What should our attitude be towards our associates who belong to non-Christian religions? Our attitude should be the same as God's attitude. In John 3:16 we read:

"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."

God not only loved the world—all humankind, but He "so loved" them that He gave his only begotten son to die for them that they might obtain eternal life.

All non-Christian religions believe eternal life is obtained by noble works decreed in their respective scriptures. But the conclusions of the previous two chapters have invalidated the claims of the non-Judeo-Christian scriptures to represent the only true and living God.

Christian Scripture, the New Testament, clearly states the terms of salvation. The door to salvation from Adamic condemnation and death, pronounced back in Eden, is faith in Jesus' sacrifice. Thus we read in I Corinthians 15:22—"As in Adam all die (we were all born with inherited sin) even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "The wages of sin is death: The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord." Romans 6:23

Apostle Peter speaking of Jesus said in Acts 4:12, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." No matter how noble our works, we are at best "unprofitable servants." Only faith that Jesus died for our sins will save us from Adamic death. This is confirmed by Paul's words (Romans 5:18):

"Therefore as by the offense 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."

Our non-Christian associates might react—This sounds narrow-minded. Think of all the non-Christians who have never accepted or have never even heard the name of Jesus as the only way to salvation. Over the past centuries it numbers into the billions. Does this mean that these billions are lost? This is indeed a valid question which deserves an answer.

Remember God so loved humankind. Just how comprehensive is God's love? The Apostle Paul answers this question in I Timothy 2:3-6 (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. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

Notice verse 4—"[God] will have all men to be saved [from Adamic death] and come to a knowledge of the Truth [which is the basis of eternal salvation]. Verse 6 tells why. "[Jesus] gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time[s] [Greek plural]." Eternal salvation is the result of first believing the knowledge of the Truth of God's Word. Note verse 4 is not explaining eternal salvation. In verse 4 knowledge follows being saved. Paul is dealing with a salvation that precedes knowledge—not based upon knowledge. Verse 4 is defining a salvation that all men will experience that is not eternal. How can that be?

Any deliverance involves two stages. Deliverance from something and deliverance to something. A fitting example of this is Israel's deliverance from Egypt. When they miraculously crossed through the Red Sea, their deliverance was only partial. It was not until they, by the province and power of God, traversed the wilderness and crossed the River Jordan into Canaan that their deliverance was completed. Another example is that during the Holocaust many Jews were able to escape from the country they lived in, board ships for Palestine only to have those ships intercepted and returned to Europe. They died in the Holocaust. They were not delivered. Only those whose ships were not intercepted were delivered from the death camps.

There are two aspects of salvation. First, all are delivered from Adamic death—"As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." Then all men will come to a knowledge of the Truth. Their eternal salvation is conditional to their faith in this Truth. Obviously most of our non-Christian friends have not even received this knowledge of the Christ centered way of salvation. Most have died without receiving this knowledge. And this is just the point of the plural "times" in verse 6 of I Timothy 2—"Jesus gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due times." (Look it up in any New Testament Greek lexicon)

What "times" are meant, when God will make his ransom for all manifest? We turn to the Book of Acts for clarification.

"Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written, 'After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David [typical of Christ's Kingdom], which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up,' so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things." —Acts 15:14-17 (NRSV)

In other words, God first calls out His Church (a people for His name) during our Christian era. After that, during Christ's reign over earth at the Second Coming, "all other peoples" the masses of the human family who have not yet accepted Christ, will seek the Lord—even those "over whom my name has [previously] been called."

The due time for the Church of Christ (a little flock) is now during the Christian Age. The due time for the remainder of humankind is future. Further, Acts 15:14-17 reveals the purpose of the call of the Church and setting up Christ's Kingdom is to enable "all other peoples" to seek after the Lord. This is why the Church reigns with Christ in his Kingdom. (Rev. 20:4,6). Remember 2 Corinthians 6:2—"Behold now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation." This is a flagrant mistranslation by translators who seem to take satisfaction in their erroneous premise of salvation for only a few. Refer to Nestle and Marshall's or any other Interlinear Greek-English New Testament.

Look in the Greek-English interlinear column and see that the Greek text reads, "a day of salvation," not "the day of salvation."

Actually the Apostle Paul is here quoting from Isaiah 49:8 which clearly reads, "an acceptable time" and "a day of salvation." There is no basis for the gross mistranslation, "the day of salvation." This agrees with Paul's due time(s) in I Timothy 2:4. Now is "a" day of salvation for the calling of the Church of Christ. Christ's Kingdom will be the due time "that all other peoples may seek the Lord" (Acts 15:17).

