Honest Questions is a category of a Lift Up where I will feature questions from high school students. Most are directly from my experience of working with them. Some are not. I will do my best to answer as I would to
a high school student.
Does God save people who try to love Him through other religions? And what about people who’ve never heard of Jesus? I have a hard time giving my life to a God who wouldn’t acknowledge their good intentions.
I think that’s a valid question, and I’m glad you’re asking it. It’s okay to feel like that’s a hard hurdle for you to jump—that Christianity says it’s the only way to God. It looks like you have a few different questions here. To help me understand what you’re trying to say, I’ll paraphrase with some specific questions.
(1) Is it possible to love God through other religions (not just Christianity)?
(2) What happens to people who try to love God through other religions after they die? What about people who’ve never heard of Jesus?
(3) Does God even acknowledge the intentions of people who try to love God through other religions? Or are they treated the same way as people who want nothing to do with God?
(1) Is it possible to love God through other religions (not just Christianity)? The Bible clearly claims that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else [but Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). So, that’s not simply what Christians think or my personal opinion, that’s what the Bible teaches. If we accept the Bible as the Word of God, we accept that it’s not possible to love God through other religions.
(2) What happens to people who try to love God through other religions after they die? What about people who’ve never heard of Jesus? The Bible clearly teaches that the only way into heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” As for people who’ve never heard of Jesus, the Bible teaches that God has declared Himself through all of creation, so they are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Imagine a country that celebrated parents for abusing their children or that awarded medals for war crimes. There is a universal understanding of morality that the Bible teaches is from God.
(3) Does God even acknowledge the intentions of people who try to love God through other religions? Or are they treated the same way as people who want nothing to do with God? The Bible seems to indicate that God will allow a less severe punishment for those with good intentions or for those who have never heard about Jesus (Matthew 11:20-22). They will not be in heaven, but God will allow some mercy on them.
Altogether, these are some big, heavy questions. I know when I think about them, they make my heart sink. Think of it like trying to wrap your arms around Shamoo—you just won’t be able to grasp it all.
So consider good questions like this, but I would encourage you to think about what the Gospel means for your life as an individual. Jesus asked Peter, “Who do people say I am?” but then Jesus turned the question straight to him: “But who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29).
Who do you say Jesus is? What are your thoughts about Him? About the kind of love He’s demonstrated for you on the cross? God’s not asking you to give Shamoo a hug. He’s extending a wrapped gift to you and simply asking, “Will you receive it?”