WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD? 

This question seems to presume that not everyone has heard, seen and understood enough about God to respond positively to His revelation. Scripture, however, indicates otherwise. In Romans 1:16-2:16 for instance, the apostle Paul declares that the powerful gospel appeal has been sent first to the Jew and then the Gentile (1:16). He then goes on to explain that those who continue to suppress the truth in unrighteousness will be given over to their defiled minds and cut off from further light of God’s gracious truth (1:24-26). (See also Psalm 19)

In other words, those who continually suppress the truth by “trading it in for lies” will grow more and more calloused. Eventually their consciences will become seared, their hearts hardened, and they may no longer be able to see, hear, understand and turn to God for healing (see also Acts 28:23-28). 

On the other hand, if one acknowledges the truth revealed about God through His general light of revelation (nature, conscience, etc), He is faithful to bring them more light. Those who are faithful with a little will be given more (Luke 16:10; also see the story of Cornelius in Acts 10).

Because everyone has a sufficient amount of light to see and believe in Him so as to receive more light, no one has an excuse for unbelief. As Paul explained it:

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” -Romans‬ ‭1:20‬ 

Those who respond in faith to the general light of God’s common revelation will be entrusted with more light. 

“Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” -Matthew‬ ‭13:12‬ 

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much…” -Luke 16:10

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” -‭Titus‬ ‭2:11‬ 

“That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” -John 1:9

COMMON OBJECTION

At this point many ask if I believe general revelation (nature/conscience) is sufficient to save. 

No, but neither is special revelation (scripture/gospel proclamation). 

Revelation is only sufficient to accomplish what the Bible says it was meant to accomplish. General revelation was sent so that all may acknowledge God as God, whereas special revelation was sent so that all may believe in Christ for eternal life (John 20:31). 

The light of revelation is sent so all may see, know and understand truth. It’s mankind’s responsibility to acknowledge and put their trust in that truth, which all people are freely able to do until they have grown calloused and blinded by their own rebellion. 

No one is saved by revelation. We are saved by grace through faith which comes through the revelation of the word (Rom 10:17-18). God is faithful to bring His word to all who acknowledge Him as God through the light they have been given. 
————–

* Dr. John MacArthur, in his message covering Romans 2:11-16 (mp3 45-20b), gives a summary of those who did not have the written law and have not heard the gospel:

Creation, conduct, conscience, contemplation, what they do, how they deal with the good and bad in their own life and how they deal with it in the lives of others indicates that they know the law of God as written in them. 

Now, here is the most important thing I’ve said yet. The sum of it is this: If they live up to that much light, and they accept that much light, God will reveal to them the full light of Jesus Christ.

I believe that with all my heart. You see, that’s what it says in Acts 17, “He is not far from us if we would feel after Him.” You see? If they would just take what they have and accept that. John 7:17 – mark it down. “If any man wills to do My Father’s Will, he shall know of the teaching.” If the willing heart is there, he’ll know. ” – John MacArthur

*Answers to common questions and objections are answered in the article HERE.

8 thoughts on “WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD? 

  1. It is interesting that in this post you mentioned that there are those who “contine to suppress the truth.” That’s two active verbs implying that they are knowingly doing it, as if they had a choice. If in fact they were so dead they wouldn’t be suppressing it or seeing it, they just are dead.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, it is interesting to discover that in the Scriptures, they describe sin as being universally “unhealthy” for all mankind, but all are not described the same way. Some have become harden to the point that there is nothing left to do. Even my wife showed me that God was generally waiting in the Old Testament for whole countries to “fill the cup of their sins” before he would judge them, before there was nothing left to do.

    So describing people too much the same way “they are dead anyway” is not useful and does not represent well what the Scriptures shows about depravity.

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  3. Dr. Flowers, I was recently listening to your Youtube presentation “Does God Make a Sinner sin? Response to James White’s Calvinistic Compatibilism”

    Concerning Jame’s White’s “greater-good” argument;
    “If God did not specifically determine/decree the violent rape of a specific child, at a specified time, then that girl’s violent rape would be meaningless”. I believe this argument is shown to be superfluous by Dr. Alvin Plantinga’s internationally recognized work “The Free Will Defense”.

    Plantinga likewise asserts a “greater-good” argument – which differs in that it presupposes a libertarian, incompatibilist view of free will. Plantinga’s argument, is that god “allows” sin and evil for the greater good and libertarian free will is part of that greater-good.

    If Platinga’s argument succeeds, and many believe it does, then White’s assertion that god must determine and “render certain” the violent rape of a child in order for that rape to have meaning is unnecessary, because God can just as easily “allow” that event to occur (in a libertarian sense), and still successfully accomplish the greater good.

    In the light of this, it should be evident that White to loosely defines his argument. Namely his argument is that DETERMIINISM is necessary for god, in order for events concerning his creation to have meaning. This argument seems to imply that god is either not capable of – or desirous of – creating a world that has meaning without determinism.

