The Source of Our Knowledge of Mankind’s Lostness
Our knowledge of people’s lostness if they are outside of Christ is derived exclusively from the Bible. Philosophy does not help us. This knowledge cannot be learned by reasoning or by research. It cannot be established inductively or deductively. God Himself reveals the fact in His Word. It is an article of faith. We perceive it only by divine enlightenment.
People’s lostness is a Spirit-taught truth that those without the Spirit cannot receive (1 Corinthians 1â14). Their darkened understanding is not capable of this awareness by their own reasoning powers (Ephesians 4:18). This knowledge comes only through revelation by the Spirit. Indeed, everything of a spiritual nature depends upon the Supreme Revelator, Jesus Christ. What we believe about Him, who He is, and what He teaches will ultimately determine how we regard our fellow beings who do not share in our knowledge of Jesus.
Who, then, is Jesus Christ? The apostle John writes: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, author’s translation). Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17b). Jesus Himself declared: “I am the wayâand the truth and the life” (John 14:6a, NIV). From these three texts we learn that Jesus Christ is the truth, that He is full of truth, and that He brings truth to us.
The King of Truth, Jesus Christ, taught the Bible’s divine inspiration, its impregnable truth and its complete authority. He declared of the Old Testament Law, “Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law” (Matthew 5:18). Later He rebuked two of His followers for not believing “all that the prophets [had] spoken” (Luke 24:25). In a confrontation with some of His fellow Jews, Jesus emphasized that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
Kenneth B. Kantzer, former editor of Christianity Today, writing in The Church’s Worldwide Mission, has said of those statements:
This testimony of Jesus Christ validates directly the Old Testament, but indirectly it includes the New Testament as well. Our Lord constituted His disciples as His witnesses who should follow Him. He promised to guide them into all truth (John 16:13). He assured them of confirming signs of their apostolic authority in predictive prophecy and miracles. After His death and resurrection, His apostles claimed to represent their Lord and to have the right to speak with authority in the Church of Christ (Galatians 1:2). Their claims were confirmed by diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 2:4).
Since the question of people’s lostness outside of Christ is an article of biblical faith, we go back to the basic question: “What do we think about Christ?” Do we accept Him as the King of Truth? Do we accept His position on the inspiration and authority of Scripture?
If we do accept Jesus as Truth, to be consistent we must accept and submit to His teachings and those of the fully attested Word on this so-important subject of mankind’s lostness. If we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord and Truth, we must accept the Scriptures He enjoined upon us. They are the means we have of learning the Lord’s will. Furthermore, His teachings have complete, final, and binding authority over us as His disciples.
Conversely, to ostensibly accept Christ as sovereign Lord and Supreme Teacher and at the same time reject what He says about the Bible and mankind’s lost condition is grossly inconsistent.
Indeed, to quote William G. T. Shed:
The strongest support of the doctrine of endless punishment is the teaching of Christ, the Redeemer of Man…. Jesus is the person who is responsible for the doctrine of eternal perdition. He is the Being with whom all opponents of this theological tenet are in conflict.
We must accept, therefore, the Bible’s presentation of man’s condition without reservation. We must require no other validation. On the basis that Jesus is Lord and Truth, we must accept the Bible as our only but completely authoritative and trustworthy source of knowledge about people’s spiritual condition.
The Present State of People without Christ
Jesus likened lost people to a lost sheep for which the shepherd searches in the thorny wilderness. The sheep has severed itself from the one who was its guide; it has removed itself from the fold, gone its own way and become lost. It is devoid of any bearings and without homing instinct (see Luke 15:4â7).
At other times, Jesus pictured lost people as patients on whom the doctor gives up (Luke 5:31); worse, like criminals on whom the sentence of death is carried out (Matthew 13:40â42). He compares their lostness to death (Luke 15:24), to destruction (Mark 12:9), to damnation (John 5:28â29). Jesus thus presents lost people as going astray and being condemned, lost in such a way that it requires more than that they simply be foundâthey must be awakened to eternal life and saved.
The whole of Jesus’ mission was to find lost people, to rectify their sinful acts, to place them in the right path. He came for this purpose. Jesus, King of Truth, taught that His mission to earth was “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Indeed, His mission cannot be defined without speaking of people as being lost.