Lately, I have been asked some pretty tough questions and to be sure, I don’t know the answers to many of them. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that people come to me and pose quite a number of hypothetical situations. One of the questions that has garnered quite a bit of conversation lately is “Can someone get to heaven if they have never heard about Jesus?”
Now I don’t even know where this question came from but apparently a group of ladies were having lunch and the topic turned to this question. Since Janet was one of those in attendance, you can see how the issue got to my doorstep. And it’s not an easy question to answer. We know for sure that Jesus is the way to the Father and if you know Jesus you know His Father as well. Personally, I believe that there is only one way to get to heaven and that is to know Jesus. My more liberal friends think that there are many ways that you can get to heaven and that a compassionate God would never condemn anyone to eternal separation from Him. There is where you have to decide which fork in the road you wish to take. If there are many ways to get to heaven, and God will ultimately allow everyone into heaven, then I suppose that those folks who have never heard of Christ will be included…
But that’s not the way most folks believe and it’s hard to justify that line of thinking in the interpretation of the Scripture. Nonetheless, we are left with the question of how people who have never heard of Jesus could wind up in heaven. To start with, we do know that God has a special place in His heart for children. The Scripture seems to be clear on the fact that children (teknia in the Greek) are encouraged to come to Jesus – “Let the little children come to me… and King David believed that he would be reunited with his son at some future date although his deceased son would not return to this world. Since the boy died as an infant, he couldn’t have possibly professed faith in Jesus Christ so we get an insight that God has a soft spot for children and that it is not unreasonable to think that they go to heaven if they die before they have come of age to profess their own faith.
So what about the older ones? Is it their fault that they haven’t heard of Jesus? It’s a different story if they have rejected Christ but what if they never had the chance to accept Him? This is where the Holy Spirit comes into focus. Because God does the work, through the Holy Spirit, of touching the hearts of people to draw them to Himself.
But we have a responsibility as well. With the Great Commission, we have been instructed by God to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. That makes it our responsibility to do our part to make sure that everyone hears about Jesus. A friend of mine recently shared the math with me about conversions. He said that if each Christian would just reach one other person for Christ each year, we would have the opportunity, within a generation, to reach every person on the face of the earth. I never thought that it would even be possible to reach everyone.
Our verse for the evening is from Paul’s letter to the Romans, where we are told in Rom. 1:18-20, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
In other words, God thinks it is important that everyone be made aware of His existence. And so the answer to the questions about Heaven – or not – still can not be answered with certainty. We must depend on the righteousness of God and the fact that He loves us more than we can possibly know.
My encouragement this evening is that God wants each of us, and everyone on the face of the earth, to get to know Him. My prayer is that through our faith and diligence, people throughout the world will get to know Jesus and have the first hand opportunity to accept Him as Lord and Savior. Then we won’t have to worry about whether those who haven’t heard of Him will be eternally separated. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…