Summary: Eternal Life is found in Jesus Christ and him alone.
What Biblical doctrine do you struggle with most? I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you answered that God’s concept of the relationship between the roles of men and women really causes you a hard time. Nor would I be shocked if a number of you struggle with the concept of close(d) communion that ties together with the Biblical concept of fellowship. Do you know what doctrine I struggle with most? It’s the Biblical doctrine of sin. I struggle with that doctrine not because it’s so tough to understand – but because it’s so prevalent. I struggle with that doctrine because it infects me so thoroughly and affects me so perversely. I struggle with that doctrine because it’s reality is always before me and it’s always before you too.
Sin – it’s the infectious nature each of us inherits from our parents that rebels against God and His will and fills life on this planet with trouble and turmoil. Sin stinks! It’s the reason a Florida boy killed his teacher, that nearly 50% of all marriages fail, that it’s a struggle to motivate children to learn diligently and adults to perform their responsibilities faithfully. It’s the reason that any single one of us in this room is capable of doing the most hurtful things to ourselves or someone else. It’s also the reason that life on this planet comes to a screeching, permanent halt in death. But here’s the most troubling part of the doctrine of sin: we’re not only victims of sin, but we’re also responsible for it. That means that every human being that has ever lived, except Jesus, has rightfully earned God’s never ending wrath in the fiery lake of hell where all hope for even a moment of relief is gone. That punishment rightfully belongs not just to the Tim McVeighs of the world, but to everyone.
So if you came this morning hoping to hear a pep rally type speech that would bolster your self-esteem – then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong church. The truth about sin and our own sinfulness awakens feelings of resentment, frustration, and even depression as we realize that we deserve eternal death. But God has good news to share with you this morning that will draw you closer to himself and give you a clearer vision of his glorious grace. Listen carefully and closely to the words of our God uttered through the lips of the Apostle Peter in a single sentence. Listen as God reveals eternal life to you in 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.” In that verse God reveals to us that: Eternal life is found in the little words. Eternal life is found in the little words: no one else. Eternal life is found in the little words: no other name.
Salvation, that is, never-ending life in the gracious presence of our God is found in the little words of that sentence. Eternal life is found with no one else but Jesus Christ alone. That answers it doesn’t it? The question posed for our consideration in this worship service is: “What happens to those who have never heard about Jesus?” As was said in the opening of the sermon all people are guilty of sin and therefore worthy of eternal death. If someone never hears about Jesus and dies without ever hearing about Jesus and believing in him then there is only one alternative.
While that answer is Biblical, conclusive, and absolutely true there may be some objections that arise in our minds. The objections usually focus around two major themes: the first as to God’s nature and the second as to the nature of the punishment. Let’s take a look at those objections for a few moments this morning.
The first objection usually sounds something like this: How could God punish the very creatures that he created? After all isn’t God the one who is supposed to be forgiving? How could the God of love also be the God who punishes people with the worst kind of torment that never ends?
God tells us that he is the God of love, the God who loves righteousness. That’s something the Psalmist makes plain, “You love righteousness and hate wickedness;” (Psalm 45:7). As the God who loves righteousness he expects to find complete righteousness in the people he has created. But here’s the problem God sees as Paul remarks in Romans 3, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:22b-23). Truth be told the God who loves righteousness must punish all unrighteousness with the punishment of hell. But the amazing thing is that the God of love holds out an offer to all people to trade our sinfulness for Christ’s righteousness, to punish Jesus instead of us. That’s the truth that God spells out in the very next verse of Romans 3, “And are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). So it’s not that God hasn’t forgiven everyone it’s that some people refuse the forgiveness and the righteousness that he offers. In fact if people don’t want that forgiveness and righteousness God is treating them with the highest respect – he doesn’t jam it down their throats but honors their wishes. It’s as though God is saying, “You are significant. I take you seriously. Choose to reject me – choose hell if you will. I don’t like it, but I will let you go.”