In Part 1 of this article we posed the question:
“What happens to people who never hear about Jesus?”
In the previous post we determined, based on scripture (Romans 1:18-23, Romans 3:10-12), that there are no innocent people in the world. That all people are condemned for rejecting God. This is a bleak picture. But I am thankful there is also hope in the book of Romans.
God has made a way of salvation for the lost.
This is one of my favorite points in the whole book of Romans. I can almost picture Paul as he is writing this letter with tears filling his eyes.
“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20).
No one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law. Then he picks the pen back up, wipes the tears away and he writes,
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22)
You see, all people, all of us are condemned for rejecting God, but thankfully God does not leave us there. He has made a way of salvation for every single person in all of history, every single person that is living on the face of this planet today.
Some in our culture today might ask, “Why is there only one way to God?” The question should be, “Why is there any way at all?” We don’t deserve the privilege of grace and mercy that God has poured out in His Son, Christ, but He has done it. He has done it for you and he has done it for me. He has done it for the people in Africa and Asia and everywhere in between. He has made a way of salvation for the lost. This is the good news!
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)
Let these words soak into your being. Memorize that passage! God has presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement. He has shed His blood so that you cannot be condemned. There is now no condemnation, God has made a way of salvation for the lost!
People cannot come to God apart from Christ.
We are not saved from our sins before God by what we do, by observing the law. (Romans 3:27-31) No, we are saved by faith. Faith in what? Faith in what Christ did on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. When you trust in Christ, when you place your faith in Him, you can come to a relationship with God. People cannot come to God apart from faith in Christ.
As we consider what happens to people who never hear about Jesus we might begin to think, “Maybe, God would make another way. If there are over a billion people who haven’t even heard the name of Jesus, then maybe, somehow, God has made another way for them to come to Him apart from Christ. If God is gracious and God is loving, then certainly He would make another way, right?”
The answer to that question throws the whole necessity of the cross in the air. If someone who has never heard about Jesus could come to God apart from Christ, then why did Christ have to die? For anyone of us who says, “Well, people who haven’t heard the name of Jesus can get to God another way” we are basically saying, “Christ, your death was not all we needed. Christ, thanks for what you did, we could have found another way ourselves.”
Apart from faith in Christ, no matter how good you are, no matter how moral of a person you are, no matter how many things you do, you cannot come to God. People cannot come to God apart from faith in Christ.
If people cannot come to God apart from faith in Christ we still have the problem of over a billion people who haven’t heard the name of Jesus.
How will they hear?
Christ commands the church to make the gospel known to all peoples.
Christ commands the church, He doesn’t call the church, Christ commands the church to make the gospel known to all peoples.
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:5-15)
In the series of questions at the end of this passage Paul describes God’s plan to make the gospel known to all peoples. This is the mission that I believe is unstoppable. From cover to cover in Scripture, God is making His gospel, His goodness, His greatness known among all peoples.
- Christ sends servants, servants preach.
- When they preach, people hear.
- When they hear, they believe.
- When they believe they call.
Christ sends servants that preach the gospel and when they preach, people will hear. When they hear, many will believe. When those that believe call, they will be saved, guaranteed That is God’s plan for making the gospel known to all peoples.
The breakdown in this mission.
There is a breakdown in this mission. The breakdown happens when the servants who have been entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ fail to preach this gospel to all nations. This is God’s plan A for taking the gospel to all nations. There is no plan B. You don’t see a plan B anywhere in Scripture.
Christ has commanded us to make the gospel known to all nations, people who haven’t even heard His name. There is nothing more important. This mission is more important than building a 401K. This mission is more important than having a nice house, than driving a nice car. It’s more important than living a nice comfortable life.
I want to ask you a question.
Are you in?
Students, teenagers, young adults, are you in?
Are you willing to say, “My entire life is going to be directed at one passion, making the gospel known among all peoples”?
Wives, husbands, homemakers, business men, businesswomen, are you in?
Are you willing to sacrifice the pleasures of this world in order to say, “I’m going to make the gospel known in all nations no matter what it costs me and no matter what it costs my family.”
Grandparents, are you in?
Are you willing to rise up and be a model for us, to use the last years of your life to make the gospel known in all nations?
Christian, are you in?