    Knowing Plantinga’s internationally recognized caliber in philosophy of religion, and epistemology, one could easily surmise Platinga must have considered the “greater-good” argument based upon determinism, and rejected it.

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  4. UNDERSTANDING CALVINISM’S CONCEPTION OF HUMAN CHOICE:

    Calvinism’s conception of human choice is most accurately described as a choice of alternative illusions.

    Peter Van Inwagen uses the example of a man standing in a fork in the road, ready to make a choice about which fork he will go.
    One fork is labeled [A], the other is [not A].

    In Open Theism, God makes both [A] and [not A] exist as REAL alternative possibilities, leaving both possibilities *OPEN* to the man to decide.

    In Theological Determinism (Calvinism), God did not leave both possibilities *OPEN* but had eternally immutably determined in advance
    which possibility [A] or [not A] will be granted REAL EXISTENCE.

    He did not grant both of them to have real existence. He granted only one of them to have real existence.
    The other, he granted/created to exist as a human illusion.

    Where he predestined the man choose [A], then he granted/created [A] having real existence.
    And [not A] he granted/created as an illusion.

    Hence, for every event, which comes to pass, Theological Determinism allows for only one single unique predestined future as possible – to exist as real. And all alternative possibilities exist only as human illusions.

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  5. What y’all are leaving out (and probably never heard of) is the EVERLASTING GOSPEL, Rev 14:6, Ro 1:18-20. It says that if a man acknowledges the God that reveals Himself from heaven or in creation, worships Him, and thanks Him and/OR has not knowingly sinned against Him .. that man is judged “just” according to INNOCENCE. Cornelius (as someone has pointed out) and Job are perfect examples of this gospel applied. In Job 1, Job had a relationship with God .. in Job 7:20-21, Job realized that he was a sinner and LOST .. in Job 33:23-32, God sends a messenger (Elihu) with the gospel of salvation .. and in Job 42:5-6, 10, Job repents to God and God gives him a new life. Job 33:29-30 says that God does this “ofttimes with men to bring back his soul from the pit and to be enlightened with the light of the living.”

    Do you not know that children are “SAFE,” hedged around, justified before God on account of innocence? That God gives them parents to guard their innocence as they “dedicate” their children in the church to the Lord? That these children are “elect” (but not saved) in that they are born into the “church?”

    The church, especially Calvinism, has missed this beautiful truth — that infants are already destined for heaven and it is sin that they commit later in life that condemns them.

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  6. The question – What about those who have never heard – is a non-question according to Paul. Rom 10:18 – “But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” The context is the gospel – 10:16, and the quote is about general revelation, from Ps 19:3.

    God gives all sufficient light to enable man to seek His mercy, to believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). If they seek they will find. But I also believe, but not dogmatically, that there is sufficient information in creation and conscience that God at special moments makes plain in a person (Rom 1:19, 2:16) which enables them to call out for mercy in prayer, humbly trusting God for His forgiveness (Luke 18:13-14). When they do… they are justified in His sight and given everlasting life.

    They need not know the historical information that makes that mercy possible… just childlike humility and faith in their creator’s mercy. I don’t hold to this view dogmatically. But at the moment I believe it makes the most sense of biblical information, to help answer that age old non-question. 😉

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    1. Hello Brian,

      I basically hold the same position,especially your second paragraph.

      Two little disagreements though. I would not label this as a non-question, because so many sincerely ask this question. Recently I saw Aron Rogers quarterback of the Packers being interviewed he said his parents were born again christians and he asked this question in the church he was at not getting good answer causing him to drift away.

      Second Romans 9-11 as a section is dealing with the specific issue of why Paul’s contemporary Jews were not believing the gospel he was proclaming. So when Paul is talking about how they had heard he is not talking about gentile unbelief but specifically Jewish unbelief. He is not talking about the issue of all having heard.

      In addition to your excellent points in paragraph two I would add that the Lord says he desires the salvation of all and He is merciful. So I believe he knows peoples circumstances and so he will make salvation possible at some point in their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Robert for the input. I probably was being a little too confrontation when I used the words “non-question”. That’s so unlike me… 😉 What I meant was that Paul addressed that specific question and then answered it, making it a non-question once you know that he did so.

        And I think the context is clearly both Jews and Gentiles (vs 12) and that those who cannot hear without a preacher (vs 14) that Paul rhetorically mentions are in both groups. But especially since he quotes from Ps 19:3 and its pointing to general revelation in 10:18, I believe he was talking about all Gentiles also, for general revelation is not just for Jews, to lead them to repentance (Acts 17:26-30, Rom 2:4).

        Thanks again. We are on the same page when it comes to believing God sufficiently draws all to freely seek Him.

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