The Big Question 76: What Happens to People Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?
Sep 1, 2021 199
What happens to people who have never heard the Gospel?
I believe that God is love. If that is so, then how can he condemn everyone who has never heard about Christianity, and who basically never had a chance.
Because the reality is that there are a lot of them. Just think it through.
Think of all the people who lived in history before the birth of Jesus. What about all those people who’ve lived in Africa, Asia, the Americas, or Australia and the Pacific before the modern era. What about all the little children who’ve died, and all the people who have suffered from mental disabilities? Are they all automatically lost as well?
If so, then it would be kind of like saying that God saves people based on essentially on their economic status. Basically, if you are a middle-class, white person, living only in the last two hundred years ago, then you have a chance to be saved. Otherwise you are automatically lost, never having even heard the Gospel, let alone having had a chance to respond.
It would be a cruel and vicious God who would strictly determine your salvation like that.
But that’s not really what the Bible teaches at all. It teaches that everyone will be judged according to the light that they have received and their response to that light. Psalm 87 tells us that in the judgment, God will take into consideration the circumstances of your birth and life.
How is it that the light of God comes to people? It comes to us principally through the Word of God: the Bible. However, the apostle Paul in the book of Romans teaches us that the knowledge of God’s will comes to people through other ways, such as through the order and beauty of nature, through our conscience. Of course, God can also reveal his will to people directly through miraculous means.
For all of those reasons, the apostle Paul argues that all human beings are without excuse before God, for all have had some opportunity to know something of him.
So no, I don’t believe that anyone who hasn’t heard the Gospel is automatically lost.
Additionally, I believe in what the Bible teaches us over and over again: that I cannot decide on behalf of God who is saved and who is not. He is the judge and I’m not. And at the end of the day, I’m happy to let God be the judge. The job would be too stressful for me.
And the other thing that the Bible tells me is that God is more loving than we could ever imagine. So, I’m happy to simply trust in the love of God, knowing that he’ll always do what is right, and leave it at that.