REMEMBER its not that Atheists CARE about those who haven’t heard they don’t, this question is one of many distracting questions THEY THINK CAN’T BE ANSWERED.
Such a question can be raised only by those who have heard about Jesus Christ. So none of us belongs to the category of those who never heard about him.
Therefore posing this question can be either a way of justifying one’s adherence to atheism or to other religions (since the answer is not easy at all), or the way of expressing a genuine interest for understanding how one’s Christian faith can be reconciled with the claims of other religions.
Whatever the case might be, finding a proper answer to this question is important.
Romans 10:13-14 (KJV)
” 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?”
Two extremes must be avoided when addressing the salvation of those who have never heard about Christ.
First, if humans can be saved only after hearing about him, the multitudes which never had this chance during their lifetime would necessarily be damned to eternal suffering in hell.
THIS is the position of the HYPOCRITICAL FALSE FAITH’S WHO DO NOT LOVE ANYONE WHO DOES NOT CONFORM TO THEIR FORM OF RELIGION.
It is obvious that such a cruelty would not be consistent with his love for us, which sent Christ to die on the cross for our sins.
If God is all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful, he must have a solution for those who have never heard about his final revelation in Jesus Christ.
“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time”:
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=theope-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1879159821&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifralso he hath set the world ( properly concealed, that is, the vanishing point; generally time out of mind (past or future), that is, (practically) eternity; frequentative adverbially (especially with prepositional prefix) always: – always (-s), ancient (time), any more, continuance, eternal, (for, [n-]) ever (-lasting,more, of old), lasting, long (time), (of) old (time), perpetual, at any time, (beginning of the) world (+ without end). in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
He hath made all (the travail, Ecc_3:10) beautiful (fit, in harmony with the whole work of God) in its time; also He hath set eternity in their heart (i. e., the heart of the sons of men, Ecc_3:10).
The word, translated “world” in the text, and “eternity” in this note, is used seven times in Ecclesiastes.
The interpretation “eternity,” is conceived in the sense of a long indefinite period of time.
God has placed in the inborn constitution of man the capability of conceiving of eternity, the struggle to apprehend the everlasting, the longing after an eternal life.
Second, if all other religions were valid ways to God, the Christian claim that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the only possibility for human salvation should be rejected.
If humans could have worked out their salvation by carefully following any available known religion, God shouldn’t have allowed the crucifixion of Christ to happen, for it was unnecessary.
John 14:6 (KJV)
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. ”
So if we are believers in Jesus,we must accept what Jesus said as TRUTH OR REJECT HIM OUTRIGHT!
Is it possible that only those who have heard about Christ can be saved?
Or is salvation also available for those who haven’t heard about him?
What happens to those who haven’t heard the gospel when they die?
Do the unevangelized go to hell?
Can God be considered loving and just if He fails to provide large numbers of people with an opportunity for salvation through Jesus Christ?
If the unevangelized have an opportunity for salvation, how is it made available to them?
Differing viewpoints on the eternal destiny of the unevangelized
1. Restrictivism (also called Particularism or Ecclesiocentrism):
tragically, all the unevangelized are damned.
2. Universalism: everyone, including the unevangelized will be saved.
3. Religious instrumentalism:
4. Universal evangelization: God ensures the gospel will somehow get to those who are searching
5. Universal opportunity at moment of death.
6. The “If” theory:
God will save those who would have accepted Christ if they had heard about Him.
7. Postmortem evangelization:
people can hear about Christ and accept him after they die.
8. Wider hope (called Inclusivism by some writers):
salvation is possible apart from evangelization.
The un-evangelized are saved or lost on the basis of their following what light they have within them, we are ALL BORN with the commands of God in our innermost being.
This is why we gravitate toward LAWFUL actions, and Civilized Society, where else do the desires to do right OR WRONG come from?
Consciousness IS NOT OF NATURAL origin, it is of spiritual dimensions.
God never intended anyone to be out of fellowship with Him. Heaven was intended to be man’s destination, while earth was his proving ground. The thing Atheists are not willing to admit to is just what happened – MAN FAILED HIS TEST AT RULING THIS WORLD to a low life fallen Angel who thought God wouldn’t be able to recover his greatest Love – MANKIND!
