesus appear and preach the good news? Why can't God send an angel? I mean, surely someone would believe an angel if an angel appeared to them.
[00:14:11] And furthermore, we find this theological evidence that that people are receiving dreams and visions, especially in the Muslim world, and now even in the Buddhist world, missionaries who have who have struggled to to win a convert, that really to even make a friend in the Muslim world. It is like farming in stone are telling stories now and these are published accounts. Now, it's not merely anecdotal where where individuals who they have struggled to get relationship with Muslims have knocked on their door even in the middle of the night saying something like this, I just received a dream and a man in white appeared to me. I recognized him as Jesus. He identified himself as Jesus. This man and white Jesus told me to come to you and that I would hear from you the news by which I can be saved. Oftentimes there's reference to a black book also. And so I guess it's important that if you're a missionary in Muslim and Buddhist cultures, I always carry a Bible with a black cover because that seems to be what people are. God's referencing this black book contains the words of life. Can you explain it to me? We're told. But what's interesting here is that even though people are receiving dreams and visions, pointing them to Jesus, God, in his wisdom, is still using a human to actually proclaim the gospel to them. It reads an awful lot like Chapter ten and Chapter 11 with Cornelius hears this Angel appears to Cornelius. You would expect the angel could have preach the gospel to him, but instead there's a call for Peter goes in sin for Peter, and he will preach to you the news, the gospel by which you will be saved. And so so even here we have this idea that God is using human messengers based on the anecdotal evidence.
[00:16:06] Even when the Lord uses an extraordinary event like a dream or a vision. The usual practice is to involve human proclamation of the gospel. And so I think it is a completely legitimate thing for us to pray that God would send dreams and visions to Muslims, dreams and visions to Buddhists, perhaps to Muslims in particular, because especially during Ramadan, they are praying that God would send them a vision, They would send them a dream which can which can help them in their Islamic walk, I suppose. And so so I think we ought to be praying for that, that God would do this. But but recognize this only the poorest and laziest of mission strategies would end there. Let's just pray God, since dreams and visions to Muslims. Now let's pray that God sends dreams and vision visions to Muslims and then pray that God would send out workers who can proclaim the Gospel to the ones that He's giving the dreams and visions to. We need to mobilize and send evangelists Proclaimers of the Gospel to minister to those who receive the dreams and visions so that they may hear of and then believe in Jesus. The third question Is there truth in other religions? And my short answer to this is yes, yes, there is truth in other religions. And we as Christians are to expect that there would be truth in other religions. Now, why is this? Is it because God has revealed specific things of himself to to other religious luminaries to the. Leaders and so-called prophets of other religions. Is that why there's truth in other religions? No. The reason there's truth in other religions is because God speaks loudly through general revelation. You will not be shut out of his world.
[00:17:53] And we also saw back in our discussion of the Old Testament view of other religions is that is that there's been religion, there's been truth of God passed on through generations, generation after generation after generation. And so so we would expect to find some remnants of this general truth about God at work in other religions. It does not behoove the Christian at all to to suggest to someone who you're discussing religious truth with, that there's no religion, there's no truth whatsoever in other religions. There certainly is. The the Koran, for example, speaks very highly of Jesus, speaks of his virgin birth. It makes a truth claim that Jesus was born of a virgin. Okay. Well, that's true. It's a true thing now. Why did Mohammed write that? Well, because he knew what Christians believe. Muhammad was strongly influenced by Judaism and by Christianity, especially Christianity. And so. So we can expect to find some copying of truth there. We can also expect that the work of the law would be written on the hearts of of of all people. And so there could be some some evidence that their moral compass is at work and there can be some truths of the moral universe and how those things work, that we ought to expect that. But a partial truth and a half toward truth is often far more dangerous than than a lie. And Satan knows this. And so, of course, in other religions, there's going to be a sprinkling of of truth statements. So we have to expect that there will be some truth there. If that's the case, then what are we supposed to do with the Bhagavad Gita or the Koran? How are we supposed to to interact with these with these documents? A couple of rules of thumb.
