Post Author: Bill Pratt
A common and unfortunate misconception about Christianity is that only a temporally and geographically limited group of people will be saved. The gospel message started out in ancient Palestine, spread throughout the Roman empire over the next several hundred years, continued to spread throughout what is now modern Europe and north Africa, spread to the Americas in the 15th century, and then was brought to the rest of Africa and Asia in subsequent centuries.
Here is the problem. What about all the people who never heard the gospel over the last 2000 years solely because it took centuries for the message to be carried throughout the world (there are still many places today that have not been reached). For example, the gospel wasn’t brought to the Americas until after the 15th century, so what happened to all the native Americans who lived before the 15th century?
The Bible speaks to this issue pretty directly, but many people miss it.
First, take a look at Rev 5:9:
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
Notice what this is saying. At least some people from every people group will be saved! This statement seems to be inclusive of all times and geographies.
Second, take a look at Rev 7:9:
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
So it’s not just a few people from each tribe and nation, but a “great multitude that no one could count.” Again, it seems clear that a very large number of people composed of every people group that has ever lived will be saved.
Third, Jesus (a Jew) indicates that many non-Jews will be in heaven. Look at Matt 8:10-11 and Matt 24:31:
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 8:10-11).
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matt 24.31)
Biblical scholar Glenn Miller comments: “Notice that Jesus uses the phrases ‘many’(!) and ‘east and the west’ (a general idiom for ‘from all over the world’).”
What are we to make of these verses? Well, it seems that the idea that salvation is temporally and geographically limited is wrong. God has reached and will continue to reach people from every nation, tribe and language.