Tag Archives: gift of salvation

SINCERE SEEKER?

Hello all. It has been quite a while since I have written anything. Today, I received the email below and the Spirit strongly encouraged me to share with you today. This is from the website Reasonable Faith and it is the Question of the Week. The author of the answer is Dr. Craig and he welcomes any questions you may have about Christianity, etc. Below the answer I have included a link to his website and the link to submit a question.

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What about the Sincere Seeker?

Hello Sir,

I have read a big deal of your work and I am really inspired by you and your work.

But there is this one question that greatly troubles me; I always had it in mind since I was very young but having solved a lot of questions, I am concerned about this simple question that I am not able to solve or find a satisfactory answer from a scholar.

I need your views on why God will send people to hell on the basis of their Religious beliefs. A person who sincerely researches on Religion and Theology trying to find if a God exists and if so, what Religion and fails to identify the right Religion, why is he to be punished? A person arrogantly denying the right Religion while knowing the truth might deserve to be punished somehow but what about the one trying his best but failing.

You might say that its natural for one to find the right Religion if pursued honestly … but there need to be stronger arguments supporting this idea; because it doesn’t sound like all the people moving away from Religion were dishonest.

How would you respond to a hypothetical condition of a person sincerely failing?

Thanks in advance.

Muhammad
Pakistan

Dr. Craig responds:

Your question is a good one, Muhammad, and I’ve addressed it in a number of places, most recently in my Defenders lectures “Excursus on Natural Theology,” parts 1-4. I’d really encourage you to listen to or to read those lectures, since they will fully explain my perspective.

The problem with your question is that it assumes a purely humanistic, and perhaps even naturalistic, point of view with respect to finding the knowledge of God. It takes for granted that it’s basically up to us to figure out which religion is true. But whatever other religions may teach, this is not the point of view of Christianity. If God were to abandon us to our own intelligence and ingenuity to work out whether or not He exists, He would be a very cruel God indeed. As one of the students in my Defenders class remarked, getting into heaven should not be like getting into Harvard! But God has not abandoned us. The Bible teaches that God loves us and so by His Holy Spirit seeks to draw people to Himself. The self-authenticating witness of God’s Spirit will enable, not only believers, but also sincere seekers to come to a knowledge of God.

Therefore, if a person ultimately fails to come to faith in Christ, it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties with the faith. At root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit on his heart. Now this convicting power and drawing of the Holy Spirit may take time. It may take years in order for the unbeliever to finally come to Christ. Nevertheless, no one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments or evidence; he fails to become a Christian because he rejects God. But anyone who does respond to the drawing of God’s Spirit with an open mind and an open heart can know with assurance that Christianity is true, because God’s Spirit will convict him that it is true.

Look at the words of Jesus in John 7:16-17:

My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me; if any man’s will is to do His will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
Here Jesus says that if anyone is truly seeking God, if his will is to do God’s will, then he will know that Jesus’ teaching is from God rather than just his personal opinion. Jesus is affirming here that if anyone truly wants God’s will – is truly seeking God – then he will come to know that Jesus’ teaching truly is from God.

So in answer to your questions: “A person who sincerely researches on Religion and Theology trying to find if a God exists and if so, what Religion” will come to find the true God and the right religion, just as Jesus promised, because the Holy Spirit of God will guide his search and draw him to Himself. Only the person who resists the convicting power of the Holy Spirit will remain in unbelief. Such a person willfully thrusts the grace of God from him and so separates himself from God. It’s not that God “will send people to hell on the basis of their Religious beliefs.” Their false beliefs are, rather, symptomatic of their estrangement from God. God wants to save them and tries to draw them to repentance and faith, but they refuse to come and so find themselves wandering in error. So I deny your “hypothetical condition of a person sincerely failing.” If Christianity is true, then there is no ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief.

You respond, “You might say that its natural for one to find the right Religion if pursued honestly … but there need to be stronger arguments supporting this idea; because it doesn’t sound like all the people moving away from Religion were dishonest.” You seem to be saying that there is ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief, and so one needs stronger arguments to support the truth of Christianity.

