Does God Send Anyone to Hell if They Never Hear the Gospel?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 19, 2014 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This week at Worldview Warriors, we have been discussing the effects of Adam and Eve’s sin upon the whole world, and the main theme is: how can we be responsible for someone else’s actions? I’ve seen several memes on Facebook that shows a picture of a native tribesman, often a Native American or an Eskimo, and the meme says this: “So you mean to tell to tell me that if I did not know about your Gospel, I would still go to heaven?” “Yes.” “So why did you tell me?”

A very interesting question I hear that has a valid point is this: How does God handle those who never hear the Gospel? What about those tribes in the jungles that have never read the Bible or heard about Jesus? Christianity is very clear that the only way to get to heaven is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. So how can these tribes who have never heard the Gospel get to heaven?

This reminds me of a very similar question. How did the people of the Old Testament get to heaven? Jesus had not died or rose from the dead yet. Or did he? Paul makes it clear that Christ was crucified from the foundations of the earth. Jesus died for the sins of the past, the sins of the present, and the sins of the future. Abraham did not know Jesus, but Paul tells us in Romans 4:3 that Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. What did Abraham believe? He believed God’s promise that through his line, a Savior would come. But it wasn’t just an accepted belief and he left it like that. He believed it to the point where he acted as though it would come true, despite the fact that he never saw it in his lifetime. He believed in the coming Messiah. He looked forward to the Messiah. Today, we look back to Jesus. Abraham looked forward to him. It all points to Christ.

Answers in Genesis has a good summary of world history in accordance to the Bible called “The 7 C’s of History.” The 7 C’s are Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consummation. These are 7 major events in Scripture that impacted everyone in the world. The Creation, Adam’s sin, Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel language dispersion, Jesus’ birth and ministry, the cross and resurrection of Christ, and the end times. I have not studied every single culture out there, but I have 22 years of missions experience, had a lot of encounters myself, and heard a lot of testimonies. And one thing in relation to this topic that I have noticed is that every culture has some kind of legend or myth related to these seven major events.

Not each of these legends are exactly the same, but each of these cultures speak about something about a deity creating the universe, something about man’s rebellion against the creator, something about a world-wide flood where only a few survivors made it on an ark full of animals, something about confusion of languages, something about someone coming to save them, and something about the deity bringing everything to a close.

What I am I talking about? Don Richardson describes his encounters with the Sawi tribe in New Guinea in his book Peace Child. He was having the most difficult time trying to describe what Jesus’ actions on the cross did for us, because the Sawi had no words for such things like propitiation of sin, or atonement. But they had a legend that perfectly fulfilled what Jesus did: The Peace Child. When two tribes went to war, the way they would make an offer for peace was that the chief of one tribe requesting peace would offer his son, the heir to the “throne”, to the other chief to be raised as his own. And as long as that child lived, there would be peace between them. This is a legend of Christ. God gave his son as a peace child.

Bruce Olsen, as a 19-year old from Minnesota, traveled without the aid of any mission organization (they all turned him down), to Columbia into the Amazon jungle to bring the Gospel to the Motilone tribe, one of the most feared and violent tribes. They had a legend that someone would come and open up bananas and that would bring them salvation. This made absolutely no sense, but when Bruce, aka Bruchko, opened up his Bible, the legend became true.

Jim Elliot and Nate Saint were two of five missionaries that lost their lives witnessing to the Wadoni tribe of the Amazon. When their wives decided to stay, they learned of the legends of the Wadoni and by bringing the Gospel, they were able to help the Wadoni abandon their violent ways. If you have not read the book or seen the movie End of the Spear, do so.

This list goes on and on. These people who have never heard the Gospel are looking for the Gospel. These tribes and these people who have never once heard about Jesus are waiting to hear about him. And as Christians, it is our duty to bring the Gospel to them. Would they go to heaven if they never get a chance to reject him? That is the logic and reasoning some people use to never go out and speak of their faith. Is that really faith? To get all you can get from God, sit on the lid, and poison the rest? Do we want to be there on the Day of Judgment and see someone who will look at us and tell us: “Why didn’t you tell me?” In my own experiences, I had times where I did not want to be that person that was telling someone else the Gospel. I wanted to be behind the scenes, helping out, but not the one doing the speaking. And looking back, I have to ask myself, “Why was I so concerned about what they would think of me, or my stuttering? Why did I feel so much fear about sharing my faith?” And I was on the mission field. I grew up in that environment. And I did not want to be the one to do the sharing.

I don’t want to be that way anymore. I don’t want to be one of those Christians where my peers know I am a Christian but never hear from me about why I believe what I believe. If these people have never heard of the Gospel or Christ and they die, do they go to heaven? I cannot make that call. That is between them and God. But I am responsible for doing what God tells me to do, who to say it to, and when. I cannot stay back and stay silent. That is part of why I have taken part of this ministry with Worldview Warriors. That is part of why I am writing my novels. To get word out that what I believe is real and to share the truth with others. We estimate that about 15,000 people die and go to hell every day. And the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What are we doing about it? Eric Ludy has a list of tough questions that many of us would say “no” to. Let us pray and let the answers be “Yes. I am willing. Lord, send me.”