If Someone who Lives in Africa Doesn’t Know About God or His Word and He Does Will the Man Go to Hell?

If someone who lives in Africa doesn’t know about God or his word and he dies will the man go to hell?

The question that many people often ask is how could God be so unjust as to send someone who has never heard His word to hell? We are very quick to point the finger at God and say that it is God who is responsible for sending someone to hell when such is not true at all. If any one person ends up in the place of eternal punishment known as hell, it will be because of the choice that they have made to go there. One might ask, how do we choose to spend eternity in hell? The answer is we choose to go to hell when we sin against God. Isaiah 59:2 says that our sins and our iniquities separate us from God. 1 John 1:8 and 10 say that if we say we have no sin we make God a liar and the truth is not in us. Indeed we must agree with the conclusion at which Paul arrived in Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a result of our sin we will receive exactly what we are owed, eternal death and separation from God (Romans 6:23). Eternal separation from God and the place called hell are situations in which we will be if we sin against God. This is not because of God’s choice, it is because of our choice and we must always recognize that this is the case first and foremost.

Now, to follow the line of reasoning further, a person might ask, “Well, how can God hold someone accountable for their sin when they don’t know they are sinning?” This question is a more reasonable question to ask, but it assumes something that the Bible teaches is just plainly false–the idea that a person can sin without knowing it is sin. The Bible teaches that God has inherently equipped man with several things to aid in man’s journey to be faithful to God. One of the things that God has done is made man in His image. In Genesis 1:27 we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” All men are created in the image of God. Now while I don’t know what all this entails, it involves a few things about man that we can understand to aid man in doing what is right. First, all men have the capacity to love and all men have the capacity to hate. Which one of those is right and which one is wrong? I believe that God has endowed us with the ability to understand which one is right and which one is wrong merely from being His human creation. There are other things that we can know are right and are wrong as well. Second, God has created us with a conscience. This is the ability that a person has to understand that one has done something that is either right or wrong. If one thinks about the fact that one has a conscience, one will come to the conclusion that something must be done about one’s sin in one’s life. Our conscience will also indicate to us when we have sinned. Third, man naturally seeks to do certain evil things in private or without the knowledge of someone who is in authority over us. When you committed your first sin that you can remember, was it in the presence of your parents? Was it committed in the presence of your preacher or teachers? Or was it committed someone in a dark place among the companions of fellow sinners? When man sins, he tends to want to cover it up so that persons in authority will not know about it. This is universal. I am sure that there are more things that could be brought out, but these should be sufficient enough for a person to come to the conclusion that God does not want him to sin and that so doing is a violation of God’s will.

Moreover, the Bible teaches that God has created us in such a way so as to seek Him. We read in Acts 17:26 and 27 that God, “�hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” God has made man in such a way so as to seek Him. He has also made it relatively simple for man to find Him. Paul declares in Romans 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” There are a few things in this passage that bear upon this subject. First, we see the statement, “that which may be known of God is manifest in them.” That is exactly what we were discussing earlier. There are some things that can be known of God that are shown within the creation of man himself. Second, we see the statement that “the invisible things of him are clearly seen.” He has also made the creation in such a way so as to give honor and glory to Him as God. Here is another avenue in which a man can reason correctly about the creation and come to the conclusion regarding God. We then read that due to these things that God has given man, God can hold man without excuse in the Day of Judgment.

So, there is no reason why any man upon the face of the earth should fail to come to knowledge about God. God can hold man accountable for his sin because God has made man in such a way so as to know that 1) God exists, 2) Man can understand that he has sinned against God and, 3) Man can seek and find God. Suppose I offered those three pieces of information in a court of law to a judge or jury. Your honor, this man who is accused of this crime knew that he committed this crime, knew that he was going to be held accountable for this crime, and knew that he was supposed to live in such a way so as not to commit this crime. What judge or jury in the world would not convict him of the crime?

