In order to answer the question about those who have never heard of Jesus, let’s first review with what we know to be true, Then we’ll present reasons for a possible answer.
- Jesus said that we need to be perfect to enter into Heaven. We can’t do that.
- So God sent Jesus to save us. He is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6). There is no other way.
- As Christians, we know that our sins were judged at the cross and paid for by Jesus (Col 2:14) and that He has forgiven our sins (1 John 2:12), washed them away (Rev 1:5), and given us His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21), which makes us positionally perfect when we stand before God. His righteousness, given to us (2 Cor 5:21) makes us worthy to enter into Heaven.
That said, those who die without forgiven sins and the righteousness of Jesus will die in their sins (John 8:2), and will they not enter Heaven. So the question remains, what about those who have never heard of Jesus or His gospel of saving grace? This really is an unanswerable question because we simply do not know how God will judges such. But now let’s look at reasoning from the Bible to know that whatever their judgment is, it will be just.
Knowledge and Mercy
Jesus asked, “who do you say that I am?” and many suggest this indicates the basis on how people will be judged. God will judge people what they did with the knowledge they received about Jesus. Did someone repent and trust in Jesus, and therefore was saved? Or did someone reject Jesus, and die in his sins?
It’s safe to say that almost everyone has a knowledge of Jesus, in most nations and territories, but the question often arises, what about tribal people in the jungles of Africa?
Those Who Have Not Heard
What will happen to those who have never heard of Jesus or about the gospel of salvation? Will God, in His mercy, reveal Himself fully, in some way to them before death so they can trust in Jesus? Or will God have mercy on them as He does on those who are incapable of hearing the gospel or unable to understand and respond to the gospel, e.g. pre-borns, babies, small children, and the mentally impaired? (Read: Do Babies Go to Heaven if They Die? The Mentally Impaired, Young Children, the Unborn?)
Again, we simply do not know how God will judge people who have never heard of Jesus or heard the gospel of saving grace. But the bottom line is that we can trust God will be just and He is loving and merciful. We must leave this up to God and trust in His sovereignty to deal justly with those who have not heard.
Non-believers often use this question as a roadblock when Christians share the truth of the gospel. If you are confronted with this question, be honest and be quick to tell them that we don’t know the answer. But also tell them that God is good and He is just, and we can trust that He will deal with those who have never heard in a loving, merciful, and just way. Then “turn the table” a bit. Remember that all witnessing is meant to be a conversation. So perhaps respond with something like, “I might not know the answer to your question, but would you answer my question?” If they say, “no,” then end the conversation. But if they respond “yes,” say something like, “Since you have heard the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, who do you say that Jesus is?” Wait for their answer and then continue the conversation by responding appropriately.
- If they say that Jesus was a good man or a good teacher, remind them that Jesus clearly said He is God. Tell them that if Jesus is not God, He was lying, and a liar is not a good man.
- They might then respond with, “Well Jesus thought He was God, so in His mind, He wasn’t lying.” Respond with, “If Jesus thought He was God but He was not, then He was crazy, and a crazy man is not a good teacher.”
At this point, they can only consider three options. 1) Jesus was a liar, 2) He was crazy, or 3) Jesus was, is, and always will be, exactly who He claimed to be…God! If the conversation continues, share the gospel. Tell them:
- Jesus is God who created all things and gave you life. He came to earth and took on human form to dwell among His people and to live a perfect, sinless life.
- Then Jesus gave His life for all people on the cross, taking on our sins, and paying the penalty for them with His shed blood. (For God has said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness [of sins].” Heb 9:22).
- Finally, tell them, if they will turn to Jesus in faith and trust in what He did to pay for their sins, Jesus will forgive all their sins and give them eternal life.
Finishing the Conversation
Continue to share with them as the Holy Spirit leads you to do. And at some point, “test the waters” to see if their hearts are turning to Jesus and they desire to trust in Him. Maybe ask, “How do feel about what I’ve shared with you?” Or maybe ask again, “Who do you say that Jesus is?” If they aren’t ready to turn to Jesus in faith, then suggest they think about what you’ve shared with them. Leave them with a tract (see below).
In any witnessing encounter, trust that God will lead you by His Spirit to share the knowledge you have of Jesus and the love you have for Him. Know that the Holy Spirit will work on the person. But also know that they have free will to respond, or not to respond, to who Jesus is and the salvation He desires to give them. Remember, you can’t make anyone believe what you believe. All you are called to do is to share Jesus with all people. Be bold. Be a testimony to the Truth. And be praying for the hearer. You’ll be blessed and the hearer just might be transformed.
