Titus 2:11 – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Titus 2:12 – Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Titus 2:13 – Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Titus 2:15 – These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Hello readers, thank you for reading, and hope this is a blessing to you and provides some clarity around a very popular question that lingers (as we will see unnecessarily) in the minds of many. Today we are going to be addressing the question of “what about those who haven’t heard the gospel?”. What about people who were raised in Muslim countries? What about people that are raised by atheistic parents. Well this line of questioning is very common so this is the topic of discussion!
At the outset, it’s ironic when people ask these kind of questions, because being raised in a different culture or religion doesn’t mean truth is any less truth. And people forget that it doesn’t matter what continent you started, our lives all equally originate with the God who made us. So while I may different to someone from Sudan or Libya or Croatia or Russia or Argentina, with a different life experience, none of this actually changes anything. Truth is still the truth.
One of the other big ironies is the assumption that exposure to the gospel guarantees belief of it. But this is a mistaken assumption. The people who generally ask these smarty pants questions have been exposed to truth their whole life yet reject it. Hearing the gospel does not guarantee belief. Ask those people in Jesus’ day. You know, I was reading Matthew 22 recently and Jesus got hit with different curly questions attempting to trip him up and find him in contradiction. It backfired spectacularly. People attempting to twist God’s word and prove it’s wrong… they’ve been around for thousands of years, so when you have your smart little question, know that you’re not the first with one, and you won’t be the last to be proven completely wrong by God’s word. At the end of Matthew 22 we read that no man asked Jesus questions anymore.
You can go to a far land with the gospel and you know what will happen? Most people, if not all, will reject it. In Acts we see the gospel going throughout Europe and Asia and it was met with a lot of opposition and rejection. And as we are going to see, many nations are like they are, in great darkness, not because they never had the gospel or truth… but because they rejected it.
But today we are going to discuss this further and not just comment on the ignorance and mistaken assumptions and false premise that underpins this line of thinking. This is a very common question after all and it’s great to be furnished with what the Bible says, as much for our own peace of mind as to have an answer for someone who asks that question thinking that’ll trip God up. The real reason most people have this kind of question is because they are seeking to justify themselves rather than God. People want to shake themselves free from God and his authority over their life. But you can’t run from God, as David found out, he couldn’t go anywhere to escape God, indeed you were made with the knowledge of God in you… so how can you run from yourself. That’s why atheism is so foolish, you are living in denial of knowledge God put in you. At the core of atheism isn’t that God doesn’t exist, just they have a problem with God because they’re in sin.
This whole line of questioning reminds me of this verse in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 18:25 – Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
People have always been trying to prove that God isn’t fair, that God isn’t just, that God isn’t good. You’re not the first. His own nation was saying that. They’d gotten so reprobate in their thinking because of the wickedness that they were in. So when they’re saying “the way of the Lord is not equal”, they’re saying God’s unfair and unjust. They’re finding fault in God’s word, God’s character and God’s morality. What did God say back? Hear now. Hear God’s word. God’s word has the answer to this question in abundance and highlights really what an ignorant question it is. We need the same rebuke, we who try elevating our poverty stricken morality and self righteousness above God’s.
But on to the question at hand of “what about those who haven’t heard the gospel?”. Well we said that this question comes from a place of ignorance of God’s word… consider these verses…
Colossians 1:23 – If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
John 1:9 – That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
TItus 2:11 – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
These verses already answer the question because you are now at the place where you either call God a liar, or admit you are the liar. You can accept what God has said, and his assurance that all people have heard the gospel and known truth and been given light… or you can reject that assurance. That’s why God’s word said let God be true and every man a liar… that thou mightest be justified in thy sayings and overcome when thou art judged. If the gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven, if Jesus Christ has lighted every man that has come into the world… that means all people know the truth. It’s not the lack of availability of the truth… it’s man’s own heart condition which loves the darkness which is the problem. You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking in the wrong place for fault… God won’t be at fault when you go to hell… you’ll go there because you rejected the truth, you sinned against the light.
But even then, the Bible talks about privilege. There’s a trigger word! There are nations and generations that have had a lot more light than other nations and at other times. The Bible makes that clear. But the thing is, God is the righteous judge of all the earth. If you think you’re a pretty good judge, God is so far better than you, because he is the perfect Judge. He judges in prefect righteousness and holiness. You know, Jesus Christ is going to be who sends you to hell or welcomes you to heaven… he is capable of making that kind of judgment because he’s God. He knows everything, and because of his perfect knowledge and understanding and power, he can make that judgment. And when Jesus was here he rebuked cities in Israel and said it’d be more tolerable for wicked Sodom and Gomorrah that he destroyed than for them in the day of judgment. Why? Because that generation saw and heard Jesus Christ, and the Bible says to whom much is given, much is required.
