Weekly Devotional

The Rock ... And Inclusivism

The difference between false hope, no hope and true hope.

Jesus said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’

Matthew 16:15-18

A nearly invisible germ which looks as if it wears a crown has brought the world to its knees. Never before has a plague spread deep and wide across the globe so fast. My birth-land and adoptive-land have been competing for first place when it comes to COVID-19 deaths, cases, and hospitalization over the last year. 

While the world rushes to distribute the vaccine, many have been deceived by those pushing questionable alternatives said to diagnose and cure, prevent and treat the coronavirus. Besides being unproven and illegal, these fraudulent products are dangerous because they provide false hope to those who may die taking them. 

Is false hope good?

The entire world has been affected by a fatal, spiritual virus. No human, in history or geography, is excepted from sin. Not even one is righteous. While religions and philosophies have offered questionable ways of salvation (this article builds on two previous articles in this series), a “cure”, more dangerous than other claims, is being offered. It sounds like it offers a method of eternal salvation, but it is not biblically provided, promised, nor proven. It gives false hope to those diagnosed with the sin-deathly disease, keeps them from proper treatment and effective access, let alone an eternal cure. 

For lack of a better term, its proponents are called inclusivists. In terms of salvation, they attempt to offer eternal hope to those who are sincere in their search for salvation but will not get to hear about the Savior, Jesus. Inclusivists say that people can get into heaven without trusting in Jesus as the object of their salvation. Though people don’t have knowledge of Jesus, they are said to be able to receive eternal life. They believe that the fact that they are searching can itself get them in. 

No believer in Jesus should be against inclusion of all people in the invitation to salvation. However, the Bible does not see a way into salvation for any unbeliever. Even the most moral, ardent seeker must embrace Jesus in faith as one’s true savior. Believing on Jesus takes knowing about Jesus. All their sincerity in the wrong medicine will give them false hope. They will only be blessed with God’s salvation if the content of their prescription is correctly compounded, administered and received.

The Rock is Hard: True Hope vs. False Hope

In our Bible passage at the top, Jesus’ prescription for the spiritual virus is clear in His blessing of Peter’s confession. Peter is blessed because He was correct about the identity of Jesus and accurate in his answer to Jesus’ original question: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” 

Everyone — because they are under the virus of sin leading to eternal death — must come to know this same Jesus. They cannot get away without the true content about Jesus as their real hope, the right information about Jesus to personally trust for eternal life.

In Peter’s affirmation above, we assume his understanding and acceptance of the genuine expectation stated throughout the New Testament as the condition of personal salvation. 

You Must Affirm It! Confession

It was Peter’s affirmation, built on the right knowledge about Jesus, that received the blessing of heaven. Inclusivists also ought to uphold the personal affirmation of the identity of Jesus, by all people, as divinely revealed and required. Biblically, the fact that many have not heard the gospel does not excuse them. There are not two means of eternal salvation: trusting in Jesus and never hearing about Him.

Not long after their dialogue, Peter said it this way: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) We are all to be inclusivists in the offer of salvation, but exclusivists (those who hold to one Savior or necessary path) in the means of salvation. Shall we be very careful not to give the world hope in a false-prescription?

Just like we would not rest in a false hope that a health drink might cure a deadly case of COVID-19, we should show the same mercy to those on the broad road to eternal death. Compassionate people would make every effort to convince the sick to make use of life-saving medicine. What we won’t offer is false hope, that people can be rescued without knowing the only, right cure for eternal death.

Published with permission from liferocks.org.

Pray this week:

Lord Jesus, while we wish people could receive eternal life without you, God has established your name as the Savior of the world. I humbly consent to His exclusive condition of eternal salvation, not only for myself, but also for those who have not heard. Help me to affirm you as the only true hope of this world.

What would happen if a deathly-ill person does not know of life-giving medicine? Will his sincere reception of any other medicine help him? How does this illustration apply to the matter of those not hearing about Jesus in order to be saved?

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