Teaching pre-teens in Bible class brings with it the greatest of joys and the greatest of challenges. Nannygranne cherished them both. It is at this age that young hearts often turn to God for life’s answers. This age also births more profound questions. Today was no exception.
The day’s memory verse was John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
“Great job, friends!” Nannygranne was pleased with their memory work. “The Holy Spirit will remind you of this verse over and over in your life. Having it deep in your heart makes it a treasure for you, and I’m happy that you have that treasure. My scripture treasures have helped me over and over through the years.
Libby’s expression was one of sad concern. She raised her hand and said, “Nannygranne, if Jesus is the only way to be saved, what about the Jungle natives or other people who have never heard about Jesus?”
Nannygranne immediately recognized the tender spirit behind the question. Libby recognized the vast disconnect between what Jesus required and what is happening all over the world. “Libby, I really appreciate your bringing that up. We’ve all seen videos of the many people in some countries who are poor, isolated, without education, and can’t read. In fact, 774 million adults in the world cannot read.1 Another shocking fact is that there are 52 countries where owning a Bible can get you into trouble or even cost your life.”2 She turned and wrote some countries’ names on the chalkboard: North Korea, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria. As she wrote, she continued, “Could someone tell me how you think God feels about these people?”
After a period of silence, someone spoke up, saying, “Well, the Bible says God so loved the world that He gave His only beloved son.”
Another added, “Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Libby concluded, “God loves them, too, and wants them to know about Jesus. But what if nobody ever goes and they never find out?”
“Any other thoughts or questions?” Nannygranne encouraged
“It doesn’t seem fair for them to go to hell when they don’t even know there is a heaven.”
“Bingo!” Nannygranne exclaimed. “You all hit the last nail on the head. It doesn’t seem fair to us. It’s not what God wants. It’s against God’s plan. God loves those people, too!”
Nannygranne then sat down at her desk, folded her hands, and began, “You, yourselves, quoted God’s truths. God loves the world so much. We know, too, that He’s told us to tell everyone in the world. And we know Jesus is the savior of the world, and that people must come to Him. In the early days of Christianity, most people in the world did not know about Jesus coming to earth or His rising from the dead. God had been hinting to the Jews for many years that a Savior would come, but most didn’t understand. God also told the Apostles that the non-Jews were to be brought to Jesus, too. Let’s all turn to the book of Romans.
As students dutifully turned their Bible pages, some found the book on their phones. Nannygranne continued. “This is a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. They were not Jews. Rome was a long way away from Jerusalem. It looks like they were concerned, too, about their neighbors and others who did not even know about God the Creator, let alone learning about Jesus.
Let’s read Romans 1:17-23. Paul has just said that all kinds of people have helped him and that he wants to help the Romans reach their neighbors for Christ. Then he says, “This Good News tells us that God makes us ready for Heaven—makes us right in God’s sight—when we put our faith and trust in Christ to save us. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scripture says it, ‘The man who finds life will find it through trusting God.’ But God shows his anger from Heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day. Yes, they knew about him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after a while, they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. And then, instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they took wood and stone and made idols for themselves, carving them to look like mere birds and animals and snakes and puny men.”
“Let’s look at verse 19, especially. What does it say about people’s hearts?” Nannygranne waited for a response.
Libby reread the words. “God has put this knowledge in their hearts.”
“Thank you, Libby. Now let’s look at the next verse. Verse 20. Who will read that and tell me what it seems to be saying.?”
After a couple of minutes, Danny raised his hand. “That God shows He is there and that He is powerful through the earth and sky, all creation.”
“So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.” Nannygranne finished. “In other words, people all over the world through all time have known there is Someone out there. Paul goes on to say that sometimes they would make come up with silly ideas about what God wants them to do, or would make idols out of something and then call it god, which shows what fools they are.”
“Okay, then they ought to know there is a God in Heaven. I get that. But what about hearing the Gospel of Christ? They have to be taught about that.” Libby wouldn’t be distracted.
“You are very right, Libby, and that’s our real question,” Nannygranne confirmed.
At that moment, the class bell rang. As the students began gathering their things, Nannygranne announced, “We’re not stopping here, you guys. There is an answer, and we’ll find that next week. In the meantime, keep two things in mind: God loves them just as much as He loves us. And Jesus died for their sins just like He died for ours. Then I want you to sing to yourself, “God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way for me. He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way.”
1 Illiteracy: //www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-lowest-literacy-rates-in-the-world.html
2 Illegal Bibles: https://lovepackages.org/bibles-dangerous-illegal-covert/