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All people are accountable to God whether or not they have "heard about Him." The Bible tells us that God has clearly revealed Himself in nature (Romans 1:20) and in the hearts of people (Ecclesias...
How terrible that those who become aware of God revealing Himself to them and then they convert Him into idols, the sun, moon, stars, turn to mystics and astrology to sort out what it is that they are hearing. Then they pass their rituals on to their children, embodying the lies of satan, the doctrine of demons. Thank God for Christian missionaries. Lord, clear the air of heretical TV and radio. "Father, fill each missionary and the air waves with your Holy Spirit .... cover them, embrace them in your Love. Lord let YOUR Word reach people in every nation, every people-group on earth. You alone are the teacher, you alone are our source. Hear our prayer, O Lord!"
Titus 2:11-14 "You see, God's grace has been revealed to save the whole human race; it has taught us that we should give up everything contrary to true religion and all our worldly passions; we must be self-restrained and live upright and religious lives in this present world. Waiting in Hope for the blessing which will come with the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus. He offered Himself for us in order to ransom us from all our faults and to purify a people to be His very own and eager to do good." John 1:6-9 "A man came sent by God. His name was John. He came as a witness, to bear light so that EVERYONE might believe through him. He was not the light, he was to bear witness to the Light." Romans 1:18-22 "The retribution of God from heaven is being revealed against the godliness and injustice of human beings who in their injustice hold back the Truth. For what can be known about God is perfectly plain to them, since God has made it plain to them:ever since the creation of the world, the invisible existence of God and His everlasting power have been clearly seen by the mind's understanding of created things. AND SO THESE PEOPLE HAVE NO EXCUSE,they knew God and yet they did not honour Him as God or give thanks to Him, but their arguments became futile and their uncomprehending minds were darkened. While they claimed to be wise, in fact they were growing stupid." This is quoted from The New Jerusalem Bible. I do believe it means, if they don't know, they choose not to know. I can't explain it. I just believe it, God said it, it's good enough for me. John 10:7- Jesus said, I am the, gate,...the good shepherd, I know my own, there are other sheep, (refers to Gentile believers), I lay down My Life. Etc. Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life.
It seems that Romans 1:18-25 is at the heart of the answers for this question, and Rom. 1:19-20 is given to show that people who do not recognize God in nature, or the things He has created, are without excuse. To those who feel this way, and I once felt this way in my exuberance for God’s Word, I would ask the following question: Is eternity in Gehenna (hell), the eternal Lake of Fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:41-42) and your soul does not die forever and ever (Mark 9:47-48), an appropriate punishment for you, had you accidentally perished before you “found the Lord”? When the same standard is applied to us, we tend to see things more clearly. You see, it is not all people who are without excuse if they did not recognize God in nature. It is those who suppress the truth (Rom. 1:18), exchanged the truth for a lie and served the creature, rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25). Note that this is all in the past, and it is specific with respect to a certain group of people. This group is Mystery Babylon (Rev. 18:2-3). It has a deep and abiding nexus to Satan and His angels. To present Romans 1:19-20 by itself, without regard to context, is inexcusable. The quote from Matthew 13:41-42 is from the Parable of the Tares among the Wheat. It illustrates my point even further. It is about a good farmer who planted a crop of wheat, but his enemy came at night and sowed tares (weeds) to destroy the farmer’s crop. The parable is explained by Jesus in Matthew 13:37-39. The weeds are the sons of the evil one – the Sons of Darkness. It is these who are without excuse in Romans 1:19-20. To those who cry for justice, echoed by the words “they are without excuse”, did you miss one of the foundational truths in God’s plan of redemption? It is given in Rev. 15:3 to those who overcome the persecution by the Antichrist during the last half of the Tribulation, and in Rev. 16:5 after the first three Bowls of Wrath are poured upon Mystery Babylon. It is to show that God Almighty’s judgments are true and just (Rev. 16:7). Is it a just God who would condemn a person to eternity in the Lake of Fire, for not recognizing God in the wonder of nature? There is a better answer, but not enough room to explain here. Please see my book entitled, “The Foundation of the World”. As to what happens to those who never heard about Jesus, I think the Bible is pretty clear on that point. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, the author refers to many (Heb. 11:32) that died before Jesus came, and performed mighty acts of faith (Heb. 11:33-34); but in the end, did not receive the promise of eternal life apart from Jesus (Heb. 11:39-40). To assume they received the promise in the resurrection after Jesus died (Matthew 27:52-53) is problematic for me. It contradicts Heb. 11:39-40 which was written long after Jesus died, and in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 it speaks of Christ’s resurrection, followed by an order to the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23-24). In that order, those who follow Christ are resurrected at His coming, not at His death. Then, at the end of the Millennium, there is a final resurrection when Jesus abolishes death (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). Is it fair that those who died prior to Jesus did not participate in the promise? I think the NKJV of the Bible gets it right in Heb. 11:13. They include the phrase “…were assured of them” in reference to the promises seen by the faithful. Here is the NKJV: Hebrews 11:13 (NKJV) 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. I believe those faithful who died prior to Jesus’ life on this earth, will receive the promise of eternal life. How that happens can be found in my book, “The Foundation of the World”.
