Apologeet.nlWhat About Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?
Part 4 – The Hard Questions
This is part 4 of this series. Please watch the first three parts first to better understand this one. You’ll find the links in the description of this video.
So, what actually will happen to those who never heard the Gospel? Where do they go when they die?
In the first part we have found out that actually every single person on this earth deserves to be punished for his or her sin. That is the only just and honest position God can take. But we concluded also that this is not the end of the story. In part 2 we discovered that every human can have a certain knowledge of God through nature and also through their own conscience. With the knowledge of the first two part we discussed two persons from Old Testament times, Abraham and Rahab. These two got saved through their faith in God.
The whole driving force behind the saving faith of these Old Testament people seem to be that they first recognised God through general revelation. Of Abraham, we know for sure that God also intervened and talked to him, thus giving him a special revelation or in a fancy word, theophany. Looking at Rahab’s conversion is a bit harder to determine what it was that put her on the right track. Was it that she already knew that there is a God of heaven and earth? Was it because she heard the stories about the interaction between Israel and God? In any case, she turned her whole life towards God, leaving behind a depraved and corrupt culture.
But now I think we need to address the elephant in the room because I can hear the question al ready. “Can we trust that many more will come to a saving faith through general revelation only?” And my short answer would be ‘no’. That’s a gloomy answer, I know, so I will explain it a bit.
Looking around I see many who really understand that nature didn’t come into being by chance. Many will even acknowledge that their moral compass is there to help them to choose between good and bad. But how many… No wait, let me ask this question to you:
How many people do you know who didn’t know anything except nature and their conscience and called out to God, saying: “O higher being! I want to get to know you”. You know, people, who grew up in a culture where they worship the ancestors but then, looking around, they realise that they are involved in rituals that are just gross and immoral. All of a sudden they look at the cow horn with magical powder, and they recognise that it is just that, a cow’s horn with some yucky stuff inside. And when they realise this, they, like Rahab, leave everything behind to try, and find the Creator.
No, this does not happen often. I can’t say never, because I don’t know every person that has lived, or lives present day. But I do know an awful lot of people, but not one of them fits the description. The opposite is easier to find. People who know that there must be an ultimate God, and they know that what they are doing is wrong. They keep on doing it anyway, until they do not hear their own conscience any more. Most of us are like that. Even the most diligent Christian decides, so now and then, to refuse to listen to that inner-voice. This is totally inline with the Biblical teaching. Nobody really seeks God.
“There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God. ”
So again, the times we see people turn and seeking God, because they recognise His hand in nature and their conscience, are very rare. Sure, they include possible examples in the Bible, like Rahab. But mostly people need something extra.
Only through Jesus
Even though the saved people might not have known anything about the work Jesus did, or would do in the future, when you talk about Old Testament cases, they are still saved through His work.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
When Abraham trusted God for his salvation, he trusted the right person. It was God who became flesh and was born here on earth to work salvation for all. Trusting God, meant that he ultimately trusted Jesus, even without him knowing it.
I believe it is safe to say that the whole Old Testament pointed to Jesus. The laws, the sacrificial ceremonies, yes, even the story in which Abraham has to offer his son Isaac. It all became fulfilled in the work of Christ.
Hebrews 11:1, 13
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them […]”
The faith obtained by people who do not know the Gospel is looking forward. All examples in Hebrews 11 demonstrate a faith and a trust that God would save them. They probably didn’t have a clue that it would be through Jesus, but they were sure God would do it one way or another.
A common misconception about the Old Testament way of salvation is that Jews were saved by keeping the Law. But we know from Scripture that that is not true. Galatians 3:11 says, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” Paul is quoting Habakkuk 2:4—salvation by faith, apart from the Law was an Old Testament principle.
How little can someone know and still be saved?
Good, let us dive in some difficult questions. Have you ever wondered how little one can know and still be saved? Of course, you have never had this questions, I know! But there are others who do. You see, general revelation is what we have! It is this revelation which prepares us for more! We should stop asking how little can someone know and still be saved? How about those who live somewhere in the middle of the rainforests? They don’t know anything about the God of the Bible. How much faith do they have to show to be saved? This is just a silly question and can not be answered properly. God will judge accordingly. He knows the heart, he knows the intentions of every human being. What do we know!?
It is like asking me when is it okay to divorce you husband or wife. I can give you some Biblical texts that seem to tell you when it is fine to do so. But honestly, the situation is almost never that simple. True, there are exceptions but most of them are rare, and I am not going to tell you in this video when it is permitted. Likewise, I can not answer the question of how little one can know and still be saved. I am absolutely positive that people get saved while knowing almost nothing, but again, these cases are rare.
