“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14
The Lord Jesus Christ saved me over 12 years ago. During that time I’ve wrestled with many biblical difficulties but I’ve encountered one over and over…
What happens to people, say someone who died in a remote jungle from an unknown tribe long ago? Or someone who never got the proper opportunity to respond to Christ as you or I would…
God is merciful and we can be assured that in His justice he will never just arbitrarily condemn someone for what they never knew as scoffers suggest. That being said, I always remind people of this, regardless of who has or hasn’t heard the gospel – absolutely no one will find admittance into heaven apart from their sins being remitted through Christ’s sacrifice.
This is to instantly kill the new age notion that there alternate paths of salvation. And keep in mind that those who hear the good news and reject it will be judged more severely than those who have never heard.
But on what basis would God graciously forgive sinners? For us who have heard the gospel we received that saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
It would also seem that God due to Christ’s sacrifice could grant forgiveness and saving grace to someone who never had the opportunity to receive the gospel as you or I. An aborted child, a young person who dies without knowledge of the gospel, someone who is mentally handicapped… there are many good examples. These all receive saving grace but not on the basis of their goodness or innocence.
The Shepherd’s Chapel and others resolve this problem by appealing to Christ’s activity while in the grave (for those before the cross) or to another opportunity to get things right in the millennium. Both of these have serious problems.
A second chance millennium is not required and to teach people that this is how God resolves this conundrum is dangerous. It implies that what is done in this life is of little or no consequence.
I have stated in a previous post that those who take the mark of the beast will be slain in the judgments that attend the return of Christ. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you will partake of the resurrection at that time.
Many passages in the NT inform us that the “elect” are fixed group whom God knows from the beginning and has predetermined. If that is the case (and I believe it is) then the problem is quickly resolved for us at least – but I’m sure the unconvinced will need a better explanation as to how God saves those who haven’t heard.
Suppose one of these “elect” never heard the gospel? God could still grant salvation on the basis of what Christ has done… maybe God comes to these people at the time of death and reveals himself personally? Maybe on Judgment Day He simply sees their name in book and that’s that? Who knows.
That having been said, I believe God will move heaven and earth to give the elect an opportunity to know the truth. However, the problem today is hyper-saturation of the gospel. People have had MANY opportunities to accept the gospel and to at least seek it out. These people are not ignorant as Murray would have us believe – according to him these poor deceived souls who reject Christ will receive a chance in the millennium after Antichrist deceives them.
The Chapel underestimates the rebellion and wickedness of man.
Also, think of the innocent, I like to use the example of David’s child who died. David was assured the child would be in heaven? On what basis? The child didn’t deserve salvation by virtue of his innocence. The child was granted admittance into heaven on the basis of Christ sacrifice. God graciously applied Christ’s righteousness to the child’s account.
I would see this to be the case with all of the “elect” who have not had the opportunity to receive the gospel in the sense that you and I have.
Regarding the “non-elect” who didn’t hear the gospel in their natural life… I pity them, I really do – their wickedness will condemn them and God will be just in doing so…