Must All Accountable Persons Obey the Gospel to be Saved?
The question is asked, “Must all accountable persons obey the gospel to be saved.” We would answer this question by posing a counter-question: “Must all living persons have oxygen in order to live?” The answer to this second question is a resounding YES! No one with normal and rational thinking abilities would claim that the life of a normal physical human being can be sustained without an ample supply of oxygen. Having put forth these two questions, let us now give attention to the first one.
The question is asked about an accountable person. Not all persons are accountable. An accountable person is one who has reached an age where he can receive evidence, then use reasoning powers to assimilate and draw conclusions from such evidence. For instance, there is no need to talk to a one year old child about politics, morals, ethics, scientific equations, and so on. Is this little individual hampered in some way that causes him to be unable to discuss and understand these matters? No! He is just not of the age to be accountable concerning them. In short, no one would chastise this individual for not voting in any election.
This same principle applies in the spiritual realm. The Scriptures state, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6).
Now, can a new-born baby have this faith? Can he diligently seek God? Again, obviously he cannot. Children who have not yet come to the age of accountability are not yet subject to this statement of the writer of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 11:6.).
Neither are those who have developed physically in years, but who did not have the same degree of mental development and are still as a small child in that area, come to the age of accountability. It needs to be understood at this point that such individuals as described here are not sinners, the doctrine of Calvinism notwithstanding, and have no need of salvation. They are SAFE.
However, having learned and accepted these facts, the question still remains unanswered. Let us now turn to the Scriptures to learn from them the answer.
The apostle wrote in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This passage places all accountable persons under the curse of sin. In Romans 6:23, this same author wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It must be understood that if one dies in his sins that sin will pay it wages — the sinner will experience eternal separation from God – spiritual death.
Hundreds of years before the Christ appeared on the scene the prophet Ezekiel wrote, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20.)
This passage simply tells us that each one is responsible for his sins. In short, none today, or in any other period of the world’s history, is guilty of another’s sin. The Scriptures do not teach the doctrine of original sin. Such is the product of men who have departed from God’s word – popery, Calvinism, denominationalism.
To the church at Ephesus the apostle Paul wrote, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2:1-3.)
In this remarkable passage the apostle tells those Ephesian Christians that at one time they were spiritually dead. The cause of such death was that they walked according to the course of the world; they fulfilled the lust of the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and as a result, they were by nature the children of wrath. The word “nature” is translated from a Greek word which means “by use of long habit.” They had lived so long in sin that it had become a habit with them.
In verse 12 of this same chapter the apostle gives a vivid description of any and all who have never obeyed the gospel. Here he states, “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
Now, friends, if you have never obeyed the gospel this verse of Scripture describes you. But, you don’t have to die in sin and be lost. Pay close attention to the very next verse – verse 13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
This verse tells us that in Jesus Christ one is brought near by the blood of Christ. Question: How and when does one reach the blood of Christ to be brought near and to get into Christ wherein salvation is found? Before answering this point, let us continue, and then come back to it.
The writer of the book of Hebrews nails it down concerning the one who will be saved, that is, have his sins forgiven. In Hebrews 5:8-9 he wrote, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”
If one is accountable, he must obey the gospel if he wishes to have the “eternal salvation” offered by Christ. If one respects Jesus Christ, he will hear and do His commands (Matthew 7:21-27).
If one is not yet convinced by these passages, perhaps the statement of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 will awaken him to the reality of the absolute necessity of every accountable person obeying the gospel which is God’s power to save. This passage reads “. . . when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”
One last thing, the point that we promised to come back to: The Scriptures teach that man is cleansed by the blood of Christ. The question arises, how does one contact that blood?
Again, the apostle Paul tells us plainly that we contact that blood as we are baptized into Christ, and into His death where His blood was shed. Let us close this article by reading Rom. 6:16-18 – “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
At this point one is free from sin and is placed by God into the kingdom/church of His dear Son (See Colossians 1:13-14.)