What About Those Who Havenâ€™t Heard The Gospel ?
This question is frequently asked as an objection to the gospel message. It usually is raised by the person who has extreme problems with the exclusivity of Christ as the only way of salvation for humanity.
Some believers shy away from answering the question, or, in an attempt to make God seem more loving, simply claim agnosticism
The major problem isâ€¦. Itâ€™s the wrong question.
Suppose a criminal came and robbed your house and you caught him in the act. He is on his way out of your residence with your 27â€ TV (which ainâ€™t easy to carry and move quick) as you secretly spy him from the front doorway of your home. You quietly enter as he fumbles along with the TV in hand, walking much like a penguin or a badly drawn cartoon character. You secretly sneak into your front closet and grab your shotgun and quietly load it while he tries to think of the best way to walk out the back door with your TV (which, by the way, is too wide to fit through the back door WITH him carrying it). As it seems heâ€™s found a way to get out, you jump out in surprise at him.
He, in shock, throws his hands up and your TV lands, screen shattering. Looking as though heâ€™s going to make a break for it, you warn him that the gun is loaded and that heâ€™s going to â€˜stay putâ€™ until the authorities arrive. Sadly, he complies, pouting and dropping to the ground with his hands on the back of his head.
The police arrive a few minutes later and you explain the situation â€“ the man was caught on your property illegally, stealing your possessions, destroying one of your possessions in the process and then attempting to escape. You, being a loyal NRA member and legal weaponsâ€™ holder, have held the man under citizenâ€™s arrest until the authorities arrived.
The police place the man under arrest. As they handcuff him, he asks a strange question.
â€œWhat about the people who steal things and never get caught ?â€
â€œSirâ€ the older of the two police officers answers, â€œWhat does that have to do with YOUR responsibility in this crime right now ?â€
What about those people ? At the present time, with the present charges, those people have nothing to do with this situation. Itâ€™s the wrong question to ask and it’s really irrelevant to the matter at hand. People who steal and don’t get caught have nothing to do with this man who did steal and got caught.
Similarly, asking about those whoâ€™ve never heard the gospel as an attempt to sidestep the question of the responsibility to believe the gospel is simply not the question to ask. Itâ€™s irrelevant to the present situation. Fact is, the person hearing the gospel message NOW is responsible for it.
This is not to say that there isnâ€™t an answer for that questionâ€¦ Itâ€™s just that this particular question is not relevant at this moment. Believers need to seize this moment as an example of â€˜holding down the truth in unrighteousnessâ€™ and question why this particular question is relevant to the discussion at the moment. The issue couldnâ€™t be Godâ€™s fairness, because by this point, weâ€™ve already discussed that God will judge sin, but grants mercy to those who repent. The issue couldnâ€™t be Godâ€™s mercy, because mercy, by itâ€™s very definition, is voluntary. God Himself has said that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy in Romans 9 â€“ so God doesnâ€™t owe anyone mercy â€“ especially in light of the fact that we are all sinners according to His holy standard (Himself).
When a person makes â€˜mercyâ€™ obligatory, they have stopped talking about mercy and started talking about justice. And God is absolutely just and will punish all sins â€“ including the sins of the person asking the question. And since they themselves cannot atone for their own sins because of their innate imperfections, the question comes back to Christ and what are they going to do with Him right now.
An example that we can all relate to is found from my daily profession â€“ teaching. Kids will often do things like throw paper/erasers/pens/pencils across the room at others and continue in this sort of behavior until caught.
When caught, they immediately resort to wanting to bring down the rest of the world with them. â€œBilly was throwinâ€™ paper too!â€
A good teacher answers â€œWell, when I looked up, I didnâ€™t see Billy. All I saw was you in post-throwing position with a ball of paper hurtling across the room from your direction. Billy is responsible for Billy and you are responsible for you.â€
A detention slip followed.
Similarly, the person on the other side of the world is responsible for them and they have NOTHING to do with YOU and YOUR responsibility to accept the gospel message NOW. And there is an eternal detention slip waiting on the other side of this life.
Bypass the smokescreens and excuses and get to the heart of the matter â€“ the gospel. Knowing the fate of someone in Tanzania who has never heard the gospel will not make this particular person saved or unsaved. The issue at hand is Christ and His calls for repentance upon the life of this person at the present.
Stay focused, keep the conversation focused here and pray that the seeds of the gospel that you plant and water may bring forth the fruit of faith in Christ.