Introduction: Religious leaders tell me that the gospel must be
preached to everyone before Jesus can come again. They are not making
this up, for this statement is found in Matthew 24:14. Is this
literally what Jesus means? Without thinking about it, I’ve taken it
literally. People nudge me in that direction by showing me parts of
the world that have not heard the gospel. They say we need to target
those places, and then Jesus can come. The logical problem arises
with all of the people who have already lived and died in a part of
the world not reached by the gospel. What about them? How do they
impact our goal? Let’s dive into our final study about being a
missionary and see what the Bible says!

  1. The Only Name

    1. Read Acts 4:1-3. What is the problem with the preaching of
      Peter and John? (They were preaching about the
      resurrection, and the Sadducees did not believe in the

    2. Read Acts 4:5-7. Why do you think the Jewish leaders
      started out with this question? (Read Acts 4:8-9. The
      Jewish leaders are not asking about the resurrection, they
      are asking about the healing of a crippled person. If the
      disciples claimed it was by magic, then the Jewish leaders
      would have an easy decision.)

      1. What do you think about Peter’s answer? (First, it is
        brilliant – “did you arrest us for helping someone?”
        Second, it shows an example of the promise in Luke
        12:11-12 that the Holy Spirit will teach us what to
        say when we are brought before the authorities.)

    3. Read Acts 4:9-12. What do you think about the diplomacy of
      the Holy Spirit? (We touched on this in earlier lessons.
      A rule that we should never offend others is silly. At the
      same time, Jesus teaches us that avoiding offense in some
      instances is the right idea ( Matthew 17:27).)

      1. When the Holy Spirit states through Peter that only
        Jesus can save us, is He stating a universal truth,
        or is He just speaking about this particular healing?
        (We learned from Paul last week that we cannot live a
        perfect life. Thus, relying on the perfect life of
        Jesus, and His death and resurrection, is the only
        means by which humans can be saved. This is a
        universal truth.)

    4. Read John 14:6 and Matthew 28:19-20. If people could be
      saved without hearing the gospel, why would Jesus make
      this statement and give this command?

      1. What impact does this have on the question of whether
        all must hear before Jesus can return? (This makes it
        appear that a specific message about Jesus must be

    5. Read Matthew 8:11. Who are we told will be in Heaven?
      (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.)

      1. How much do you think they understood about the life,
        death and resurrection of Jesus?

    6. Read Psalms 19:1-4 and Romans 1:18-20. What does this
      suggest about how everyone can know God? (The glory of
      creation directs us to God. Paul says that humans are
      “without excuse” in knowing God.)

    7. Read John 14:7. Is the reverse true, can we learn enough
      about Jesus by knowing the Father?

    8. Let’s see if we can put these texts together and come up
      with an answer to the question of whether all must hear
      the gospel before Jesus can return. How clearly must a
      person understand and accept the life and work of Jesus to
      be saved? (A clear understanding is what God desires, that
      is why He gave the gospel commission to us. But, at the
      end of the day, people are saved by the life and sacrifice
      of Jesus even though they do not clearly understand it.
      Instead, God makes some sort of judgment based on what is
      revealed about Him through creation and the Holy Spirit.)

    9. Read Deuteronomy 29:29. How complete is our understanding
      of how God operates when it comes to salvation and other
      matters? (I think this is a warning about having too
      certain an opinion when it comes to predicting how God
      will save. Even our understanding of how the Trinity
      operates is far from complete.)

  2. Gospel Theory

    1. Read Matthew 22:37-40. How many religions share this
      “golden rule” view of showing love and respect to others
      and loving and respecting God? (Many.)

      1. Does this mean that good people will be saved? I
        recall my father saying that he thought Winston
        Churchill should go to heaven based on his works
        during World War II. (My father was stationed in
        England for part of the war.)

    2. Read Ephesians 2:8-10. What saves us? (Grace! We obtain
      salvation through faith in the gift of God. God created us
      to do good works, but we are not saved by our works.)

      1. Read Matthew 7:13-14. Does salvation by grace alone
        increase or decrease the number who are saved? (Most
        people think they are pretty good, but not too many
        are serious about having a relationship with God.)

    3. Read Revelation 20:11-15. Are people judged by their
      works? (Some are – those who are lost.)

      1. Who is not judged by their works? (Those whose names
        are written in the Book of Life.)

      2. Wait a minute! Don’t these verses say that “each
        person was judged according to what he had done?”
        (Read Revelation 20:4-6. The key to understanding
        this is to understand that there are two
        resurrections. Those whose name is written in the
        Book of Life are raised in the “first resurrection.”
        A thousand years later the resurrection of the wicked
        occurs, and the wicked are judged by their works.)

    4. Let’s explore more deeply the issue of being lost by our
      works, saved by grace, and what the Bible reveals about
      how God decides. Go back to Romans 1:20-23. What is the
      most basic way in which humans reject God? (The heavens
      show us there is a God, but wicked humans reject Him by
      worshiping what God created, rather than God.)

    5. Read Romans 1:24-25. What does it mean that “God gave them
      over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual
      impurity?” (This is a progressive rejection of God. If you
      reject God on a very basic level (you worship a reptile
      instead of the Creator of all animals), then God releases
      you to further sin.)

    6. Read Romans 1:26-27. What is the next “unnatural” step
      deeper into sin?” (The Genesis order of a man and woman
      becoming one in marriage, is traded for unnatural same sex

      1. Let’s consider a moment Paul’s logic here. This is
        not a rejection of the gospel, presumably these
        people do not know the gospel. What is the basis for
        dividing between God’s people and those who are not
        God’s people? (Romans tells us there obvious things
        in nature. One is to worship the Creator instead of
        the creature. Another, is to follow the Creator’s
        design for reproduction.)

    7. Read Romans 1:28-32. What is the next step in this
      progression away from God? (Since they do not learn what
      God is teaching them in nature, they slip even further
      down the slope of wickedness.)

      1. What is the final step in this slide? (Approving

      2. I cannot pass this question up because of the current
        debate over homosexuality. If I’m correct that Paul
        is describing a slide into sin for those who do not
        know the gospel, what sins are further down the slide
        than homosexuality? (Greed, envy, murder, strife,
        deceit, malice, gossip, slander, God-haters,
        insolent, arrogant and boastful, just to name some.)

      3. What does that teach us about the nature of
        homosexuality? (First, the sin described here is not
        same-sex attraction, but rather committing “indecent
        acts” as a result of that attraction. Second,
        homosexuality is identified as a failure to
        acknowledge the obvious lesson in nature. No one
        thinking correctly would worship an animal instead of
        the Creator of animals. No one thinking correctly
        would miss the design of the human body and
        reproductive systems. Rejecting God’s obvious lessons
        leads to more sinful results.)

      4. How is this sequence of sin consistent with grace?
        (Grace is accepting God. Whether you accept God with
        a sophisticated understanding of the gospel, or
        merely accept Him based on what is revealed in
        nature, you have accepted God.)

    8. Friend, can you see how God opens to every human the
      opportunity to follow Him? You have the obligation and
      opportunity to share the clearest message of the gospel,
      the gospel of grace. Will you commit to doing that?

  3. Next week: We start a new series of lessons on Jeremiah the

  4. Note to readers: Eric Belloy is a long-time translator of this lesson
    into the French language. His wife just launched her first CD of
    piano compositions. If you would like to discover her music you can
    go to