I will like to commence an answer to the question by referring to the following scriptures: "....Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:26 KJV). " And [from] the altar I heard [the] cry, Yes, Lord God the Omnipotent, Your judgments (sentences, decisions) are true and just and righteous (Revelation 16:7 AMP). So, how would God, described in the scriptures as a Judge who is "true and just and righteous", treat those who never heard of Jesus? Yes, Jesus is the Way to salvation. But there are many of the human race who did not come to know God and Jesus during their lifetime, either because of WHEN and WHERE and HOW LONG they lived on earth before they died. Thus they may not have had the opportunity to learn about the true God and the one he sent forth, Jesus Christ. Those people died as "unrighteous" and "unbelevers". According to John 17:3, knowledge of God and Jesus is the requirement for everlasting life. "Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to...rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to... and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to...and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed (Romans 10:9 -11 AMP). " But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith...have no reliance]? And how are they to believe in Him [trust in...rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men [be expected to] preach unless they are sent (Romans 10:14 - 15 AMP). Those who never heard of Jesus therefore cannot have the opportunity to have faith in him. It is true that humans can gain some knowledge of God from nature; however it is through the Bible that we can learn about his purposes. This requires learning and teaching. Preachers are required. People have to be reached to preach to them. If one had all the opportunities to so hear and learn and believe and have faith and he seizes them and act in accordance, then he will be saved. But what of those who never had this opportunity? Is it possible that God would make arrangements for such to give them the opportunity to hear the gospel? The bible assures us: " And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust" (Acts 24:15 KJV). The genuinely unrighteous will definitely be resurrected! Such humans have only died the first, or Adamic death and are therefore in Bible hell..the grave..and are in line for a resurrection. Will they get a chance to hear and believe at that time? Perhaps there will be a massive education of all those who died without hearing the gospel during the millennial reign, to learn about God and of his love. " I [also] saw the dead, great and small; they stood before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done [their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors] in accordance with what was recorded in the books. "(Rev. 20:12 AMP). Those who had every opportunity to hear, learn and believe the real gospel and failed to do so while in this life, die as unrighteous people and will not be resurrected. They go to the lake of fire and sulphur, or gehennah, which means second death, an everlasting destruction. Revelation 21:8 refers. Just and true are God's ways! Praise be to Him!
Let's focus on the scriptural truths and promises that underlie God's plan of salvation. 1. God is sovereign. He decided before the foundation of the world every human being who would receive his salvation (Eph 1:4-5) 2. God is not willing that any should perish but that everyone would come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Pet 3:9). Therefore God gave us his general revelation in nature and our conscience (Rom 1:19-21). He also gave us his specific revelation through the gospel of Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17). 3. God gave human beings the free will to seek Him or not (Deut 30:19). God promises that every person who seeks him, will find him, when they seek him with all their heart (Jer 29:13). God promises to provide a pathway to salvation for every person who seeks him (Mark 4:14-20). 4. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father and receives his salvation unless they accept Jesus as their Saviour and Lord (John 14:6). Every person who is to receive God's salvation must encounter Jesus Christ (Rom 10:9) through the gospel message (Rom 1:16). 5. God is "all-powerful" and "all-knowing". He knows exactly what revelation each person needs to continue their path of seeking and He knows how to get his gospel message in front of them (Rev 1:1-8). God may send another person to share the gospel (Eph 1:13-14). God may present it to them in a dream (Act 2:17-21). Jesus may even come to a person in a waking vision like he did with the apostle Paul (Act 26:12-18). What about the people who lived and died before Jesus first coming? The bible says that upon his death he descended to the spirit world and preached the gospel there. In Abraham's bosom (Luke 19:16-31), he preached the good news to the faithful saints of God, who had been waiting for him and they received their salvation, being sprinkled with his blood (1 Pet 1:2). This is proven by the resurrection of their souls with Jesus and their ascension back to heaven with him (Matt 27:52-53). Jesus also descended into Hades and proclaimed his gospel message to the unbelieving souls there (Luke 19:16-31). This message was not good news but was Jesus proclamation of the judgement to come since they rejected God's general revelation to them during their lifetimes (1 Pet 3:19-20). Let's be guided by the truth (John 16:13-14) and promises (2 Cor 1:20-22) we know from scripture. God's limitless and unconditional love is for all of his creation (John 3:16-17). People condemn themselves by rejecting God's love (John 3:18). Therefore, God is just to reject them and condemn them to spend eternity apart from Him (John 5:24-30).
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