Gary: Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and Tom, I enjoy your program very much, and particularly the last segment, where you have been discussing salvation. One question that I sometimes get from friends, relatives, and others I witness to, always makes me anxious. So I have revamped it for your program and look forward to your answer:
‘If the possibility of salvation, or spending eternity in heaven with God, could only come about through faith in Jesus Christ, how can someone be saved who never heard of Jesus Christ, let alone all the things I’ve heard you say one needs to believe in order to be saved.’”
Tom: Dave, that’s a question I’ve wrestled with for a long time, and it’s only by sort of growing in the faith and understanding the character of God that I have more, as we said, faith in it, trust in it. But what’s your response?
Dave: Well, the Bible says, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Dave: So, I can trust Him for that, number one. Number two, the Bible does tell us, Romans chapter 1, that everyone is without an excuse. That relates to what we just talked about [in the last segment]. These lawyers were without an excuse. The whole universe cries, “Design! Designer!” We know that God exists. Every person knows that God exists. Furthermore, it is totally irrational for any human being—and it is contrary to all the evidence they see around them—to form a “god” out of stone or wood, or to believe in some spirit in a tree or in a waterfall. Or to worship nature. Nature is not kind. There are no morals with nature. You don’t pray to a hurricane, and so forth.
So, every person, wherever they are, in whatever time, whatever culture, they know that there is a God of infinite power and wisdom who created this universe, okay? So, if they reject what God has told them, He’s not obligated to tell them any more! He couldn’t tell them any more. They’ve already rejected the most obvious thing. So, they are lost. They are doomed, because of their rebellion against God.
This is what sin is: it’s rebellion against God. So the fact that they haven’t heard about Jesus Christ, or they don’t know about salvation, is not unjust, because they would reject Jesus Christ if they heard about Him. They’ve rejected the witness of creation.
Tom: Would we add the… the scripture says God has given everyone a conscience?
Dave: Right. That’s Romans chapter two—I was just getting to that…
Dave: You go ahead.
Tom: No, no. Go ahead.
Dave: Romans 2 says, “The Gentiles have not the Law, but when they do the things that are contained in the Law, they bear witness to the Law of God written in their conscience, their thoughts accusing or excusing one another.” So, we all know in our conscience—every human being knows in their conscience—that not only did God create them, but they’re accountable to Him, and they know that they have sinned and come short of His standards. Every human being knows that.
Well, then, they must also know that you can’t “appease” God. It’s a matter of justice. How am I going to save myself? How am I going to be delivered? Because the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, the scripture says, “Revealed in our conscience.” We have a guilty conscience. We know we’ve sinned, we know we’ve done wrong.
Then anyone, anywhere, at any time in history, knows that they cannot justify themselves, they cannot save themselves, they cannot make up for having broken the Law in the past. Some sacrifice that they offer, some hocus-pocus, some ritual, isn’t going to work. Then they throw themselves on the mercy of God. They know that God—if there is to be a way, God must have a way. And I believe that God will get that message to all of these people, somewhere.
Jesus said of Abraham, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” Well, there weren’t any evangelists who came to Abraham. God spoke to Abraham. I believe that God not only can speak through the universe, through conscience, but He can also—He can bring someone, you know, like the day in which we live, He could bring someone across their path. But God can also speak to them in their conscience.
We’re not saying that because they never heard about Christ, therefore there is some special category. I don’t believe that they are, and I don’t find that from the Word of God.
Tom: You know, the thing that’s always been an encouragement to me, people say, “Well, you say that people have to believe this and believe that,” and I don’t know all the mechanisms that God uses to reach a heart, but I do know this: it was so important of Him that He sent His only begotten Son to die! In other words, we’re talking about God being a just God, but He’s also a loving God, who sacrificed Himself for us. So, He’s going to move…if He sent His Son, He’s going to move heaven and earth to reach anyone who is willing to come to Him.
Dave: Right. And let’s take the other side of the coin, Tom. What about the millions out there that have never heard about Him? Well, what about the millions in America who have heard—and in other countries—who have heard and have rejected the gospel? And very often, the person who raises this question is trying to excuse themselves. Well, they have rejected the gospel. “Well, what about those people out there that never heard it?” and they’re trying to excuse themselves. “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”
And I would just suggest to the person who wrote that, pay attention to your own responsibility before God and be sure that you have embraced the gospel before you worry about others. I’ll leave them to God himself.