If God starts it–He WILL finish it!

road to nowhere 11

I have always heard that if you are going to teach something, you should teach what you are passionate about. I am passionate—more like adamant—about the eternal security of the believer. Or as Steve Lawson would say, “I’m not just dogmatic–I am bulldogmatic” about this subject. I am absolutely convinced that if a person is truly saved, they are saved forever. And today we’re going to see why.

Let me start with an illustration—and when I say “Let me” I’m not looking for your permission, I’m telling you in a nice way, “I’m doing this whether you like it or not.” Let me start with an illustration. Have you ever been to Bryson City, NC? It is a tourist town nestled in the Smoky Mountains. And in Bryson City there is an odd sort of tourist attraction. It’s a bit of an unintentional tourist attraction. If you take Everett Street out of the city, it eventually becomes Fontana Road. Go past Swain County High School about 6 miles, and you come to a tunnel. And on the other side of the tunnel is…wait for it…NOTHING!

Fontana Road has actually gained a more colorful nickname by the locals, many of whom call it, the Road to Nowhere. It stands as a monument to governmental efficiency. Actually, there’s a good reason they didn’t finish it. During the construction process they found rock that was highly acidic, and if they were to disturb it, the acid would cause severe environmental damage. For all you children of the ’70′s, I will leave off any references to “acid rock”.

tunnel

We have our own “Road to Nowhere” here in Knoxville, it is called the James White Parkway (named after the man who founded Knoxville, TN. Not the wonderful Christian apologist. But if I had my way…). Got started and has still not been finished, and it appears it never will be finished. The Foothills Parkway, which was originally supposed to be 72 miles long, running from Tennessee to North Carolina–how many miles are complete, anybody know? About 22.

So, my point is this: do men begin projects that they do not finish? Wives, please hold your comments about husbands until we are finished, OK? My dad was notorious for that. So many times we begin things we have every intention of finishing–but for whatever reason, those things remain unfinished.

On the other hand, if God starts something, will HE finish it? Oh, absolutely. And that is a truth we find in our text today. And that text is Philippians 1:6. No, I actually need to start at verse 3. Philippians 1:3-6 (NASB)3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Of all the verses that so clearly spell out the fact that a saved person is saved forever, this is one of the clearest. When I first got saved, I was like a lot of people probably are. I thought that, “Well, yeah, you can be wicked enough to lose your salvation!” But that’s because I was looking at it in the same way as anyone else who thinks you can lose your salvation—I was only looking at salvation from the human side, not taking into account that it is not that we save ourselves, but that God saves us, sets us apart as His own, and will do everything He has to do to keep the one He has adopted. I like what John Calvin said about this verse—

“Let believers exercise themselves in constant meditation upon the favors which God confers, that they may encourage and confirm hope as to the time to come, and always ponder this in their mind: God does not forsake the work which his own hands have begun, as the Prophet bears witness, (Psalm 138:8; Isaiah 64:8) we are the work of his hands; therefore he will complete what he has begun in us. When I say that we are the work of his hands, I do not refer to mere creation, but to the calling by which we are adopted into the number of his sons.”

And in that quote, he lists two Old Testament verses to support is argument, Isaiah 64:8But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand. Psalm 138:8The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Your hands. So in these three verses—Philippians 1:6, Psalm 138:8 and Isaiah 64:8—we see this most beautiful picture that God has taken us mere lumps of clay, and is shaping us, molding us, making of us a vessel of mercy to show His grace, and that He will not leave that good work undone.

