The relevance of this question is easily seen when one surveys the religious landscape. The predominant position of Protestant denominationalism is that the alien is not obligated to follow Christ, and that his life before conversion is irrelevant, especially in marital relationships he may have established as an alien. This position began to receive slight prominence among brethren in the early 1950's in a religious paper The Vindicator, published in Texas by E. C. Fuqua. In the 1970's the same basic idea was promoted by James D. Bales in his book Not Under Bondage, though it was approached and explained a bit differently. Another book, The Divorced and Remarried "o Would Come to God by Homer Hailey, also placed the alien outside the realm of obligation to Christ's gospel or law. In the Athens area, the same speaker recently taught this very idea on a radio program on at 8:00 A.M. on February 23, 1997, and later on his 9:00 A.M. program on the same station on March 2, 1997. The instances cited of this idea's being taught could be multiplied, for it has gained wider acceptance in recent years.
The thrust of this article will be to demonstrate that Jesus' reign extends to all human beings, that they are obligated to Christ even before voluntary subjection to him, and that they will be judged by Him according to His word that they ha-v-e rejected.
(1) In Matt. 28:18-20 Jesus affirmed His authority over all people ("in heaven and on earth"). In a parallel account in Mark 16:15-16, He indicated that every creature capable of hearing and believing the gospel is subject to gospel preaching. If not accountable to Christ, why will Christ punish those not obeying the gospel (2 Thes. 1:8). If all people are not accountable to Christ they are not obligated to accept the gospel. In fact, to preach the gospel to people not obligated to Christ is to do them a disservice. From the viewpoint of this theory being reviewed, preaching to aliens brings them under obligation to Christ, whereas they formerly owed Christ no obedience. Why not let them remain as they are?
This does not mean that every person is eligible to obey every requirement of Christ; for example, a wife cannot obey directions to husbands, nor a deacon those directions to elders. Likewise an alien must qualify himself before he can properly pray or eat the Lords supper or grow as a Christian.
(2) Psalms 1 10:2-4 previews the priestly reign of Christ, as He fills His dual offices of king and priest. His people are pictured as volunteers ("willing" in the day of His reign), but their voluntary submission in no way implies that the unwilling aliens are not obligated to Him. They are pictured as "enemies" in verse two, because they are living in opposition to the authority to which they are subject. The passage neither says nor implies any other law to which they are subject during the reign of Christ. The inference drawn by some that there are two laws in %the passages is an unnecessary inference. In Eph. 1:20-23 Paul taught that Jesus' authority extends to all by showing His rule is over all dominions and includes "all things." He controls it all.
(3) Jesus' promise of the Spirit to guide the apostles in John 14-16 is seen in clearer focus in 16:8-9, where He said the Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. If aliens are not accountable to Christ, then there is no intelligent explanation of this passage. Though they have not decided to follow Jesus, aliens are answerable to Him. By their execution of their commission, guided by the Spirit, the apostles called on sinners to obey Christ, as seen in the conversions of Acts.
(4) In Acts 17 when Paul went to Athens, he charged the people with ignorance of God, indicated the details of their unacceptable worship by the Knowledge of Jehovah set forth, and then called on them to repent. Here religious sin was included in the indictment, not just immorality, though some say the Gentiles were only under some universal moral law. That these Gentiles were answerable to Christ, even in their present state as aliens, is easily learned in verse 31. There Paul gave them reason to repent, the coming judgment by Christ. If not answerable to Christ, why would they be judged by Him? God will judge the world by Jesus Christ. Romans 2:16 underscored this very thought. The context of Romans 2 shows that the Gentiles, operating under a different arrangement than Israel, will be judged by that law to which they were amenable. Nothing in Romans 2 deals with Gentile amenability after the reign of Christ began. The accountability of those rejecting Christ is clearly seen in John 12:48, where Jesus said those rejecting Him shall be judged by the very word of Christ rejected by them.
(5) The citing of moral and religious infractions on the part of Gentiles, committed during their time as aliens, is proof they were subject to Christ's rule (I Cor. 6:9-1 1). If they were not subject to Christ's will, why could they not have continued in their Gentile state? The very fact they submitted to Christ ("in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God") tells us they were answerable to Christ and to the Spirit as He was convicting the world of sin through apostolic preaching.
There should be no doubt that alien sinners are amenable to Christ, as a result of the study of these passages. It is equally clear they were told to repent and obey Christ. The Acts of the Apostles is the strongest proof available that aliens must submit themselves to Christ. Their accountability to Him is hereby established.