The thing is, God is a far more righteous Judge than any of us will ever be, he is in the place to be able to make such decisions about who to draw, who to call, and how to do so. He is in the place to judge all men, and all will be judged by him. God is far more capable of judging fairly and righteously in each case, indeed that’s why as Christians are to commit ourselves to him that judges righteously, because we can trust his judgment especially when we suffer (and we will and do) for doing right! Think about Jesus Christ. He didn’t get a fair, just, equal judgment from man. He got wrongly treated, talked about, imprisoned, spat on, beaten, judged, lied on, crucified, killed. All this, and he was the only sinless man in existence!
The problem with the question is that you don’t know who God is. Only someone that doesn’t know God has that question. When you get to know him, look at God speaking to Job… the can you, do you, knowest thous? Job had been reasoning and trying to figure everything God out… and when God spoke, he admitted he knew nothing, and the smartest thing he did was lay his hand upon his mouth and repent in dust and ashes.
It has been said there’s no such thing as a stupid question. But this is a stupid question, no I’m not saying you’re stupid, but it’s a stupid question because it shows you haven’t read the Bible and considered what the Bible has said so you needn’t be so ignorant. See, you’re given the Bible so you don’t need to be in darkness on this issue, or any other issue of life. God has given so many witnesses of himself in the earth. There’s creation itself, there’s conscience, there’s the inbuilt knowledge of God that he put in you. The Bible says in Psalm 19 that there is no voice nor language where their speech is not heard. There’s the Holy Spirit, the water, the blood. The thing is, it doesn’t matter where and when you come from, it’s the same God, the same Creator and the same truth, the same salvation.
So let’s look at a practical example. I saw this question in the light of a guy called Abraham in the Bible. When I was reading Stephen’s sermon, the sermon that got him stoned in Acts 7, he said this…
Acts 7:2 – And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
Acts 7:3 – And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
It’s easy to just read the Bible and it never sink in. To never realize the significance of what you have read. No wonder Jesus said… let these sayings sink into your ears. Have a think, because this is a Biblical example to ask your question. Abraham (called Abram back then) was just an ordinary guy living in a random heaven country. You like hypotheticals, but this is a real man who lived and walked the earth. Well, he was in Mesopotamia. That wasn’t a godly place. Abraham didn’t have some special opportunity that nobody else got. No, the difference was he believed God’s word. That’s what separated him, not lack of opportunity. That’s why our thinking and our question is so wrong.
You might think, oh I’d believe if I had the chance Abraham had. But the thing is, God revealed himself to Abraham through his word. God’s always revealed himself through his word. His Holy Spirit, sent forth into the whole earth, always honors and moves in accordance with God’s word. And hey, you may not know much, or pretty much anything, but God will lead you to the same truth regardless of what continent you are in. There are Christians all over the earth, they came from different backgrounds, upbringings, cultures, everything… yet they all believed the same Lord God, and as they went along in life, the Spirit of truth guided them into the truth. So I can have better fellowship with someone from Asia or Africa or wherever than from my home country.
People today are looking for a revelation of God through feelings, emotions, experiences, lies, presumption, angels… whatever. Few get the revelation of God through his word, and through his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way to God is through Jesus Christ. You know, for someone born in the Middle East, their only way to God is through his Son. They’re raised believing God had no Son, but just because they’re raised that way doesn’t change the truth. In some ways it’s easier getting raised in a non Christian home. There are so many kids raised in Christian homes who walk away from the truth. Hophni and Phineas were raised as sons of the priest back in 1 Samuel, and they were adulterers and thieves… and they were dead men. It doesn’t matter how you start, you may start very advantageously… it’s what you do with the light that was given to you… the light God promises to give you and that he promised he gave you.
