What about the heathen who have never heard about God
By: The John Ankerberg Show
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|If God exists, why is there evil in the world? What is evil? Where did evil come from? Why doesn’t God intervene and stop all evil? How can physical evils such as earthquakes, tornadoes and cancer be explained? Is there a good reason for the existence of hell on which even some atheists would agree? What about those who have never heard the Gospel?
Copyright: 2003, Number of Programs: 8, Cat. No. EVL
Keywords: Salvation, Heathen, Witness of nature, Work of the Holy Spirit, Romans 1:19-20, John 3:19, Matthew 7:7, Romans 2:12-15
- Ankerberg: What about the heathen who have never heard about God? If something is unfair in God’s universe and God allowed it, then He wouldn’t be God. Is it fair to send people to hell who have never heard the gospel? And this is a serious problem but it has a lot of biblical information that we need to share with the people. Let’s start off, first of all, with the question, “Are people lost who have never heard the gospel and decided for Christ?”
- Geisler: The biblical answer to that is, “Yes.” Romans 1:19-20 says they are “without excuse” because they know there’s a Creator. They look at creation. Romans 2:12-15 says they have a moral law “written in their hearts.” And those who live by the law of Moses will die by it, and those who don’t have it will perish by the law written within their hearts. So, clearly the Bible says that unsaved people who’ve never heard the gospel are lost because they have general revelation, sometimes called “common grace,” and they know the light of creation and conscience.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. And the question is, can they be saved by that revelation which God has given to them?
- Geisler: Well, that’s a different question. They can be condemned by it, but they can’t be saved by it. For example, we can be condemned by the written law of Moses, but we can’t be saved by it. It’s like a measuring rod. You can take the measuring rod out and measure and say, “Hey, I’m short,” but eating the rod won’t make you taller. Or you can take a plumbline out and say, “Hey, the building is crooked” but you don’t tie the plumbline around the building to straighten up the building.” You can look in the mirror and say, “Hey, my face is dirty but you don’t wash your face with the mirror.” So, the law was only to condemn us, not to save us.
- Ankerberg: Is it fair, then, if it can only condemn us and not save us?
- Geisler: Well, it’s fair if we seek God and He gives us more light; and the Bible says He does. If you were lost in a jungle and it was pitch black, and you can slice the darkness with a knife and you saw one speck of light, what would you do? You go for it, right? And if you go for light, it gets bigger. Now, the Bible says, “men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” [John 3:19] So, if they turn their back on the little light they have and find themselves in total darkness, it’s their fault. But if they seek that light, God will give them more light; because if you go for a little light and get closer to it, it becomes a brighter light.
- There’s a great story of Samuel Morris in the book, The March of Faith, one of the best little books I’ve ever read on this topic. He was in the middle of a jungle in Africa. His enemies had thrown him in a pit, put honey in and man-eating ants in there. He escaped and there was a light that led him out of the jungle to a missionary. He became a believer, accepted Christ, hopped on a boat, won almost everybody on the boat to the Lord. Came over and went to Taylor University years and years ago. There was a film made on his life by that same title, The March of Faith. Well, this is a triumphant story of somebody who sought the light and God provided more light.
- I was in Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain before it fell, and there was a Russian girl there who was seeking God. She was walking down the road and a Bible, a New Testament, fell out of a building and hit her on the foot. She picked it up and read it and was saved!
- I was in Tennessee here a number of years ago speaking, and a Chinese student came up to me. He was from Mainland China before the Bamboo Curtain had any crack in it at all. And I said, “Well, how did you get over here?”
- He said, “Well, I was seeking God. There was no Bible in Chinese in my city. I heard there was a Bible in English in our local library. So I studied English for five years, borrowed the Bible, read it, and got saved. I applied to my government to go to seminary. They didn’t know what the word “seminary” meant and they let me come. And here I am.” So, “Seek, and ye shall find” [Matt. 7:7].
- There are two verses that are really great on this: Hebrews 11:6: “He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”; and Acts 10:35: “Now we know in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted with Him.”
- So, sure, they’re lost by the light they have. If they seek the light they have, God will give them more light. He will send them a missionary or a Bible, send an angel to talk to them, mail them a tract, drop a Bible out a window. He’ll do anything He can.