I know what you are saying and another passage comes to my mind also.
Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. 14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
15 So they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts either accusing or defending them…
Glad you brought this one forward. Another very good passage that comes to mind for me as well. Especially that recognition that the "law is written on their hearts," citing from Jeremiah.
Nevertheless I still think we need to be careful about interpretations of passages that were written initially for Christians. If we interpret those passages to include everyone then we can end up including everyone in things only meant for Christians.
Here's where I take these things. Who is a Christian? Someone in a religion? Or is it someone where the "law is written on their hearts", regardless of their knowledge of the Christian religion itself per se? I take Christian to mean one that follows the path or the way of Jesus, who live the law of love, or the true law of God? "Who is my brother, or sister of mother", in other words? Why those who follow the Father, whose "law is written on their hearts". Those are followers of the Christ, even if they've never heard of the Christian religion or Jesus of Nazareth by name. They are following the Spirit, which is Love.
And since Paul recognized that some Gentiles qualify as this, and that God is "not a respecter of persons", meaning your religion isn't what give you creds with God, but your heart does, then gentiles, who do naturally God's will, are more his children than those who lay claim to the kingdom of God through religious association. "I prayed the sinner's prayer, so I'm saved!". That's not what makes someone saved. Salvation is not a legal agreement on paper you take consolation from. Rather it's a lived, experiential reality.
I find it hard to understand John's epistles in general and figure that the background of the epistles is needed to get a proper interpretation.
1John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God
8: The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love
If this is for Christians only it could be saying the difference between true and false Christians. In that way we can avoid ending up believing that anyone can be born of God even if they are not a believer at all.
Yes of course it can point to true vs. false Christians. My favorite verse is where Jesus gives you the tools to discern, which so few seem to actually acknowledge. "By their fruits you shall know them". As I contrast by saying not by the beliefs, not by their doctrines, not by their claims of having the true interpretation of the Bible, or being the restored church, or by voting for 'family values', or by listening to Christian radio programs, or by their bumper stickers, or their church attendance, or their trumpets blaring as they make their prayers in public to be seen by others as their reward, etc.
"By their fruits you shall know them", is very simple. And by that standard, you can "know them" existing in other religions as well, these "children of the Father", be they Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, etc. Not by their beliefs, but by their fruits.
I realize that can seem wrong because Christians are taught that you need to make confessions of faith, proclaim Jesus in Lord, get baptized, say the Lord's prayer, and all of that in order to be "saved". But really, how does all of that square then with the recognition that Gentiles have the "law written on their hearts"? If that isn't salvation, if that isn't following God's will in the world, then what on earth is? It doesn't make sense.
I also like to add to this how Jesus said of the pagan Roman Centurion who asked for Jesus to heal his servant, "Greater faith have I not seen in all of Israel!". Jesus said a pagan, non-monotheist believer, had greater faith than anyone in all of Israel. And can we say, "Oh, but he still wasn't really saved because he hadn't become a Christian yet,"??? That's just pure legalism, IMHO.
That is what I think anyway but am not saying that only Christians can be saved. IMO that judgement comes from Jesus, the one whom everyone must go through to reach the Father, and in passages such as Matt 25:31-40 it does look to me that those who have loved in their lives will be judged worthy of eternal life in the Kingdom and so will be born again then.
I understand this way of thinking, a certain Universalist perspective that eventually everyone will become saved by Jesus, in the afterlife for instance. But I think that's just trying to fit something that is otherwise radical into a certain theology about salvation through religious affiliation. I'd argue they are fully in God's grace, walking with God in Spirit, "born again", saved, or whatever term you wish to use, right now, right where they are at, wherever they are at. They are found in all religions, or in none. "By their fruit you shall know them".
I know that is a radical understanding. But I believe that is what Jesus saw these things, and how God sees at all times. "God is no respecter of persons".