“There’s only one way to heaven,” the street preacher proclaimed adamantly. “If you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you can’t be saved! Repent and believe the Gospel before it’s too late, or else you’ll end up in hell for all eternity!”
”Are you absolutely certain about that?” I asked. “If I can convince you that some people can be saved without believing the Gospel or accepting Jesus as their Saviour, will you consider the possibility that perhaps everyone will eventually be saved because of what Christ accomplished through the blood of His cross?”
”There’s no way you’ll be able to do that,” he said, “but sure, give it a try.”
”Okay, let me ask you this. What happens if a four-year old child dies without ‘believing the Gospel’ or ‘accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour?’ Is that child doomed to end up in hell for eternity?”
“Well, no. If the child hasn’t reached the age of accountability before they die, they won’t go to hell,” he admitted.
”I don’t see the age of accountability anywhere in Scripture,” I pointed out.
“Well, Jesus said, ‘Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven,’” He countered.
”Okay,” I said. “Setting aside the fact that Jesus’ statement there wasn’t about ‘going to heaven’ when you die, but actually had to do with the type of people who will populate the kingdom of heaven when it begins on earth — specifically in Israel — in the future, we both agree that children who die without believing the Gospel won’t go to hell for eternity, which means one could say that children who die without ‘accepting Christ as their Saviour’ have still been saved, right?”
”Yes, I suppose that would be correct,” he said.
“But would you also agree that it’s unlikely a four-year old child has never sinned?”
“It would basically be impossible for that to be the case,” he acknowledged.
”So on what basis is it that this sinner who died without believing the Gospel can be saved, then?” I asked.
”I suppose it would have to be on the basis of Christ’s death for our sins, and His subsequent entombment and resurrection on the third day,” he said after thinking it over for a moment.
”That’s a good answer,” I confirmed. “In fact, that’s the basis on which anybody who is saved gets to experience salvation. But this means you’ve now agreed with me that some people can be saved without believing the Gospel, since you’re saying that children who die before they reach the so-called ‘age of accountability’ without believing the Gospel will still be saved, which was my original challenge to you.”
”Yes, but they’re young children,” he tried to counter. “Are you saying they should go to hell if they don’t believe the Gospel before they die?”
”Not at all. I actually agree with you that they’ll be saved,” I reassured him. “But this means that you and I are both in agreement that some people can technically be saved without believing the Gospel, or without ‘accepting Jesus as their Saviour,’ simply on the basis of Christ’s death for our sins, and His subsequent entombment and resurrection on the third day. And if some people can be saved simply because of what Christ accomplished, why not go all the way and acknowledge that everyone else will also be saved because of what He accomplished? If what He did can apply to some people without them believing it, I can’t think of any reason it wouldn’t apply to everyone else as well.”
”But the Bible teaches that if somebody doesn’t believe, they’re condemned already,” he tried to argue.
”That’s very true,” I said, “but that doesn’t mean they haven’t also been saved. This comes down to understanding the different types of salvation mentioned in Scripture. Not every reference to ‘salvation’ is referring to the exact same thing. Some people will miss out on certain of the types of salvation while still ultimately experiencing the salvation Christ won for all of us through the blood of His cross.”
”What do you mean?”
”That’s a bigger discussion than I have time to get into right now,” I said, noticing the time, “but if you truly are curious, please visit https://www.concordantgospel.com/salvations where I go into detail on this topic.”
”It’s unlikely I’ll do that,” he said. “It sounds like you’re a Universalist who believes that everyone will get saved in the end, but we all know that nobody can get saved without accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour,” completely forgetting everything we’d just discussed, as is nearly always the case when it comes to street preachers. But if you, the reader, are interested in learning more about what Scripture actually teaches about salvation, please do check out that link above.