OK, so let’s look at our text from Philippians. Let’s start off by talking about the good work. What is the good work? Salvation. Who began the good work? God did. Otherwise, Paul would have said, You who began the good work in you… Right? But he didn’t say that. He said He who began the good work. So obviously somebody other than you began the good work in you. Somebody not named “You” began the work of salvation in you. In fact, Paul uses the word ἐνάρχομαι (enarchomai). It means “to begin”. You hear the word “arch” in there, like archangel or archetype. It comes from the same Greek word as ἀρχή (arche). John 1:1 (Greek NT)ἐν ἀρχή (en arche) In the beginning. The word Paul uses refers to the very beginning of something. Not, “You had the idea, and God showed you the rest.” God started it. When Jesus asked His disciples “Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” and Simon Peter said “Thou art the Christ”, Christ did not say, “Good job Peter! How did you ever figure that out? You’re one smart cookie” I don’t think the phrase “smart cookie” was part of the Greek or Hebrew lexicon at the time, but anyway. It was GOD who showed Simon that Jesus is the Christ. Simon didn’t have the idea in his head and God came along and said, “Yep, you got it!”

Titus 3:4-64 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Did God look down on creation, and say, “Hey, ya know, that Donny guy, he’s a pretty good fellow. I think I’ll save him”? No, because there is no such thing as a “good person”. We are all wretched and wicked and we all deserve Hell. If you have a problem with that, then go to your Bible and rip the entire 3rd chapter out of the book of Romans. We are, as he would tell the Ephesians, dead in trespasses and sins. And by the word “dead” he means……DEAD! But God grants new life to us, washes us, puts His Holy Spirit in us, and opens our eyes to the truth. We have an example of this action by God in Acts 16:14A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. When we send out missionaries, mission teams, when we commission them to the work, what do we often ask in prayer? We pray God would grant His missionaries mercy; that He would protect them, but what do we pray for the people they witness to? Do we say, “Lord, I hope the people are smart enough to believe us!” or “Give us eloquent speech so we can convince them to follow us!” No, we pray that God would open their hearts to believe the gospel. Because one cannot believe the gospel, cannot confess Jesus Christ as Lord unless the Holy Spirit acts on their heart (1st Corinthians 12:3).

Next let’s look at the word confident. When we think of confidence, what do we normally think of? Someone that can walk into any situation, and they are “confident” they can get the job done. The heart surgeon, or the brain surgeon. “I am Dr. Big Man, and I am going to save your life!” That is self-confidence. And in some circumstances that can be a good thing. I want the guy cracking my chest open and holding my still-beating heart in his hands to know what he’s doing. “Gee, I hope I can get this thingy back in there!” is not something I want to hear him say. But when it comes to salvation, is self-confidence a good thing? Absolutely not!! But the person who says you can lose your salvation is indeed basing your continuing in salvation on your confidence in yourself. When you boil it all down, that person is saying, “Great! God has saved you! Now, make sure you do enough good things, and you don’t do enough bad things so you lose that salvation!” That is basically what they are saying—that God started it, but now it’s up to you to keep it going. That was the whole problem with Galatia. The Judaizers were telling the new Christians in Galatia that yes, you may have been saved by grace, but you keep yourself saved by keeping the Law of Moses.

And that is basically what these people do—they set the person up to embrace a form of legalism. If you do this many of this sin and that many of that sin, and if you don’t do this or this then you’re lost again. Galatians 3:3Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Having been saved by the washing of regeneration by God, are you now kept by obeying a list of rules and regulations that if you don’t live up to them God will disown you? Paul put no confidence in his flesh. Paul is not confident in man’s ability to keep himself. Just the opposite—he knows than man’s flesh is weak and he cannot save himself. And he certainly cannot keep himself saved. In fact, if one says that a saved person can be wicked enough to lose their salvation they are, by default, saying that one can be righteous enough to keep it. Paul’s confidence is in God and in God’s ability to keep that person. Being confident of this. Confident that God began the work, and that if He has begun the work He will perfect it.

That word perfect. That is the key to this whole verse. The Greek is ἐπιτελέω (epiteleo). The root word is τελέω (teleo). Does anybody know what the 3rd person passive indicative of that word is? How can you not know the 3rd person passive indicative of τελέω (teleo)? What’s wrong with you people? The 3rd person passive indicative of τελέω (teleo) is τετέλεσται (tetelestai). Do you know where we find the word τετέλεσται (tetelestai) in the gospels?

