What does the Bible teach about people who die without hearing the gospel? Does God allow innocent people to go to hell? In this video, Pastor David Platt explains that there are no innocent people waiting to hear about Jesus, but sinners in need of the gospel. Pastor Platt explains that God is not a cruel judge who sentences innocent people to hell who haven’t heard the gospel. Instead, the Bible teaches that everyone has turned away from God and is in need of a savior. All followers of Christ, just like the unreached, were once estranged from God. When we begin to understand that humanity turns away from God, we can begin to give thanks for the good news of the gospel.
- All People Are All Sinners
- All People Reject God
- The Good News
Watch Full Message of What Happens to People Who Never Hear the Gospel?
What happens if we don’t go and share the gospel with those who haven’t heard it? Now we’re going to hit them pretty quick, but see here what God teaches us in his word. Number one, all people know God. All people know God. So this is Romans 1:18-21. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth of God by their wickedness. Since what may be known about God, listen to this, is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen. Being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” And it says in verse 21, “For Although they knew God.”
Plain and simple, the Bible is saying here that all people everywhere, all over this map have knowledge of God no matter where they live.
Who is God?
God has made himself known clearly, in creation, in our hearts. So that all are without excuse. No one can say “You didn’t show yourself.” He has shown himself to all. Of course, not all people say they believe in God. That leads to the second truth. All people reject God. Romans 1:21-25 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God, nor gave thanks to him. But their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their heart to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies of one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served, created things rather than the Creator who is forever praised. Amen.”
What Does the Bible Say About Those Who Die Without Hearing the Gospel?
So this is the reality of sin in every person’s heart. In my heart, in your heart, and in every person around the world, we have all sinned against God. Turned from God’s ways to our own ways. From God’s truth to our thoughts. All of us have. Which then leads to truth number three, there are no innocent people in the world. These initial verses in Romans, Romans one, two, and three, some of the most sobering verses in all of scripture. Like from Romans 1:18 to 2:16, Paul talks about the sinfulness of the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people, and you can almost hear the Jewish people like Amening at every verse.
“Yes, they are bad.” And then he gets to chapter two, verse 17. He says, now you, if you call yourself a Jew, if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God. If you know his will and approve of what is superior, because you have been instructed by the law, and then he starts talking about their sinfulness. He starts talking about how God’s name has been blasphemed among the Gentiles because of them. It all comes to a head in chapter three, verse nine through 20, where we see this summary of humanity.
The Gospel and God
Chapter three, verse 10. “As it is written, there is no one righteous, not even one. No one who understands, no one who seeks God all have turned away. They have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice the seat and poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery mark their ways in the way of peace. They do not know, there is no fear of God before their eyes.” In other words all people everywhere are guilty of sin before a holy God.
And here’s why this point is so important, because so many times this question is asked, someone will ask, “Well Pastor, what happens to the innocent man or woman or child in this remote part of the world who’s never heard the gospel when they die?” And if you were to ask me that question, I would say, without question based on the Bible, those people go to heaven. Even though they’ve never heard the gospel.
Without question, that innocent man, woman, child would go to heaven without ever hearing the gospel. Because they have no need to hear the gospel. If they’re innocent of sin, they don’t need to hear about Jesus died to save them from sin. If they’re innocent of sin, they’ll go straight to heaven. Of course, they’ll go to heaven. The only problem is, those people do not exist.
Hearing the Gospel
Do you see how we bias the question from the start? Like toward us and our goodness and away from God, like God is unjustly sentencing people to eternal judgment who are innocent? That’s not true. There are no innocent people in the world just waiting to hear the gospel. There are guilty people all over the world. That’s why they need to hear the gospel.