It was ‘humanism’ that failed to impress because in the face of the supernatural we bowed, but not to its HIGHEST CREATOR but to a lowly ‘Archangel Megalomaniac’ who couldn’t keep his first estate. Satan’s Failure became Man’s failure, but UNLIKE Satan we can escape our final end through Obedience to God’s plan, because we are God’s HIGHEST CREATION.
God is holy and loving and wants everyone to repent (Exod. 34:6-7; Jonah 4:10-11; 2 Peter 3:9).
Though He is a just and righteous God AND WILL PUNISH ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, He’ s also a loving God, who simply desires true repentance in order to free us from our failure.
Romans 1:18-32 (KJV)
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 incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed 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.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. “
God’s nature prevents Him from being unfair.
The Bible teaches that God judges fairly
(Gen. 18:25; Psalm 7:11, 9:18; 1 Peter 1:17).
In His infinite justice, He will be much fairer than we with our limited understanding of justice could possibly be.
Man is not in total ignorance or spiritual darkness concerning his knowledge about God.
The Bible clearly teaches that man has an awareness both of God and of eternity
(Psalm 19:1-4; Eccl. 3:11; John 1:9; Acts 14:15-17;Rom 2:15).
There is no good man without God.”
[Quoted in J. Oswald Sanders,
How Lost Are the Heathen?
(Chicago: Moody, 1972), 53.]
We all are BORN with a “God sized hole” in our souls that we ATTEMPT to fill with what we think is that “Missing Piece.”
However, this God-consciousness is not enough it is the shadow of the real thing meant only to remind us of that which we must follow.
Man must have more information than this in order to be saved.
The Christian message is in jeopardy at either extreme.
If God-consciousness were sufficient for salvation, then the Bible’s revelation is unnecessary.
This is wrong because the Bible places such an importance in bringing the message of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard (Rom. 10:14).
God will provide the necessary information to those who seek Him.
God rewards those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
He will give anyone who earnestly seeks Him enough information to make a decision (1 Chron. 15:2; Psalm 9:10; Prov. 8:17; Jer. 29:13; Acts 8:30-31).
God sent Peter to a Roman official named Cornelius to tell him about Jesus (Acts 10).
It is also possible that God may work faith in a person’s heart so that, like Job, he may say, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” without knowing the identity of the Redeemer.
The responsibility for a decision concerning this information belongs to each one of us.
We are ultimately responsible for the course we choose.
I have heard many stories of people coming to faith in Christ as the result of a dream or vision where He appears to them, inviting them to trust in Him.
This is particularly happening in the Muslim world.
Many people instantly know it’s the Lord Jesus when He appears to them, but some do not.
In some dreams and visions, He tells them who He is, and in others He does not—He just loves them and calls them to come to Him.
After the dream/vision, the Lord provides someone to identify Him as they continue to seek Him. (We see something similar in the story of Cornelius in Acts 10.)
People are putting their trust in Christ, but some don’t know anything more about Him than that He is God, He loves them and He invites them to trust in Him.
Two recurrent invitations continue to appear in the dreams and visions we are hearing about:
“I am the way, the truth and the life,”
“You belong to Me.”
So what that means is that if a person has never heard of Jesus through the preaching of the gospel, that is no obstacle for God. He can, and testimony shows that He does, appear directly to—and call a person to—have faith in Him.
A classic example of how people belonging to cultures foreign to the Judeo-Christian world can still have a revelation of God and meet him is the Magi from the east mentioned in Matthew 2,1-12.
Despite the fact that they were astrologers and probably believed that human destiny is shaped by the stars, which is contrary to biblical teaching, they were still granted a special revelation from God regarding his intervention to save humankind from sin.
They worshiped Jesus as king of the Jews and brought him gifts worthy of a king. Their coming to Bethlehem was obviously not customary.
It was not a rule for the Magi to worship a new king born in Judea. Their visit was rather a surprise for all, and a serious reason for Herod to feel his throne threatened.
This example shows that God can use unorthodox methods to reveal himself to those who are completely foreign to his revelation in the Bible.
The Magi could have ignored the Bethlehem star.
However, their journey proves their faith and this faith brings them to worship the true God.
The problem of humanity has never been the lack of revelation, but rather pride and the refusal of grace.
People do not respond to the amount of revelation they already have; they know what to do, but refuse to do it.
Most of Jesus’ contemporaries rejected him because they refused to believe despite all fulfilled prophecies, miracles, healings and even despite his resurrection.
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16,19-31) is extremely relevant here.