[00:19:51] First off, for the Christian, if you're interacting with Muslims, I think it is well worth your time. It is a missionary endeavor to get acquainted with the sacred texts and the convictions of people of other religions. You ought to do that. If you're not interacting with them, then don't waste your time. Don't waste your time. You're just going to immerse yourself in half truths, partial truths, and a lot of of of a dangerous false doctrine. But if you are interacting, then pray that God would give you understanding. Pray that God will give you guidance and look at their text so that you can interact with them. Now, once that once that occurs, once you have some understanding of, say, the Book of Mormon or the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita, so you can talk to your to your Buddhist, your Hindu friend, what do you do with these sacred texts? How are you supposed to use them? I think even here we need to be very, very careful. Timothy Tennent from from Gordon Cornwell. Our mission, a mis geologist whom I respect immensely, offers three guidelines for for using non biblical sacred texts. And and these guidelines, I believe, are firmly rooted in Scripture, especially in the Book of Acts and in the Gospels, where we see Jesus interacting with religious others and we see the Apostle Paul interacting with religious others. And so when referencing the sacred text of another religion, first thing use of these texts should be limited to evangelistic outreach to people already familiar with this text. So if you're talking with a muslim, it's not going to do you any good. It's just going to confuse things to start quoting the Book of Mormon. Okay, that doesn't make any sense.
[00:21:37] When Paul was at the Arabic as who did he quote Greco-Roman poets? Because he had a Greco-Roman audience. Okay. So so quote in reference to the Book of Mormon, when you're talking to Mormons, quote, and reference the Koran when you're talking to Muslims. But these texts should be limited to corroborating Christian truth, not to serve as an independent source. It doesn't do any good first, because it's it's not true. And second, because it just confuses things. It doesn't do any good to to say, wow, you guys have some great insight into God. And I've learned a lot as I've interacted with the Book of Mormon. You might have learned a lot, but you've learned a lot about Mormonism. You haven't learned the truth about God that is not found in Scripture. The apostle Paul, when he when he quoted the Greco-Roman poets, he didn't say, If we look at the great insight that I got from them, No, he just used them to to. Corroborate what he had already proclaimed to the to his audience at the prop Agus and so, so used the non-Christian texts to corroborate Christian truth that is in Scripture, not to serve as an independent source. To do so betrays a lack of faith in the sufficiency of Scripture, where God has given us everything we need for faith, for life and practice, and also for proclamation of the Gospel. And third, lift the non biblical text out of its setting and then re-orient it within a Christian setting. We find that Paul did that when he quoted the Greco-Roman poets. At least one of his quotations was from a poem about zoos. But he takes it and he says, Here's a poem. It kind of speaks to your understanding of this God.
[00:23:33] Remember our proclaiming to you the God that you do not know an entirely different God. But. But. But. This truth of God is so profound that even your poets have stumbled upon it as they seek to worship Zeus, their falsely worshiping Zeus. But this Buddhist truth that God is the the independent source of all things, is so evident to you that even your own poets could not escape that fact. Where we at time. 2403 2403. Okay. The next one very brief. So I think I can do this in probably 10 minutes. Okay. Our fourth question I'm sorry. It again if and actually look, our fourth question, is there salvation in other religions? Short answer no. Why is that? There's no salvation in any religion. There's salvation in Jesus Christ. And if there's a religion that is not proclaiming the gospel, then there is no salvation there. I mean, quite frankly, there's not salvation in Christianity as some sort of established full of cultic practices. Religion. Christianity is true because it proclaims the Gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation is in Him and in Him alone. So even though there might be a few things that are true, there might be some affirmations about God that Christians find in their own Bible, in our Bible that we find in other religions. That doesn't mean that that religion is a is a source of salvific truth. Our test for salvation is that which the apostles taught us, that there is salvation in no other name, no other name given in heaven on earth by which you must be saved. Then the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There we evaluate the religions according to the Gospel. This is very important. We evaluate other religions according to the Gospel, not not to the fact that they've been able to generate a few good works, not to the fact that they have a few spiritual practices that help me relax, not to the fact that they they stumbled upon some truths of God, which are evident through general revelation, either creation or conscience or through through ripping stuff out of Scripture and placing in their religions, in their religious books, out of context.
[00:26:02] Now we evaluate the legitimacy of other religions. And I would say the same thing for for any Christian you run into, we evaluate the religion and the legitimacy of their relationship with God based on are they confessing the Lord Jesus Christ and do they believe that God raised him from the dead? So if this is the case, then is interreligious dialog beneficial? I mean, what's the point? Well, let me offer to you a few guidelines on this. And this is important because in our postmodern world, we love to have dialog and and the prophets of postmodernity will tell you, interestingly enough, there is there is intolerance as anybody. But they will tell you that if you're going to have dialog, then you must do it according to our rules, which is that you come as a learner, you come with an open mind, you come with your with the possibility of having your mind changed and that you do not come with convictions and you certainly don't come hoping to convert the person that you're going to talk with. No, that's illegitimate. You empty your mind. You check your you check your convictions at the door, and then you show up and you have a discussion. Now, I don't know of anybody who wants to be involved in a discussion like like I just described. I mean, how stupid and boring is that? When I'm talking with a muslim. My expectation is that they're going to come as a convicted Muslim and that they're going to try to convert me. And that's okay. I would expect nothing less because I'm certainly going to try to convert them. I'm going to try to show them the error in their thinking. I'm going to try to demonstrate the the the truthfulness, the veracity of the gospel.
