I was surveying a man named Gil the other day who was a former member of the same church where I had attended for 10 years. My survey question is, “In your opinion, is there one way to heaven or many?” He pointed clearly that the Bible states the need to trust in Jesus for salvation, although as typically is the case, could not explain why the Bible says that. But before I could explain why, he added, “But for those who have never heard of Christ, God will have mercy on them and save them.”
What’s wrong with this?
Is that what the Bible says?
Luke 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Does the Bible address the issue of those who have never heard of Christ?
Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
If God saves all those who have not heard of Christ, then Jesus’ Great Commission is counter-productive. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…” (Matthew 28:19). More people could be saved by not spreading the Gospel then by doing so. This means the Good News would not be as good as ignorance.
Does God have mercy on those who have not repented and trusted in Christ? I believe so: young children and mentally challenged adults who cannot reason out what Romans 1:18-20 is talking about. But for all others, Jesus is necessary for salvation. This is because all have broken God’s Laws (Romans 3:23) and have earned a death sentence (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid our penalty (1 Cor. 15:3) and those who repent (Luke 13:3) and trust in Him (Romans 10:9) will be forgiven of their sins.
Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Cor. 15:3 “…Christ died for our sins…”
Luke 13:3 “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”