Salvation: What about those who have never heard the gospel?
I have heard people ask this question all my adult life. What is the correct answer? As always, we will look at what God tells us about it in the Bible.
Probably the first thing you need to know is that there is no such thing as an atheist. That statement may come as a shock to you, but it’s true. Granted, there are many who profess to be atheists. But we need to be wise to this situation. We cannot read people’s minds, but God can. And God has provided us with the insight we need to have about people who make the assertion that there is no God.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 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: [Emphasis added]
In other words, for one thing, the design of the universe demands a Designer. That Designer is God! This is sometimes called the teleological approach to proclaiming and proving that God exists. As anyone considers the creation, the things God has made, they can’t help but know He exists. These next verses are telling us that the creation itself actually “proclaims” the existence of God by its presence.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. [Emphasis added]
In other words, the only reason some people claim they don’t believe in God is that they’re not “listening.” This last passage tells us there is no place in the world where the creation itself doesn’t give testimony to the existence of the Creator, God. Yes, this passage is telling us these things of God’s creation “do the talking” for us. Everywhere you look the creation itself declares to us that God is real. He lives today and He has revealed the fact that He offers His love and His grace to all. Man has sinned and gotten himself into a terrible situation. But God offers a perfect solution. He offers salvation! Only a fool would reject Him and the salvation He offers.
1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. [Emphasis added]
God responds to all those who seek Him. Realizing that He does exist, seeking God is something everyone should do, but most do not. It is as King Solomon was told in his day.
I Chronicles 28:9
9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.[Emphasis added]
Have you ever noticed that people can’t seem to find things they’re not looking for? Such is their situation with God. If they say they have not found Him, it is only because they are not looking for Him, for the evidence of His existence is everywhere.
God is not hiding from anyone. It is man who tries to hide from God, much like Adam and Eve did when they first sinned in the Garden of Eden.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. [Emphasis added]
Again, the majority of the human race has been “hiding” ever since. We all tend to run from accountability. But there is no place man can go to get away from God. It is today just as King David declared things were in his day.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [because God is omnipresent], behold, thou art there. [Emphasis added]
Yes, all mankind is quite aware of the existence of God, regardless of what some may claim. Ultimately, he either looks to Him for His mercy or, because he sought to run from Him, he will inevitably have to deal with His justice. God gives us all that choice. It is much like Joshua proclaimed to the people in his day.
14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods [the substitute things man cherishes in place of God] which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. [Emphasis added]
Still another thing man must consider is his conscience. There too, we find proof of the existence of God. All people universally have a system of rights and wrongs. Mankind quite naturally admits there is such a thing as right and wrong, at least until he realizes the implications of believing that. What I am saying is that if a person admits that there really is such a thing as right and wrong, he is admitting that he knows there must be absolute right, and that is God. Obviously, Pontius Pilate, in our Lord’s day on earth, had chosen to reject God. By denying the existence of truth, he was denying his belief in God.
37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. [Emphasis added]
In this case, Pilate came across the truth regarding the identity of Jesus who stood before him to be judged. But once again, he rejected the truth. Isn’t it interesting that, in eternity, Pontius Pilate will stand before Jesus Christ for judgment, as will every other unbeliever [Revelation 20:11-15]?
The point I wish to make here is that eventually people come to realize that if there really is truth, there must somewhere be absolute truth. The same thing is true about right and wrong, somewhere there must be absolute right. That absolute right is God! This is why some people claim there is no such thing as right and wrong. But that is just another way of saying there is no God. When Jesus Christ was here walking on Earth, He made an interesting statement about this.
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [Emphasis added]
First, He is the only way of salvation and secondly, He is the truth. He did not say He possessed the truth, as we do,He said He is the truth. Thirdly He said He is the life. In other words, as God, He is eternal life. That is one of many of the attributes of God. He has no beginning and no end. In the case of Jesus, His birth was simply God taking on flesh. His birth was not His beginning except in the sense that it was then that He took on flesh as a member of the human race.
In some circles, certain titles are used for these ways of knowing there is a God. For instance, there’s the teleological argument for the existence of God. This simply says the design of the universe demands a Designer. Then there’s what is called the cosmological argument. This says the law of cause and effect demands a Cause for the existence of the creation. Regardless of what you call it or how you approach it, there are many logical ways to conclude that there is a God. Regarding God causing the universe, someone may ask who caused God or who designed God. The correct answer to that is that He is the uncaused Cause. He has always been. He is not a part of the creation. Still another approach to this is that anything that is in motion must have been caused to move. The One that started the movement is God. Here again we have the unmoved Mover being God. All these approaches to this question simply tell us it is easy to rightly conclude that there must be a God. To believe otherwise is as absurd as it would be to believe that the Bible came into existence from an explosion in a print shop. As people often say, things don’t just happen, they are caused.
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [Emphasis added]
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things [He antedates all things], and by him all things consist [or cohere]. [Emphasis added]
To know there is a Creator, all you have to do is look around. A simple gaze up into the stars will tell you a lot about this.
26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. [Emphasis added]
3 Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.
6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. [Emphasis added]
19 The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
21 My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: [Emphasis added]
Now let’s go back to Romans 1 where I began this article. Let’s look at what follows that first paragraph. Here we’ll see the progression of what tends to happen when someone rejects the truth about the existence of God.
21 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.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature [the creation] more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [Emphasis added]
The belief that God exists is not a theory. It is a fact! It is a fact you will accept now or later, but one that all will eventually accept.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. [Emphasis added]
If you will accept this fact now, you can also believe in what God has done to provide a way for you to get to spend eternity in a wonderful place called heaven. Believing God exists is not enough. You must also believe in what He did through Jesus Christ to provide a way of salvation for you.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
Then there’s another important verse that tells you what you need to know and believe to get to go to heaven.
II Corinthians 5:21
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us [when Christ died for us on the cross], who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [His perfect righteousness is applied to us forever]. [Emphasis added]
If you will believe this now, you will be heaven bound. Your salvation is sealed once and for all. You then should want to do everything you can to live a life that is pleasing to God. But you’ll never have to be concerned about your salvation again. What great news this is for all of us!
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. [Emphasis added]
I sincerely hope you will want to join the ranks of us who seek to take the truth of God’s Word to those who still don’t know Him and the salvation He offers all.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 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 [a proclaimer]?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! [Emphasis added]
When the truth about the means to salvation is presented, it is good news to the hearer. It is when their faith is applied that salvation is provided immediately.
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. [Emphasis added]
Upon receiving these truths people always choose to believe them or not to believe them. What will be your choice today? Your decision will determine where you spend eternity, so be sure to choose wisely.