Jesus is the Reason this Ministry Exists
We continue to reach people worldwide with the truths of God's Word and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your generosity is both a blessing and encouragement. Our mission is to glorify God by equipping, encouraging, and empowering YOU to understand the Bible and grow in faith. If our online resources have blessed you, please support Reasons for Hope* Jesus. Our ministry outreach has grown significantly and . . .
Please support Reasons for Hope* Jesus with a donation of $5, $10, $20, or more. A donation of any amount is needed and greatly appreciated.
CLICK TO DONATE
to Reasons for Hope*Jesus(a 501c3 Ministry)
Use a Credit Card or PayPal for safe, secure giving.
***A Hidden Message in Psalm 23?***
Hidden in the six verses of Psalm 23 are 11 names for Jesus. When you subscribe to our newsletter, we’ll send you The Names of God in Psalm 23 PDF that reveals all 11 names and Scripture verses of comfort and hope (link will be sent in your confirmation email).
A Room with a View of Eternity—The Last Will & Testament of Jesus Christ Take a seat at the Master's table. Learn about the riches He gives to all who are His. This book will bless and encourage you, give you hope, and help you live in the joy of your salvation and the riches of Christ that are yours.
The Top Ten Got Questions? in 2022
- The Meaning of NUMBERS in the Bible?
- Was Jesus CRUCIFIED on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?
- Did The Wise Men Arrive 12 DAYS AFTER JESUS’ BIRTH? Or Was It Much Later?
- How long did JOB SUFFER?
- What is the Significance of the Wise Men's THREE GIFTS? And were they kings?
- How are the Shepherd’s ROD and STAFF Different?
- Which Old Testament Book Did JESUS QUOTE most often?
- The Meaning of COLORS in the Bible?
- ONLY ONE LIFE, Twill Soon Be Past – by C.T. Studd (1860 – 1931)
- How was Jesus Like a Worm? What’s the CRIMSON (OR SCARLET) WORM in Psalm 22?
This is not a Got Questions? article. But it's so popular it ranked among the top pages viewed:
More Popular Got Questions
- Did Jesus Fight Satan to Take Back the KEYS of Death and Hell?
- How Did the Wise Men Know This Was the Messiah and KNOW TO FOLLOW HIS STAR?
- What do the 12 stones UNDER the JORDAN River mean? (Joshua 4)
- Jesus' Last Days TIMELINE: The Cross and The Crucifixion
- How Many MIRACLES Did Jesus Do?
- Is Leonard Cohen’s “HALLELUJAH” a Christian Song?
- Where did OT Saints go at death? ABRAHAM'S BOSOM?
- SIN, INIQUITY, TRANSGRESSION? How are they different?
- What are the NAMES of JEHOVAH Hidden in Psalm 23?
- Jesus in the Gospels: What are the Four Different Presentations of Jesus?
- If BAPTIZED as an Infant, Do I Need to Be Re-Baptized?
- Why Did God Create Man Knowing MAN WOULD SIN?
- What Did Jesus Say About HEAVEN (and HELL)?
- What are the “I Will ” STATEMENTS of Satan, God, and Jesus?
- Was MARY a LEVITE Making Jesus both a Priest and King?
- Why Was a RAM SACRIFICED in Genesis 22 Instead of a Lamb?
- Is Satan’s Real Name LUCIFER?
- Can Jews go to Heaven without knowing Jesus?
TOP TEN Videos from Reasons for Hope* Jesus
- Memorial Day BAGPIPES TRIBUTE: Amazing Grace
- RISE AND SHINE and Give God the Glory, Glory!
- WERE YOU THERE When They Crucified My Lord?
- PAUL HARVEY: THE BIRDCAGE
- PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: A SOLDIER'S PLEDGE
- Hark! the Herald Angels Sing -- CHARLIE BROWN Christmas
- JOHN WAYNE ~ WHY I LOVE AMERICA
- Jimmy Stewart - Nativity Scene Prayer: Mr. Krueger's Christmas
- THE LEGEND OF THE CANDY CANE - A Christmas Story to Share
- Not by Might, Not by Power, But BY MY SPIRIT says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6)
- Erwin Lutzer - We Will Not Be SILENCED