Focal Passage: Romans 1:16-25
How can you help believers work through the question, “What happens to people who’ve never heard about Jesus?” First, make sure you allow the Bible to speak to the issue. When it comes to difficult theological questions it is easy to allow our emotions to have greater influence than the Bible. Second, determine why the question is so challenging in the first place. Does it make you question the character of God? Does it challenge your worldview?
Oftentimes, difficult theological questions reveal false assumptions one has about God or humanity. Third, don’t get side-tracked on other questions that are not related to the original question. Charting your thoughts on paper can help you stay focused.
This week’s question is best answered in Romans 1:18-20. These verses address the condition of a person who has not been saved by the gospel of Christ (v. 16-17 provide context). According to these verses, God has revealed Himself through the creation of the world, but the ungodly suppress that truth. Consequently, they will be without excuse when they stand before God’s judgment. Many people struggle with this truth because it seems God would be unfair if a person who never heard about Jesus would perish in hell. I believe there are two false assumptions many Christians make when thinking about this issue. First, they assume people are not accountable for their sin if they do not hear about Jesus. According to our focal passage, people are without excuse not because they did not hear about Jesus, but because they suppress the truth God has revealed to them in creation.
In other words, not hearing about Jesus is no excuse for a person’s sinful actions. Secondly, many people in America think hearing the gospel is an unalienable right. That is not true; hearing the gospel is an act of grace – one that we should cherish with all our heart. Furthermore, because it is an act of grace we should be compelled every day to share it with those who have never heard. Are you willing to go?