One of the things I really enjoy doing with the ministry the Lord has blessed me with is answering questions of believers and unbelievers alike. The questions people have never cease to amaze me; most I have never even considered myself.
This QFTBOC (Questions from the Body of Christ) series are articles from these questions I have received and will be in a question and response format.
If you or someone you know has a question pertaining to the Word of God – theology, difficult passages, eschatology, etc. – I would really like to hear from you.
If I end up using your question, and you would like to have your name and/or place of residence listed on the question in the article, please specify with your submitted question; otherwise, if I use your question, it will be listed as “Anonymous.”
Regardless, I will make every attempt to answer every person’s question(s) in a response to the emails I receive. Depending on volume, it may be a little while until you hear back from me, but my intention is to respond to all inquiries.
Other articles in this series are: QFTBOC: Civil Disobedience and Patriotism, QFTBOC: Memory – Fully Retained or Total Reset?, QFTBOC: Psalm 91, Protection, & God’s Will, QFTBOC: God’s Chastisement of His Children, QFTBOC: What’s Satan’s Problem?, QFTBOC: Can We Know Another’s Salvation?, QFTBOC: Childbirth Purification & Christ, QFTBOC: Biblical Slavery, QFTBOC: Peter & John at the Palace of the High Priest, QFTBOC: Living for Christ in a Dark World, QFTBOC: Family and the Afterlife, and QFTBOC: Judgment and Works
My name is Ed Gaulden. I searched in vain to find something you may have written pertaining to the title of this e-mail; however, [I] could not find anything.
I attend a Bible study once a week, and one of the attendees there asked the question, “What happens to people who have never heard the Gospel?”
I could not find any scripture to satisfy the questioner. To be honest, it was one of the questions I had asked the young man who led me to the Lord many years before! Not finding the appropriate scripture, I told him it would be in our conscience, our moral sense of right and wrong, such as stealing and murder.
Do you have any suggestions? Scripture?
Thanks in advance, Mark –
Thanks for your email and great question! You’re right; I haven’t written on this subject, but I do think that others have probably asked the same question, so we’ll address it today.
As you requested, I do have a few passages for you, along with some other observations and thoughts that you can share with others.
Here are the passages:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1-3).
The creation of God is a witness to man that God exists.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse“ (Romans 1:18-20). (emphasis mine)
Man knows instinctively in his heart that God not only exists but is a righteous God and that they are ultimately accountable to Him, their Creator. This knowledge God imparts to all of mankind through their consciousness and conviction of their hearts – knowing instinctively between right and wrong – “so they are without excuse.”
“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:14-16). (emphasis mine)
Those who don’t have the law, or haven’t heard the gospel, are judged by “the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness” to what God has already instilled within the human heart.
Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, emphasized that the gospel in its most basic form had already been preached in the world to every creature which is under heaven; though this gospel is obviously more clearly revealed since Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice and expounded upon in the completed New Testament Scriptures.
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (Colossians 1:23). (emphasis mine)
While it is true that:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God“ (Romans 3:10-11). (emphasis mine)
It is also true that God calls to all human beings to come to Him as revealed in His creation and the witness of Himself within their hearts – blinded as they may be. It’s because of God’s calling that man is able to respond to what he instinctively knows; that is, that God exists, is the Creator, and is our Judge.
God told Israel:
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
It would seem more than reasonable that this promise could be made to all of mankind for the past 6,000 years.
In addition, we have heard testimonies of Jesus making Himself known to people around the world in visions and dreams. It would be logical to think that those before Christ, that had sought the One true God, would find Him by angelic visitation, visions, dreams, the witness of past people of God, ancient documents handed down, etc.
Of course, it is God who calls and draws all men, but it has always been the individual’s decision to reject or accept what little knowledge that person has attained due to life’s circumstances.
Finally, God is omniscient and knows the hearts of everyone He’s ever created and would necessarily know what any individual would choose if given the choice. We can be confident that whatever God does, when it comes to those who have never heard the gospel, will be absolutely righteous and just.
