What about those who never hear about Jesus? Isn’t it unfair for them to be condemned if they don’t have the opportunity know?
In addressing that question I’ve come across those who say that no one is without excuse. Or in other words, there is no way out. If you don’t get the opportunity to hear the gospel – tough!
Not hearing is no excuse.
However, while that “without excuse” statement does come from scripture, it isn’t addressing our response to Jesus, it is addressing recognition of Creator God, that all of creation around us makes His existence clear to all.
(Rom 1), “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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.”
So the question comes back to what happens with those who DO recognise the truth of Creator God and want to worship Him, but who live in a place where the gospel of Jesus isn’t freely available?
Are they denied access to the truth of Jesus, and the salvation he brings, merely because of geographical or cultural barriers?
In 2 Thess 2 we can read about people “who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved”.
Regarding those who live in areas that are “closed” to the gospel, who may not ordinarily have the opportunity to hear about Jesus, isn’t it possible, or even likely that an alternative result based on the flip-side of that principle could apply?
Could there be people in those “closed” areas who actually have a desire and love for truth and diligently seek it? Would God leave those people without an adequate opportunity to find the Truth in Jesus and so be saved?
We get an indication in Acts 10.
Cornelius was a man who recognised God and worshipped Him to the best of his knowledge, but he was ignorant of the gospel. God met Cornelius’ need through a dream instructing him to seek out Peter, a man who could lead Cornelius to Jesus.
And while that may be a reasonably well-known bible story, it’s not merely an historical account. The same kind of thing is being reported today through countless testimonies of Moslems being led, through dreams and visions, to meet with people who can teach them the truth of Christ.
There is also the biblical example of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8, a man with a desire to know and understand the truth. Philip, through the instruction of an angel and directed by the Holy Spirit was sent to him in a “desert place” to tell Him the good news about Jesus.
So the question addressed at the beginning of this post seems irrelevant. A question that is possibly posed not out of genuine concern for those who don’t hear about Jesus – but as a way to diminish the gospel by making it seem that God is being unfair to a large portion of the world’s population.
However, in reality God doesn’t leave anyone who desires the Truth without a means of finding Him (Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Life).
He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us