So, you're a yak herder in Nepal and one afternoon you fall asleep on the mountainside. Whilst sleeping, you have a dream and in your dream a messenger tells you that he's going to show you that worship is much simpler than you thought. You're excited to hear this, and he promises to show up in a vision every day for a little while. He does, and each time he unfurls a scroll with the names of many different Hindu gods. Each day though, he scratches a name or two off the list as he says, "you don't need to bother with this one. " He keeps doing this until there's only one name left on the scroll. It's at the bottom of the list, a god of which you know nothing, named Jesus. The messenger tells you that this is the only God you need to worry about, the God above all gods and, as well, the God who became a man, died, and then beat death by exiting the tomb arisen. The messenger tells you that two men will come to your family and tell you more about this Jesus.
You go home and tell your family and they think you've drifted into insanity. They send you to a cave so that you won't embarrass them. But during your cave stay, two backpackers show up and share Christ with your family. As soon as they start talking about Jesus, your father comes and gets you out of the cave, and the family sits together listening to stories about the God man late into the night, culminating in you and the whole family turning to Christ in faith.
What I'm wondering is whether this yak herder and his family would have been saved if the guys hadn't made it to their house. Well, OK, if pressed, that's not really what I'm wondering at all. What I'm wondering is whether people need to say the name "Jesus" to be saved.
After all, Abraham was saved by believing the revelation granted him, and God credited it to him as righteousness. He never said the name Jesus, unless you count saying Jehovah (LORD) as saying the name Jesus because, after all, the two are actually one. But if that's the case, then people don't need to have heard of Jesus to be saved; they simply need to respond to the revelation God has shown them.
"Yes" you might say, "but that's why we need to send missionaries, because not all have heard." Did you know that Paul walked down this very road of reasoning and came to the conclusion that, indeed, all HAVE heard. How? The testimony of creation of course, as explained here, and here. In the Romans 1 passage, Paul is quite clear that people are under the judgment of God for rejection revelation, even though they've never heard the name of Christ, because the reality of God's character is 'clearly revealed' through the created order. One might ask then, if this revelation is enough to condemn people, is it also enough to save people? In other words, can someone be saved by simply looking at the created order and responding in worship, expressing thanks to the One who made it, though they've never heard about Christ?
What are your thoughts?
What are the implications for our daily lives?
Oh, and one last thing; the Nepal story... true!