Now, to be fair, there are some who exist upon the face of the earth today who do not have this capacity. They do not understand the difference between right and wrong. They do not understand what it means to be accountable for their actions. They do not understand that God will hold them in judgment one day and I know of no faithful gospel preacher alive who would argue that these would be sent to hell. In fact, just the opposite is the case for those who do not understand these things. God will spare their soul and take them to heaven. Who are these individuals? They are infants and children who have not matured to the appropriate age to understand what is right and wrong and they are individuals who through physical or mental defect cannot properly make decisions in their life. These God will tenderly keep in His care, but the man from Africa, who has all of his faculties about him, will undoubtedly stand before God in judgment.

Finally, what is the real problem with these types of situations? The problem is that although man knows what is right and wrong, he deceives himself into thinking that wrong things are not wrong.

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:19-25).

Notice that Paul says that it took an active decision on these individuals parts to reject God and to NOT have him in their knowledge. An individual who worships animals should recognize that those things are merely inferior creations to the One who created them and while there are some things that I have not seen, I have never seen a group of people who exist in a society with no gods whatsoever. This means that they have had to reason that some god exists and that therefore, they should understand that God exists. Once a person understands that God exists, then they should go about the business of trying to find God’s word. And God’s word is not far from any one of us.

So to repeat the question, “If someone who lives in Africa doesn’t know about God or his word and he dies, will the man go to hell?” According to the Bible, this question cannot be true of anyone except infants, children, and folks who have mental defects. The Bible teaches that it is not possible for one single individual who lives on the earth to not know certain things about God and for these things, God will bring every man into judgment.

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Is there a Contradiction between I Corinthians 11:24 and John 19:36?

In 1 Corinthians 11:24, some translations read “This is my body which is broken for you.” Is this a correct translation because in John 19:36 we read “that not a bone of Him shall be broken.”? Also what Old Testament scripture was referred to in John 19:36.

There are two questions here, so let me deal with them separately. First let’s deal with the last question. What Old Testament scripture was referred to in John 19:36? There are several that come to mind. One of the requirements of the Passover was that the suppliants were not to break a bone of the paschal lamb (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). A broken bone indicated an offering that was less than complete or perfect and the Israelites were to consider the entire meal of the Paschal lamb an offering to Jehovah. In Psalm 22:17 in the midst of a clear prophecy regarding the suffering Savior, it is said that he can count all of his bones. Another context in which this statement is made is in Psalm 34:20. While the Psalmist is describing the blessed state of the righteous, he describes the righteous one as one whose bones are not broken. This prophecy applies to the Christ as He is ultimately the fulfillment of all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). The early apostles recognized Him as “The Righteous One” as well (Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14) and all statements regarding the righteous within the Old Testament are fulfilled ultimately by and through Him. We also must remember that the Old Testament was revealed as a shadow of things to come. It should not surprise us that there are “hidden” prophecies regarding the Messiah that we would not recognize or that would even seem kind of unreasonable to us. God did not reveal His will under the Old Covenant in the same way that he clearly reveals His will under the New Covenant, so we can’t necessarily use the same standard of judging what appears reasonable or not as a fulfillment of prophecy. If God said it was a fulfillment, then that should be good enough for us, and he did say such.

As to the other question, 1 Corinthians 11:24 reads, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” We should take note that this is the reading from the KJV. The ASV reads as follows, “and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me.” The English Standard Version reads as follows, “and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” We should take note that only the KJV has the word “broken” in the text. This raises some interesting questions. First, was the word “broken” in the original manuscript. Second, if it was not, how did it get in there? Third, if it were, what would be its significance? These types of questions throw us into the middle of a discussion regarding the science of lower textual criticism. This area of study is the science that is used by scholars to determine which words were in the original manuscripts of the New Testament. As many of you know, we do not have the original autographs of the New Testament. So we must rely upon copies in order to have the Bible that we have. For the New Testament there are over 5000 copies of different sections of scripture that scholars have to study and compare. With the sheer number of copies made there are bound to be some errors. Some of the errors are merely transposition of letters or words, but other errors are more significant. This section of scripture happens to contain one of those types of errors. Now before I go on, let me state that I am not at this point saying what the error is. We know that because there is a difference in several of the manuscripts regarding this particular text, that there was an error. But we do not know at this point the nature of that error. We don’t know whether this word should be omitted or should be included. So we need to look at all of the available evidence to determine this one way or the other. How do we go about doing that?

