What Happens to People who have Never Heard the Gospel?

What  happens to people who have never had the  opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ?

Today I want to separate all of humanity  into three basic groups. The  largest group is a group of people who  have heard about Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 12:48  “There is a judge for the person  who rejects me and does not accept my  words; my very words will condemn  them on the last day.” He also says elsewhere that” if you deny  me before others, then I will deny you  before my father.” (Matt 10:33) And so from these  verses and many others, it is very clear  that the Bible teaches that anyone who  makes the conscious choice to reject  Jesus Christ as their personal Savior  will also spend eternity apart from  Christ.

The next group of people is a  smaller group of people who have never  heard of Jesus Christ, thus never having  the opportunity to reject him. What happens to  this group? There are three criteria upon  which this smaller group of people will  be judged. First of all, God says “I’ve left enough  evidence in creation so that anyone can  look around and see that there has to be  a God, so that on the day of judgment,  everyone is without an excuse.” Secondly,  God has left a remnant of himself inside  every single human being that has ever  lived in the form of a conscience. Romans  chapter 2 says that Gentiles (or those  that do not know God) will instinctively  do things that are consistent with the  Word of God because God has left a piece  or a remnant of himself inside of them. (Rom 2:14-15) And so on the day of judgment one of the  criteria that God will use is how  obedient or how disobedient a person was  to their conscience. The third and  final criteria that I believe God will  use to judge people who have not  heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ is  their sins. The Bible says that on the day of  judgment the books will be opened and men will be judged according to what  they have done, which supports the idea  that I personally believe, that the Bible  says that in hell there’s going to be  different levels of punishment. Luke  chapter 12 says that the servant who  knew his master’s will but did not do it  will be beaten with many lashes but the  servant that did not know his master’s  will and didn’t do it will be beaten  with few. And so I personally believe  that God will judge people who have not  heard of the Gospel according to the  light in which they were given.

The third  group of people includes those who are  unable to have ever heard of the gospel  of Jesus Christ. This could include babies who died  prematurely or those who are mentally retarded. These are people who were  mentally or physically unable to observe  the creation, they couldn’t violate their  own conscience and they never had the  opportunity to reject or accept Jesus  Christ. The Bible doesn’t say a lot about this smaller group of people. Some theologians will point to the  example of King David who lost his son  and David seemed very confident that he  would see his son again in heaven. Other  theologians will point to the character  of God and say because God is  compassionate, he is slow to anger, he is  abounding in love, that it would be  logical to assume that God would not  send a group of people who were unable  to, mentally or physically, to make a  decision to accept or reject Jesus  Christ to hell. But we must always  remember that God is not logical or  illogical, he is theological, which means  there are some decisions that he may  make that we may not understand.

Finally,  I want to remind all of us that none of  us deserves to go to heaven and so if  God so chooses to allow some people to  go and others not to, that’s his decision. For example, if I choose to give this  dollar bill away to somebody, I’m not  wrong for not giving it away to somebody  else because at the end of the day this  dollar bill belongs to me. And in the  same way, because heaven belongs to God,  he has the right to give it away to  ever he wants.