Always [be] ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.
–1 Peter 3:15
Every parent who has ever disciplined a child is familiar with these three words: “It’s not fair!” Even when the evidence is too overwhelming to deny his guilt, the child will object that the punishment is far too severe for the crime committed. Whether that punishment is a grounding, a spanking, or the confiscation of cell phones or car keys, the protest is, “It’s not fair!”
It should be no surprise that “It’s not fair!” is also the primary objection people have to one of the most basic elements of the gospel, and that is that the only way to escape hell is through faith in Jesus Christ. Some people, like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, want to deny their guilt. Other people admit, “I may be slightly flawed, but hell is far too severe a punishment for just a few mistakes or for not believing the right things about Jesus.” And when you talk about those who have never heard about Jesus, the “It’s not fair!” protest resounds much more loudly: “Are you saying that the only way a person can go to heaven is by trusting in Jesus, and therefore if they have not heard about Jesus, they’re going to be confined to an eternity in hell? It’s not fair!” I bet you’ve run across that objection as well.
What about all the people in the world who have never heard about Jesus? Today you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to find people who have never heard about Jesus. A member in our church said to me that she works with a young woman in the Dallas area who had never heard of Jesus Christ. As our culture becomes increasingly secular, the question “What about those who have never heard about Jesus?” becomes increasingly relevant.
Often, people add the word “innocent” to the question: “What about that innocent young woman in Syria who has never heard about Jesus Christ? Is she condemned to hell for rejecting a gospel she never even heard? It’s not fair!” This is a common question regarding the exclusivity of Jesus for salvation. In fact, it’s the primary argument against that belief. This is so crucial that we will look at this question both this week and next week. This may be brand-new information to you, or it may be a refresher course. But it is vital that Christians charged with sharing the gospel are able to answer this question. The Bible says we ought to be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks us for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15). If somebody were to ask you, “Do you believe Jesus is the only way to salvation? What about those who have never heard about Jesus?” would you know how to answer that question in a way somebody could understand? We will examine several biblical truths that answer the question clearly.
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.