Part V1. Can one who does not know of God be saved in this way? (Solely by repentance so as to become a servant)
Questions and Objections
By Edgar Jones
What began with the expectation what there would be four parts to this series has changed to five because the very important topic of faith/works required a seperate and additonal paper for its consideration. This concluding paper, originally conceived to be a summary of the implications of the preceeding papers, continues to be so conceived and these are considered in terms of only three questions and two objections. There are others, and our guests on this site are invited to submit their own for future consideration.
I The Questions
In Part II of the series, concerning the salvation of the penitents, was listed three of the anticipated questions. We begin with a consideration of the first.
Here the answer involves the application of common sense. We ask the following questions in seeking to answer this one.
But then follows the question,
- How can anyone repent of offenses toward God who does not know of God? That is a first question to consider.
Such questions imply that it is not possible to sin in the absence of knowledge of God, in which case repentance is not even appropriate. If sin be defined as the transgression of God's law, then a person who knows nothing of God can know nothing of a "law of God," and therefore cannot willfully transgress it.
- How can anyone offend God, or sin against Him, who knows not of God?"
These questions are leading us into speculation. Before we go further we need to ask if Jesus did not say something to enlighten us as to these subsidiary questions. I propose therefore to offer relevant samplings of his Word. The following utterance would seem to be relevant:
John 7What's this? Jesus is in the temple of God, teaching in the midst of priests, rabbis and Jews, all of whom are life long believers in God, and he tells them they do not know God (i.e. the one who has sent him)? They are spending their days talking about God, they are the theological experts of the land and yet Jesus is saying to them,
 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know.
. . . him you do not know.We must clarify our question by listing an important distinction: those whom Jesus confronted in the temple did not know "God." Therefore they could only have known "of God." It is an important distinction that leaves us to consider the following categories:
1. Those who know God.With a little reflection, one should conclude that category No. 2 includes everyone who has an idea, even a mere superstition, of the supernatural and the spiritual. These surely know "of God" even as did those whom Jesus confronted in the Temple. This must include (strange as it may at first seem) even the atheist, for to take a position against God, one must first know "of God." Also, of course, it includes those who disputed with Jesus in the Temple. Therefore, category No. 2 is not involved in our original question No. 1, which concerns only those who do not know of God.
2. Those who know "of God" but do not know "God."
3. Those who are utterly in the dark, who do not even know "of God."
Our question therefore involves only Category No. 3 exclusive of the others. They are the only ones who do not even know of God. This category cannot include any normal (complete) and therefore responsible human being of today, of the day on which Jesus uttered the above words since everyone today comes into contact with the idea of God, and therefore knows of God. This category must include those to whom we have referred as the innocents for, knowing not of God nor of his Law, they cannot violate it. So the answer to the question,
Can one who does not know of God be saved in this way? (Solely by repentance so as to become a servant)is, "He can't." Such a one can only be saved as an innocent, and indeed, according to the Father's great mercy, they will be so saved as Jesus teaches (See Part I of this series).
Jesus uttered several words in other contexts about knowing God that should clarify the distinction between "knowing God" and "knowing of God." I present them here for your information.Matt. 11
 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
 They said to him therefore, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, You know neither me nor my Father; if you knew me, you would know my Father also.
 But you have not known him; I know him. If I said, I do not know him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know him and I keep his word.
 Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.
 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.
 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.John 17
 And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
 Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee;
 for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me.
 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.
 O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these that thou hast sent me.
 I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them
2. Can one who does not know of Jesus be saved in this way? (By repentance)
Yes, this is the only means by which any responsible person, having no knowledge of Jesus but who knows of God, can receive salvation. Through repentance, anyone who knows "of God" but who does not know Jesus is able to be received into Glory as a servant of the Father, subject only to repentance. (See Part II of this series again).
Good examples of this include Abraham, Moses and the prophets. These were servants of God who knew of God, but living on the earth long before Jesus of Nazareth made his appearance, they did not know Jesus.3. If salvation is so freely offered, aren't there myriad saved sinners in heaven?
With three categories of the saved, the Innocents, the Penitents, and the Infants, one might suppose that heaven will be heavily populated. But will it?
