ALL ARE GIVEN A CHANCE, BUT
Some time ago, a woman wrote to me regarding a problem she had encountered while trying to witness to members of the sect known as the Rastafarians. To be honest, I know very little about this group; but according to the message she sent me, the problem lies in the fact that they embrace a doctrine which states that Salvation is only meant for black persons. As this woman noted -- and naturally I agree with her -- all matters regarding doctrinal truth and error, can best be determined by looking to the Scriptures. As I have stated on previous occasions, this is precisely what the Bereans did in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Acts, after Paul and Silas had presented the doctrine of Christ to them. Consider the following verses:
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:10-11, KJV
Based upon my personal knowledge of the Scriptures, and more specifically, my understanding of the doctrine of Salvation, I must concur with this dear woman and clearly say that the Rastafarian's so-called doctrine of "Blacks only" is utterly false, totally ridiculous and quite unScriptural. It has no Biblical foundation whatsoever; that is, unless a person or a particular group purposely distorts the meaning of the Scriptures for their own personal convenience. But then, the practice of perverting the true meaning of the Scriptures is nothing new. It has been happening since the First Century; and probably before that as well. The Apostle Peter wrote the following regarding certain individuals who were trying to distort the meaning of some of Paul's more profound doctrines:
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:16, KJV
That word "wrest" is derived from the Greek word "strebloo", pronounced streb-lo'-o, which means to twist, or to pervert language in a metaphorical sense. The writers of the New Testament undeniably prove that Jesus died on the Cross in order to make the Plan of Salvation not only known, but also available, to all men everywhere, regardless of national or ethnic origin. God is trying to save as many people as He possibly can; but, as I explain in such articles as "Free Will And Personal Choice" and "Love And Light, Or Rod And Wrath?" -- and as we will see in a moment -- He usually does not override our personal choice. In fact, this theme is the primary message of my article "Is Salvation Meant For All Men?". It is because of God's Love, Mercy, Compassion, and desire to save all of His creations, that Peter and Paul wrote the following verses. I have taken the liberty to capitalize certain words in these verses for the sake of emphasis:
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL MEN,"
Titus 2:11, KJV
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
1 Timothy 2:3-4, KJV
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9, KJV
Some of my other articles concerning Salvation which you may be interested in reading include "Message To The World", and "The Blood Atonement: In Jesus' Own Words". Jesus Himself not only made it quite clear that the Gospel of Salvation would be preached to all nations before His glorious Return, but that by His Death upon the Cross, He would also draw all men to Himself. Common sense dictates that if God was not interested in the Salvation of all of humanity, then He most definitely would not have made the Plan of Salvation such a public affair, as we see in the following verses. Instead, He would have chosen to send His emissaries secretly to only witness to those whom He had ordained. Again, I have taken the liberty to capitalize certain words for the sake of emphasis:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in ALL THE WORLD for a witness unto ALL NATIONS; and then shall the end come."
Matthew 24:14, KJV
"And he said unto them, Go ye into ALL THE WORLD, and preach the gospel to EVERY CREATURE."
Mark 16:15, KJV
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and UNTO THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH."
Acts 1:8, KJV
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16, KJV
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL MEN unto me."
John 12:32, KJV
If you are not yet personally convinced of these two points, following are some additional verses I have compiled, which clearly show the all-inclusive, global nature of God's Plan of Salvation. Again, I have capitalized some words for the sake of emphasis:
"BUT AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:"
John 1:12, KJV
"The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that ALL MEN through him might believe."
John 1:7, KJV
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth ALL MEN EVERY WHERE to repent:"
Acts 17:30, KJV
"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL MEN unto justification of life."
Romans 5:18, KJV
". . . because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL MEN, specially of those that believe."
1 Timothy 4:10b, KJV
"For YE ARE ALL THE CHILDREN OF GOD by faith in Christ Jesus."
