What happens to those who never hear about Jesus?


The Bible doesn't teach that everyone who never has the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ will be automatically saved from condemnation. Yet neither does it teach that those who don't hear have no chance of finding God.

The Bible tells us the following about God's character and judgment:

In order to be saved, a person must have faith in God.[6] How can someone who's never heard of God believe in him? The answer is that God has planned things so that everyone has access to some knowledge of him, through nature and conscience as well as other means.[7] (For more on how these clues can lead to knowledge of God, see How can faith be rational?)

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)

There are at least a couple instances in the Bible of the unevangelized coming to faith in God. Rahab believed in God after hearing reports of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, which was probably the most she had heard about God.[8] Cornelius, a first-century Gentile who had been exposed to Judaism, believed in God and had a relationship with him despite not having heard of Jesus. In fact, God told Cornelius to seek out Peter so that he would hear the gospel.[9]

This doesn't mean that everyone will be saved. Those who are aware of Christianity's message must choose to accept Jesus Christ as their God and Savior in order to be saved, for not doing so is an explicit rejection of God's forgiveness.[10] What it does mean is that God is both just and merciful. He condemns wrongdoing, but gives everyone a chance to repent and doesn't condemn people for things which are truly outside their control.


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Footnotes

1. John 3:16 (Back to article)
2. 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Ezekiel 18:23 (Back to article)
3. Hosea 6:6 (Back to article)
4. Luke 12:47-48, John 15:22, Romans 2:12-13 (Back to article)
5. Ezekiel 18:20 (Back to article)
6. John 3:14-18 (Back to article)
7. Romans 10:14-18 asks and answers this very question; see also Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:19-20, 2:14-15 (Back to article)
8. Joshua 2:1-11, Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25 (Back to article)
9. Acts 10 (Back to article)
10. John 3:18, 36 (Back to article)


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