Will God Judge Those Who Have Never Heard About Christ?
Similar questions are: What about the guy on a deserted island that we can’t get the
What about people who call God by a different name?
There are basically three options or possibilities: 1. God will not judge them.
2. God will judge them and it’s unfair
3. God will judge them and it is fair
Let’s consider these three options—1. If God will not judge people who have never heard then the worst thing you could do would be to send missionaries to them or share Christ with anybody because ignorance is bliss. By preaching the gospel to those who were unaware of Christ, they have brought people from a state of innocence to a state of culpability if they do not respond. Missionaries are then wasting their lives and sending more people to hell for rejecting than they are saving. This also violates the clear message of Jesus in His great commission of Matt. 28:19-20, and Acts 1:8 to go and make disciples of all nations. There is also a faulty premise that ignorant people are innocent. From the Bible’s point of view, people are not lost because they have never heard—they are lost because they are sinners and they need a Savior. The Bible is very clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”(Rom.3:23), and can only be “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus”. Is Jesus the only “gift” available? Yes, according to Peter “filled with the Holy Spirit”, he said in Acts 4:12, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given by God by which we must be saved”.
I will not waste time considering whether judgment by God of all persons is biblical, I consider that obvious, “God has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness” Acts 17:31
Option 2. It’s unfair. Romans 2:2-16 reveals that God’s judgment is fair. At least 3 truths about the fairness of God’s judgment are in this passage: 1. God judges according to truth and God knows the complete truth about every person. 2. God judges unbelievers by their works 3. God is impartial.
Does anyone have an excuse for not knowing God? Romans 1:18-25 makes it clear they are “without excuse” because God has made Himself known to all in three ways: 1. Internally-when God made us, He made us with an inherent knowledge of Him-a God shaped vacuum that must be filled. 2. Externally-all can look at the enormity, awesomeness , and the order of creation and know that it points to a Creator. 3. Moral sense-part of being made in God’s image is having a moral sense of God’s law and knowing you don’t live up to it. This awareness of God, demands of all people that they seek God, and God has promised that if anyone seeks Him, He will reveal Himself to them. God is knocking on everyone’s heart. Passages such as Jer. 29:13, Ps.9:10; 145:18, Lam.3:25, 1Chron.28:9, Prov.8:17 and many more speak to this. You may say, “Are there any biblical examples?” Yes a multitude—the Ethiopean Eunoch of Acts 8:26, the centurion of Acts 10-11, Rahab, Ruth, the Ninevites, the Samaritan woman of Jn.4 and many more all prove that if anyone seeks God, He will reveal Himself and they will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ no matter where they are.
There is a misconception that unless we get the message to those who have never heard they will never hear. Starting with this faulty premise all conclusions are wrong. God is sovereignly at work in evangelism. If it was up to us we would fail but God has promised and God fulfills. Is there anyplace or people God can’t reach? God sent Phillip to the Ethiopian, God sent Jesus to the Samaritan woman, and God had to force Jonah to go to Nineveh. God directed Paul’s missionary journeys, and God can easily send someone to the sap on the deserted isle. God knows what is in everyone’s heart, and He is capable of getting the word to all who want it.
What about the dedicated followers of other religions? Once again in Romans 1:21-25 Paul gives the answer—the religions of man were spawned not out of a search for truth, but as a perversion of the truth that mankind originally had. A good example is found in Rom.10:1-3. Paul greatly desires that his countrymen be saved, but even though they have a zeal for God and are very religious, “it is not in accordance to the truth”. Instead they seek through their own works to establish their own righteousness and “will not subject themselves to the righteousness of God”.
Option Three—God will judge all people and it is fair. God judges people based on the knowledge each individual has received and does not hold people accountable for what they could not know. All people of age with rational abilities to make choices have enough internal and external knowledge of God and an inherent desire to know God. God will judge them for what they do with what they have.
Usually when someone asks the question, “What about the heathen in Africa?” they are putting up a smoke screen or a dodge to avoid their own decision about Christ. Remember to ask them, “YOU HEARD THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS CHRIST. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO JESUS?”