Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Are those who have never heard of Jesus going to hell?

What about those who have never heard of Jesus so they cannot receive Him as their Savior. Are they saved? Or are they going to hell? Good question. Tough question. Lots of people are puzzled, and think this objection proves that God is unfair; consequently, the gospel of Christ and the Bible must be wrong. Let me try to tackle that question. Actually, years ago this was my biggest reason for not believing Christ for my own salvation.

1. Non-believers are sent to hell for the guilt of their sin. Sin carries a penalty that involves eternal punishment. It is true for those who have never heard of Jesus I know: that is a harsh statement, but Jesus said, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).

It is true that one must receive Christ as their Savior to go to heaven, but if it was not for their guilt, they would be free and clear.

2. This one is really hard: our default condition coming into this world is that we deserve to go to hell. We are not innocent when we enter this life, but we are guilty even of Adam’s sin. He is the route sin took to enter this world, and the corrupted DNA in his nature was passed along to us today, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).  

Paul is very convincing and graphic in describing our unsaved default condition, and I would encourage you to see for yourself what He said in Romans 3:9-23. I would also warn you that when you finish you probably will be very “discouraged!”

3. This adds to our guilt problem: we are unable to receive Christ and don’t even want to before we are born again through Christ. Paul writes, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14). We are unwillingly and unable.

Jesus expands on this reality when He said, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:18-20).

In other words, Jesus taught that we loved our sin more than salvation. Wow! Even Paul expanded on this thought, “For the wrath of god is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

In fact, Paul tells us that our unsaved status is that we are helpless, ungodly sinners, positioned under the wrath of God and even His enemies (cf. Romans 5:6-10). Ouch! This is hard reading. I want to weep because it is so somber and final.

4. Let us look at this issue another way: Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). Even the great Apostle of the Church, Peter, exclaimed in bold relief, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Oh my goodness, what are we to say? If we say that those who have never heard of Christ somehow have a chance or are saved anyway, then we call Jesus Christ (and even Peter) a despicable liar!! Do you want to say that to Jesus Christ? I sure don’t. Call God a liar? Are you crazy!!

5. What about the fairness problem. Is God unfair that some have heard the gospel and are saved and some have not? Look at the contrasts, and you decide. Based on the Bible, all people by default coming into this world stand as helpless, ungodly sinners, positioned under the wrath of God and are squared off against Him as His enemies. We love our sin more than God, deliberately choose to ignore and deny the truth of our sin, and cannot understand the gospel and we don’t even want to – and even mock it.

Question: why would God be obligated to save anyone? Clearly, He is under absolutely no obligation to save anyone, but by His own mercy and grace has chosen to save some. Would a human judge be fair and just if he or she set free a vicious murderer just because of some sentimental reason? No. Of course not. Penalty is required of a crime.

Let me put it another way. If a convicted murderer promised a judge that they would never again murder anyone, and the judge would say, “Ok, since you promised you would never again murder anyone, you can go free.” Such a judgement would be outrageous – absolutely unfair and unjust!!

6. In the final analysis, the Bible is clear that without a work of God on the hearts of unbelievers, their fate is forever sealed – whether those individuals have heard of Christ or not. Is then, the Bible correct? Well, Jesus said it was the Word of God, and He rose from the dead which proves that He should know – at least know more than our feeble guesses. Besides, Jesus Christ is God.

Look at it this way: what greater evidence could anyone offer demonstrating the truth of the Bible? If someone was murdered but came back from the dead, climbed up out of their grave and started talking with you, wouldn’t you consider that as stellar evidence? With all the power mankind is able to produce, and all the human intelligence that has been amassed, no one can produce life. Nobody can stuff life back into a corpse – except for Jesus.

Oh, the human condition is in a desperate state of affairs. One only needs to look at the news that describes human activity to be convinced of this calamitous quandary.

However, this is fact: Jesus Christ will save anyone who personally places their sole trust on the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to save them from the penalty of their sin and be granted eternal life. That is a fact. We cannot solve all the problems and answer all the puzzles of life, but we can be saved through Christ alone.

 Dr. Newman

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