Question:

Isn't it true that the Bible says the following: Go into all of the world and preach the gospel. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved and he that (after hearing the Gospel) does not believe will be damned. Now what conclusions can we logically deduce from that? I studied logic in university and the following conclusions alone can conclusively be made from this passage in the Bible: 1. A person must first hear the Gospel before he can decide whether or not to receive or reject the Gospel. (That makes perfect sense. Right?) 2. They that hear the Gospel and decide to accept it are definitely saved. 3. They that hear the Gospel and decide to reject it are damned. We cannot deduce from this passage, and I stress this most urgently, that those who have never heard the Gospel and who, therefore, have never had the opportunity to either accept or reject it will go to Hell. The Bible simply doesn't substantiate that. On the contrary, here is a passage from Romans 2 that many people miss for some reason. Think about this carefully and prayerfully: For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my Gospel declares. The Bible say that those who have heard the Gospel and accept it will be saved. The Bible does not say that only those who have heard the Gospel and have accepted it will be saved. This deduction has no logical validity and can simply not be made. Furthermore, why would God create us in His image with the faculty of choice and then not provide us with the opportunity to exercise that very faculty which He created to make such an ultimately important choice as the choice between eternal life and eternal damnation? I also find that teaching such a thing could be a real stumbling block to people who are sincerely seeking God and the real truth of things. Would you care to comment about what I've written?


Answer:

There are several major flaws in your reasoning. First, Mark 16:16 which says, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" does not say whether the unrepentant will go to heaven, but we cannot conclude from this passage alone that repentance is unnecessary. You built a case upon what is not there. If you recall your logic courses, you made an implication, but that implication is ambiguous if the foundation of the argument proves to be false. Since you admit that Mark 16:16 doesn't address those who have not heard the gospel, then that admission prevents you from making any conclusion concerning those who have not heard the gospel.

Second, Romans 2:12-16 says "For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." Paul states that everyone will be judged by the gospel, whether they have heard the law or not. God is justified in doing so because people have a fundamental understanding of moral choices. For example, every culture I know believes that the taking of an innocent life is wrong. They might give themselves excuses in various situations, but they demonstrate that they understand the moral wrongness of murder. Hence, what happens when a man commits murder, knowing it is wrong? Can he go to God and say, "You never told me that it was wrong!"? Of course not because his fundamental understanding proves the rightness of the law.

But notice this, Paul did not say that those who did not have the gospel will be saved. He said that they will be judged by the gospel, whether they have it or not. Imagine a person telling a policeman, "I was never told you had to stop at a red light." His argument falls completely apart the first time he stops when the light is red. His action demonstrates that he knew the law. He just wants to play games as to when it is applied. Next, add to this one basic fact: "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and you see the danger of being ignorant of the gospel. Even without the gospel, and only knowing portions of it from basic moral understandings; even then, there isn't a person in the world who has not violated what he knows to be right and wrong. Every person comes up short. Every person has earned condemnation for himself. Thus, while it is theoretically possible for a person to be saved without the gospel, the reality is that no one has been able to do so. Six thousand years of history proves this point.

Third, you did not apply the whole law to your examination. You only considered a small part and decided you understood it all. In II Thessalonians 1:6-9, "It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." There are two classes of people who will face everlasting destruction: those who do not obey the gospel and those who do not know God.

You see, your viewpoint makes teaching the gospel a danger. If a person is saved without knowing the gospel, then the world is better off if every Bible is destroyed. Then no one would be presented with the possibility of hearing the gospel and having the opportunity to reject it. By your teaching, the gospel is a message that condemns men, not saves men. However, the Bible says, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13). From what is a person saved, if they had heaven before hearing the gospel? The gospel saves men when they hear it and believe it because they were lost beforehand.