How could a good God let so many good people perish? The idea of Jesus being the only way sounds very offensive to some people. Won’t God accept someone who is sincerely trying to do good to others, even if he never hears about Jesus Christ or refuses to believe in him? Won’t God understand and be sympathetic?
(Nicholas Davis – Core Christianity) According to the recent study, “The State of Theology” by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research, 46 percent of self-identified evangelicals in America believe that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” So the question, “Does a person really have to go through Jesus to get into heaven?” is clearly a divisive one within evangelical Christianity today. Some might wonder, “Why is Christianity so exclusive?” This is a good question, but there is an even better question to ask.
Why is Christianity so inclusive? If we pause for a brief moment, it is shocking to hear the good news that the gospel of grace brings: God tells us that he doesn’t justify the godly. (Well that’s good to know, at least I qualify now!) God actually justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5). In other words, God includes the “despicable me’s” of this world, and he decides to call them acceptable—they are counted as righteous instead of wicked in his sight.
That’s a pretty inclusive message! God in Jesus Christ reached out to the sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors—society’s greatest misfits and outcasts—and he was personally associated with their kind. He was even labeled among them as a “drunkard” (Luke 7:34).
That God would save anyone is itself a marvel. But that God would save the dirty, rotten, neglected, marginalized, hated, and scorned is a true mystery. Personally, I’m grateful for his decision to save those who are undeserving. With Paul I can easily say, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15).