Galatians 3:26, KJV
It should be clear then that hearing the Gospel, as well as accepting the truth of the Gospel, is available to all men everywhere. As we saw earlier, the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Romans that we are all sinners; we have all come under condemnation; and so we all require a Saviour; and that is Jesus Christ. As I point out in "Message To The World", there are no exceptions. In short, as the following verses plainly tell us, and as I also mention in the article "Is God A Racist?", God is not a respecter of persons. He is not partial to His creations. He does not have one special race of people who have a unique hold on Salvation because of their bloodline. It does not matter who we are in the flesh, but rather what we become through spiritual rebirth, by our acceptance of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ:
"Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, NOR RESPECT OF PERSONS, nor taking of gifts."
2 Chronicles 19:7, KJV
"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS:"
Acts 10:34, KJV
"For there is NO RESPECT OF PERSONS with God."
Romans 2:11, KJV
"And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; NEITHER IS THERE RESPECT OF PERSONS WITH HIM."
Ephesians 6:9, KJV
"And if ye call on the Father, WHO WITHOUT RESPECT OF PERSONS judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:"
1 Peter 1:17, KJV
"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But IF YE HAVE RESPECT TO PERSONS, YE COMMIT SIN, and are convinced of the law as transgressors."
James 2:1-9, KJV
So again, the Gift of Eternal Life is not just for Blacks, or for Whites, or for Orientals, or for Jews; or just for anyone else; it is available to all men. We are all either saved, or we are unsaved. We are either washed in the Blood of the Lamb, or else we are not. That is all that God sees. While we may be of different nationalities in the flesh, once we come to Christ, once we are born of the Spirit, we lose our Earthly nature, and we take on the nature of the inner man of the Spirit; we become new creatures; and we all become one in Him; we each become a part of God's spiritual family; as we see here:
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Galatians 3:27-29, KJV
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;"
Ephesians 3:14-16, KJV
But, there is an interesting catch to this situation. As I point out in some of the aforementioned articles, while the Gift of Salvation is freely open to all men, and while God is no respecter of persons, at the same time, the Scriptures also make very clear that not everyone will be saved. While it may surprise you, Jesus Himself tells us that most people will in fact not be saved, due to their unbelief, and their rebellious and wicked hearts. Consider these verses:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Matthew 7:13-14, KJV
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
John 3:19-20, KJV
". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8b, KJV
In a small comment found in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul also adds this interesting thought:
". . . for all men have not faith."
2 Thessalonians 3:2, KJV
We can compare this situation to a fishing expedition. You may recall that when the Lord first began recruiting His Disciples, He chose certain brothers who were fishermen by occupation. These included Peter, James, John and Andrew. You will also know that the Lord often used simple stories about everyday life, called Parables, in order to explain a certain concept regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. When He chose some of these men, He said to them:
". . . Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Matthew 4:19b, KJV
The message here was clear. Whereas before they had been fishers of real fish, now they would be fishers of souls for the Kingdom of Heaven. As experienced fishermen, they knew that not every day is a good day out in the boat. Sometimes the fish bite, and sometimes they don't. I recall two times where the Disciples had bad nights. God used the first to convince them of Jesus' Messiahship, as we see here:
"Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him."
Luke 5:4-11, KJV
Concerning the second fruitless night, I am not sure if the Lord allowed it in order to show them their backslidden condition -- because they had returned to their old fishing occupation -- or if He did this merely to strengthen their weakened faith following the Crucifixion, by proving to them once again that He was indeed the risen Messiah:
"After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead."
John 21:1-14, KJV
As any fisherman knows, after a while, sometimes the fish become rather smart. They recognize the color and shape of the lure; they see the glint of the hook where it has not been carefully covered by the bait; and they avoid it and refuse to bite. Ironically, while these real fish may save themselves from the frying pan, in the spiritual parallel to this example, the exact opposite holds true. While some smart, worldly people think that they are safe by refusing the "foolishness" of the Gospel, they are in fact placing themselves in grave danger of not just being placed in the frying pan, but of being cast directly into the fire. They would be much better off if they simply took the bait -- the Cross/Hook of Christ -- and allow themselves to be caught by God's fishermen. More on this in a moment; but allow me to share a few verses with you regarding such world-wise people who do not understand, and who in fact resist God's Spirit working in their lives:
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
1 Corinthians 1:18, KJV
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
So which are you, dear reader; a dumb fish or a smart fish?
