Q. Since I was a child, I have always believed in John 3:16 but had no concept of Eph 1:4-7 or 2 Co 5:21. All I knew was that Yahweh is the only true god instead of Buddha. Was I saved as a gentile child?
A. Only God who knows your heart, then and now, can answer your question. However, I can offer a few comments:
1. Being saved depends on your relationship with God, not how much you know:
• Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
• Jn 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
• Jn 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
• 1 Jn 5:11-13 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Note that John’s consistent testimony is that:
• Eternal life is in the Son
• Has the Son = Has life
• Does not have the Son = Does not have life.
How do you have the Son? By believing in Him.
What does believe mean? Not intellectual assent, but:
• Trusting that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God or God the Son;
• Obeying the Son to demonstrate that the trust is genuine.
John said nothing about head knowledge, how much theology you know. It’s all about trust, as a child trusts in his/her parents, and depends totally on them for everything. It is a matter of the heart. I’ve heard lectures and read books by unbelieving “theology professors” with several doctorates, but I don’t think they are saved. Now whether you have the simple, complete, faith of a child, only God knows and you know.
2. You quoted Eph 1:4-7 and 2 Co 5:21, both deep truths penned by Paul:
• Eph 1:4-7 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
• 2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Eph 1:4-7 teaches:
1. Election (He chose),
2. Sanctification (holy),
3. Perfection (blameless),
6. God’s will,
7. Free grace,
9. Forgiveness, while
2 Co 5:21 teaches:
10. Jesus as perfect Man (no sin),
11. Substitutionary atonement (to be sin on our behalf),
12. Imputation (righteousness of God).
I doubt any new Christian would have a full grasp of these dozen subjects, yet they are saved the moment they placed their trust in Christ alone and commit to follow Him. Christ gave them the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12). I do not mean to belittle theology, but it’s the heart that counts, not the head.