What About People Who Have Never Heard The Gospel?

What About People Who Have Never Heard The Gospel?

Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.
–Romans 5:12

“What about people who have never heard the gospel? How could God send them to hell?” I bet you have heard this argument before. Some people reject the idea of hell because they say it is unfair for God to condemn those who have never heard the name of Jesus.

Here is what is wrong with that argument: First of all, it assumes the innocence of those people who have never heard the gospel. Is that what the Bible teaches? In Romans 5:12 Paul wrote, “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Because Adam sinned, we have all inherited a sin virus. Everybody is guilty. Now, I believe that children and adults who mentally cannot grasp the gospel do go to heaven. But it is not because they are innocent–it is because of the mercy of Jesus Christ. The fact is, we are all born into this world guilty. Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, not even one.” When you understand the truth that we are all guilty before God, the question is no longer, Why doesn’t God save everybody? but, Why does God save anybody? It is only because of His mercy.

Let me illustrate it this way: Let’s say it is Thanksgiving, and the president decides to pardon a prisoner on death row. Are people going to say, “The president is being unfair! Why didn’t he pardon every death row prisoner?” Not at all, because nobody has been treated unjustly. The man who is pardoned receives the president’s mercy, and the remaining prisoners receive justice, but nobody is treated unjustly. It is the same way when people are saved. Those of us who have been saved are the recipients of God’s mercy, and those who are not saved are the recipients of God’s justice. But God has not acted unjustly in either case.

Second, the argument that it is unfair to condemn those who have never heard the gospel falsely assumes that those people do not have an opportunity to be saved. We saw last week that everyone has a general revelation of God they can see from nature. They can know there is a God who created this world. Whenever God sees a person who responds to that general revelation, He will send them the truth of the gospel–just as He did with the Ethiopian official in Acts 8 and the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10. God is not trying to save as few people as possible; He wants to save as many people as possible. I believe where God sees a heart that is open toward Him, God will send that person more revelation. He gives everyone the opportunity to be saved.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Answers To Those Who Say, ‘Hell? No!’” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.