Question: In Colossians:1:23 it seems to indicate that the gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven. When and how did this take place?
Response: Colossians:1:23 states, “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;…” We believe that Paul is speaking of God’s general revelation to mankind through the creation, as we see in Psalm:19:3: “There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”
Obviously, the gospel hasn’t been preached by human beings to every creature under heaven, but it has been preached by God to every human conscience. Romans:2:14-15 tells us this: “When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.” (emphasis added)
Whether we want to admit it or not, we do understand that we are sinners. We know in our hearts, simply by observing the visible universe, that God must exist, and we recognize that we fall far short of the glory of this One who has made all of this. Our consciences also make us aware of our own guilt, and we realize that we can’t make up for having broken God’s laws in the past by promising to keep them in the future. We understand that our sin has separated us from God.
Titus:2:11 says, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” It doesn’t say that every man knows every aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ because, obviously, that hasn’t been revealed in our consciences. But we do understand that grace is necessary. If a person is honest, he knows in his heart that he is a sinner and that if he is going to be forgiven, it will have to be by God’s grace. Our consciences also give us a sense of justice—why else do people complain, “That’s not fair! Isn’t there any justice?” How do we know that it’s missing? Because we are created in the image of God, and He has placed an understanding of that in our consciences.
Those who resist the gospel—who reject the fact that God had to become a man to die for our sins, to pay the penalty we couldn’t pay—want to offer their own good works, their own good deeds, their gifts to charity, their prayers, and so forth. We believe that they are deliberately going against what their own consciences tell them and the witness that God has given to them as described in the Scriptures.