John 19:30 (Greek NT)τετέλεσται (tetelestai) “It is finished.”

Did Jesus complete the work of redemption and salvation on the cross? If God begins a good work in you will He complete it? ἐπιτελέω (epiteleo). τετέλεσται (tetelestai). If you are saved, your salvation is every bit as complete as Christ’s work on the cross. He who began a good work…will complete it.

Unfinished bridge, discontinuity, interruption.

Let’s look at some other verses that say pretty much the same thing. Hebrews 10:14—and of course we can’t start with verse 14, let’s start with verse 11. Hebrews 10:11-1411 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. Under the old covenant, if you sinned today, you bring an animal to the priest, he would kill it, cut it up, burn it. You sin tomorrow, does that animal you brought yesterday do you any good today? No. So what do you do? You bring another one. The priest kills it, cuts it up, burns it. You sin again the next day–you get the picture. The goat that was killed on the Day of Atonement one year—was it still good the next year? No. What did they have to do? Bring another animal. The year after that, are the two goats you brought the previous two years any good? No, you bring another one. 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins fora little while—no? One sacrifice for how long? For all time. 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God. Did the priests ever get to sit down? When you have 2 million plus people, you’ve got a whole lot of sin. And when you had a whole lot of sin you had a whole lot of animals that needed to be killed, cut up and burned. How many sacrifices did Christ offer? One When He finished that one sacrifice, how many more sacrifices did He have to make? NONE. So what did He do? He sat down. Why? Because He was done. τετέλεσται (tetelestai). 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. And here we go. 14 For by one offering He has perfected……for the time being those who are sanctified. Is that what that says? No. NKJV–He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. I mentioned before that when I first got saved I did not believe in eternal security. Wasn’t gonna have it; wasn’t even gonna hear it. But after a while I started reading more, and just when I was about to the point of accepting it, I read this verse. Game over. Period, paragraph. He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. And actually, the ESV describes us as those who are being sanctified—much closer to the Greek.

Listen to the tenses. He has perfected. And by the way, the word perfected in Hebrews 10:14? Guess what Greek word that comes from? τελέω (teleo). Who has been perfected? Those who are being sanctified. This verse cannot be talking about some future, possible, “do everything you can to get there, maybe you’ll get there and maybe you won’t” kind of idea. Those who are right now being sanctified have been already perfected.

Now, someone may ask, “Well, what about the one who believes for 20 years and turns his back on Christ? What do you say about that one?” I asked one of our pastors about that way back then. He said, “That person was never saved to begin with.” And I thought that was kind of a cop-out. But in reality, that’s the truth. If someone believes for a little while—goes to church and listens to Christian music and even teaches or sings in the choir—if they turn their back and walk away from Christ, that is one who went out from us but they were not of us—how do we know they were not of us? Because if they had been of us, they would have continued with us (1st John 2:19). That was a work that was not begun by God. That was a work begun by the flesh, and anytime a person seems to get saved, and seems to continue in the way for a little while, but they defect and return to their old ways, it is proof that they were never saved to begin with. God did not begin the work in them because if it was God who began that work in that person, would He complete it? Of course He would! He who began a good work…will complete it. But if the work is not completed, then it was never started by God.

“Many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord! We’ve done all these great things in Your Name!’” What will Jesus say? “I never knew you. I didn’t begin a work in you. Be gone!” Turn to 2nd Timothy 1:12For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am…pretty sure that He might keep what I have committed to Him for a little while. No, that’s not what it says. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded—same word he uses in Philippians 1:6 as confidentI am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. What was Paul committing to Him until that Day? His eternal soul. Can we trust God with our eternal soul? If we cannot trust God with our eternal soul, then what kind of hope could we ever have? Read through all of Paul’s letters. See if you ever read where Paul uses words like ‘maybe’ or ‘perhaps’ or ‘he might’ or ‘it’s possible’ or ‘for the time being’. Paul does not use wishy-washy, milquetoast, equivocating language. When Paul writes he uses words like ‘confident’ and ‘able’ and ‘He will’ and ‘I believe’ and ‘until that Day’. What kind of hope could we ever have if we can’t even trust God to keep our eternal soul?