Now I don’t think we’re in a good position to say with any confidence that there is ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief, Muhammad. First, as I say, God’s drawing of a person may take time, years even, so that we can’t say of someone who is moving away from God that that’s where he’ll end up. (Read the many testimonials we receive from ex-unbelievers who for many years were moving away from God.) It is particularly the case that many Muslims go through a phase of atheism after shedding Islam before they come to Christ.

Moreover, we’re not really in a position to read a person’s heart or deepest motivations. Sin is incredibly deceitful, and we have an amazing ability to rationalize things so as to justify our behavior. Read C. S. Lewis’ provocative The Great Divorce about the self-justifying rationalizations of people in hell. If we can convince ourselves that our obstacles to faith are intellectual rather than moral or emotional that makes our unbelief respectable in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. How do you know what lies in the heart of a person who resists the drawing and conviction of the Holy Spirit until the end of his life?

Furthermore, I do think that we have good reasons for supposing that Christianity is true. First, there is the witness of the Holy Spirit. It can be an intrinsic defeater of the defeaters brought against it. Second, there are good evidences for the truth of Christianity, particularly for the historicity of the radical personal claims and resurrection of Jesus, whereby God vindicated those claims.

You did not disclose, Muhammad, whether you are one of these sincere seekers after the true faith. If you are, then here’s what I would encourage you to do. Begin to read the Gospels and ask yourself whether Jesus of Nazareth could really be who he claimed to be. In your prayers, ask God, whoever He is, to show you the truth about Jesus, whether he spoke the truth from God or was just giving his own opinion. Look at the work of Christian philosophers and biblical scholars, such as you will find at this website. Watch on YouTube some of the debates which I have had with both Muslim scholars and unbelievers and ask yourself which way the evidence points. If you are truly seeking God, then I believe you will come to know the truth.
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May God Richly bless and keep you all in His tender care.  After all, He does call you His beloved!

The Song – God So Loved The World – Charles Billingsley

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THE GREATEST GIFT EVER RECEIVED

I am one of these folks that believes that everything happens for a reason and most of those things, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, are learning opportunities… or in my case learning and writing opportunities. So with that said, I want to share a couple of things from today with you.

I was in a general store today that is right around the corner from my house. This is one of those kind of stores that you can buy bird seed, bird houses, dog food, dog houses, hay, lawn mowers, weed eaters and even all the equipment and instructions to make your own wine or beer? Not sure which it is… nonetheless, they have just about everything in that general store. I have always loved going to those kinds of places. I guess that started when I used to go with my dad to the feed store in a little town we used to live in. Not that we had any kind of cattle to feed or even fed the wild birds back then, I am really not sure why we would go there… it was probably also a hardware kind of store too, because I love hardware stores too. Anyway, back to this one I was in today. I picked up a package of dog chews that I had always wondered about. Now I have had the usual dog chews and they always concerned me because my little girl dachshund got one stuck in her throat once and I had to go in after it. It was just too small for her, I guess… I should have thrown it away long before, she just chewed it faster than I thought she would. Anyway, these that I saw today are not your usual dog chew. These were Himalayan Dog Chews. indexThey consist of Yak and Cow milk, salt and lime juice. I talked to the young lady at the register and she explained a few things to me about them, so I said what the heck, I will try one package. In one package there are 3 chews. I have 2 dogs… hummm… so I will have to buy another package one day soon, I guess… lol. Anyway, I came home with my Yak milk chews and offered it to each of my pups. Now one of my “pups” is a 27 or 8 or more pound male Standard Dachshund named Zuckie. The other is a 14 pound (should be 10) female Miniature Dachshund named Liesel. The package said these chews were for dogs 30 pounds and below, I think. Anyway, I offered it to them and of course they took them right away and acted like it was the best gift they had ever received.Now my boy, the big guy, has a stash hideout under the bench that is up against the wall behind our dining room table. All of his toys are there, not that he actually plays with them anymore, but he chews on them occasionally, I think. I think he actually thinks that Liesel cannot find things there… but somehow she actually does… oh well. So, he goes to his hide-e-hole and begins to chew away. She begins looking for a place to stash it, but in a very good hiding place, under a blanket in her bed. Then she moves it to another one of her beds but stashes it under the folds of the blanket of this bed. After she stashes it in the 2nd place, she lays on the floor facing the bed and watches it. She laid there for a good 15 minutes before she even moved.b29988b7829f819c1defe101b2fa637d

Meanwhile, my boy is chewing away on his chew under the bench, happy as a clam. I have to leave for a few minutes and when I came back, mom tells me that Liesel had taken it out of her bed and put it under the blanket on the pillow on the couch. She was frantically trying to find “the best spot” to hide this chew. She had not chewed it one time! She just was spending her time hiding it.