One thing is clear throughout the Bible—God has not been attempting to convert the world since Jesus' death and resurrection. The Scriptures speak of God now dealing with only a few for a specific purpose. Christ's followers are spoken of as a little flock. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). God is only calling a few at this time. A representative of every type of the human race is being called into the church of Christ. The Greek word for Church is ecclesia, which literally means "called out ones." These called out ones, the little flock, will share with Christ when he establishes his Kingdom for the blessing of all mankind. Thus Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:2, "Know you not that the saints shall judge the world?" The Revelator discloses that the followers of Jesus will live and reign with him during his Kingdom, during the time that the benefits of Jesus' death are bestowed upon the world of mankind (Rev. 20:4).

Jesus' words in Mark 4:12 show that God is not presently interested in converting even the majority of mankind. "Unto you it is given to know the mystery [secret] of the Kingdom of God, but unto them that are without all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." This scripture might seem strange to some, but it gives us an insight into what God has been doing between the death of Jesus and the return of Jesus to set up his Kingdom upon the earth.

Have you ever wondered why the Christian Bible is difficult to understand? By divine intent it has been written in parables, dark sayings and symbols so that it would not be easily understood. Why? So that the majority would not bother and consequently would not be converted. During the Christian Age, the Lord is only converting a few, a "little flock," "who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honor and immortality" (Romans 2:7). These are elsewhere symbolically referred to as the bride of Christ. After Christ returns, these believers will be united with him and then the conversion of the world will begin. Revelation 22:17 prophesied of that time: "And the Sprit [the returned Christ] and the bride [the true church] say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Since the vast majority of the human race went down into their graves without hearing or understanding the "ransom for all," the Kingdom will require the raising of the dead. This is just what Jesus tells us in John 5:28 (RVS): "Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good to a resurrection of life and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment." Note again the same pattern of sequence we have seen in other scriptures. All will be raised from the dead. First, "they that have done good." This refers to the true church. During Christ's return they will be raised to spiritual life and united with their heavenly Lord. Then will follow the resurrection of the "evil class"—all the remainder of men who have not yet had a full chance to learn righteousness.

They will come forth to a "resurrection of judgment." The King James Bible, translated in AD 1611, grossly mistranslated the word "judgment" with the word "damnation." The American Revised Version in 1881 correctly used the word "judgment," and no translation since has used the word "damnation." The Greek word in the text is krisis and it actually denotes "a crucial testing time." This Greek word is the source of our English word "crisis," and it has the same meaning. A doctor might say, "The patient will reach his crisis tomorrow morning." This does not mean that the patient will die tomorrow morning. Rather, the crisis of an illness is that period when the patient will take a turn for the better or for the worse.

The "crisis" or trial time for the church is in this present life, but the "crisis" or trial time of the remainder of mankind will be at the resurrection in the Kingdom. Billions of mankind, before and after Jesus' earthly ministry, died without receiving the light of Jesus. Yet John 1:9 states that Jesus is the light that "lights every man that comes into the world." A further Scriptural confirmation that, for most, truth enlightenment will require an awakening from the dead. The world has yet come to this momentous experience.

Why is the true Church first selected to share with Christ in the Kingdom work of blessing mankind? There are a number of reasons given in the Scriptures.

One reason can be illustrated by the noble work of Alcoholics Anonymous. An essential step of AA therapy is to assign a former alcoholic to each alcoholic that comes for help. The victim being controlled by alcohol will not readily accept help or advice from just anyone. How could anyone know his agony, his depression, his desperation if he has not shared the same experience? But the alcoholic will accept help from a former alcoholic because he knows that this person can understand his agony. And this former alcoholic stands ready at any time to come to his side, to plead with him. It requires a former alcoholic to rehabilitate an alcoholic.

When mankind comes forth from the grave in God's Kingdom, they will be informed that they have been purchased with the precious blood of His Son and they will be made aware of the fact that they are now under the reign of Jesus Christ and his Church (I Cor. 6:2). What confidence they will have knowing that the Church understands and will enter into their problems! Why? Because the Church were once sinners, as well. This plan of rehabilitation will work. The majority will gladly receive the instruction, the disciplining, the nurturing necessary to pass their trial for eternal life.

Again, what should our attitude be toward all who are not Christians? The Scriptures leave us no choice: We are told to "do good unto all men." Gal. 6:10 We are also to "love our enemies," (Matt.5:44) and Paul tells us to "owe no man anything but love." Romans 13:8 Why do we have these admonitions? We are to love like God loves. Although the world is at enmity with God, they are his creation. At worst, they are children that have gone astray whom God is chastening in order to effect a positive change of heart. Remember your childhood? Did you stop loving your brother or sister while they were being corrected by your parents. The present lifetime is a time for all mankind to learn this one basic lesson and that is the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its bitter consequences. Most will learn this bitter lesson and have responsive hearts when they come forth from the grave and are given a knowledge of the truth.

We love our non-Christians friends. We rejoice and trust we will be a part of the Church which will give to all families of the earth the message of Revelation 22:17. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Yes, the time is coming when all the peoples of the earth will know, love and worship the same God. The Apostle John prophetically captured the overflowing joy and praise in their hearts at that time (Rev. 5:13).

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, ...heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

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