But I can lay my head on my pillow at night, knowing that I am trusting my eternal soul to a God who is not only able, but also faithful to keep that soul safe. Chris H, I love ya brother. You’re a fine pastor, I’m sure you are a good father, a decent man. But I’m not gonna trust you with my eternal soul. Because you’re human. And humans fail. Manfred, I’m not trusting you either. Jungle Missionary, sorry. My wife Laurie, I love you honey. But I’m not trusting you either. I’m not trusting anybody who contributes to this blog, or comments on it. I’m not trusting John MacArthur or RC Sproul or Ligon Duncan or Voddie Baucham. And in fact, out of all the 7 or so billion people on planet earth—out of all those 7 billion people, do you know who is the LAST person on earth I would trust with my eternal soul?

ME.

If it is up to me to keep my soul safe until the day of Christ—I might as well pack for an eternal marshmallow roast right now because I know me—I’m gonna screw it up!! And if it is up to me to keep myself saved I will more than surely lose it. And so will you if keeping your salvation were up to you.

But this is the good news–it’s not up to us!! God does not leave our eternal salvation in our hands because we would all surely be lost! I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. And why can I trust Him with My soul? Because if He began the work, He will complete it. He did not leave it up to me to complete it. Let me show you another passage.

Ephesians 1:13-14. These are two verses in a long, long paragraph. But we’re just gonna take a look at one concept in this passage. And we are going to read it from the King James. Ephesians 1:13-14 (KJV)13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. OK, did you see that word in verse 14? Your translation may say ‘pledge’. ‘Guarantee’ is the most common rendering. I like earnest. I like the translation ‘earnest’ because it carries a certain meaning. Much like the word ‘betrothed’ in the gospels, Mary was betrothed to Joseph, that betrothal being more than simply an engagement. An earnest was a down payment, but it was more than that. By putting down an earnest, the buyer was pledging, as solemnly as possible, that he would pay the rest of the money and finalize the transaction. Now, who is the one paying the earnest? God. How? By sealing us with the Holy Spirit. Now listen carefully and if you remember nothing else that you have read, please remember this: If God puts down the down payment, who will complete the transaction? If God gives us the Holy Spirit now, promising that He will complete the transaction, will He complete that transaction? If God put down the down payment, then how in the world can yo ever hope to come up with enough to finish paying it off? That kind of thinking is nothing short of absurd. And it has led countless Christians into lives of legalism and Law-keeping trying to do what only God can do.

So, here are some questions you need to answer:

If God begins your salvation, will He finish it? YES.
Is He able to keep your soul until the day of Christ? YES.
If He put down the down payment, will He finish the transaction? YES.
Has He perfected forever those that He has set apart? YES.
Is He able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him? YES.
Does He ever live to make intercession for us? YES.
If the Father draws a person to Christ, will Christ lift him up on the last day? YES.
Is He the Good Shepherd who will not lose even one of His sheep? YES.
If one of His sheep wanders off, will He go bring them back? YES.
Do His sheep know His voice and will they follow Him? YES.
Will His sheep follow a stranger? NO.
Can anyone snatch His sheep from His hand? NO.
Can anything separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus? NO.

So to argue that one who is truly saved can be lost again, you would have to throw out all that Scripture. You would have to cut it out of your Bible, or use your Sharpie™ as a highlighter through those passages. The person might argue, “But doesn’t it say ‘He who endures to the end will be saved’?” Yes. And that person will endure who has been sanctified by God, who began the good work and will complete it.

One last verse. 1st John 5:4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. Are you born of God? Will you overcome the world? I rest my case.

