What If They Haven’t Heard?

by Ken Ham on May 20, 2023
Featured in Ken Ham Blog

One of the questions Christians have debated through the ages is, “What happens to people who die but have never heard the gospel?” The same question is asked about young children.

Personally, I believe those children are a separate category for which the Bible doesn’t really say much but provides a hint through David’s comment at the death of his son, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23).

Regarding both categories, we should always remember what Abraham said to God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25).

Salvation from our deserved punishment for sin is only possible through trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

However, the Bible does make it clear: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Salvation from our deserved punishment for sin is only possible through trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

But what if people haven’t heard?

God’s Word teaches that God has made it evident to all that he is the Creator: “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” (Romans 1:19–20).

We are told that all humans have a conscience: “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts” (Romans 2:15).

All humans know God exists. And if they want truth, God will give it to them. “If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:4–5).

In 1 Kings 10:1, we read that the queen of Sheba came seeking truth. “Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.” She is just one example of someone in the Bible who sought truth, and God gave it to her. It would seem from Matthew 12:42, when talking about the religious leaders who rejected him, Jesus refers to the queen of Sheba as an example of someone who was pagan but recognized the truth of God.

Every human is without excuse. If they want light, God will give them light. That’s God’s sovereignty. But then there’s also our responsibility: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:14–15).

That’s why we should always do all we can to obey the great commission given in Matthew 28.

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Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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