Well, on the one hand, if we all knew Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Coptic, Syrian, and a dozen other languages AND if we had all studied the various different forms of the ancient manuscripts and how people wrote on them, we could dive into every single particular text, learn its age, research how ancient scholars regarded the accuracy of the text, and then try to come to a conclusion about the authority of each particular text and once we went through all 5000 or so of them, our work would be near completion. OR, on the other hand, we could let someone else do all of that for us and just see what they have said about it. I think we will do the later, but even that is a matter of some technical difficulty. In each Greek text, there is at the bottom of each page what is called the apparatus. The purpose of this part of the text is to tell us exactly what amount of authority one reading has over another. Sometimes we get a clear understanding of what the original should be and sometimes we do not. In the cases where we don’t get a clear understanding, scholars have developed some rules that indicate which reading is the best reading. There are differences, however, among the scholars as to what rules are the best. The prevailing methodology is to give the greatest authority of the text to the oldest manuscript. The assumption is that the older the manuscript is, the closer it is going to be to the original. And in this particular passage, the oldest manuscripts do not contain the word “broken.” This is why you will find the word left out of all of the new translations. The word is within the KJV because the KJV translators used a Greek version that is called the “received text” from which to translate their version into English. The “received text” does contain the word “broken” in this passage.

There is another way that we might use to help us understand whether this word was in the original autograph or not. We can compare this section of text with the rest of the Bible and see if it is consistent with other passages that might be similar or bear upon the meaning of this passage. The most similar passage to 1 Corinthians 11:24 is found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus merely says, “Take eat, this is my body.” Luke’s account reads, “This is my body which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me.” So given that most of the oldest manuscripts leave the word “broken” out, and given that the other accounts of this event do not include that particular thought, and given that it does appear to be theologically inconsistent with other parts of the Bible, such as this passage in John 19:36, it is most likely the case that the word was added through a mistake or an incorrect memory early in the history of the transmission of the New Testament. However, there is the possibility that it could have been in the original language. Let’s assume that it was for a moment.

If this word “broken” was in the original language, to what is it referring? It is clear from other parts of scripture that Jesus bones were not broken. To what could this “breaking” refer? It could refer to the breaking of the external layers of the body of Jesus–that is, His skin–when His body was pierced with the crown of thorns, beaten with a flog, and then pierced with nails and finally when His side was pierced with the soldier’s spear. The Greek construction of the relative clause “which is broken for you” makes it impossible for this to refer back to the bread itself, though in English it is ambiguous.

The long and short of it is this. The weight of evidence indicates that the word was not in the original language, but even if it was, it can be understood in a way that would not mitigate against any other important Biblical teaching such as the fulfilling of prophecy in John 19:36. In essence, each variant reading doesn’t contain information that would cause a contradiction within the scripture. And this is also the case with the majority of variations in the original Greek text so that we can say with complete certainty that we have God’s complete word as given to us through the inspired hands of the apostles. We also have the promise of Jesus in Matthew 24:35 that His words would not pass away. So we can be assured in this way as well that we have God’s word.

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Was Jesus Second Miracle Really His Second?

In John 2, John says turning water into wine was Jesus 1st miracle. In John 3, Nicodemus says he knew that Jesus had done signs. In John 4, John says Jesus did his second miracle. The question is, was it really only his 2nd miracle?

