IV. Are All Others Doomed?
Finally we come to the question everybody asks: “What happens to people who aren’t Christians? Are those who never heard of Jesus doomed?” The answer is, we don’t know for sure, and it is really between them and God. Our job is to put our trust in Jesus, and tell others about him.
As we know, there are many convincing verses in the Bible that tell us that Jesus is the only way of salvation. But, you may ask, what about the person who never even heard of Jesus, who never had a chance to accept or reject him? Is that person condemned for all eternity? There are some passages in the New Testament (Romans 2:14-15a and Romans 1:19-20) that indicate they might be saved. Based on these passages and our understanding of God’s mercy and grace, here’s one possible answer to the question of what happens to those who never heard of Jesus: God may judge those who never heard of Jesus based on how they responded to the light given to them.
That sounds good, but since Christians believe you can only get to heaven based on what Jesus did on the cross, how would this work? Don’t you have to consciously put your trust in Jesus to be saved? Yes, you do have to consciously put your trust in Jesus, if in fact you have been told the Good News of Jesus Christ. However, it may be that God, in his mercy, extends the grace and merits of Jesus to those who never heard of him. This assumes, of course, that they responded appropriately to whatever light they had been given by God.
A word of warning: this doesn’t mean that those who have heard the Gospel can reject Christ but can still get to heaven based on “being a good person”. The New Testament is clear: being “a good person” does not qualify you to get into heaven. Christians believe that if you’ve heard the truth of Jesus Christ, then you have to make a decision. Not making a decision is still rejecting Christ and the gift of salvation he offers.
When I say those who never heard of Jesus might be saved by the mercy of God, you have to realize what I’m not saying. As a Christian, I’m not saying all religions will get you into heaven, or that all religions are equally valid paths to God. I’m not saying all religions are true or equivalent, because of the profound differences among them that we discussed earlier. I am saying that God might save those who weren’t in a position to accept Christ as their Savior through no fault of their own. Something I recently read relates to this: “All roads do not lead to God, but God will travel any road to reach us.” (From the novel The Shack)
Please realize that by this discussion, I’m not putting down anybody’s religion or belief system, but simply pointing out the uniqueness of Christianity and why I believe Christianity is the best. Many religions have beautiful philosophies and excellent codes of behavior, but I believe that without Jesus as Savior, they are significantly lacking.
Of course not every religion can be true, despite their claims, so we should examine the evidence to see why we are convinced Christianity must be true. Summarizing the advantages we have as followers of Jesus Christ, we have:
·Joy, which can be described as a sense of well-being and comfort because of our faith in Jesus;
·Peace, which is the peace Jesus leaves with us, and we are peaceable people because of it;
·Assurance, that we will get to heaven (no doubt about it) and we have nothing to fear from death;
·Hope, that God is with us, and will guide and comfort us in this life; and
·Love, that we love others, we are part of a community of love, and we are loved by God.
As far as I know, no other religion on the face of the earth offers these, and I believe these are ample evidence that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Now that we have reviewed the case for Christ, I hope your faith has been strengthened and you have been equipped with the tools to tell others. I hope you will use these tools to guide others to the light – the light of Christ that transforms people and ushers them into the Kingdom of God.