What if people never hear about Jesus?
Dear Dawson, I know the Bible says that knowing Jesus is the only way to get to heaven. But there are people in remote parts of the world who may never get a chance to hear about God or Jesus. What happens to them when they die?
You're right, the Bible is clear that apart from Christ, you can't go to heaven. Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
How does this apply to someone who never hears the gospel? The Bible says, "The truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God" (Romans 1:19-20, New Living Translation).
No one has an excuse for not knowing God. That knowledge comes to us naturally—much like the way we instinctively reach for water when we're thirsty. It's not something we have to learn.
And it's not just instinct that draws people to God. God uses visual aids too—his creation. We can see God through the divine design of nature.
When someone responds to these instincts and "visual aids" and truly reaches out to God, God will make sure that person understands his or her need for Christ. God, who loves us beyond comprehension and wants everyone to go to heaven (2 Peter 3:9), will arrange the details for that person to know the gospel—through a missionary, a tract, a Bible, whatever.
You might think, But what if a missionary never visits that island, or a tract never falls into those hands. What then? If those things never happen, we can be assured that God, who is loving and just, is still in control. God is sovereign, and he will always do what is right.
God is an awesome God, and nothing will stop him from getting the good news to even the most remote parts of the world, "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). And as if to prove it, God even gave John a glimpse of heaven, where he saw people "from every tribe and language and people from every nation" (Revelation 5:9).
The bottom line: God is obviously able to reveal the truth about himself to anyone, anywhere. But he often uses us to do it. That's why Jesus' last words to us were instructions to tell everyone, everywhere, the good news of God's love (Matthew 28:19-20).
God calls all of us to share his love with the people around us. Maybe he's even calling you to take this good news "to the ends of the earth." Wouldn't that be exciting?
Dawson McAllister is a popular youth speaker. You can check out his site on the Internet (http://christiananswers.net/dmlive/dmlhome.html).
Got a question about the Christian faith, doctrine or something in the Bible? Send it to "Dear Dawson," Campus Life, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188. You can also reach "Dear Dawson" via fax (630-260-0114). Due to the volume of mail, Dawson cannot answer every letter.
1998 by the author or Christianity Today/Campus Life magazine. For reprint information call 630-260-6200.