Jan 5th, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 59 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to be talking about waiting on The Lord.
There was this time in the life of Elijah the prophet where he sat down under a tree and prayed to die. God sent an angel with some bread and a jug of water. He ate and slept and ate again then headed out on a journey of forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb. Then starting in verse 9 of chapter nineteen, of 1 Kings, 1 Kings 19:9-14 CSB, “ He entered a cave there and spent the night. Suddenly, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of Armies, but the Israelites have abandoned your covenant, torn down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life."  Then he said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the LORD's presence." At that moment, the LORD passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
God wasn’t in the mighty wind, God wasn’t in the earthquake, God wasn’t in the fire. God was in the soft whisper. Now, this account may be literal, but even if it’s poetic instead of literal, the message is the same. The world is competing for your attention, but all that noise is just distraction. You may never hear an audible whisper, but God speaks to us with many voices using several languages and through lots of mediums.
We can talk about waiting on The Lord and enduring till we’re blue in the face, but until we talk about practical application, we’re just spinning our wheels. It’s not just the world throwing distractions at you, you’ve also got your own mind with its doubts and insecurities to deal with, and the challenges brought by others. Both non-believers, and other Christians. So, for the rest of this episode will be devoting our time to addressing one specific doubt that challenges the modern Christian.
The enigma in question is this, “If Jesus is the only salvation, then Christians believe that everyone who was born before Jesus was damned to Hell.” Despite the fact that no one is damned to Hell until after The Judgement, so ultimately that call is above our pay grade, it’s a question that I’ve pondered in the past and one that I recently heard put forth by an atheist in an attempt to confound Christians. What I’ve found is that the answer was a common part of Christian theology that faded from belief over the last thousand years or so. For this, we're going to turn to Psalm 16, and 1 Peter 3 & 4.
But first, let’s look at Romans 8:2 CSB, “ because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Before Christ, everyone was subject to the law, first the law of Noah that anyone or thing that kills a human will be put to death by a human, and then the law of Moses that Paul commonly refers to as the law of sin and death. It was by these standards that everyone who died was weighed against at the moment of death and then taken to the place of the dead, known as Sheol, and then either deposited on one side of a chasm reserved for lawbreakers or the other side reserved for the innocent.
It was here, Sheol, that Christ went upon His death. King David prophesied about it in Psalm 16:9-11 CSB, “ Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely.  For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay.  You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.”
Peter writes about this too 1 Peter 3:18-20a CSB, “ For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,  in which he also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison  who in the past were disobedient,” this proclamation to the “spirits in prison” Peter goes on to clarify in 1 Peter 4:6 CSB, “ For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God's standards.”
So, no, everyone who lived before Christ isn’t damned to Hell. To get a little bit more clarity and have this make a little more sense of it we can also turn to Romans 5:13 CSB, “ In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person's account when there is no law.” The law of the Spirit that Paul speaks of in Romans 8 that salvation through faith in Christ wasn’t given before Christ lived. Therefore, no one who lived before Jesus could be held accountable to that law or receive its benefits. We talked in the last episode that everyone who surnames the name of the Lord. Everyone who takes on that name of the Lord will be saved. This salvation, this spiritual salvation of eternal dwelling with the Lord. If that law didn’t exist for those people, then they couldn’t take advantage of it while they were alive. The couldn’t until after they were presented the Gospel, and no one could do that except for the one who had conquered sin and death. He submitted Himself to death and then conquered death because He had done no wrong, took the keys to death, Hell, and the grave, so on and so forth. We now see it tying back into what we still hold as common solid theology.
Along the same lines the question of whether someone born after Christ who lived their whole life in seclusion. They’re in some country where the Gospel hasn’t reached, they never heard the Gospel, it was never preached, they were never told about Jesus, they were never visited by Jesus. They never had this revelation of the Gospel. Are those people damned to Hell or not? Once again, that is above our pay grade to say and will be sorted by The Judge, at The Judgement. God is a just judge who will rightly decide the eternal fate of those in question. Until then it’s our duty to love the Lord, love ourselves, love others wait on The Lord and endure until He comes.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”