“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
(John 10:16, NIV)
All religion originates from the awareness that there is a God. In fact, when we explore the creation stories of the different religions, we will find startling similarities between them. They all have a creator God whose origins cannot be explained (many of them simply appear at the beginning of time), and they all had concepts of eternity (either the gods live forever or the universe itself is eternal).
They do not entirely make sense to the logical mind, but they have all given people a certain sense of assurance and comfort that things that are on earth are governed by a force that is bigger than them, and that there is nothing for them to fear.
People of almost all major religions all have a certain belief of what is going to come after death, and they all have the core tenets of God’s moral law embedded within them. I have discussed these topics in my earlier writings titled, “Religion Redefined” and “Is the One True Triune God the Same God Throughout Cultures and Religion”. However, for the purpose of this blog, I am going to discuss how God uses all these other religions to shepherd His sheep that are “not of this sheep pen” (John 10:16, NIV) and how God uses these religions to guide these people back to Him when the right time comes.
“God uses all these other religions to shepherd His sheep that are not of this sheep pen.”
We know that before the fall in Genesis 3, the entire humanity only one culture and one language. This remained all the way till the incident at Babel (Genesis 11:1-2). Remember that they are all still “calling on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26) despite being “wicked” (Genesis 6:5). No idolatry was committed by anyone; only self-centeredness and wanting to “reach the heavens” (Genesis 11:4). So, God confused the people and created different languages (Genesis 11:7). I believe, He too kick-started the formation of different cultures in the process.
Now, in a short span of a few verses and 9 generations later, Egypt came into existence in the time of Abram (Genesis 12). Ancient Egyptology showed that the religions in Ancient Egypt changed a couple of times, but certain aspects of Ancient Egypt religion still resembles certain characteristics of the Creator God YAHWEH. For example, in Egypt, there was a period of time very early in its history when people worshipped Aten, the one god that was promulgated by Pharaoh. However, we must remember that because of our fallen nature, people hid from Him (Genesis 3:8), they knew God but they avoided Him. They knew that God needs to be worship and worship they must, but their worship does not necessarily point to God. 
We see a trend here – people actually know God. Through their newfound language and their newly established culture, they try to remember God and certain characteristics of His. The teachings of eternity, the One True God, the life-after-death, and standards or moral living, is constant throughout humanity. It is in these cultures that God place His chosen elect that His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. To put it simply, I am saying that there are people who have not heard the gospel, but knew God and does the will of God.
“There are people who have not heard the gospel but knew God and does the will of God.”
With the development of humanity and the subsequent social inequalities that come with it, the focus of people shifts from pious adoration of God to the daily provision of daily lives. In the oppressive feudal system of antiquity, the key concern for people is to be able to plant enough food for the survival of their families. This oppressive culture hindered people from pursuing anything that is beyond the necessities to survive.
To add on to their misery, religious leaders who knew God do not point to God. This led to the failure to point out who God truly is and then to the subsequent worship of idols that were meant to be clear manifestations of this God. In Jesus’ words, they are in fact, “worship(ping) what they do not know” (John 4:22, NIV).
The people who were supposed to guide people to God forgot Him.
We know that there are people within these communities that fervently sought God but found no answers. We also know that these people who are not in His sheep pen are in fact Jesus’ sheep (John 10:16). These people sought God through their own traditional means that are founded on ancient beliefs and teachings. They may be doing things that appear to be an abomination to God (ie: idol worship), but in fact, their heart craves for God and the salvation that He brings.
“We should rest in the knowledge that there are some who already knew God and His will. We should guide them accordingly through the cleansing of the Holy Spirit and walk them out of their struggles and into the light of Christ.”
When we as Christians, interact with these people, we should not judge or condemn them for anything that they do. Rather, we as Christians should respect their beliefs and traditions, knowing that God uses these ancient beliefs to shape them in accordance to His will and ultimately to lead them to Him. When we share the gospel with these people, we should rest in the knowledge that there are some who already knew God and His will for the will of God was already written on their hearts (Romans 2:15); guiding them accordingly through the cleansing of the Holy Spirit, and walking them out of their struggles and into the light of Christ.
 – We must be clear that worshipping the innate characteristics or manifestations of God is not the same as worshipping God.