[00:27:49] So let me let me speak to inter-religious dialog, give you four guidelines that I think half to have to master our interaction with with religious others. The first one is this Christians must engage in dialog with people of other faiths. So we have to be talking to them. Don't don't like slam the door on someone who wants to talk with you. You can come up with your own strategy for talking with with Mormons and talking with Jehovah's Witnesses. I know that Scripture tells us that we're not supposed to be hospitable to false teachers because they're going to lead us astray. I think that's saying something different than don't talk with people of other religions. We have to engage them. How can we share the gospel with them if we're not dialoging with them? So whatever the scripture means when it says don't offer hospitality a false teacher, it doesn't mean don't talk to them at all. We have to talk with people and we have to be dialoging with them. We have to know where they're coming from. And so in order to do that second, Christians engage in dialog must be listeners. We have to know where they're coming from. If we're going to answer their questions, we have to listen. People want to be listened to, and if you come in and they perceive that your agenda is to not listen to them at all, but just to cram a gospel message down their throat, then they will not listen to you. So you have to listen to them. You have to listen to their heart. You have to listen to the questions that they have so you can answer them. This doesn't mean that you can't desire and be meeting with them and speaking with them for the sake of conversion.
[00:29:28] But you still have to listen to them. You have to treat them with dignity. You have to treat them with respect. And you can learn where they're coming from as you interact with them. You will not be able to communicate effectively with them if they perceive that they are not listening to you. And and I do not find that speaking with someone for conversion and listening to them are mutually exclusive. You can listen and come with all of your convictions earnestly desiring that they convert. Third, you must not abandon your Christian convictions for the sake of authentic dialog. This is a post-modern canard if there ever was one. You have to be value free. You have to be neutral. You can't come with an agenda if you're going to engage in dialog. No. And Christians of all people ought to know that you can't check your Christian convictions at the door right off until high school. Students from telling talking to them about going into the secular universities that the people, the professors there, some of them will probably have an ax to grind and they will tell you that that anything you say from your Christian convictions is illegitimate because it's biased and you need to leave this at the door when if you're going to actually engage in the marketplace of ideas. And I tell them, you must not do that. You must not do that because because they are certainly not neutral and they're asking you to to to abandon your convictions. They're not neutral and you're not supposed to be I mean, you're a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. You need to come with with with full confidence in the gospel and you need to come in obedience in Corinthians ten, taking every thought captive into obedience in obedience to Christ.
[00:31:11] And so don't abandon your Christian convictions for the sake of dialog. And so then it follows. And so what I've been saying, the goal of inter-religious dialog must be the conversion of the conversation partner to Christ. And so if I'm talking with a muslim or I'm talking with Jehovah's Witness, my desire is that they convert, I'll talk with them, I'll ask them questions, I'll listen to them. But my desire is that they believe the gospel so that they may be saved. Your goal in inter-religious dialog must be conversion. Prophets of postmodernity will tell you that you can't do that to have an authentic dialog. I think that's a bunch of baloney. No one wants to be engaged in a conversation. Everybody empties their minds and nobody cares about anything and you're just kind of freely vocalizing the state of affairs that are going on in your mind. That's that's a vapid and insipid discussion. When I'm talking with a mormon, my thought is that they're going to come with convicted Mormons. I'm going to come as a convicted Christian and I'm going to speak the truth to them and I'm going to listen to them. They're going to listen to me. He's going to try to convert me. I'm going to try to convert him. I don't have anything to fear when I'm talking to people of other religions because I have the truth on my side. Finally, the last question Is inter-religious social cooperation legitimate? This is a very popular thing in our in our postmodern context. Now, to to to to get together and partner with people of other faiths or get to get the church out to partner with with secular government in order to to effect some good part of this is a reaction against the past where we're Christians have have in the minds of some I don't think this is actually true, but but Christians have abandoned social concerns and are just about converting people so they can go to heaven when they die.