One Elected to Salvation, Others Elected to Reprobation

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God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved1st Timothy 2:3-4

Arminians use the above verse as a proof-text for their erroneous belief that God tries to save everybody and gives people the same chance to go to Heaven. They pluck this verse off the page, slap it down, and say, “Ha!! See!! God wants to save everybody, and he gives everyone the same chance because God is love, all the time love, nothing but love, love, love!” To them, God would never mandate that a certain people were not yet wicked enough for Him to destroy them yet. A God who is all about love, love, love. And if this passage were the only verse in the entire Bible, one could make that case. However, there are thousands more verses in the Scriptures and many of them say the opposite — that Jesus did NOT die for every single person in the whole wide world ever. That Christ’s death was only for particular people, specifically His sheep. (He never said, “I lay down My life for My sheep–and the goats and the dogs and the swine”).  And this the same God once said “I can’t destroy them yet because they’re not bad enough.”

Let’s think back to the God of the Old Testament. Is He the same God that we find in the New Testament? To the Arminian, the answer is “no”. The Arminian says that the God of the Old Testament–the one who destroyed entire cities off the face of the earth (Sodom and Gomorrah and the ten surrounding cities), who decreed that entire people groups would come to an end (the Edomites)–is now an “everybody gets a chance” kind of God in the New Testament. But let’s think about it. Who did God give His Law to? The Israelites. Did He give His Law–with all its offerings and sacrifices that covered over sins until Christ came–to the Amalekites and the Hivites and the Jebusites and the Perizzites and the Hittites? No. Well that’s not fair! (PSSSST–Do you really want God to be “fair”? Think about it!) Did God tell Moses that on the Day of Atonement he should go out and gather all the people from all the lands all around them to come to the tent? Or did He tell Moses to gather only the people of Israel? I think we know that answer. The language of Sovereign election is all throughout Scripture, from God choosing Abram (which we will look at shortly) to God choosing the nation of Israel itself, all the way into Revelation, when God chooses which 144,000 descendants of the tribes of Israel will have His seal put upon them. Continue reading

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 19)

Tower To Truth Question:

19. Why do you baptize for the dead when both Mosiah 3:25 and the Bible state that there is no chance of salvation after death?

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FAIR Answer:

The passage in Mosiah 3:25, and any passages in the Bible which also imply there is no chance of salvation after death, are clearly addressed to those who have the opportunity to repent in this life. Those who have not, by no fault of their own, embraced the everlasting gospel in this life will have the opportunity to do so after death.

The critics are on thin ice with this attack—do they wish us to believe in a God so unjust that He would damn someone for all eternity, simply because they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus?

Why wouldn’t members of the Church baptize for the dead, when the Bible teaches this idea? (See 1_Cor. 15:29.)

To learn more:Baptism for the dead

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My Response:

This is another of the most oft-debated issues in the Christian-Mormon dialog. And it is another issue where the LDS system, sadly, has so misinterpreted the Bible that one is hard-pressed to know how to start. But, start we must. Let’s begin with the LDS position, and see how their “scriptures” read.

Mosiah 3:24-27And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls. Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever. And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen.

Notice some things about this passage. Notice that in the Mormon system, salvation comes based on our works. they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations. According to this passage, if our works are evil, we will be condemned. This is a total contradiction of 2nd Corinthians 5:10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Thing is, The Judgment Seat of Christ is not about “judging” us to determine where we spend eternity. If one is standing at the Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ, that man is already saved, and is destined for Paradise. 2nd Cor. 5:9 has a parallel passage in 1st Corinthians 3:13-15the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Will the person be tested by fire? No, his works will be tested. But even if the works are burned up, the person will be saved. The passage in Mosiah is diametrically opposed to the truth of the Bible.

Next, in the verse from Mosiah, the person whose works are evil will suffer “a state of misery and endless torment…” I’m not sure which original Reformed Egyptian word was used here, but in most languages, “endless” means Endless. Without end. Perpetual. Never ending. So, these that are “evil” are in a state of endless torment.