Here’s another promise Jesus made…
Matthew 7:7 – Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Matthew 7:8 – For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
You think Abraham might have been asking, seeking, and knocking back in Mesopotamia? It didn’t matter the ungodly place he was in, the ungodly people he was around… he was seeking truth. Look at how he lived and tell me he wasn’t seeking truth. Not “a” truth… THE truth. So many people are apparently on a faith journey, but they’re presented with the gospel, the word of truth… and they pass on it. What does that tell you? It’s all rubbish. They’re seeking their truth, a truth that suits them, not the truth. If you’re seeking, if you’re asking, if you’re knocking… you will find the Lord Jesus Christ. Because he is THE way, THE truth, THE life. All through the Bible, not just Abraham, God was able to reach and reveal and communicate with people from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures, nations. If God can reveal himself to Abraham, he can reveal himself to anyone, be it in the Congo or Antarctica. God’s not like you, he doesn’t have your limitations. Language isn’t a limitation to him. Culture, upbringing… nothing. Get your thinking straight… God’s word will straighten you out. That’s why John the Baptist popped onto the scene… make straight the way of the Lord… and guess who needed a John the Baptist? Israel! Often the biggest mission field isn’t far afield, but right where you are, the religious crowd is the most lost.
Rahab was a harlot in Jericho, and she received the messengers of God, she believed in their God. Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon, a distinctly ungodly nation, and he recognized the Son of God in the fire with the three Hebrew children. God doesn’t have barriers and limitations, with God all things are possible. The problem is your completely wrong view of God, because God is framed by your imagination and wisdom, not by the truth of God’s word.
We are seeing that the truth is that it’s not that people don’t hear God’s word or know it or can’t find it… it’s that they reject it and refuse it. That’s the problem. The problem isn’t the message and the messenger, the problem is the hearer. See, this question finds fault in everyone else but “me”. We are the problem, we have the shortcomings… there’s no problem with God and his word. This question overlooks the fact that humanity is the way it is by choice. You know why there are so many nations that are in darkness, with their different ungodly cultures and beliefs? It’s because they chose that, and they raised that… and they got that.
We all trace back to Adam. We have a common father, ancestry, knowledge, truth. At the tower of Babel all people were one until they were divided because of their corporate wickedness. Nations went forth from there and grew in disobedience and rebellion to God’s word. Again, it’s not they didn’t know, it’s they chose to reject. One of the biggest lies of evolution is how it makes us believe that other peoples and cultures are somehow so different. It’s amazing what creeps into our thinking. We don’t realize it, but the subliminal messaging of ideas, thinking, philosophies in things we are exposed to in the world creeps into our thinking. It’s so subtle… because Satan is subtle. Everything he does is subtle. Subtle means not obvious, yet the results can be absolutely massive… like going to hell massive. Somehow we think our ancestors were caveman idiots, somehow we think the “races” (Bible never refers to nations of people as races) are all so different. A pygmy in the Congo has the same humanity that anyone else does. We all come from Adam. The born again Bible believing Christian is the least racist person on the planet.
Compare that to someone like Charles Darwin, the godfather of evolution, who was racist in his theory and thinking and believed that whites were more evolved and advanced than the degraded black savages because of different ancestry and separate evolution. Think of where Hitler got his “master race” ideas from. Evolution. But the Bible teaches that we all trace back to Adam, who made a choice, and we all do today. To say God doesn’t give you a choice to choose to trust and obey him is to call him a liar from the very first chapters of Genesis.
It has been said that all ground is level at the foot of the cross… God is no respecter of persons… if you reject the truth, the light, the Lord Jesus Christ… you’re going to hell. There were a lot of nobodies who believed on Jesus Christ… a Canaanite woman believed and the Pharisees didn’t. And Jesus said MANY would come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in heaven… but the children of the kingdom would be cast out. People from every continent will sit down in heaven with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and many of the entitled, privileged religious crowd… they’ll be rejected. Make sure you don’t live as a intellectual and religious smarty pants and end up in hell while that hypothetical poor person who you excused yourself on is the one who’s in heaven.
Jesus promised if you seek you’ll find, if you ask you will receive and if you know it will be opened unto you. That promise applies to every person on the planet. So either God’s a liar or he’s not a liar. We tend to limit God to our finite, vain, wicked minds. That’s our problem. That’s idolatry. We really don’t know who God is. We think we do, but we don’t at all. God was heading to Sodom to destroy it. And Abraham asked God… will you destroy the righteous with the wicked? You gonna do right God? You going to judge fairly? The thing is, God’s much more capable and able to do right than us. When we charge him with not giving people a fair chance and ability to hear truth and get saved, we are foolishly charging him.