[00:33:02] And so, so so to make up for that, we're going to be really nice to people. We're going to partner with people of other faiths. We're going to partner with secular governments, and we're not even going to mention the gospel. We're going to try to win a hearing or we're going to convert people through our good works. Or there's the oft quoted Francis of Assisi who said, Preach the gospel at all times when necessary, use words. Two things in that. One, I don't think Francis Assisi ever said that. And to that's just a bunch of pious nonsense. You can't preach the gospel without proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You have to be preaching the gospel at all times and always use words. Francis of Assisi was a proclaim or he was a gospel proclaim or so. So, so. So now we have this idea that's out there that we need to be partnering perhaps with other religions, partnering with secular governments. And just just briefly and I developed this in detail in in my book, I got of many understandings. But if if the precondition to social cooperation is the restriction. Of identification with Christ. That is, if some people say, Hey, we'll partner together. But no proselytizing will partner with you on this condition that you don't proclaim the gospel. Partner with a secular government secular group will say, Yeah, we would love to use your money, your resources and your time, but it's going to be according to our rules. Well, if that's the case, then as a Christian, you can't do it. You just can't do it. If a precondition for you partnering with another individual is that you cannot be authentically Christian, that is a proclaim or then you want not to do it.
[00:34:51] It is true that good works are absolutely necessary. It is true that good works point people to the legitimacy of the gospel. We see this Jesus Christ himself said, Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and praise your father in heaven. But let me ask you this. If you are not simultaneously proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ, how are they going to know who your father in heaven is so that they may praise him? You have to identify yourself with Christ. And if the precondition for partnering with another religion or partnering with a government or partner with anybody is you have to keep your mouth shut, make no identification with Christ, then as a believer in Jesus Christ. You can't do that. You cannot meet those conditions because they're asking you to deny the Lord Jesus Christ. They're asking you to deny who you are. A proclaimers the Gospel. And they are asking you ultimately to deny the Lord Jesus Christ who saved you to to keep from them the most important thing reconciliation with God. The very thing that makes good works possible. Now, let me let me conclude this way just by saying this. We started with this statement and I'll end with it. The biblical response to the question, what about those who have never heard is go tell them. Go tell them. It's it's troubling to me that there is such an emphasis being placed upon good works now on social justice that we're beginning to neglect gospel proclamation. The mission trends, the giving trends in missions indicate this. The data is there. You can you can reference it in in at least the the book of God of many understandings. It's part of that is a helpful correction where we have been neglecting an aspect of the gospel which is social justice.
[00:36:54] But part of it is, is a desire to do something good without identifying yourself with Christ. And I think that comes from a crisis of nerve more than anything else. Scripture will not allow us to think in anything other than proclamation. The Apostles were sent out with the good news and you have been sent out with good news. The gospel is itself good news. It's the announcement that the God who created the heavens and the Earth has sent his son to save sinners. And Jesus invites anyone, anyone to believe in him so they can escape the condemnation that is due them. He said of himself, I am the way, the truth and the life. And no one comes to the father except through me. He claims that no one, no one or anyone who does not honor the son does not honor the father who sent him. You can't honor God unless you honor the Lord Jesus Christ. We have to make that known. So what about those who've never heard the good news of God's salvation in Christ? The Biblical response. A clear and decisive command. Go tell them. Notice in Scripture that the Spirit inspired authors did not spend their time philosophizing or theology rising over the state of the evangelized. I mean that gathering support for a ship, a shared optimism concerning the fate of those who've never heard the gospel is not going to help anybody, least of all the in evangelized. When the apostles started and evangelized, they were motivated to pray that God would send out workers into their end of the harvest field that they went themselves. What about those those who've never heard? Go tell them. And I'm concerned. I'm concerned about the state of the church right now that we're trying to to muster support for some sort of wider hope and that we effectively treat the mandate to share the gospel as though it's an embarrassing problem to be overcome.
[00:38:50] Boy, wouldn't it be great if there's a way that people could be saved without hearing the gospel? I think that impugns the justice, the fairness and the mercy of God. Far from problematic. The Gospel is the God given and grace saturated solution to all of the world's problems. And we need to believe that. Do you believe that only in our twisted and fallen world would proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ be seen as problematic by those who claim to be Christians? The Gospel is good news. It's the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. It's a demonstration of the love and the mercy and the power, the righteousness, the wisdom of God. By God's grace, may the church embrace our mission. May the Spirit embolden you to witness, testify to the love of God and Jesus Christ.