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Are There Innocent People In Hell?

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
–Psalm 19:1

If faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved, what about people who have never heard about Jesus? Is God going to send people to hell for rejecting a gospel they’ve never heard? That’s the question most people raise whenever we talk about the exclusivity of Christ for salvation. Last week, we began looking at biblical truths that help us answer this question.

Truth number one: everyone is guilty before God. There will be no innocent people in hell because there are no innocent people. The Bible says we are all sinners. We’ve all inherited the sin virus, and the fact that we have inherited that sin virus is proved by the choices we make every day to disobey God. We’re all guilty and deserving of the wrath of God. And that leads to a second truth: no one is saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ. Since the time of Christ there is not one example in the Bible of anybody who was saved without personally exercising faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says there’s no other name under heaven by which we can be saved.

That leads to a third biblical truth: everyone has received a knowledge of God. When people ask, “What about those who have never heard about Jesus?” you can assure them that everybody who has ever lived has received a knowledge of God. A college professor constructed an elaborate model of our solar system. A student saw that model and asked, “Prof, who made this?” The professor said, “No one.” The student laughed and said, “No, really, who made this?” The professor repeated, “No one.” Irritated, the student said, “Are you telling me this just happened?” The professor said, “If you can go out of this classroom and look at this entire universe and say, ‘It just happened,’ you should have no problem believing this model happened by itself.”

The fact is, creation is a testimony of the power of God. There is information about God that everybody can have regardless of whether they ever read a Bible or ever hear a sermon. We call it “natural revelation.” It is from nature. It is information about God that everyone can have.

In Paul’s day, he didn’t talk about the heathen in Africa when he referred to people who had never heard the gospel. The equivalent of the heathen in Africa in Paul’s day were the Gentiles. The Gentiles were non-Jews, people who did not have the benefit of having the Old Testament Scriptures or hearing the prophets. People asked Paul, “What about the fate of the Gentiles?” In Romans 1, Paul said the Gentile is just as guilty as the Jew who rejects Jesus Christ. How could that be? Because the Gentile is the recipient of certain information about God. Paul said in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What about Those Who Have Never Heard about Jesus?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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