God Working Through Dispensations
God has dealt with mankind in numerous different ways down through the millennia – something we call dispensations or dispensation theology. These dispensations are generally regarded as:
- Innocence – from creation to the fall of man. 2. Conscience – from the fall of man to the flood. 3. Human Government – from the flood to the call of Abraham (although this dispensation is essentially going on today, until Christ comes back). 4. Promise – from Abraham to the Law of Moses. 5. Law – from the Law of Moses until Christ’s burial, death, and resurrection, and the completion of the New Testament Scriptures. 6. Grace – from Christ’s resurrection and the completion of the New Testament Scriptures until the rapture of the church. 7. Tribulation Age – from the rapture of the church until Christ comes back at His Second Coming. 8. The Millennial Kingdom of Christ. 9. The Eternal Kingdom.
While this list is a generalization, others may point out different ways in which God has dealt with mankind within these dispensations. Nevertheless, the idea of dispensations is a very real and obvious theological truth.
Just a cursory look at these dispensations shows one that God has dealt with mankind differently down through the 6,000 years since creation and will continue to do so until the Eternal Kingdom.
Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that the LORD has never left mankind without the witness of Himself, His Word (however it may be revealed), His will, and His ways to His creation throughout history. How this was accomplished in every dispensation is not revealed in specific for us, but we do have clues.
Enoch, Job, and Abraham
There were many godly men and women who were prophets of God, speaking the Words of the Lord and encouraging and warning those in the antediluvian age before the flood. Enoch was such a man:
“And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:21-24).
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:5-6).
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these [false prophets and teachers of the last days], saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15).
Job and his three companions had a remarkable understanding of the one true God, as is evidenced in the book of Job. Although Job’s three “miserable comforters” gave some misguided advice and, indeed, attributed sin to Job that he did not have, they still had more of a grasp on the nature and character of God than most Christians do today.
Job also knew of God’s salvation and his resurrection:
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).
Additionally, they all had an amazing comprehension of scientific insights not fully understood until our modern day.
Where did they learn of all of this? How did they know so much of who God is, His character, sin and salvation, scientific insights, and so much more? God, obviously, has His ways of communicating with men and women – and these ways are varied and seemingly endless.
Melchizedek: The Mysterious One was also a witness to Abraham hundreds of years before the giving of the law:
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20).
Though not documented in the Scriptures, Melchizedek may have also been a witness to others as well.
These are just three examples of God having representatives for Himself – or in the case of Melchizedek, God Himself as a witness – before and after the flood.
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began“ (Acts 3:19-21). (emphasis mine)
Peter, in the above text, is addressing the Jews after he and John healed the lame man at the gate of the Temple.
But note Peter’s declaration that, “God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” This is quite an insight into the workings of God through His prophets long before Israel became a nation and ever “since the world began.” This tells us that God has always had His prophets declaring His Word to mankind.
Angels have always been a part of God’s “witness protection program” to mankind of Himself and His ways – specifically revealing God’s Word and message to men and women throughout history.
We know from reports around the world that God is still in the business of making Himself known to people who either have never heard the gospel or have never heard the gospel preached clearly enough to fully understand.
This isn’t limited to those who haven’t heard of Christ, as many Muslims and Jews are also having dreams and visions of Messiah Yeshua and His saving gospel! Praise the Lord!!
But with all of this said, it is essential that the body of Christ witness and preach the gospel to a lost and dying world – which is our Great Commission from the Lord Himself – so there can be no doubt to one’s destiny, either a rejection or acceptance of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The church, at large and as a whole, is failing miserably in this mission. But if we all put our hands to the plough and get busy with the Lord’s business, we can make an eternal difference in people’s lives. After all, could any true disciple of Jesus Christ do anything less? The answer better be, “No!”
How amazing it is that God would use us as His instruments and vessels to give the life-saving gospel to others who so desperately need to hear it. Wonderful, indeed!
So, let’s get together and make a tag-team effort in these last of the last days:
“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:7-11).
Thanks again, Ed, for your excellent question!
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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➢ I am still taking questions for the Questions from the Body of Christ series. If you or someone you know has a question pertaining to the Word of God – theology, difficult passages, eschatology, etc. – I would really like to hear from you.
➢ A listing of past articles may be found at my Article Listings on Rapture Ready or my Home Page on FaithWriters.