No. Jesus is unequivocal about this. Listen to him:
 Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Genuine repentance, so as to become a servant of the Father in Glory, is in very short supply. Genuine conformity with the Great Principle as revealed by Jesus, so as to become a little child (infant) of the Father in Glory, is in sparse supply indeed, but this is the only means of salvation for those who know Jesus -- that is, as children. Hard as it is for any human being to repent and issue a genuine "I am sorry," it is much more difficult to escape the embrace of the love of life. This is due to our being the products of eons of ongoing evolutionary development that depends on the love of life that dictates the saving of life contrary to the Great Principle. The difficulty is rendered even more extreme by the existence of the institution called "church." This institution deceives the world and gobbles up God's creatures by enveloping them in the illusion that, in the church and in accord with its doctrines, they have salvation. Thus, the "light of the world" contends with a darkness that is darkness indeed. Again, it is as Jesus said:
 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;
 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
II. The Objections
Objection No. 1
It is not possible that men come to God apart from Jesus, for Jesus said to his disciples:
John.14Jesus did not come into the world to call servants to God. This was and is unnecessary. He came only to call children to the Father. Therefore, such words as these indicate his exclusive concern with children. It is His children who come to the Father as Father, through hearing and receiving the Word of Jesus. Remember, this is his Word. It applies only to those who hear it, and therefore does not apply to those who have never heard. However, we have learned of the second tier of salvation, The Salvation of the Penitents, only by listening to Jesus. Therefore we can say that it is only through Jesus, that is through his Word, that even the penitents come to the Father as servants.
 I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
Objection No. 2
Jesus told Nicodemus that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless begotten from above. Therefore servants, such as Abraham and Moses, not being begotten of God but being only servants, cannot enter the kingdom.
Response: This is an objection that results from imperfect translation of the Fourth Gospel such as we have, for example, in the RSV:
John.3He also stated very concisely that the Patriarchs will also be in the kingdom:
 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is begotten of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Matt.8This is a clear contradiction in the teaching of Jesus, or else the utterance has been incorrectly reported to us. There is no indication in scripture that the Patriarchs were anything more than servants, therefore not begotten of God and not children of God, yet he plainly states that they will be in the kingdom. Either they were begotten of the Spirit and enter the kingdom as sons, which contradicts the record that makes of them only servants, or Jesus was mistaken, or his words have been adulterated.
 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. . .
The language of John 3:3 is different:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is begotten from above,* he cannot see the kingdom of God.The key word here is "see", which is in Greek idein. This is the aorist 2, infinitive of orao, which means "to see." This word, like its English equivalent, has many shades of meaning, from "to see with the eyes" (observe) to "to see with the mind" or "to be aware of" or "to know", etc. We can make a choice between these when we recall Jesus' utterance about the coming of the kingdom on earth:
Luke.17The kingdom has come on the earth according to the petition of the Lord's Prayer, and, true to this statement, we cannot observe it . . . with the eyes. There are no signs. However, all who have been begotten of the Spirit can see it and become aware of it as a reality in their midst, now in this present time.
 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed.
So, that is what Jesus means in John 3:3. No one can see the kingdom and its presence in our midst unless begotten of the Spirit so as to become a child of God.
When we come then to John 3:5, two verses later, what Jesus said was a repetition of John 3:3 for emphasis. If this is the case, we should expect to find some manuscript evidence of it, and indeed we do. My Nestle text of the Greek New Testament uses the familiar language at John 3:5, i.e, "cannot enter". But it gives a footnote with it that says that certain manuscripts substitute the language of John 3:3 in 3:5, making the repetition. Among these is Codex Sinaiticus, a very much respected text.
I propose, therefore, that Jesus repeated his statement of John 3:3 in 3:5, and in both cases the correct rendition is that of Sinaiticus, and in both cases he intends to inform us that, unless one is begotten of the Spirit, one cannot "see" or become aware of the Kingdom of God while yet in this world. Along the way some careless scribe, his mind focussed on the familiar concept of entering the kingdom, erred in applying it to John 3:5.
