God our Savior . . . desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
–1 Timothy 2:3-4
Some people think if there is only one way to be saved, that means God must not want to save many people. What can you say in response to that? You can share the truth: God wants to save as many people as possible, not as few as possible. Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:3-4, “God our Savior . . . desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In 2 Peter 3:9, the apostle wrote, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” And Jesus Himself said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” God wants to save as many people as possible.
A person might say, “If that is true, why would God only save those who come to know Christ as Savior? How could a loving God send people to hell who have never even heard the name of Jesus?” I think the Bible clearly teaches that God will reveal Himself to those who want to know Him. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Anybody can look up at the stars and the planets, or look around at all the plants and animals, or even look at himself and realize there is a power greater than himself. In theology, we call that “general revelation.” But is that knowledge enough to save us? No. If we believe that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved, then a knowledge of God and even a love for God is not enough to be saved.
What about people who desire to seek God, but have never heard about Jesus? I believe the Scripture is clear: when somebody responds to the general revelation God gives them, if they have a right heart toward God, He will send them the knowledge they need in order to be saved. Think about the Ethiopian official in Acts 8. He went to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. On the way home, he opened up the book of Isaiah to a passage about the Messiah, but he could not understand what he was reading. What did God do? He saw a heart that was right toward Him, so He miraculously sent Philip to share the gospel with that Ethiopian official. In Acts 10, we meet Cornelius, a Roman centurion. He too loved God, but that was not enough for him to be saved. What did God do? He dispatched the apostle Peter to share the gospel with Cornelius. Then in Acts 19, Paul stumbled across some disciples of John the Baptist in the upper regions of Ephesus. As he questioned them, he realized these disciples were not believers. They were lovers of God, but they did not know Jesus. What did God do? He sent the apostle Paul in order to share the gospel with them. Whenever God sees a heart that wants to know Him, He will send the truth into that person’s life. God will bring the message of salvation to those who want to receive it.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What To Say To Those Who Deny There Is One Way” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.