The Bible Baptist Church, Glasgow. > What about those who have never heard the gospel?
What about those who have never heard the gospel?
Romans 1:18-25. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen
I have often been asked the question, “what about those who have never heard about Jesus? What about babies who have died? What about those who are blind, deaf and mute?” The answer to these questions lies in the Word of God and in the power of God. Is God all powerful and can we trust His Word? If we believe that God is all powerful and His Word is true, then by faith we can see the answer to these questions. Often those who are unsaved try to use the heathen who they think have never heard and others to try and say that God is unfair and unloving. These people will never accept what God says in His Word and they are using their questions as a cloak for their sin. Let me say that God is holy just and fair and one day He will judge all men and show the truth of what has be done in their lives.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15.
God will one day judge and show how that all have heard the truth will be condemned by their actions and choices and their rejection of the truth. God will be fair, and the truth will be told, and He will be righteous.
Gen 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Regarding those who have not heard the bible is very clear how they are to be judged. According to Romans chapter 1 they have heard, and they will be judged and held to account by what they have heard and how they reacted to it. God has shown by creation and by the light from the work of the Holy Spirit that He demonstrates many things to everyone who has ever lived. “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
John 1:5-9 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
From this verse we see that God’s wrath is upon all them who hold the truth in unrighteousness. But what truth have they heard? Romans 1:20 gives us the answer.
Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
Here according to this verse are some of the things that everyone has clearly seen in the creation of God.
- The invisible things of God. The order of creation, the laws in the universe, the spiritual battles going on in the world.
- Being understood by the things that are made. This is why people take the name of God in vain. Everyone knows that there is a God and that we are designed to worship Him.
- Even his eternal power and Godhead.
- So that they are without excuse. God has put this witness and light in all creation so that no one is without excuse and will be judged by God as how they respond to the truth, witness and light that is shown in creation and through the work of the Holy Spirit. Now since we know that they have ALL heard it is how the respond to this that determines their guilt before a Holy God.
Romans 1:21 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
When they heard this knowledge through creation, they had two ways they could respond to it. Either they could seek the true God of creation or they could reject what God was showing them and worship themselves or the created beings. Romans 1:12 tells us how they respond when they rejected this knowledge.
- They glorified God not as God. They tried to make God like themselves or they wanted to worship man as God.
- They were not thankful. God sent them seasons and blessings, but they did not return thankfulness to God.
Act 14:17. “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
- They became vain in their imaginations. They made up their own gods and religions and rejected the God who made all things.
- Their foolish heart was darkened. If the heart was darkened it had to have light for it to become darkened. They turned form the light that God gave to everyman.
John 1:9 “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
- Professing themselves to be wise they became fools. The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They turned from the light to the darkness and sought not only to reject God but declare that there is not God!
Psalms 14:1-3. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
- And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image make like to corruptible man. Instead of seeking and worshiping the true God of creation they made an image, an idol of their own imagination of things like birds and other animals to worship instead.
- Who changed the truth of God into a lie! God gave them light and knowledge and they rejected it and the truth and so became without excuse. They went from the truth to lies and deception.
These actions that they did were not the actions of those who never knew but the actions of those who rejected the truth and accepted a lie. God says that they are without excuse and will be judged for their rejection of the truth.
Second, there is the law of inner conscience (Rom 2.12-16), through which God tells a man he is sinful. His conscience will witness against him in that "day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (v 16).
Romans 2:15-16 “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”
Now it did not have to be this way, they could have acted upon the light and the knowledge that God gave them and sought to know and seek out the only true God. God is all powerful and all knowing and if they had sought Him, He would be found of them. God would make sure that those seeking the truth would find the truth, God would send those who could tell them the truth and so they could know the God of the Bible and be saved.
"And you shall seek me, and find me when you shall search for me with all your heart, and I will be found of you, saith the Lord." Jeremiah 29:13,14 God didn't say that you might find Him, but that you will find Him.”
“But if from thence thou shalt SEEK the Lord thy God, thou SHALT FIND HIM, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29
God has given and implanted through creation in the heart of man, the knowledge of Himself and His existence, His power and love in every human that is born into this world (Romans 1:19-20). Therefore, man becomes accountable and without excuse (Romans 1:20). If he seeks and wants to know the truth, God promises to get the truth to him (Jeremiah 29:13-14) For those who seek the one and only true God they will find Him. He is a God that is near and not far, He can be sought, and He can be known.
Psalms 9:10 “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
Acts 10:43 “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
Acts 17:26 “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”
Acts 17:27 “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”
God can use others to reach those seeking the truth like Peter who came and preached the gospel to Cornelius in Acts 10:1-8. As Christians we should be actively sharing that gospel to the world as God leads. That may be where we live or in other places as God leads and provides.
Act 10:1-8. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.”
Here is why this passage of scripture is so important. First, we know through scripture that if a true seeker seeks God, he will find Him. Secondly, God is all knowing and has all power to make sure that a true seeker will find God. Thirdly, Cornelius sought God and prayed to find the truth. The general revelation in the creation and through his prayers were not enough to save Cornelius. He was instructed to send for Peter so that he could know the truth and be saved. There is no salvation in the witness in the creation, it is necessary that they seek the truth and that God sends them the truth so that they may be saved. For Cornelius to receive this message Peter had to travel 30 miles to deliver the truth that would save him. Cornelius was a devout and God-fearing man but that could not save him. He needed to hear the Gospel and God sent Peter so that he would hear it and be saved.
Romans 10:13-16 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?”
Some other questions that people pose are, what about those babies who have died and have not reached an age where they can be saved? What about those who cannot see, hear, or speak. Can they be saved? Again, the Bible tells us that God lights every man that comes into the world and He is fair and just to all which is why we need His Grace and Mercy.
Infants and those with mental disabilities that preclude processing didactic information are dealt in God in grace and mercy. God is gracious and he will be fair and do that which is right. A sinner is only held accountable for their sin when they become aware and conscious of their sin. A baby or young child is not aware of this and this applies to those with mental infirmities and disabilities too. When David’s son was sick and eventually died, he stated that he could go to him but that the child could not return to David. God gave King David peace that the child was with God.
2.Samuel 12:22-23. “And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
God makes a distinction between adults and children. Between those who know right from wrong and those who do not know.
Jonah 4:11 “And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”
Deu 24:16 “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”
Since there is no law that condemns the sin of babies or those who do not know the difference between right and wrong due to metal infirmity the scriptures say:
Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Those in the Old testament who God declared righteous, such as Abraham who believed God, were made righteous not by works but because they believed and put their faith and trust in the Lord. Before the cross they were held in Abraham's bosom until the Lord preached the gospel to them. This is because the Old testament saints did not fully know as we do the things that the New testament has revealed to us. Such as the name of the Lord Jesus and the gospel of God’s grace. The Old Testament saints believed in the Lord and Trusted Him and because of that were made righteous in God’s sight.
Genesis 15:6 “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Romans 4:1-3. “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Romans 4:6-7 “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”
Romans 3:20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
1.Peter 3:18-19 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;”
The bible teaches us that babies or mentally infirmed people will reach heaven because of God’s Grace and mercy. I believe that they will hear the gospel as did those before the cross and God will work in grace to them. The bible is not silent though however on those who seek to excuse their sin by saying that since the heathen have not heard then their sin cannot be judged by God. God will judge the sinner and his sin unless they come to Christ and believe the gospel.
- Corinthians 15:3-4. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
- Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
Romans 1:16-17. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Titus 3:4-5 “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
1.Timothy 3:16 “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”