What happens to innocent people who never hear the Gospel?
Let me start by saying, It is wise to be careful not to judge anyone as to whether they are going to heaven or hell. Leave that judgment up to the only one who holds that position (God). However, the Bible clearly tells us that the way to God is through Christ alone (John 14:6; Matthew 7:21-23). There is no other way. Therefore, while God alone is the Judge of the destiny of a Soul, it is our job to proclaim his only message of salvation, the gospel. Faith alone in Christ alone who died for our sins on our behalf is the only thing that saves us.
In regards to a person who is innocent because they have not heard the gospel: Consider this thought for a moment… What does God owe you? Does He owe you today? Does He owe you tomorrow? Does he owe you eternity? Nope. Without grace, He owes you nothing but judgment for sin. We do not even deserve this day He has given us. This day was all an act of His grace. The Bible plainly says that all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) the Bible also says that all of us will die due to sin (Romans 6:23). It is only by the grace of God that we are able to be redeemed (Ephesians 2:8-9)
People will often ask “What about innocent people”. Do they go to heaven? Do they get a second change? The answer to that would be YES…. IF they are innocent. The only problem with this is that there is no such thing as an innocent person. Romans 1:16-25 tells us none of us are innocent. WE have all offended God. In addition, none of us are innocent because all of us have evidence of our creator within us. People know humans have worth, it is built in them. People have a moral compass, it is built with in them. People desire for good to win over evil. We are designed with these immaterial reflections of God. They express God’s image with in us. Yet we suppress the truth of God within us. (take time to reflect on Romans 1:16-25.
If we are innocent based on ignorance, the worst thing you could do for an “innocent” person, is share the gospel with them. The minute you do this, that person will stand condemned if they do not embrace Jesus. Why would Jesus want us to share His Gospel if that condemns us? Why would Jesus call his message “the Gospel”(which means good news), if it was a condemning message? If ignorance gives you a ticket to eternity then why would Jesus die for us? Why did he suffer such a horrible death that is unnecessary if there were other ways to eternity such as just being ignorant. The truth is, He came to free us and declare his good news to us because we currently stand in judgment.
Perhaps we like to think we are innocent as people because we have a man centered focus of sin rather than a God centered focus. As people it is easy for us to act like we are entitled before God. We act as if God owes us and He takes from us what we deserve. When in reality we all stand condemned and it is only by His grace that we get to experience heaven with him. In Isaiah chapter 6, when Isaiah comes before God His Expressions isn’t “WOW!” His expression is “WOE!” (vs.5a). He reflects the response of a man who is not ready to meet his Maker. Please note, Isaiah is described as one of the most holy men in all of Israel. You would think if there was a man who would be excited to see God it would be Isaiah. Yet Isaiah goes on to say “I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips”(vs.5). Isaiah admits guilt before God. The word undone literally means “A dead man”. We look at this story and wonder why Isaiah would think so deeply about his sin before God? Why would he call himself a dead man? Let me give you an example: If someone lies against a person or sins against a person we may not think it is a big deal. It happens all the time. However, the seriousness of sin is not always determined by the ranking of an offense, but rather the seriousness of a sin is determined according to the authority of the one who was offended. Therefore, if I sin against a rock, No one cares. That rock has little value, and no authority. If I violate or sin against a person, it is a bigger deal. A human has both authority and value. If I offend a holy God, the creator of all things, there is no greater offense that can be made because God is of infinite value and authority. The seriousness of sin is determined by the one offended. Here is another example: If I smack my brother, it is a slight offense. If I smack a police officer, I will go to jail. If I were to smack the leader of a country, the offense would be against that entire country. If you bring an offense against the King of Kings, your offense can go no higher. My hope is that people don’t choose to plead ignorance. My hope is that humanity would fall to their knees before a God who has offered you grace and ask him to forgive you and accept you. Do not delay the opportunity God has given you to find yourself forgiven and accepted as a child of the King. In addition, do not delay in sharing this opportunity with the world. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN INNOCENT PERSON. THERE ARE ONLY GUILTY PEOPLE WHO NEED GRACE. Paul urged us to share this message in Romans 10. (See Romans 10:1-4, 13-15)
What about a second chance?
Sometimes you will hear people speculatively ask, “what about a second chance?”. If we don’t embrace Jesus do we get a second chance? First I would say, your current life is your second chance. If God’s grace gives you tomorrow, that is your third chance and so on… As soon as Adam and Eve sinned all of creation fell. That was our first chance. Thank God he chose not to condemn man when Adam sinned. We have a second chance thanks to Christ. The bible very clearly tells us that It is appointed for man to die and after this comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). There is no biblical basis to support opportunities beyond this life. If you don’t embrace Jesus now, why do you think you will do it tomorrow? The Bible says “today is the day of salvation”(2 Cor 6:2). Thank God you have an opportunity to embrace His grace through the cross.