Destiny of Unevangelized


The Destiny of the Unevangelized

The question of what happens to those who have not heard of Jesus has serious theological and practical implications on nearly every aspect to our Christian life. The exclusive view states that it is impossible to attain salvation apart from hearing the Word since faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The restrictivist view states that those who have heard the gospel are those who have made a conscious decision to accept it, but those who have never heard the gospel are judged on the basis of what they know or should have known. I will begin this essay theologically by discussing how general and specific revelation from Scripture clearly teaches that those who have not heard the message of Jesus will not be saved.

The knowledge of God’s existence, character, and moral law, which come through creation to all humanity, is often called general revelation (because it comes to all people generally). General revelation comes through observing nature, through seeing God’s directing influence in history, and through an inner sense of God’s existence and his laws that he has placed inside ever person. General revelation is distinct from special revelation which refers to God’s word addressed to specific people, such as apostles, and the words of God spoken in the personal address, such as at Mount Sinai or at the baptism of Jesus. Special revelation includes all the words of Scripture. [1]

The context of Romans 10 is about how Israel needs the Gospel, but has rejected the Gospel. Romans 10:14-15 asks a series of rhetorical questions to make it clear that a clear presentation of the gospel message must precede true saving faith. True faith always has for content the revealed Word of God. Paul’s statement in vs.17 relates back to Word of God literally meaning, “words of Christ” which means this is about the gospel.  Verse 16 makes it clear by way of Isaiah 53:1 that any presentation of the Gospel must have the message of the subsitutionary death of Christ.

Through Christ drawing men to Himself they can be saved (John 6:44). Scripture indicates that no free will exists in man’s nature for man is enslaved to sin and unable to believe apart from God’s empowerment. Only those whom the Father gives the ability to will toward Him will come. The drawing of John 6:44 is selective and only produces the desired effect upon those whom God has soverignly chosen for salvation. Those whom God has chosen will believe because God has soverignly determined that result from eternity past (Eph 1:9-11).

There are two main objections to this view; the first is that it is unfair and the second is that babies and the mentally disabled cannot be saved. I will deal at more length with the first objection because the second objection I believe is simple one of those things that we cannot know (Deut 29:29).

People define fairness as the ability to get their views or opinions out there. When this view is used it is often applied by those who want to have their own way regarding religion and life. The problem is that the Bible does not support this view. Jesus did not come to die for my wishes, dreams and wants. He came to die for my sin which offended His holiness. The charge that God is unfair is logically inconsistent to the core. Ascribing to ourselves knowledge of God but saying that we are God does not line up. Logically if one says that this view is unfair then they must also say that they are unfair since God is the One who created them. The Creator who created the world can destroy the world. The Creator who made all things can deny them eternal life but doesn’t. Jesus who died for sin can withhold forgiveness from sin but doesn’t. The argument from fairness is flawed because it argues on an I, me, you basis which makes it logically impossible to prove not to mention Scripturally unsound.

 

Nature of Hell

Many believers today affirm the truth of God’s love but struggle with God’s justice. By understanding how God’s love and judgment work together leads to understanding God’s sovereign purpose, which is seeking and saving the lost (Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10)

Popular contemporary Christian teaching focuses on improving oneself but understanding the message of Hell leads to seeing the need for Jesus. Scripture and history teach that humanity is digressing. The primary motivation as humans is not godliness but sin, and this makes one’s desires muddled in the pool of sin.

The Bible says that God created hell to serve as the ultimate destiny of the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). The Bible also teaches that Hell will be the destiny of all people who reject the grace and mercy God has provided through Jesus and who chose, instead, to reject God by following Satan (Matthew 25:46). Hell is described in the Scriptures as a place of darkness and sadness (Matthew 22:13), a place of fire (Matthew 5:22), a place of torment (Revelation 14:10), a place of destruction (Matthew 7:13), and a place of disgrace and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

Jesus spoke more about Hell than any figure in the Bible combined. His warnings of the eschatological judgment are colored with the imagery of Hell. He portrays this future judgment through the picture of Sodom’s destruction. These images of God’s judgment were well established in the Old Testament and intertestamental literature. Hell in the parables of Jesus are presented in the tares, the net, the great supper, the good servant and the wicked servant, the talents, and the last judgment.  Mankind legally, morally, and spiritually deserves to rot in Hell for all eternity. Jesus did not leave people to the punishment of sin, but came into the world to take upon Himself the wrath of God and die in our rightful place. Salvation therefore is wholly by God’s grace, and not by man’s effort, merits or ability.

There are two main objections to the classical view of hell; the first of which is eternal hell is cruel and the second that Scripture teaches annihilation.  First, I will tackle the view that eternal hell is cruel and secondly the notion that Scripture teaches annihilation.

God created mankind in His image to know, serve and glorify Him. In Adam’s sin of disobedience to the revealed Will and Word of God; man lost his innocence, an incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death. This made man incapable of doing or choosing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. Therefore we cannot accuse God of judging us on false pretense because our forefathers sinned, and sin is a crime, which means legally we deserve the wrath of God for our sin, and our sin nature. This makes the view that eternal hell is cruel logically and Scriptural impossible to defend.

The second objection to the classical view of hell is that Scripture teaches annihilation. The Scriptures do not teach the annihilationist view of hell.  The  souls of the unsaved at death are kept under punishment until the second resurrection (Luke 16:19-26; Revelation 20:13-15), when the soul and the resurrection will be united (John 5:28, 29). They shall then appear at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) and shall be cast into hell, the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41-46), cut off from the life of God forever( Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41-46; 2nd Thess 1:7-9).The bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life (John 6:39; Romans 8:10-11; 19-23; 2nd Cor 4:14), and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; Revelation 20:13-15).

Jesus spoke more about Hell than any figure in the Bible combined. His warnings of the eschatological judgment are colored with the imagery of Hell.  Jesus did not leave people to the punishment of sin, but came into the world to take upon Himself the wrath of God and die in our rightful place. Salvation therefore is wholly by God’s grace, and not by man’s effort, merits or ability.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Feel free to leave a comment or write me atdave@servantsfograce.org Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com.DaveJJenkins or follow us on facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/Servantsofgrace

Bibliography

Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine Documents. (Michigan: Zondervan, 2000), 122-123.


[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine Documents. (Michigan: Zondervan, 2000), 122-123.

 

Read More