So this question is underpinned with a false premise and erroneous idea of who God is and the gospel. The people that live in far countries, many of them will not receive the gospel… that’s the problem. Just like Israel, God’s own people, he sent prophets and prophets and prophets to them. What did they do with God’s messengers? They killed them all. Newsflash, people have the right to refuse the truth, and they do that. You won’t go to hell because you had no light, you’ll be in hell because you rejected the light. It’s amazing that for all the messengers God sent his own people, well he sent Jonah to Nineveh. You know Nineveh wasn’t part of Israel. So God sends his word into far countries… the word reached the queen of the south, the word reached the widow at Zarephath, the word reached Rahab… and he sent Jonah with a message of judgment and destruction… and guess what? They repented. Pretty incredible, he sent good news to Israel and they rejected Christ, and he sends bad news to Nineveh, and they repent. Let that sink in. The wicked, godless, heathen city repented and the religious privileged city of Jerusalem instead crucified the Son of God.
Jesus said to that generation he was sent to… this is the sign you’ll get, the sign of the prophet Jonah. Because Jonah preached to wicked Nineveh and they repented. Jesus Christ, a far greater than Jonah, preached to wicked Israel, and they crucified him. They wanted a sign, he gave them a sign. They thought they were a bit better than Nineveh of old, but they weren’t. See, you may think you’re smart and you spend your life poking fun at the Bible, but you’re the one in trouble.
God was able to reveal himself to Abraham. A nobody in a far land, exactly like those people you think have never heard the gospel, are disadvantaged by being raised in a different culture with different gods, who’ve never heard the gospel. Abraham became a prototype, a model, for all who believe. God is able to reach anyone, his Holy Spirit and Word doesn’t have limitations like we think he does. The problem is our imagination has carved out an grossly inferior version of God than the one that actually exists. That’s why idolatry is so high in the ten commandments. It’s a massive problem. These nations are like they are because they’ve chosen darkness for hundreds to thousands of years. They’re products of many generations of rejecting truth. God gave the nations in Canaan hundreds and hundreds of years, space to repent and turn… but they never did. Ironically this question really instead of highlighting God’s shortcomings, it magnifies his great mercy and longsuffering… for he is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. With that question you’re basically accusing God of being willing to see people perish. You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.
People and nations are the way they are by choice. It’s not God’s fault, it’s their fault. See, we always want to make God at fault, or someone else at fault… not own our own sin. Your thinking is wrong. It’s a massive difference to realize it’s not they don’t know truth and can’t know truth… it’s they don’t WANT the truth. That’s the problem. God give me a heart for truth. God gives grace to the humble. Someone in Nigeria can humble themselves, and God will give grace to that man or woman. God’s not limited by language, upbringing, culture, anything… he can and does save people today from everywhere, from anywhere.
To finish, I think, the most ironic part I saw in the writing of this blog is this. The queen of the south traveled a long way to see Solomon. She put far more value on God’s word and God’s ways than those raised in Israel at that time. Which leads me to the ironic part. Think about this…
Your salvation may just be a bigger miracle than that person in the middle of the jungle, in the middle of nowhere, raised in a different religion, from a different culture… a person you think God cannot reach. God can reach that person much more easily than you. Because you are hard hearted because you’ve been exposed to so much truth it’s closed your seeing and hearing and understanding.
Matthew 13:14 – And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
Matthew 13:15 – For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Matthew 13:16 – But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
These people were always asking for more proof, more signs… but the problem wasn’t with the message, the problem was the blindness of their hearts. The Bible says in would the Gentiles trust. Everywhere Jesus went it was the undesirables, the hopeless, the despairing, the nobodies, the beneath contempt people… they were the ones getting saved. See, because they didn’t have that hard heart of unbelief, that false air about themselves, they didn’t have all that big wisdom and intellect in the way of their own salvation. It was Jesus’ his own people that rejected him and crucified him. The Gentiles believed Jesus, and those people you think have no chance get saved today, while you don’t.
The problem isn’t with God, the Bible, no the problem is with the hearers. Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart. God’s word is true, let God establish your thinking, and you’ll find out he is far greater than your mind. God is the one Creator, he’s the one truth. That’s why Psalm 150:6 – Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. He is more for salvation than you are, he’s so for it, he gave his Son to die for the sins of the whole world. Whole world, because he’s interested in salvation for everybody. It was a Cyrenian that bore his cross… wake up. The invitation is open and extended to all, and before you also the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ is extended, so will you believe or reject him?
Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Psalm 19:2 – Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
Psalm 19:3 – There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Psalm 19:4 – Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Psalm 19:5 – Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
Psalm 19:6 – His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)