HOW ARE PEOPLE SAVED WHO NEVER HEARD OF JESUS?
The question often comes up about those who were born before Jesus or those today who never heard of them. Is salvation available for them? If so, how? First let’s be sure that salvation is only to be found through Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). There is no other way, person, religion, etc. to get us to heaven. Only Jesus. But what about those who never heard of Him?
Every person is accountable to God, if they have heard the name Jesus or not (Romans 1:18-32; 3:23). All deserve eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). He paid for their sins, if they heard about Him or not (John 4:42; 1 John 2:2). Those who reject His payment for sin will eternally endure God’s wrath on sin in hell (John 3:16, 36; Revelation 20:15).
Salvation only comes from hearing God’s good news of forgiveness (Romans 10:13-14). We know God is just and would never do anything that was not just (Genesis 18:25; Romans 2:11). All deserve hell; no one deserves heaven, or even a chance at heaven through Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-9). But how can God hold someone accountable for rejecting Jesus if they never heard about Him?
THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE THE OLD TESTAMENT
First, let’s talk about those who do not know about God through His written Word in the Old Testament. They may not have heard about the creator God of Israel, but they do know there is a God for their conscience within makes that plain to them (Romans 1:19, 32; 2:15; Ecclesiastes 3:11). Everyone has something within that tells them there is a God. If they respond to that or deny it is up to their free will choice.
In addition, God has revealed His eternal power and deity through nature and what He has created (Romans 1:20). Man is responsible for what he does about this basic awareness of the existence of God. Suppose you were lost in a dark cave and then found a little lighted arrow pointing in a certain direction. Whose fault would it be if you failed to follow the arrow? Just yours. God has His own little arrows in our heart and in nature. Man must just follow them.
So, what is the minimum of what needs to happen for salvation? A person must give all of himself that he has to all of God that he understands. I repeat. A person must give all of himself that he has to all of God that he understands. That is true for a child, a mentally handicapped person, or someone who only knows there is a God through his heart and through nature. The more mature we get the more of ourselves we have to give, but even a child can give his heart to God. And a person doesn’t need to know more than that there is a God to accept that truth and seek to know more about and follow that God. Anyone can do that, no matter if they have never heard the name of Jesus or read any of the Old Testament.
God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). He welcomes those who acknowledge their spiritual need and seek Him (Ezekiel 34:11; Luke 19:10). When a person does accept the reality of this creator God and seeks to better know Him then he is accepting all of God that He understands. Sometimes God will reveal more of Himself to that person through a messenger (Acts 16:6-10), through inner revelation in the form of a supernatural dream, or through other means such as the names and meanings of the stars as He created them. God’s promise is still true. “If from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Those who do not turn to Him do not do so out of ignorance, for all are accountable and fully responsible (Romans 1:19-20). No unbeliever will stand before Him in judgment and say he didn’t have a chance to believe. Everyone will admit they knew something about God but chose to reject that knowledge instead of seeking more. Those who do not respond to Him are guilty of rejecting Him (Romans 1:21-23). Man can reject the truth (Romans 1:18) and refuse to honor God (Romans 1:21), turning to idols instead (Romans 1:23). They can ignore God’s standard of righteousness, but they are still accountable for doing so (Romans 1:24-32). The serious part is that when someone rejects God, He rejects them (Romans 1:24-32).
Never let it be said that God is unfair in doing so, though (Romans 2:1-16). God is more than fair. He reveals Himself to man within (heart/conscience) and without (nature). All man has to do is accept that truth and, in His heart, acknowledge the God that created him. If he has given everything he has of himself to all of God that he understands, God will forgive his sins and give him salvation. It couldn’t be any simpler or fairer than that. (July 25, 2022 Doylestown, PA)
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Have you given everything you have of yourself to all of God that you know and understand? Perhaps you did this as a child, and several times since. Salvation comes the first time to do so, but it’s good to keep on recommitting as you grow. If you haven’t done this in a while, do so now.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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