Will people who have never heard of God/Christianity be saved in the end?
Like for example African tribes or monks in the mountains of China, people
who’ve never even heard of the name God?

This is the classic question I have heard dozens of times. The other one
is “what about someone who wants to be baptized, but there is no water for
hundreds of miles, and he dies on the way to the water. Will he be saved?”
My experience is that most who ask this question actually have another
question hidden beneath, as this is a smoke screen for someone who is
looking for an excuse to not obey the gospel. I am sure this is not the
case with you!

Let me assume you are not just putting up a smoke screen for your lack of
willingness to simply respond to the gospel and do what Jesus said to do.
Let me assume that you are seriously wondering about some sort of
theoretical person in some sort of theoretical situation. Acts 4:12 is not
a popular teaching. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no
other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Jesus did
not win a lot of friends when he boldly declared in John 14:6 “I am the
way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through
me.” Go ahead and read the context for these verses. The New Testament
teaches with crystal clarity that Jesus Christ is the only way for people
in the world to be saved. Is being religious enough to be saved? No! “I do
not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained
through the law Christ died for nothing!” (Gal 2:21) Is sincerity, even
deep sincerity enough to get one to heaven? No! “There is no difference,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Nevertheless, in the end, the question is still a good one. Could God make
an exception? Could God choose, in his sovereign will, to allow a person
who never heard of Jesus but who nevertheless totally dedicated themselves
heart and soul to doing everything that their God-given conscience told
them to do? I suppose in this hypothetical case, the hypothetical answer
is yes. God will do what he will do. He is the Judge of us all in the end.
However, our job is, through faith, to do what God has told us to do in
his Word. The mere fact that you are asking this question means that the
question does not apply to you. You know about Jesus. If you do not accept
him as Lord, what chance will you have before God on Judgement Day? In
fact, the percentage of people alive today who are completely unaware of
Jesus Christ is becoming vanishingly small. Your job is to obey the gospel
and to preach the gospel to those who are lost. You will probably never in
your entire life meet one of these “monks in the mountains of China” who
have never heard of Jesus. You should assume that every person with whom
you come into contact is well aware of Jesus, and must therefore repent
and turn to him, for “there is no other name under heaven given to men by
which we must be saved.”


John Oakes, PhD

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