Those Who Have Never Heard

This originally appeared as an email delivered on
Saturday, May 13th, 2023.

“What about those who never heard the gospel? Since they never had an opportunity to believe, will they be condemned before God?”

Having heard this question four times in the past 10 days, I thought it would be helpful for others to know how I respond.

What motivates the question are false ideas about:

  • God’s judgment being unfair.
  • Innocent people being punished by God.
  • Good and sincere people missing what they deserve.
  • The gospel being too restrictive.

What we learn from scripture is quite different. The truth is:

  • God is the perfect, righteous, and equitable Judge.
  • He does not punish the innocent or falsely condemn.
  • All the world is guilty and all have sinned.
  • The gospel brings salvation, not separation from God.

There is no reason for Christians to cower at this question.

After all, what God is doing in the world today precisely concerns solving this problem. He sends every believer to minister the gospel to all who have never heard so that they might be saved (1 Tim 2:4; Eph 3:9).

The irony is though we can imagine those who have never heard, it is hard to meet one face to face. Since in trying to discover if a person has ever heard the gospel, they have an opportunity to hear. It is the Schrödinger’s cat of evangelism.

Every day, people who have never heard the gospel hear the gospel, and some get saved. (I hear from some of them.)

All of us who are now saved were at one time part of the group that had never heard. (I was lost, but now am found.)

In this dispensation, God gives grace and longsuffering toward those who have never heard so that they might be saved. They might not be.

None had heard the gospel before it was revealed by God. It takes time to preach it. It took time to reveal it from the creation of the world.

Those who have never heard the gospel are thought to have an excuse, they don’t. None of us do. (Read Romans chapter 1 and 2.)

For your edification,

Justin “ears to hear” Johnson

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