Whatever you may think about this, it should be clear to all that unless we make some such accomodation to Jesus' placing the servants of God in the kingdom, there is no way to absolve him of a contradiction in John 3:5. Our confidence in the perfect consistency of his Word need not be shaken by this text; Jesus never contradicted himself.
Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that one must be begotten from above to enter the kingdom, but only to see the kingdom as it exists on the earth now, in this present age. There are servants of God, not children and therefore never begotten of the Spirit, who have entered the kingdom, are entering the kingdom, and will enter the kingdom -- as servants -- yet without "seeing" it while in this life on earth.
Summary of the History of Salvation.
Hear first another parable from the lips of our Lord Jesus:
Mark 4The parables of harvest are among the most revealing of all the parables, for behind every one of them we can clearly discern the purpose for the creation of the earth. What farmer clears the ground, tills the soil, and plants his seed except for the harvest? But there comes that long interval, from the sowing of the seed until the sickle reaps, during which the earth produces of itself, he knows not how.
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground,
 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.
 The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.
Likewise, the Lord's harvest, the harvest of the earth, is maturing. Slowly but surely, he knows not how, it produces of itself. In its time He will put in the sickle and reap. But why would he go to so much effort to prepare the ground except for the harvest? Surely, there is no other purpose for the earth, or for the whole creation of which the earth is but a tiny part - a speck in the vast universe.
What is this harvest? When the Lord puts in the sickle and reaps, and gathers into his barn, what will he reap? What will he gather into his barn? What is it he has commanded the earth to produce? From the ancient quill of Isaiah comes our answer, an answer that Jesus surely verified by his unique revelations:
Isaiah 43Do you not see? What is it that he brings from the East, and from the West? What is it that he harvests from the North, and commands the South, "Do not withhold?"
 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
 every one who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."
. . . bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth!It was He who formed and made us; it was He who created us. And why did he create us?
. . . for my glory!Our Father in heaven created all things for the sole purpose of the harvest of his sons and daughters -- for his Glory. There is where the history of salvation begins, in the mind of the Father who called the universe into existence and prepared it for sowing the seed. Then he sent Jesus as the sower of the seed, which is his Word. And now they wait while the earth produces of itself.
Why did the Father choose this means, the creation and its long history, for producing the harvest of the earth?
I have discussed this elsewhere on this site, and will not repeat it here. Suffice it to say that this is absolutely the only way that the Father can produce the children, in his image and likeness, independent and free as He is independent and free, yet wholly motivated by love and mercy as He is motivated by love and mercy so as to qualify as his children. This is the sole means of procreating sons and daughters for his Glory who will not destroy the perfect peace of that prevails in Glory . . . who will not destroy the very Glory for which we are made.
Then the history of salvation continued as He spoke to Abraham and through him prepared a people for His name's sake. He would have made all of them his sons and daughters had they listened to his voice speaking through the prophets, but they turned to false shepherds as they were always free to do. Clearing and tilling the soil . . . clearing and tilling the soil . . . and clearing again.
How great was his love for them! How great the forgiving mercy extended to them always through the prophets, but they would not hear. Finally, in one final endeavor, the Father sent, not a servant, but his only beloved Son thinking, as Jesus expressed it in another parable:
Matt. 21But they did not respect him, in spite of the clear warning of the Son:
 Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, `They will respect my son.'
 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.'The history of salvation continues:
 And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?"So we see that, far from despairing of a harvest, the Father shifted the focus of it from those "chosen people" to the sons and daughters from all nations, and to them he gives the kingdom and the promise of his eternal Glory:
 They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons."
 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: `The very stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner;
this was the Lord's doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes'?
 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it."
Luke 12And the history of salvation continues! The earth produces of itself without further attention from the farmer (the Father) until the grain is ripe.
 Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Then, someday . . . someday near or far, we know not when . . . he will put in the sickle! On that day the history of salvation will be complete. His sons and daughters, who are to be reaped for his Glory, need have no fear of the sickle.
*Note:John 3:3 and 3:7 are the author's translations. These differ from the RSV only in the expression "begotten from above" that replaces "born anew' in the RSV. "Born anew" does not represent the fullness of what Jesus is stating here, and does not correspond to the literatal translation of the Greek, anothen (a()nwqen).