Does God Condemn People to Hell Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?
This is no light question. Occasionally, we want to utilize the RJournal posts to
answer questions that have been asked by individuals in our congregation. We want the
RJournal to be a way that you can bring these “not light” questions to the elders and
other church leaders, so here we are. Recently during an RGroup conversation, the
question was posed, “does God condemn people to Hell who have never heard the
While there could be an entire article written on Hell, it’s paramount that we
establish the real-ness and severity of Hell. Hell is described in different ways by
different people in the Bible. It is a place of:
weeping (Matthew 8:12), gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42,
50), darkness (Matthew 25:30), flames (Luke 16:24),
consuming fire and everlasting burning (Isaiah 33:14),
torments (Luke 16:23).
The ultimate context of just how bad Hell is, is the fact that it’s the absence of the
presence of God. If we underplay how good it is to be in God’s presence, we can’t fully
fathom the bleakness of Hell.
The next part that we need to be absolutely clear on, is that there is only one way
to spend eternity with God. This is through believing in your heart and professing with
your tongue (Romans 10:9) that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Jesus is the way, the
truth, and the life (John 14:6). He died for our sins and rose from the grave three days
later. This is the Gospel.
Is someone required to believe in the Gospel to receive salvation and enter into
eternal life with God? Yes. As stated above, the Bible is clear on that. The part that we
as humankind wrestle with is, “how will people come to believe the Gospel?” The most
prevalent idea is that people will hear the Word of the Lord through us, God’s servants.
Matthew 28:19-20 tells us,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And
behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So what about people who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Whether they are living in a remote jungle village, or a booming metropolis, what
happens to the people who have never had the opportunity to make a decision about
faith in Jesus? Does God condemn THESE people to Hell who “never had a chance to
respond”? The Bible also speaks to God’s attributes being made clear through His
creation throughout all time. Romans 1:20-23 says,
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and
divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the
creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So
they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they
did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they
became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were
darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and
exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images
resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping
Or in Revelation 7:9-10, John describes the end of times, in part, as this:
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one
could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples
and languages, standing before the throne and before the
Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their
hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs
to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
This is where we, humans, start using our relationship with God and influence
from the Holy Spirit in our lives to infer certain things told to us in the Bible. While
seeking a relationship with the Holy Spirit is of great importance in our faith, we must
also approach creating inferences about the Scriptures with the utmost caution. We
need to do this through a lens of understanding the limitations of our human mind when
compared to the Creator and author of the Bible. God knows all. We most certainly do
not. Not only does God know all (omniscient), He has power over all (omnipotent). Does
God reveal himself to the tribes of the jungle, either in dreams or nature, or any other
way? I don’t know! Can He? Yes…Absolutely. Does God reveal himself in the “end
times” giving all people from all nations a chance at salvation? I don’t know. Can He?
Again, yes, He most definitely can.
At the end of the day, we can ask, “God, why are you doing it this way?” but we
have to be ready to have that question go unanswered. God has the power to save in a
manner that we can’t or don’t comprehend. We can rest easier knowing that God’s
purpose in sending his son to the Earth was not to condemn it, but rather to save it from
Hell. John 3:17 tells us this,
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but in order that the world might be saved through him."