I’m starting out Faith Fridays with a big, big topic, one of the biggest in Christianity. And it’s about to get real heated.
What is the eternal security of those who are never witnessed to?
In simple terms, do people go to Hell if they’ve never heard the gospel?
This seems like a simple issue, but not quite so much. There is a very clear commission in Acts:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15
Mix that with John 14:6 and it seems like a pretty solid end of discussion: people who don’t hear the gospel don’t know that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That would seem to make all people who haven’t heard the gospel headed down under. And this is where it starts to get tricky with wording.
There are a few different views people take on this.
- People who don’t get witnessed to don’t go to Heaven. End of story. This is based off the logic I showed above.
- People who don’t get witnessed to may come to know Christ through visions, dreams or some supernatural understanding of the gospel. This is based off verses such as Romans 1:20. It may seem a little out-there, but there have been stories of this happening.
- People who don’t get witnessed to can get saved anyway. They don’t even have to know about Christ. In fact, they’re already saved. They just don’t know it yet.
This is a lesser taken stance.
- People who don’t get witnessed to may get a second chance in the afterlife. This is based off 1 Peter 3:18-20, which seems to claim Christ did in fact witness to those in Hades after His death. It is a comforting thought indeed.
I personally believe in the second option. I do not completely disregard any but the third, but would dispute them, as I will.
The problem with the first option is that of Romans 1:20 and the very nature of God. If God says that His works are made clear by creation, He means it. This would mean that humans speeches are not the only means of communication. If human speeches are not the only means of communication, it more than likely means that someone has used these other means.
My problem with the third option is that of Romans 10:9-10, which states how to become saved. If this was not the only way, scripture would make it clear to us. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just confess Him as Lord. We must accept Him, not just hope that the cross made everyone go to Heaven automatically. Besides, if those people who did not hear go automatically, what stops the rest of the world from going? Why tell people the gospel at all?
With the fourth option… I am actually not so sure of this being wrong. However, it is also based off of the idea that Christ went to Hell for the time that He was dead. However, the verses used to prove this, 1 Peter 3:8-9, could not, in my mind, mean that He actually went to Hades/Hell/Sheol. After all, He says to the criminal in Luke 23:42.43 that he would “be with Me today in paradise”. Is Jesus, then, a liar? May it never be! So although I haven’t figured it out completely myself, I cannot come to this conclusion.
What are your thoughts on the matter? As I will be in Canada at the time of this posting, I am unable to reply to comments until Sunday. But I would love to see some intellectual thought when I get back!