If belief in Jesus is the only way to be saved, what about those who never hear about Jesus? Do they go to heaven or hell?
This is one of those questions that when we learn what God’s Word says about this subject:
1. It can reveal if we follow our feelings over the truth of God’s Word.
2. It can reveal how much we like to blame shift versus taking responsibility for our actions (or the lack there of).
After reading the articles below (which give the biblical answer to this question), if our response is: “I can’t believe God would do that.” We have to ask ourselves, if we “feel” this way, what other biblical truth, about God and salvation, do we have to back up how we feel (God's Word does not contradict it's self). But also, when we understand the biblical truth to this question, we should realize: 1. the primary failure is on the individual for not seeking after God (see Desiring God article below) and 2. Christians are the ones who have neglected these people, not God. It’s not that these people don't know that God exists or don’t have a way to hear the gospel. (God has tasked and empowered Christians to go share the gospel.) Nor is it that hearing the gospel and rejecting it is the reason a person is condemned. (If this was the case--that if a person who has never heard the gospel could go to heaven because they haven’t heard the gospel--the worse thing we could do is to obey what God has called us to do and share the gospel with them.)
So, instead of saying something like “I can’t believe God would send someone to hell who hasn’t heard the gospel,” Christian's should be broken and moved to action, knowing that:
1. We are all sinners and will spend eternity separated from God. (Romans 3:23; 6:23)
2. God demonstrated His love to us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
3. Whoever confesses Jesus as Lord and believes in Him (His death, burial and resurrection) for salvation, will be saved. (Romans 10:9-13)
4. God has a plan for the gospel to be shared with all nations. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)
Romans 10:14-17 (ESV) 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!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
In the end, are we going to believe God’s Word over how we may “feel” about something? And then, are we going to step up and take responsibility and do what God has called us to do: Share the gospel! (Resting assured, that it is not our job to save people, we simply have been given the task to go and share.)
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (ESV) All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Matthew 24:14 (ESV) And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.