A gracEmail reader writes, “Our Bible class had a discussion concerning individuals who were not able to hear the gospel before they died. Several stated that all those people would be lost. What do you believe will happen to such according to the Bible?”
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God’s judgment will be completely righteous, for he will judge all people by the light they actually possessed rather than by some standard of which they had no knowledge (Rom. 2:12). Not everyone received the Ten Commandments, or the Golden Rule — but every human being with moral consciousness has God’s revelation in creation (Rom. 1:20; Acts 14:16-17) and in conscience (Rom. 2:12-14; Acts 17:26-29).
The sin which condemns is the sin of rejecting God however he is known, of loving darkness rather than light (Hos. 4:6; John 3:19-20; Rom. 1:18-32; 2 Thes. 2:10-12). The heart which knows only God’s revelation in creation but rejects that, would also reject greater light if it were available. There is no difference in principle between the hearts of those who reject God — only a difference in the quantity and brightness of the light they reject. Similarly, there is no difference between the hearts of those who seek God’s fellowship and who embrace his light — regardless of the measure of light they possess (John 3:21).
All who are finally saved will be saved by the grace of God (Eph. 1:6-14). All who are finally saved will be saved through the atonement which Jesus freely accomplished for undeserving sinners (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). All who are finally saved will be people in whom God saw faith like that of Abraham (Rom. 4:9-18). In these regards, it will not matter whether they lived before Christ or after Christ, whether they were born among God’s chosen people, the Jews, or among the most primitive tribe of the most remote ethnic group in the most distant nation (Rom. 3:25-26; 4:16). All that said, however, no one can presently enjoy God’s salvation during this life except by knowing and trusting Jesus Christ as personal Savior now.