While in God's Mercy, we are all eventually given a chance to hear the Gospel of Salvation, and thus faced with the all-important choice of either accepting or else rejecting the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ as Atonement for our sins, the Bible also plainly tell us that only those people who have been predestinated and chosen by God the Father Himself, will take heed to the Voice of His Spirit calling in their lives, and will be saved. That is why Jesus plainly stated:
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
John 6:37, KJV
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:"
John 10:27, KJV
Clearly then, it is God the Father who gives the sheep to the Great Shepherd; His own dear Son. He is the One who places the spark of faith in our hearts, so that we will have the desire to fulfill His Will by being saved. Thus, contrary to what some people may think, choosing Christ is not something of which we can personally boast. It is only the work of God the Father, and Jesus Christ, our Great Shepherd, as we see here:
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,"
Hebrews 13:20, KJV
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Philippians 2:13, KJV
So again, we cannot heed the call of the "great shepherd of the sheep", unless we have been ordained to do so. Here are some additional verses concerning being predestinated and chosen as the foreordained, adopted children of God, through faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I have again placed some words in capital letters for the sake of emphasis:
"Ye have not chosen me, but I HAVE CHOSEN YOU, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you . . . If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I HAVE CHOSEN YOU OUT OF THE WORLD, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:16, 19, KJV
"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but FEW CHOSEN."
Matthew 20:16, KJV
"For many are called, but FEW ARE CHOSEN."
Matthew 22:14, KJV
"And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, WHOM HE HATH CHOSEN, he hath shortened the days."
Mark 13:20, KJV
"And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE believed."
Acts 13:48, KJV
"For WHOM HE DID FOREKNOW, HE ALSO DID PREDESTINATE to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:29, KJV
"According as HE HATH CHOSEN US IN HIM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love . . . Having PREDESTINATED us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will . . . In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being PREDESTINATED according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
Ephesians 1:4-5, 11, KJV
"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because GOD HATH FROM THE BEGINNING CHOSEN YOU TO SALVATION through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:"
2 Thessalonians 2:13, KJV
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please HIM WHO HATH CHOSEN HIM to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:4, KJV
"Hearken, my beloved brethren, HATH NOT GOD CHOSEN the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"
James 2:5, KJV
"But YE ARE A CHOSEN GENERATION, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
1 Peter 2:9, KJV
"These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and THEY THAT ARE WITH HIM ARE CALLED, AND CHOSEN, and faithful."
Revelation 17:14, KJV
So, once we do hear the Voice of His Spirit calling in our lives, and accept the Sacrifice of His dear Son as Atonement for our sins, as I mentioned earlier, we become spiritually adopted into the Heavenly Family; and in fact, into the Royal Household of God Himself. We become His adopted sons and daughters. Consider these additional verses:
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power TO BECOME THE SONS of God, even to them that believe on his name:"
John 1:12, KJV
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but YE HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Romans 8:15-17, KJV
"For ye are all the CHILDREN OF GOD BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS."
Galatians 3:26, KJV
"Having predestinated us unto THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
Ephesians 1:5, KJV
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but FELLOWCITIZENS with the saints, and OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD;"
Ephesians 2:19, KJV
So as you can plainly see, since before the world began, God the Father has set into motion His special "Salvage And Adoption Plan". If you would like to read more about this, please see such articles as my series "Is Jesus The Only Begotten Son Of God?". Allow me to remind you again that this Plan is most certainly not limited to just one race of people, as the Rastafarians would have you to believe. Jesus Christ died for the sins of all men everywhere; and whoever teaches contrary to this, is a liar and a deceiver. Do not fall for such lies and trickery! We were duly warned of such wayward doctrines by the writers of the New Testament many years ago, as we see by these verses:
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:"
Ephesians 4:14-15, KJV
"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."
Hebrews 13:9, KJV
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;"
1 Timothy 4:1, KJV
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV