Chinese graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23, died from the explosions that went off at the Boston Marathon finish line. The blast killed three people, including an eight-year-old boy, and injured 216 people.
The public has expressed their grief and sadness towards the innocent lives that were claimed. Meanwhile, some questioned were raised on whether Lu’s soul is in heaven as she had been involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Boston University, but did not publicly declare her faith in Jesus Christ.
About two weeks ago, mega-church pastor Rick Warren’s son Matthew committed suicide after a life-long battle with mental illness – an event that caught the national spotlight. Some also questioned whether the star-pastor’s son is in heaven. Several prominent evangelical pastors, including Rick Warren, have affirmed that Matthew is in heaven as he was a born-again Christian.
How about Lingzi Lu? Has she received salvation and is her soul in heaven?
Rev. Norman Chen, senior pastor of New York Reformed Church of Newtown, shared with The Gospel Herald in an interview about his perspective on Lu’s salvation.
While it is true that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me,” Chen said it is unfair to judge whether Lu is in heaven or not simply because she had not announced her acceptance of Jesus Christ as her personal savior.
Greg Jao, director of InterVarsity National Field, said that Lu was involved with the international student ministry at Boston University and has attended a retreat that they’ve sponsored last fall, according to Mission Network News.
Chen said if a person’s salvation is judged solely on this verse, then those who were born before the time of Jesus would not be saved, because they never had a chance to hear the gospel. If this is the case, then the fairness and righteousness of God cannot be revealed, he said.
According to Romans 2, verses 14 to 15, God judges the gentiles or those without the word of God according to their consciences in determining where their souls belong, said Chen. Following the same pattern, he believes that those who did not hear the gospel will be judged according to their consciences. God will not just throw all who did not believe in Jesus into the fire of hell.
Yet another question that has been debated repeatedly is whether ancient Chinese truth-seekers like Confucius, Lao Zi, and Mencius are in heaven. Chen said that based on the teachings in Romans 2 he believes they can go to heaven for while they were living they have acted according to their consciences.
Several influential Chinese pastors in North America also hold similar viewpoint as that of Chen. Rev. Yuan Zhiming, founder and president of China Soul Association, once said in a sermon that the late-Rev. Timothy Lin, Chinese church patriarch, believed that Lao Zi and Mencius are saved, for they are truth-seekers, but just that they never had the opportunity to hear the gospel.
Chen referenced the example of the Old Testament story of Noah, in which God said “Noah was a righteous man” and as a result his entire family was saved. Noah did not hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the description of Noah as “righteous” is a relative concept, he said, since it says in Romans 3, verses 10 that “no one is righteous, not even one.”
Therefore, can a truth-seeker like Lingzi Lu, who died from the Boston Marathon bomb attack, receive salvation?
Lingzi Lu(Musi Zhang)
Chen did not give a cut and dry answer, but was certain that nobody can cast a conclusion in vain saying that she definitely was not saved. He said the key to whether a truth-seeker like Lu can receive salvation depends on his or her relationship with God and her acceptance of faith.
If a deceased person had a clear understanding of the Bible, but had willfully opposed the Bible’s truth and rejected God’s salvation, then he would have to pay the heavy penalty for it, he said.
If after hearing the gospel, the truth-seeker is still unclear about the meaning of salvation but did not reject God in his heart and continues to seek out the truth, Chen believes that the righteous and fair God would make his righteous judgment.
Chen said that it is hard for him to reach a conclusion in where Lu’s soul is. He said that Christians can only base their judgment on whether a person has received salvation or not by referencing the Bible’s teachings. Yet, the ultimate decision lies in God’s hand.
[Editor's note: reporter Quan Wei contributed to the report.]