I think I’ve learned a new word. Conundrum means riddle or unanswerable question. And naturally the more we think, the more “Cons.” we find. Recently I was presented with three questions that are troublesome for some:
1) The New Testament says that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Therefore, did ordinary people before Christ have no means of salvation/heaven? (And there is the question of remote souls after Christ that couldn't hear the Gospel/Resurrection message.)
2) Jews are the chosen people of the Bible, but B.C. were they left out because Jesus hadn’t yet visited the earth?
3) Both Old Testament & New indicate that being good (righteous) is most important. So if we are real righteous already, why do we need belief in J. C.?
Those three questions are common obstacles to faith, so I want to attempt an answer. But using logic AND scripture will be necessary so it’s important to accept scripture as authoritative. I believe there has to be an authoritative “basis of truth” in this world, or ANYTHING goes in religion, and we continue in ambiguity. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If the Bible is not the words & work of God, then we just “spin our wheels” trying hopelessly to answer tough questions, or conundrums.
1A) God is just being SOVEREIGN in his choice of the revealed Messiah/Jesus only pattern we clearly see in scripture from cover to cover. (He could have chosen anything . . . imagine God requiring us to do handstands & smoke stogies as the prerequisite – LOL) And man is/was accountable to his SOVEREIGN Creator for the light he had at any point in world history. Those gentiles that lived thousands of years B. C. did have more oral tradition & less true scripture, but they had a conscience on line with God. It’s how they lived with their light & conscience, and obeyed the laws of good & evil that gave them approval or censure from God. Ref. Romans 2:14-15 (please look it up). Then faith & love are major factors of divine approval. Romans 3:30, 13:10.
2A) Jews are clearly God’s chosen people. But B.C. they looked forward to the Jewish Messiah. From the garden we have the first hint of that Messiah in Genesis 3:15, and it’s that “savior” all B.C. devout Jews looked forward to in time to be approved. Another key is revealed a couple K years later – it was the FAITH of Abraham that justified those early Jews, see Romans 4:3. Also there is a penetrating reference in 1 Peter 3:18-20 about the pre-resurrection Christ (those 3 days He was dead) going to the nether world & preaching to B. C. souls waiting to accept or reject the gospel. (heavy stuff) So those in question 2 above who appeared to be “left out”, were preached the gospel to. Also Ephesians 4:9 suggests this.
3A) From the beginning, scripture reveals the honorable nature of God – truth, justice, love, giving, etc. Of course He expects us humans to choose those virtues (righteousness). But Christ is the highest revelation of God & He had a lot to say on other subjects too. Possibly the most important was the central position of His Atonement. See John 3:14-15 for starters. Then we have an account in the book of Acts where Peter was told by God to go to “Cornelius . . . a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms. . . and prayed constantly to God.” 10:1-2 Cornelius was righteous as they come, but he needed the gospel message of Jesus, & His Atonement to be “complete” in God’s eyes. Clearly, true righteousness was not enough, even for him.
Now in addition to being confounded and conundrumized (I invented that word), by the issues above some folks are troubled by churches pushing constant forgiveness for sins. And that could be a good thing because we are fallen creatures. (Remember the boot we got in the garden.) Scripture teaches us to confess our sins & get forgiven (ref. 1 John 1:9). Lucky for us God is about forgiveness. Confess sins & get forgiven – then repeat the cycle. At least Christians acknowledge the sin problem. And of course there is a fine line between a little sin/slips now & then, and rank hypocrisy. See link #36 “What is Hypocrisy?”
Well to finish this essay, don’t let pesky questions block faith in Christ too long. We only have so many days to make our peace with God. No one knows when their last day will be . . . Choose Jesus, He is alive. Cultivate his amazing salvation & blessing, and laugh at “Common Conundrums”. See also “Quicksand” link #17 – written 36 years ago by yours truly.
Many other Titles: www.gospelnotes.net - Link 1 is Index * * Fred J. Stone * *