What happens to those who have never heard the Gospel? This addresses
the sweeping portions of the population which ranges from the heathen, the
mentally handicapped, the infants, the still-born and the miscarried. Eternal
life unto him who believes (Jn )?but
what if a person never heard?
Miles across the sea far removed from Christianity and Judaism;
there are places where some natives have been dying for generations. No
preacher in their midst and no gospel being heard.
Near to home, my wife and I have lost 4 children via
miscarriage. We have friends who have had still-born twins. I personally know
of people who their whole life was spent in a wheelchair while howling or
laughing at unseen things in the sky. With so many deaths, how is it possible that
some Christians tritely portray God as throwing them all into the
at His glorification? This only fuels the fiery indignation of those who hate
God already and impugns God?s righteous character.
Some decide to float some of God?s attributes where they see
fit as if He acts independently of any of those attributes. ?Ah, when God
judges He is emphasizing Holiness.? Really? Scripture has God
compartmentalizing His omnipotence and omni benevolence so you wouldn?t see one
from the other?
Christ is clear when He responds to the demand ?Show us the Father.?(Jn
14:8) He tells them that whoever has seen Him has seen the Father already (Jn
14:9). This Jesus who is perfectly merciful and has the authority to judge (Jn ) came to save all men (Jn )?in His patience (2 Pet ), He held His right to judge in reserve
(Jn. ). I speak as a fool; was
Christ more loving than holy?
The Son, being the express image of God and the brightness
of God?s glory (Heb 1:3) is effectively God?s physical manifestation (1 Ti ). God then is undeniably holy (Ps 99:9)
and perfectly love (1 Jn ). Such
a God would be righteously just and graciously merciful seeking that all are
saved (Is 45:21,22). When He judges, none will be able to say ?Ah, He was
unjust.? (Rom 3:4, 5) Oh man, stop defaming God as if He will make arbitrary
and unjust decisions simply because He can while shouting down at the stupid
mortals ?How dare you speak back? Doesn?t the potter have power over the clay??
(Rom , 21).
God is not a man (Num )
that He will succumb to wrathful indignation from petty spite. Vengeance is
surely His (Rom ), but He will
do so justly. Judgment is His as is condemnation and each He does righteously
and mercifully. This tells us that He will not have His named defamed (Ex 20:7;
Deut -22). If He sets about to
do something, He will make sure it is done (Phi 1:6). The judge of the Earth
will do right (Gen ).
How will He do this? God hoping that His name is kept pure
will depend on finite men to get the message across but if men fail God?s
righteousness and justice is derailed? Of course not! Christ went up to the
Father and sent the Helper not only to teach believing men (John ) in their weakness (Rom ) but so that the Helper may bear witness,
convicting the world of its sin, of God?s righteousness and of judgment (Jn
16:8). The Infinite and Living God, righteous and just, personally involved in
His self revelation!
God begins to reveals Himself, specifically His power and
His sovereignty, in creation and nature (Rom -32).
Will men question the revelation and seek to know more about the one who has so
powerfully made all things? Will they wonder if such a God is knowable? Or will
they build an idol from the created wood and claim that it is their god? One is
a logical questioning (if all this is so great, the maker of it all must be
great) and the other is a senseless degeneration (since all this is so great,
let me make something from it and call the thing I made my god).
If this very simple revelation is rejected, God has every
right to drop it there. The person has not responded to their visible
surroundings and instead created their own frame for religion. Yet God continues
to be evident in the fact of the mind and conscience of a man?who is still
responsible to react to that evidence as well.
If such a person seeks the answer (Ps 69:32; Mat 7:7; Lk
11:9), God is faithful to send a messenger of the Gospel. He will make sure
that the message reaches the intended recipient (Acts -38)?and they must react to that as well (Ps 14:2). Do
they believe it?or deny it (Acts )?
God is merciful in His judgment; giving punishment to the
level of revelation the individual has been a recipient of (Luke -48). If there are those to which God has
revealed much, much would be required of them?and in this world they may become
an advertisement of God?s punishment so that all may see and believe (Ex 9:16).
But as I said, there are those who haven?t heard because
they never could hear. They are unlike those others who are revealed the
characteristics of God. Some of these that were mentioned could not tell their
right hand from their left (Jon ,
If God is so willing to transport a disciple miles to get
the gospel to a man who is reading Isaiah (Acts -38)
we should be supremely assured that God is NOT reveling in the loss of infant
life. The express image of God wanted children to come to Him (Matt ; Mar ;
Lk ) and told people that of
such is the
and to enter into His kingdom they had to be as a child (Mk ).
Sin has marred creation and all in it so that it groans with
the expectation of one day being remade (Rom ,
22). Our very own bodies attest to this, falling apart physically and in our
mind, constantly seeking after sin (Rom 7). Yet Christ died for the sin of the
world (Jo ) and that sin is the
one sin which wound up having God subject all of creation under its power (Rom )?the sin of Adam (Rom 5). Christ came to
save the meek (Psa 37:11; Isa 11:4; Matt 5:5), the weak (Joe ), the oppressed (Ps 146:7) and the
foolish (1 Co ). Those who had
no ability to even look and see God?s revelation are surely saved by His wonderful
work of grace and mercy and for the sake of His justice and righteousness.
In conclusion, God reveals Himself to men and will further
reveal Himself based on their reaction to previous revelation. God will send
His gospel if there are ears willing to hear it. If the ears can not hear it
because they are so young that they can?t understand it and they pass away?God
will save them by what He already did on the cross through His Son. Therefore I
can rejoice (Romans 5:1-11), not only in the love of God which has found a way
to save guilty sinners from condemnation but for His wisdom (Rom -36) which He would reach out through
time and display his justice with his loving-kindness and his Holiness with his
See further answers to this question in Vox Apologia IV.