October 14 – Lost

October 14 – Lost

Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Have you ever experienced the terror of being lost – in some trackless mountain wilderness, perhaps or in the labyrinth of a great, strange city? Hope of finding your way out fades and fear begins to seep in. You have likely seen that fear of lostness on the tear-streaked face of a child frantically screaming or quietly sobbing because he is separated from his parent in a huge shopping center. Lost. Alone. Equally terrifying and more common is the feeling of being hopelessly entangled or trapped in a frustrating personal condition or circumstance: alcoholism, cancer, divorce. Incredibly alone! Lost.

The Bible uses the word “lost” to describe an even more terrible condition. Those who are away from the Father’s house and haven’t found the way back to him are “lost.” Jesus saw the crowds of people surging about him as sheep without a Shepherd, helpless and hopeless, and He was deeply moved.

Worse than being trapped and not knowing the way out is to be lost and not even know it, for then one does not look for salvation, recognize it when it comes, nor accept it when it is being offered. That’s being lost.

We are told there are 500 million Christ followers in the world who trust Jesus for salvation and are active in his church. The estimate is optimistic, perhaps no more than an educated guess made by some of those who devote themselves to analyzing this sort of data. Still, it’s a reasonable and widely used figure. If true from God’s perspective, that leaves more than six billion — 11 out of 12 — who do not know Christ savingly. And get this, it is 17 times the number of lost people alive when Christ was broken hearted over the large number of the lost (Matthew 9:35-38).

In the 20th century there was an unprecedented expansion of Christianity so that the percentage of both genuine and nominal Christians increased dramatically. Some people focus on this fact almost exclusively in painting a very optimistic picture of the task remaining. But the tragedy of the 20th century is that the population explosion was so great the incredible expansion of Christianity could not keep pace with the growth in numbers of lost people. At the beginning of that century total world population was 1.6 billion people: by the end of the century, more than 6 billion. How much more exponential for the 21st century!

So for a moment I invite you to contemplate, not the exciting percentages of growth, but the number of actual lost people. More than half the people of the world have yet to hear with understanding the way to life in Christ, at least 3 times the number in that condition in 1900. And even more tragic, at least a third of humankind cannot hear because there is no one near enough to tell them.

They live in a tribe or culture or language group that has no evangelizing church. If someone doesn’t go in from the outside they have no way of knowing about Jesus.

But are these people in the half of the world without Christ really lost? What of those who never had a chance, who have never heard – are any of them lost? Are all of them lost?

Throughout church history there have been those who teach that none will be finally lost. The old universalism taught that all ultimately will be saved because God is good.

There are problems with this position. Philosophically, such a teaching undermines belief in the atoning death of Christ. For if all sin will ultimately be overlooked by a gracious deity, Christ should never have died. It was not only unnecessary but surely the greatest error in history, if not criminal on the part of God for allowing it to happen. This view then demands a view of the death of Christ as having some other purpose than as an atonement for sin.

Scripture teaches clearly that there are those who perish and those who do not. Notice that it those who believe on Chris t- not simply whose who, through their encounter with creation and their own innate moral judgement, believe in a righteous creator – who receive eternal life. God’s intent is to save the world through him [Christ]” (John 3:17) The word “through” speaks of agency: it is by means of Jesus Christ that a person gains eternal life.

Jesus Christ himself said “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In other words, Jesus is the only agency of salvation.[82]

[82] The Great Omission, Robertson McQuilkin, 1984, Gabriel Publishers, 39-44.

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