What I do know is that the majority of people who got saved did receive some kind of extra or special information. You might want to read Hebrews 11 about the people of faith. Reading through those witnesses you’ll see that all of them received extra information. Like I said, Rahab received information about the great deeds of the God of Israel.
Some seem to be thinking something like: “Well, they don’t know anything, maybe they are saved…” But this is mixing up faith with ignorance. Faith is required to be saved not ignorance.
That brings me to the next thing. Did you ever heard someone say that we don’t really have to evangelise or send out missionaries. I mean, maybe they get saved anyway, right? They’ve got general revelation! Maybe you’ve never heard this line of reasoning before, but I sure did! Let me shock you a little more… it were mostly Christians who were wondering about this idea!
My full answer is simple: Not sending evangelists or missionaries is unbiblical, and suggesting such idea shouldn’t even be taken seriously within the Christian church. The Lord clearly says that we should go out and share the Gospel. Numerous testimonies of individuals and even whole tribes who all had general revelation. They neglected it and worshipped false gods, nature itself or anything else, until the Gospel reached them, and they repented and put their trust in Jesus. If you like to see such a story, you really should watch the documentary about the Mouk Tribe:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
How about the idea that you can actually do harm to someone’s search for God. I have been in hospital for a knee operation. While I was lying in my bed I talked with a lady at the opposite side of the dorm. It was great! She wanted to know all about Jesus.
Now this dorm had six or eight beds, I can’t remember. In one of them was another lady. She didn’t say anything, she was just lying there reading a book. Or so I thought. Weeks later, an older sister in church came to me. She said that she heard that I was in hospital at the same time as her friend. She knew it was me because her friend told her about me. It was a terrible experience for her friend. I was talking about that Jesus guy all the time. No, it wasn’t the lady I talked with. It was the lady with the book! The older sister told me that I shouldn’t talk too much about Jesus because people, like her friend, are being put off by it. She said that her friend was just almost ‘there’. God was working on her, and she wanted to answer God’s call. What my older sister actually implied was that my preaching damaged this lady’s hunger for the Gospel, even after receiving special attention from God.
But, is this valid? Can it be that, when someone, who already understands general revelation, and then receives some kind of special revelation—let’s say a vision of God or a special dream which they received from God—and you come and tell them about Christ, and they respond negatively. “Oh no, He is nothing like I imagined, I don’t want Him!”
I believe, when they really received a special revelation, this doesn’t happen.
“It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. ”
In other words, if you really learned about God… And I mean really learned, not that wishy-washy DIY religion preached by some wannabe preachers. No, when someone really got to know God the Father, he or she WANTS to know Jesus. Actually, Jesus uses His presence in Jerusalem to see whether the Jews really listened to the prophets or not. If they did, if they actually really listened to the things they have been taught about God the Father, they would have accepted Him.
“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? ”
So, hearing the Gospel is wholesome to someone who learned about God. If someone has had the privileged to learn about God the Father, like the Israelites did, they wouldn’t have any problem accepting Christ.
However, while I’m saying this, I recall the anecdote I gave in part three about the lady who got healed but still refused to follow Christ. Now, this is a different situation. That lady received special attention directly from the healing hands of Jesus. She understood who God was and what Jesus had done for us. Still, she didn’t want to give up her life. This isn’t about not understanding any more. No, this specific situation shows us that there are also people who willingly ignore the Gospel. They will reject Christ no matter what.
Okay, we’ve got that cleared up, but what about the earnest Muslim, Buddhist, or Hare Krishna? They grew up in their religion, and they might have sincerely searched for God, right? You might think so, but I believe this to be false. Deep down all other religions are rejecting God the Father. I could give examples for many different religions out there, but I’ll suffice by saying that none of them actually worships a personal, and loving God. It is all about, this far away god or energy that ultimately isn’t concerned with his, her, or it’s creation.
It is amazing that we have testimonies from those who started to question their religion. The looked around, they looked at the idols, they thought about their mantras, and they started to realise that the God of creation cannot be found in any of these. And how can He? He created everything but He Himself is outside this creation and not created but eternal. It is the moment that they start to ask the hard questions. Those questions that aren’t really appreciated by the religious leaders because they don’t know the answers and rather keep the status quo.
Often you hear that they then turn secretly to the evangelist or missionary in the neighbourhood, and after a while they’ll accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what we see and hear throughout the ages.
I began to work on translating Bible stories back in 2017. Somewhere in February 2018 I started to visit a village where I shared these freshly translated Bible stories. People listened and were very curious since they had not heard these stories yet, especially not in their heart-language. Anyway, around August 2018, a young couple from outside, moved into this village. They were sent by their church to plant a new church. Within no time, they could start—very surprised that some people were readily accepting the Gospel. The point I try to make is that these new believers already searched for God. Then I came and explained to them who God is and about His plan to save us. I got as far as explaining to them that He promised to send Jesus as a sacrifice for all. They were eager to hear about it. My brother and sister move in and explained exactly that and: Boom!
