Several times this week I have been asked, “Will those who have never heard about Jesus go to hell?” Certainly neither you nor I are in charge of who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. However, I believe we can look at the Word and determine the answer to this very chilling question.
In order to determine the answer to this question we must realize several truths:
1) All have sinned (Romans 3:23). Whether a man has heard about Jesus or not, he has committed sin. There are people in the world who are kind, sincere, and even religious. However, there is not a single person walking the face of the earth who is “good” (Mark 10:18). Every person living has sinned and is need of the good news of Christ Jesus.
2) It is only “in Christ Jesus” that redemption is possible (Romans 3:24). If salvation were possible outside of Christ, He died for nothing (Galatians 2:21). Why would Jesus command His followers to spread the good news of salvation to ALL mankind (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16) if there were people who did not need to hear it? Everyone needs Christ and the spiritual blessings that come from being “in” Him (Ephesians 1:3).
3) Faith is necessary to be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). If one must hear the word of Christ in order to have faith (Romans 10:17) and he must have faith in order to be pleasing to God, then he cannot be pleasing to God unless he has heard the word of Christ. Undoubtedly there are many kind and wonderful people throughout the world, some of whom may have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, no amount of kindness can earn them a place in the kingdom of God, for it is only “by grace through faith” that man can be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).
4) People can find the truth if they will search for it (Acts 17:27). Paul told those in Athens that God has “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope thatthey might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).
It would be comforting to think that those living in remote places, who have never heard the gospel, were not responsible for obeying it. It would be nice to think that evangelism was not that important because God will have mercy on them who have never heard the gospel. However, Paul says that Christ will return “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
There may have been a time when God “winked” at ignorance “but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30, KJV). Our job, to take the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) is of the utmost importance because it is only him who “believes and is baptized” who will be saved (Mark 16:16).
Let us take our responsibilities seriously and go and teach the lost!