People are given everything they need in order to be saved, but if they refuse the available revelation, they are fully responsible for it and cannot be justified at God’s judgment.
There have been many spiritual masters who recognized the necessity of grace and the impossibility of attaining salvation by one’s own efforts.
Ramanuja and Madhva are brilliant examples in the Hindu tradition, as is Shantideva in Mahayana Buddhism.
The spiritual trend called prapatti in Hinduism and the Pure Land school of Buddhism focus on grace as the only solution for attaining liberation.
According to them, the whole merit for being saved belongs to the god (in Hinduism) or bodhisattva (in Buddhism) they worship.
There are also many cases of tribal religions in which grace plays a key role in salvation.
The God who reveals himself in the Bible knows one’s inner attitude and motivation for performing certain religious duties.
The proper attitude is one of humility and openness towards God’s grace, which he offers unconditionally.
We have observed this attitude in the prapatti devotional trend of Hinduism, which demands giving up the control of one’s personal life to the god Vishnu and leaving to him all responsibility for attaining salvation.
The follower of this trend has to acknowledge that he is not good enough to attain liberation by performing rituals and moral obligations.
The whole prapatti philosophy can be summarized in the following verse, written by Vedanta Deshika, a 14th century follower of Ramanuja:
“Lord, I, who am nothing, conform to your will and desist being contrary to it, and with faith and prayer, submit to you the burden of saving my soul” (Nyasadashaka 2).
This is PURE REVELATION FROM THE GOD OF THE BIBLE to those who HAVE not heard as yet the TRUE GOSPEL of Jesus,What would be the result of a missionary finally reaching these people with the REST of the revelation?
It must also be remembered that God is UNWILLING for ANYONE to perish, so he will go to GREAT length’s to lead the world to himself WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF HIS REVEALED WORD TO THE WORLD-HIS PERFECT WILL!
The same is the case with the Pure Land School of Mahayana Buddhism, which flourished in Japan.
Heaven (Amida’s Pure Land) can be reached only by his grace, not by human efforts such as meditation or performing good deeds.
Such spiritual trends in other religions prove that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world, convincing people of their sin and limitations and turning their hearts toward God’s grace.
According to the character displayed by the God of the Bible, we can expect that he will save such people, by the grace available for all in Jesus Christ.
They will be saved not through their native religions, but despite them, not because they didn’t hear about Christ, but despite the fact that they didn’t hear about him, as a reward for their humility and recognition of the need for grace.
In other words, it is not Vishnu or Amida who saves them, but Christ through his grace, as a result of their need for grace expressed towards Vishnu or Amida.
Whether there are many or few people in this category we cannot know.
If people can be saved without hearing about Christ, does it mean that Christian missions are futile?
By no means.
There are two important reasons for Christian missions in the world.
Jesus himself commanded it (Matthew 28,18-20). He is the final revelation of God and his message of salvation has to be proclaimed “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1,8).
That people can be saved without hearing about Christ is only a temporary solution, which operates only until his message will reach all people.
all people should share the fullness and blessings of the Christian life, not only in eternity, but also during this present earthly life.
If the salvation of tribes living in remote areas depended entirely on missionaries’ preaching, a lot of people would suffer eternal damnation in hell only because Christian missionaries didn’t manage to reach their part of the world in time.
In many cases the disobedience of Christians to go into remote parts of the world would be responsible for that.
Even worse is the case of missionaries that have reached remote parts of the world but didn’t preach the “right” Jesus.
Remember how the New World was colonized.
Christian missions have not always been inspired by love but by forced venues.
They haven’t always preached the message of love, but one of greed and hypocrisy. Therefore, God could not condemn people to hell only because his so-called followers perverted his message. This wouldn’t be at all consistent with God’s perfect justice and love for the lost.
God didn’t leave the world without a proper testimony about himself (Acts 14,17) and doesn’t condemn anybody without first revealing his grace.
Although this article may not offer an acceptable answer to the question in the title, nobody’s salvation depends on how convincing such an answer could be.
Rejecting it (by those who have heard about him) cannot be justified by the lack of intellectual satisfaction one gets from polemical debates.
The real question I have to now ask is
“Do you know about Jesus and if you do, are you USING QUESTIONS to try and REFUTE in your own conscience that nagging conviction of your personal sin before God..
THE BALL’S IN YOUR COURT NOW,WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH IT?