When God picked the few people to be his followers, do we know how he did
that? And the people who live in a place where there is no possible way to
convert into Christianity, are they guaranteed to go to hell? If he loves
all his children equally, shouldn’t he give them all an equal chance to
get to heaven?

I am not sure what you refer to as “the few to be his followers,” so feel
free to send a clarified follow-up question for me to answer. Let me
attempt to answer the second and third part of your question.

You bring up one of the most difficult of questions concerning the nature
of God. It involves elements of the sovereignty of God as well as the free
will of man. On the one hand one finds in 1 Timothy 2:3,4 that “This is
good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come
to a knowledge of the truth.” The idea that God loves all people equally
seems clear from the overall tone of the Bible. Yet, it is difficult to
deny that certain people appear to have a better chance for salvation than
others, based on the situation they are born into. God would obviously
prefer that all people grow up in a Christian home with ample opportunity
to hear the Word of God from infancy, as did Timothy. However, due to the
sin in this world, this ideal is extremely far from reality. Many grow up
in circumstances which are so desperate due to poverty, neglect, abuse and
so forth it seems impossible for them to even be able to consider giving
their lives to Jesus Christ. As you imply, some are not even exposed to
the teachings of Jesus, although within the past few generations, those
who go to their grave not even hearing of Jesus has become a small

How is one to justify the stated desire of an all-powerful God to give
everyone an opportunity to be saved with the conditions of this world? The
answer (or at least part of the answer) is that God has chosen to give his
creation free will. God, in his love, has chosen to create people with a
choice either to serve him or to serve themselves or even false gods of
their own creation. Joshua appears to speak for God when he asked the
people to “choose this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)
Unfortunately, as Jesus himself predicted in Matthew 7:13, only a
relatively few will choose life with God over following the desires of
this world. It is not hard to predict the result of this free choice of
men and women to reject God’s calling. Because of their rejection of God,
much sin, poverty, neglect, abuse and the like have entered the world.
Because of their refusal to listen to God’s word, some in this world do
not even have direct access to the truth about God in the Bible.

One might ask, “so what is this all-powerful, all-knowing God doing about
this problem?” The answer is that God is doing whatever he can, through
the Holy Spirit, through the efforts of the few who do acknowledge his
name, through circumstances to bring as many as possible to repentance and
to a relationship with Him. However, it would appear that God does not
force our hand. He does not force people to believe. For reasons of his
own choosing, he does not speak to us out of the sky, telling us to obey.
He is not in the habit of manipulating our consciences through performing
miracles on a daily basis.

You ask a second specific question. Are people who will go to their death
without ever hearing of Jesus doomed to hell, simply because God allowed
them to be born into a situation in which they never had opportunity to
repent? Peter himself said that “there is no other name under heaven given
to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Apparently, outside of
Jesus, no one will be saved during this lifetime. Does this automatically
mean that there is absolutely zero chance of going to heaven for anyone
who does not repent and get baptized into Christ? Is there any possibility
of a person somehow squeaking by into heaven despite not having been saved
by the blood of Christ during their lifetime? We know that Moses will make
it to heaven. Jesus told the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43) that he would
be with him in paradise. Romans 2:14-16 seems to leave open the
possibility that those who literally never even have an opportunity to
hear the the message, but who nevertheless “do by nature things required
by the law,” will be judged based on their conscience. This appears to
leave open the possibility that on judgment day, God may very well choose
to admit some who strictly adhered to the best understanding of God they
were exposed to. We would do well to leave such matters in God’s hands as
he is ultimately the judge of us all. The fact is that anyone reading this
letter clearly knows enough about Jesus Christ to have ample opportunity
to repent and turn to Jesus. The fact remains that the only way in this
life to have confidence of where we stand before God is through submitting
in faith to Jesus Christ.

In the final analysis, God has chosen to give his creation freedom of will
to serve him or not. Would we want him to take this free choice away? I
think not. Either way, in the end God is who he is. He is a God both of
justice on those who rebel against him and of love and grace on those who
turn back from their evil ways and return to him. I pray that you will,
along with Joshua, say “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

John Oakes, PhD

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