I began to think… hummm… maybe it was too fat for her to chew.  Maybe she would begin chewing on it if, say… I traded her the one Zuckie, my boy, was chewing on and gave him a brand new one… the one she had been hiding. Oh that worked beautifully for her…. But Zuckie was none too happy with mommy. He wouldn’t have anything to do with the new one… or the one she kept hiding… and he proceeded to his bed and pouted.day_Lordmade

Meanwhile, Liesel is sprawled out just chewing away. I take the new chew over to Zuckie in his bed and he would barely even look at me. Oh My Goodness… he gets his feelings hurt so easily. Really he does. So, I pondered it for a while. Then I looked down and Liesel had quit chewing on her chew and she was under her blanket in her bed. So I took the chew back to him, this is the original chew he had.   NOPE! He wouldn’t have anything to do with that one either! Oh my, I have really upset him. I felt so bad that I had done that… but now what do I do? So… about an hour later, I go over to his bed, lay down next to his bed and start talking to him. I felt so bad and I apologized to him and laid there and consoled him and even had a tear in my eye when I did. He knew it too, because he sniffed my face and my eyes. You see, we treat our dogs like family in my house. They are a part of us and we love them very much. This boy dog, Zuckie, is a very special kind of guy. He detects my mom’s high blood pressure and protects her a lot. He consoles my dad when he is not feeling well and so this guy is a very special kind of boy to us, and to have hurt his feelings, well, it just about crushed my heart. So I was very sincere when I was down there talking to him. The first time when I offered him the new chew, I was just trying to get him to take it, not really being that sincere. But this time… I meant it with my whole heart and I believe he recognized that. Why? Because this time he laid his head all the way outside his bed to touch my face and gave me a couple of big, fast kisses! Yep, he forgave me. The next thing I knew he was under his bench with the new chew and happy as a clam again. And little girl had not touched hers again but has tried to get his out from his hide-e-hole. Oh the drama we have here.small_6f5e1622db0c3444183fd3c4

Now I have said all of this to get to this… There are a couple of ways I want to go with this. One is how do we treat the greatest gift we have ever received? I guess I should ask first what is the greatest gift you have ever received? Think about it, as a Christian? What is the greatest gift? As for me, that would be the gift of Salvation because of what my Jesus Christ has done for me. Now, hopefully you understand and hopefully, if you know Jesus, that is your answer too. Anyway, what do you do with the greatest gift that Christ has given you? Do you 1) go and hide it like Liesel does her new chew? Or 2) enjoy it like Zuckie?3e5e765ec53c925b176404d6fdd23cae

So you say, well, how do you enjoy it? Well, I enjoy mine by waking up every morning and looking forward to another day to praise my God for. I enjoy my salvation by telling others about what Jesus had done for me. I enjoy my salvation by reading my Bible and telling you all what I have learned. I enjoy my salvation by recognizing things in this big. beautiful world and praising God for giving us such a beautiful world. I enjoy my salvation by sharing time with my wonderful ladies in my Sunday School class. I enjoy my salvation by singing hymns and praises to God and Jesus Christ on Sunday morning in worship service. There are so many ways I enjoy my salvation. I could not possibly list them all here on this post. But I think you get the picture.

Now my question is do you hide the fact that you have this wonderful gift of salvation or do you tell others? Do you enjoy each day and thank God for the air you breath? Do you share your salvation with friends or family? If you do not share it, how will others know about this Jesus and His wonderful gift?   We must be about telling others and living so others can see Him in us. That is what Jesus told the disciples to do 2000 years ago…

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of praise-the-lord-morning-550x320the age.” Amen.

That is enjoying the salvation that Jesus has given with His death on the cross because IT IS the greatest gift ever given or received!

Go and tell  others!

The other direction that I would like to go with this is another post.  I will do that tomorrow.  Remember God loves you so much! He calls you His beloved!

The Song – 10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman

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