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We often find it difficult to believe that some people have never heard of Jesus or his gospel that saves. Perhaps we have never met some who hasn’t. In reality, some people live many years or their entire life without hearing the true gospel–though they may have heard of Jesus.
We typically think of unbelievers as those who hear the gospel and blatantly deny and reject God. Although it’s true that all unbelievers reject God, it’s not true that this rejection always comes from hearing the proclamation of the gospel and therefore responding in unbelief.
The problem lies in every human’s conscience. Romans 1:19 says God manifests himself to all, and they suppress it. Yet they must hear the gospel to have faith to believe. This brings us to the question: Do people who have never heard the gospel go to hell?
Consider this verse as you examine the following resources:
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV)
Rick Smith and Todd Wagner
We all want everyone to be saved–especially when we have a lost family member or friend. Even God desires all people to be saved (Eze 18:23; Matt 23:37; 1 Tim 2:4), but will everyone be saved in the end? Will the Muslim, Buddhist, and atheist enter eternal life? Will the one who has never heard the gospel be saved? What about babies or those with disabilities? These are a few of the questions we will help answer in the first three sections of this course.
Michael Patton and Tim Berg
Terms such as sin and repentance get tossed around with a variety of meanings. Understanding these two terms, however, is crucial to salvation. We must understand what sin is, how we are sinners by nature, who we sin against, and the consequences of it. Only then can we turn from it–or repent–and turn to God in full faith and desired obedience.
When God grants us salvation according to his grace, we respond with faith and repentance. Other terms such as justification, sanctification, and regeneration (being born again) often confuse Christians, too. God does this work and will be faithful to do it even if we do not know such theological terms and their meanings. When we grasp them though, it brings more hope and purpose to the Christian life, and we go deeper into the gospel and our God who has saved and changed us. It displays much of God’s character and love towards us which causes us to praise and glorify him more. Therefore, let’s ask God for wisdom as we seek to understand.
The following videos will help answer what each of these terms mean.
There’s not a one and only way to share the gospel. There are, however, essential truths that cannot be left out for someone to hear it and respond in faith and repentance. Additions to the gospel can thwart the central message as well.
Below is a collection of resources on what makes up the gospel of Jesus Christ, what can’t be left out, and what can’t be added.
D. A. Carson
The phrase “all sins are equal” tosses around a lot, but is it true? Yes it’s true if we break one of God’s commandments, then we break them all (James 2:10). Therefore, we must pay the punishment for our sin where the wages of sin is death and eternal destruction (Rom. 6:23). The Bible, however, shows God hating certain sins more than others. He distinctly calls some abominations. Thus, all sins are not equal from God’s perspective.
Does this mean there’s different degrees of punishment?
The Bible doesn’t implicitly tell us the destiny of babies and those with disabilities after they die. Many people lose their babies and agonize over this unsurety. The same feeling happens when parents lose a child with special needs. If we look, however, to God’s consistent character throughout Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, we can come to a conclusion.
The resources below help us when considering this question.
“Jesus surprised people (in Mark 2) when some friends brought their paralyzed friend for healing. The first thing Jesus did was to forgive the man’s sins. They thought his greatest need was healing, not forgiveness. But Jesus knew his deeper, eternal need. Likewise, no matter what a person’s state, if they are able to understand, the most profound and crucial need is for a person with disabilities to be made right with God by understanding he or she is a sinner in need of God’s forgiving grace in Christ.” (Michael S. Beates, “Disabilities and the Gospel: An Interview with Michael S. Beates”)
On the night before his death, Jesus broke bread and poured wine for his disciples and told them, “Take, eat; this is my body” and “Drink, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant” (Matt. 26:26–29). A few weeks later, a resurrected Jesus instructed these same disciples to scatter abroad making disciples and “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
For centuries since, believers from diverse denominations have observed the rituals of baptism and the Lord’s Supper first instituted by Christ and established by his apostles. However, a variety of practices and beliefs exist throughout such denominations. Thus, how do we make sense of their meaning and their importance? What are they and what are they not? Are they necessary for salvation? Or are they responses to our salvation?
R. Kent Hughes
J. I. Packer
D. A. Carson