I appreciate this question. It shows that someone is thinking about the Bible and what it says. The Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). This means that everything in it is true because it is impossible for God to lie (Heb.6:18; Titus 1:2). As a result of having a book of complete truth, it is impossible for one part of that book to contradict another part of that book. If one part of the Bible contradicts another part of the Bible, then the Bible contains a lie and it cannot be the product of God. It really is as simple as that. So the Bible must contain absolutely no contradictions within its pages in order to be God’s word.

Now, in order for one statement to contradict another statement, certain conditions must be true of both statements. First, those statements must be talking about the same thing. That is, the definition of the words of both statements must be in reference to the same things. For example, if someone from South America were to say to me, “Football is a sport that uses a round ball,” I might disagree and say that football is a sport that uses an elongated ball. In my mind there is a contradiction because I may not understand that he is discussing what we call the game of soccer, but what in South America is called the game of football. Our definitions of the word “football” were different and so we thought we had a contradiction when we really did not. Second, the events under discussion must have occurred within the same time frame. If I were to say to Rusty that I had a chicken fried steak for lunch and he said to me, “How is that possible since we had lunch together and we ate Bubba’s BBQ?” We might think that we had a contradiction. But when I explain that I was talking about lunch a couple of weeks ago and he was talking about lunch last week, then we both realize there is no contradiction, just cholesterol laden arteries. Third, the events under discussion must have occurred within the same place. If I am on the phone with my mother and I step outside and say, “Well, would you look at that rain,” my mother might say, “There’s not a cloud in the sky.” We could both be correct because we may be in different places. In order for someone to contradict whether it is raining or not, you have to be talking about the same place. Finally, in order to show that something is NOT a contradiction, one need not have to prove so. The person who is pointing out the contradiction has the burden of proof upon them. In order to show that there is not a contradiction, one must merely show the possibility that the alleged contradiction can be understood in a non-contradictory way. So, having these things in mind, let’s see whether or not we have a contradiction with John’s statement in John 4.

The context is in regard to a nobleman’s son sick at Capernaum. The nobleman walks about twenty miles to Cana of Galilee in order to seek help from Jesus. When he arrives and inquires of Jesus concerning his son, Jesus tells him that his son lives. So the nobleman returns to Capernaum and on the road a servant meets him to tell him that his son lived. When he inquired at what time he became well, the servant indicates that it was about the same time of the day that Jesus told him that his son was going to live. All of this is found in John 4:43-54. In verse 54, John writes, “This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.” Our question is along these lines, “How can John say that this was the second miracle Jesus did when he had done more than two since the changing of the water into wine where John clearly says, that was Jesus’ first miracle?”

First, John 2:11 states the following, “This beginning of his signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” While it is true that this was Jesus’ first miracle, it is a mistake to assume that John was keeping a specific count of all of the miracles that Jesus did. John was not saying, “This is number one, that is number two, this is number three, etc.” Rather, he was marking the specific time and occasion when Jesus started performing the signs. Remember, John says that there were many other signs that Jesus did that he does not record (John 20:30). So to compare this miracle to the first as if John was keeping a running total is a mistake to begin with.

However, John does mention in John 4 that this was Jesus “second” sign. What do we make of this? Well, he says that it was his second sign “when he was come up out of Judea into Galilee.” First, understanding that John is not necessarily comparing this sign with the first sign, he could be saying that since Jesus decided to come up out of Judea into Galilee, this is his second sign, that is, on that journey–in that specific amount of time. This is a possibility and it at gives us a reason to say that this is not a contradiction. Second, notice that at the beginning of this narrative in John 4:46 we read, “So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.” He was in the same place that he was in when he turned the water to wine. John may be saying that this is the second sign that he had performed in this specific place. I think this is the more likely meaning. Again, there is no implication here that this was only the second sign that Jesus did in his entire ministry. So, there is no contradiction involved. This is a good question, though, and I am glad that it was asked. Peter says that we should always be ready to give answer to EVERY man who would ask of us the reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).

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