Christianity is about receiving the Gospel message, the Good News of Jesus. That means recognizing that we cannot come to God on our own but only through believing that Jesus, who is God, died for us and rose from the dead. Through faith, we can have confidence in our forgiveness and eternal life with God. But, since belief is about hearing and accepting the Good News, a common question is, “What about those who haven’t heard of Jesus?”That question can become emotional and somewhat of a hindrance for people regarding Christianity. It becomes even more critical when we consider the number of unreached people currently in the world today. According to Joshua Project, “It is estimated that of the 7.75 billion people alive in the world today, 3.23 billion of them live in unreached people groups with little or no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Joshua Project, there are approximately 17,446 unique people groups in the world with 7,400+ of them considered unreached (over 41% of the world’s population!).”
To answer a question like this, we must first start with God. God created the world “good” and humans “very good.” He created humans to be in a relationship with Him. However, humans fell and brought exile and separation from God. Since that time, God has worked out His plan to redeem humanity. This speaks directly to God’s nature. God is merciful and forgiving, He is full of Covenant love and faithfulness, and He is forgiving and just (Exodus 34:6-7). God also desires all people to come to know Him (1 Timothy 2:4), draws people through His sacrifice (John 12:32), and shows us His love and sacrifice even in our sin (Romans 5:7-8). God is love and invites everyone to embrace a relationship with Him through Jesus.
The problem is that we are all sinners, born into sin because of Adam (Romans 5:12-17). We are also in the domain of darkness and evil unless, through faith, we are transferred into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). We are all lost in sin, and our sin leads to righteous judgment (Romans 3:23).
However, the best way to deal with this conflict is to focus on what we can know. God has revealed Himself to humanity in both general and special revelation. Through His character, we know that God can and does reach humans throughout the world, and we can trust in that.
Scripture is clear that God reveals Himself generally in different ways. First, God’s nature is apparent through creation and conscious. Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-20;
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse.”
And Psalms 19:1-3 tells us that the entire creation declares God’s Glory,
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.”
God also reveals Himself through care. He has provided the seasons so we can know what the year will bring and enjoy the fruits of labor and crops,
“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." - Acts 14:15-17
Scripture also teaches that God reveals Himself in special ways. These ways include dreams like in the stories of Abimelek (Genesis 20:3), Joseph and Pharaoh (Genesis 41), Daniel (Daniel 7), and Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10). Also, miracles like the ten signs in Egypt (Exodus 7-12); Jonah and the storm and Whale (Jonah 1-4); Jesus and His many miracles (Matt. 8, 14-15, 17; John 2, 4-6, 9, 11, 21, etc.). Dreams, visions, and miracles have pointed people to Jesus in the past, and God can still use them today.
The Bible also clarifies that God is working in the world and reveals Himself to unexpected people in mysterious ways. We can see this throughout Scripture in people who are outside of Israel or outside of the main storyline of the Old Testament who were worshippers of The Lord. That includes Melchizedek, Rahab, Jethro, Job, Cornelius, the Ethiopian Eunuch, and more. God can reach those who we may not even know He has reached.
We can know that God is Love, and He is full of both grace and truth. He is both forgiving and just. We can know that God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth and has provided a way for people to come to know Him through Jesus. We can also know that He works through both general and special revelation to draw people to Himself and that through these means, all people are without excuse. This requires us to trust in God, His character, and His justice.It’s one thing to wonder about those who have never heard, and it’s another for us to live out the commission that God has given all who believe.
“And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20
Our role is to take the Gospel message out into the world and make disciples. That is our calling and what we can control. God will work in and through you to grow His kingdom. So the real question that we each have to answer isn’t “What about those who have not heard?” but “Who can you tell about the Good News of Jesus?” Sometimes it's easier to ponder questions that we can’t know the exact answer to than it is to do the specific and clear work that Jesus calls us to do. Let’s be people who are lights in the world and make disciples where we are.
Husband and father. “The Professor” and teacher of Sun Valley University, and in my DMIN program. Love to read, listen to podcasts, and watch movies. I am also an associate at Rayhons Financial Solutions.