what about those who don't hear?
7/02/2007 12:02:00 AM
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8,9

One of the classic struggles debates in Christianity throughout the centuries has been over the fate of the unevangelized. There has been everything from a universalist approach under which all are saved to hyper-Calvinism, which suggests that God damns some and saves others. I am certainly not one who thinks that God saves all. I think the scriptures are clear: those who don't believe are not saved--even the ones who don't hear. At the same time, I am not one who thinks that God is in the business of damning people to hell either (I'll talk more about this later).

What doesn't seem fair however is that some get to hear the gospel and some don't. The ones that hear the gospel at least have a chance to reject it, while the ones who don't hear the gospel don't get that chance. On the surface, this complaint seem to be founded. There does seem to be an imbalance between those who hear and don't hear, and God is some how responsible. When I started to think about it, I realized that perhaps I've got the picture all wrong. What struck me was that the gospel isn't something I am entitled to, but it a gift of grace on God's part. When I looked at it from this perspective, it changed everything.

What I really deserve isn't pretty. The scriptures are clear that the wages of sin death. As I said, I am don't think God is in the business of condemning people to hell. People go to hell as a result of there own action, and no action of God. The bitter reality of sin is that if we truly got what we deserved, we would suffer in hell, apart from God for all eternity.

When I look at the gospel as a gift and not as something I am entitled to, it doesn't seem fair that God should have to die on my behalf. If God caused me to sin, then perhaps I could expect him to die for me, but he didn't cause be to sin, and he voluntarily died for me. This was not an act of obligation, but an act of love. When God offers the gospel to a person, he is offering a gift. A person may choose to accept or reject that gift at that point, but that too is their own doing and not one of God's. The one who gives the gift isn't obligated to give everyone a gift, not unlike me when I when I give a gift. As a giver, I am able to dispense my belongings to whomever I please. I am not unfair in doing so, by giving a gift to one and not giving a gift to another. The same is true for God - as a giver, He is able to dispense his grace to whomever he pleases He is not unfair in doing so, by giving a gift to one and not giving a gift to another.

Matthew speaks of a vineyard owner who hires people early in the morning, at midday, and just before sundown, and he pays each one of them the same wage. Yet, the ones who had been working all day complained, saying they had worked all day and received the same pay as the ones who had been working only a few hours. Then the landowner spoke
But he answered one of them, "Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?"
While this passage isn't speaking directly to what is at hand, I think we can get a picture in our minds. The landowner is under no obligation to pay those who had been working all day anymore than those who had been working only an hour because it is his money to dispense. God as the landowner has no obligation to dispense his grace, and we as humans have no right to complain about how he dispenses it.

I think the best thing to do however is to stop speculating as to what will happened to the unevangelized and eliminate the question altogether. If everyone had a chance to hear the gospel in his or her lifetime, we wouldn't have to worry about this question.
Comments: 0 Post Comments