Gulf Ridge Park Baptist Church
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Your Question # 20
[#20] For those who worship other gods unwillingly (due to persecution for instance) will God count it as true worship and punish them for it?
Thank you for your question. This is often asked and many times misunderstood.
The best way to answer is by searching Scripture.
First, the condition of ALL men. Romans 3:23 "For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God". Romans 3:10-18 simply says there is none who is righteous nor seeks after God, we ALL have gone our own ways. Then Romans 6:23 says: "The wages of sin is death". We could stop right there and conclude since all men have sinned, 'case closed', there is only one judgment left for God - the penalty is death and eternal separation in hell. And no one could accuse God of being unjust. Man chose to ignore God's holy way, rebel, and seek his on ways (and religions), man's way always leads away from God not towards Him.
However, God is rich is love, grace and mercy. He said He is not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance. Notice He did not say all will be saved, He said repentance is the condition, and Faith is the key that unlocks the door to salvation. Jesus said in John 10:9 "I am the Door, if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved." Jesus did not leave open the option for other doors, ways, or religions. If other religions could get one saved, then Jesus died on a cruel cross needlessly. One preacher said, there are only two religions in the world, one is by works, and the other is by faith. By one's works, we all fall short, but by faith alone in Christ (His life and work on the cross), we shall be saved. Jesus said conclusively in John 14:6 "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, NO ONE comes to the Father but by Me." (Emphasis mine) That would concretely answer your question. Jesus never made any allowance for other options.
There is no 'unwilling' worship. No one can be forced to worship if they choose not to do so. Hence the need for nations to force others to worship false gods, idols or to adopt political doctrine BY the means of persecution. Jesus said: John 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." John 15:20 "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you."
The Romans were masters at conquering and subduing other nations. They would allow them to keep their traditions, customs, and religions. All they required is for the conquered people to also pay homage/worship of Caesar. They would show this by simply offering a pinch of incense before the local leaders and say "Caesar is Lord." This would confirm their loyalty to the Roman government and Caesar. But for the Christian, they could not do so, they only worship the One true God, Jesus Christ is our Lord. To say Caesar is Lord is blasphemous to a Christian.
Lastly, Jesus said one must be 'Born again', John 3:3. No other religion in the world can claim to offer a person a complete, transforming 'born again' experience of man's spirit. This is what makes the Christian faith different from all other religions in the world.
I pray this answers your question. I also pray that you have made a personal decision for Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
May God richly bless