From whence they can no more return. Again, the wording is very clear. They cannot escape the state they are in. “…they can no more return.” What else does it say about these? they have drunk damnation to their own souls. They have been condemned, consigned to a never-ending state of misery, a place they can never leave. Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit. God’s justice must be done, and in order for that justice to be done, these people must be tormented forever. If they are not, then God’s justice is denied. therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever. Once these people have died. Once these people have been condemned. Once these people have drunk down the cup of God’s wrath. There is no more mercy for them. This is right in their very own Book of Mormon! Once this person dies, their chances for mercy have ended! They are consigned to eternal torment.

And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen. Now, look closely. It says their torment is “AS” a lake of fire, &c. They will suffer a fate that feels like a lake of fire, and they will burn forever and ever. No matter what kind of spin they try to put on this, there is no denying that the wicked, who deny Christ in this lifetime and do wicked works, will suffer endlessly, they will suffer by burning, and the smoke that is caused by their being burned will ascend forever. There are no conditions. There are no addendums. There are no escape clauses. There is no “Unless someone does something for them.” This is where the other LDS “scriptures” come in. Since Joseph Smith forgot to put anything in the BOM about baptism for the dead, it had to be added later on, in the other books he fabricated.

In their statement above, FAIR claims, “The passage in Mosiah 3:25, and any passages in the Bible which also imply there is no chance of salvation after death, are clearly addressed to those who have the opportunity to repent in this life. Those who have not, by no fault of their own, embraced the everlasting gospel in this life will have the opportunity to do so after death.[emphasis mine]. Clearly? By whose reasoning? There is nothing in these passages from the Bible that say anything about whether the person “[had] the opportunity to repent in this life.” In fact, what do a couple of Bible passages tell us?

Hebrews 9:27And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment… We are born, we live, we die, we are judged. Notice, the writer says “THE judgment.” We are judged worthy (by virtue of our faith in christ) or unworthy (by our rejection of Him).

Luke 16:25-26–”But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’” There is no way for the rich man to leave where he is.

So what does the Bible say about those who never hear the gospel? Romans 2:12, 14-1512 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law…14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them). Those who neve hear the gospel do have the law written on their hearts, although they do not acknowledge it comes from God. They have a conscience, and when they do the things in the Law, even though they have never heard the Law, that conscience carries the ame weight as the whole of the Law. As Paul said in the preceding chapter, so they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

The critics are on thin ice with this attack—do they wish us to believe in a God so unjust that He would damn someone for all eternity, simply because they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus?” No, friend. FAIR is the one calling God unjust, because that is indeed what he does. That does not make God “unjust,” contrarily it makes Him perfectly just.

Romans 9:14-16, 19-23–14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy…19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory?

To say that God MUST give everybody a chance to hear the gospel is to command of God that He bend to the feeble whims of human “fairness.” If that’s what FAIR wants to do, then be my guest. I will rather believe in a God who has every right to condemn the whole lot of the human race for our years of rebellion against Him.

Now, as for this matte of “baptism for the dead.” Never has an entire doctrine, built upon such a shaky foundation, ever caused so many headaches. Even the greatest theologians, historians, expositors and commentators who have wrestled with this passage for years are not much closer to an answer now than any have been in the past. But we do know this much: it is NOT talking about baptizing living people in place of dead people so the dead people can go on to some higher “glory.” In fact, there is nothing–NOTHING–that ANYBODY can do for someone, once that person has died. they are dead, they have been judged. Period. Paragraph.

1st Corinthians 15:29–Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? Notice something here: Paul says, what will they do who are baptized for the dead…? If Paul had meant to say that christians can be baptized vicariously for anyone who died before, then it only stands to reason he would have said something like, what will those of us do who are baptized for the dead…? At any rate, this verse cannot mean what the LDS system claims it means, since baptism can only come after a person hears the gospel and believes–and only in this lifetime (See Acts 16:32-33).