We All Need Jesus (ATP)
How can a special needs child or adult get saved when they may not fully understand the spiritual side of life, when they already have trouble understanding parts of the “real” world?
Proverbs 21:2 (NASB)
Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.
This is actually a great question. If you’re reading and you think, “I don’t know any special needs people, it will still help you!
First, we need to understand something about God. Romans 2:11 tells us, “For there is no partiality with God.” We need to understand that God loves people. His absolute desire is for people to know Him. He keeps no one away but Jesus made a way for every human. If the gospel can save one, it surely can save all! Hallelujah!
God does not see people through the lens of infirmity, or of ugliness, or of color, of height, talent, social status, age, ability or… I think you get the point. God weighs the heart. What does this mean exactly? God knows our thoughts, He knows our motives, and He looks at all things from that stand point. We will all be judged one day but God is a just God who judges fairly. He doesn’t consider what we often consider, the things we see. He considers what is in the heart.
That being said, with someone who does not have the capacity to understand the Gospel, God would not hold them accountable any more than an earthly judge would a toddler who took something that wasn’t theirs. It would be unjust to jail a two year old for stealing a piece of candy and in the same way, to condemn a person that lacks the ability to understand. We need also not disregard someone of special needs either. What I mean is, you can teach them the name of Jesus. You can teach them to praise God. You can surround them with love and scripture and worship, and these things will penetrate their hearts.
Recently, while visiting my grandmother who was bedridden and not really conscious, my wife gave the most wonderful advice to her care givers. Grandma can’t pray or read the Word, but her spirit can hear praise. “Put soft worship music on in the background,” she encouraged. Though her flesh may not comprehend, her spirit certainly can. Though she can’t respond, her ears can be filled with God’s goodness. In fact, as we sat there and prayed over her, our prayer turned to praise and that’s what we did for a good portion of the time. She went home to be with the Lord a short time following, but we sent her with praise!
We have to remember that God is love, He is merciful and He is just. He desires the best for all people. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” He is not looking to condemn but to give every opportunity to be saved. We also need to understand what repentance is. Repentance literally means to change, it does not mean what most people think and that is being sorry. There are plenty of people who are in hell that are sorry, but never changed. The change we need is from sin and to one who does not have the ability to comprehend sin, this will not be held against them.
The only exception I’d say to this could be someone who had the faculty of mind and got in an accident becoming unable to comprehend. If that person went into that state rejecting God it would probably be similar to if they had died in rejection. To the one born into such a life, or becoming that way before they are really accountable, God would be unjust to hold that against them and He wouldn’t.
Remembering, the fact that God is merciful, not willing that any would perish we must learn to look at God continually the way He desires us to. As a loving Father whose children are precious to Him. Live in faith knowing God does not condemn the innocent. In fact, remember this above all. Jesus died to save the sinful and the guilty. What an amazing act of love!