Back then, we didn’t know each other yet. They didn’t know what I had done or preached, and I didn’t know who they were. They are way younger than I am, but we have become very good friends.
If someone in a different culture and religion sincerely seeks God, they will get the chance to meet Him. This is what the Bible teaches and this is the experience of many missionaries throughout the world.
Last things to consider
I guess this episode is going to be the longest of all four, but that’s because this episode is the most important one! So, what actually happens to those who have never heard the Gospel. The answer seems to be that there might be some that start the look for the real God. These people will get answers because God promised that they would find Him, and He is not far. However, scripture also teaches that many, not to say most, are not interested in finding Him. They are content with their lifestyle. They push away the gnawing feeling that they are doing thing wrong. Likewise, they willingly ignore all signs out there that tell them that there is a God, a creator of everything.
This means that many will be lost for eternity. No matter how hard they try to please the ancestors, or how diligently they try to keep the commandments of their religion, and no matter how big their investment is in society. No matter how many grannies they help to cross the street and how much money they give to humanitarian organisations. People can not save themselves by keeping the law, people can only be saved by faith. And not just that kind of faith which is required in their own religious groups. No, faith in the Creator of the heaven and the earth. The One who gave them life in the first place, who put the stars in the heaven as a sign of His existence.
This is why, throughout the ages, the Church has sent out missionaries. This is why evangelists try to grab every opportunity to tell others about Christ. Christians have been called to love their neighbours as themselves. It is this love that should urge us to do everything in our power to teach the world that there is a Saviour! That they can be saved! And that God can be found!
To pounder on
Okay, let’s take a look at one last passage in the Bible. I have already mentioned this passage in episode one. Let’s go to Matthew 11:21,23
“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes […]”
“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”
I read this, and I understand Jesus’ words to mean that if He actually really came to Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom. If He had performed all His deeds—miracles, resurrection, exorcisms, and the sermons—they would have repented.
If this is true—and I believe it is—does this than mean that there might be people who would have been saved if they heard the Gospel? Would they’ve been saved for eternity if someone had come to them and preached the Gospel? Can it be that, because no one came to them, they stayed in their sin and got condemned accordingly?
I am afraid that this passage strongly implies this. I think that this is a theme throughout the whole Bible. People who might have been saved if they’ve heard just a little more. If the great deeds were performed among them, they would have repented. This is frightening to me!
There are those, who say that if they don’t tell their neighbour about Christ, God would definitely send someone else to do it. Like, if someone is destined to be saved, God will do anything to make that happen. This argument than relieves them from all their worries. Evangelism has always be high on my agenda. I’ve always tried to mobilise others to share the Gospel. But many used this excuse. “Nah, I am just not an evangelist like you”; “I am not that talkative”; “I don’t know enough to teach others.” And then they come with this final knock-out argument, which is always trotted out when they ran out of good excuses.
But if this argument holds, then there would be no need to send out missionaries, church planters, evangelists. In that case we shouldn’t be worried about the un-reached at all, and I wouldn’t have to make this video in the first place.
Anyway, I could go on for a few more hours, but I think this is a good time to stop. I’ll give you one last text to think about. I read the text from the Amplified Version. You can look it up in any other version you like. This version gives a description of the text and I believe it does a good job with this specific one.
2 Timothy 4:1-2
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word [as an official messenger]; be ready when the time is right and even when it is not [keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favourable or unfavourable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome]; correct [those who err in doctrine or behaviour], warn [those who sin], exhort and encourage [those who are growing toward spiritual maturity], with inexhaustible patience and [faithful] teaching.”
This is a huge topic! And I hope I’ve tackled it enough to give you a more detailed idea. I very much appreciate your input in the comments.
As always, my videos can also be watched on Bitchute and YouTube, but I am mostly active on Odysee. So, if you want to comment on this video, I would suggest doing so on Odysee. But, to comment you’ll need an account and if you use my invitation we both get some LBC for free.
Along with the invitation, I’ll put the link to an essay with the title ‘Why Mission Matters – Seen From a Secular Viewpoint’ in the description of this video. Also, you’ll find ways to support me. Some of you already did! And I would like to thank you big time for that. It is a huge encouragement to know that you appreciate my work.
Thank you for watching, and I wish you God’s blessing.
And we’ll see each other in the next one!
THE MOUK STORY:
👉 Short version (Dutch voice-over)
Part 2 – What is known to mankind?