Can people who live in areas of the world where there are no missionaries, no Bibles, and no mention of the Name of Jesus be saved having never heard the Gospel? The answer is both yes and no, and that is without equivocation.
Let us start with the negative. No one can be saved unless they believe in Jesus Christ as Savior. John 14:6 is the definitive answer to that. The words of Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” If Jesus is the Son of God, and coequal with God, and I have faith that He is, then He can make that statement. In the next verse, in the same breath and thought, He also states, “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:7)
Jesus was speaking to the Twelve Disciples at the Last supper. After that statement, while still doubting, Philip asked Him to show them the Father and that would sufficient for them (John 14:8). Here is Jesus answer: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” (John 14:9-11).
In His reply to Philip, Jesus states undeniably, that He and the Father are equal. The Father is Yahweh, God. How do we know that? The Hebrew word for Father is אָב Ab (pronounced ahb), which is the lexical form, which is not how one personally addresses his own father but how his father is addressed indirectly. An example is “Mr. Smith is John’s father,” or “he is the father of John.” In those cases אָב Ab is used. When a father is personally addressed he is addressed as אַבָּא, Abba (pronounced ah’-bah). That is in the vocative case, which is the way we personally address a father. Examples: “Father, how are you doing today;” or “is this acceptable to you, father?” Abba אַבָּא, is what we call our father when speaking directly to him and ab אָב, is what we call him when talking about him. Abba can also be translated dad, daddy, pop, papa, etc.
We must note here, that there is another vocative use in Hebrew for personally addressing fathers. It is אָבִי, Abbi (pronounced ah’-bee), which can also be translated my father, dad, daddy, pop, papa, etc. That is spoken by Jesus in the of Luke 15:18.
In the New Testament we have three verses that refer to Yahweh God as Abba. In the first verse, Mark 14:36, Jesus, talking to Yahweh God in prayer in Gethsemane just before His trial and crucifixion, calls God, Abba: Jesus said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
Paul, writing about God’s relationship with us, wrote in Romans 8:14-15, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.“
Again, in Galatians 4:4-7, He wrote, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.“
There are several verses in the Old Testament where the Almighty God, Yahweh, is referred to as father. Here are three verses from the Old Testament that refer to Yahweh God as father. Many Bible translators referred to Yahweh God as LORD in all capital letters to avoid blaspheming His name.
Deu 32:6, Moses speaking from the Song of Moses, “Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
1Ch 29:10 The writer wrote, “Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.”
Isa 64:8 Isaiah wrote, “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”
Further proof that Jesus the Messiah was equal with God is found in several verses:
Psa 110:1 “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Isa 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Php 2:6-8 “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Heb 1:1-3 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
All verses taken from the KJV. Emphasis added.
Now that we have Scripturally proven that God is the Father, the First Person of the Triune God (consisting of Three Persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and that Jesus is His equal, let us get back the question and answer. Can people who live in areas of the world where there are no missionaries, no Bibles, and no mention of the Name of Jesus be saved having never heard the Gospel? I answered yes and no. We are currently concerned with the no answer.
In an area of the world where the Gospel is prohibited, such as Islamic, Marxist, some dictator led countries, or in remote and untouched areas, one cannot be saved by believing in their own gods or religions. One still must be saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Without the Gospel, it is impossible to be saved no matter what part of the world one lives in.
There is only One Way to be saved in order to spend eternity in Heaven with God after death. That is by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. Some believe that all religions lead to God. That is a falsehood. No religion can lead anyone to God. Only the Holy Spirit can lead one to God though Jesus Christ. In this way, the answer to our question is no, no one can be saved in an area with no Gospel by believing in their own religion, dogma, government, gods, goddesses, idols, etc. That is impossible. They must believe in Christ.
Remember that I also answered in the affirmative; yes, people can be saved in areas where there is no Gospel. Certainly the possibility exists that a missionary, outreach, or a broadcast service, etc. could reach people in those areas and lead folks to Christ. But we are not discussing that possibility. We are discussing areas where there are no missionaries, outreach, broadcasts, etc., that is, in places the Gospel cannot reach.
Rom 1:19 “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” Paul tells us that we can know that God exists because He has made certain things knowable to us and shows those things to us. We are born with the ability to know God through them. But what things did the Apostle have in mind? He tells us in the next verse:
Rom 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Though God is invisible to us, His Creation, which we clearly see every day of our lives, is evidence that He exists and that He created everything.
We see His handiwork in the myriads of life forms on our earth, in our skies, and in our waters and seas. On a clear night we look up and understand the vastness of the heavens when we observe the stars and the Milky Way Galaxy. We observe the gentle rain as well as the tumultuous storm. We see the beautiful hills and valleys of Creation all around us. We see God’s power in the lightning and in the storm. We hear his power in the thunder and the whistling of the wind. God is completely knowable to us through His creation. We see His power and handiwork in the sub-atomic, microscopic, and normal worlds, and in the entire universe. If this is true, and it is, then how can we observe creation without knowing the God exists? I don’t believe we can unless we make a conscious decision not to see Him in it. The Lyrics of the Song, “How Great Thou Art1” are quite fitting:
Oh Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout The universe displayed.
In the Scriptures quoted above, God tells us that he has given us evidence of His existence and has given us the ability to understand through our observance that He exists. Thus we are without excuse whether we live in a Christian nation or in an area of the world where there is no proclamation of the Gospel.
The Word tells us in Psa 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” In other words God owns the earth in everything in it. It also tells that if we seek Him, we will find Him: Isa 55:6 “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” We should seek him when He may be found: Deu 4:29 “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” When may he be found? When one realizes through His creation that He exists.
There is evidence of conversions in places where there is no Gospel spoken. Many are coming to Christ in countries were the Gospel is not always known to most of the populations. People in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, etc. are coming to Christ. In the old Soviet Union where the Gospel was outlawed, people came to Christ. Certainly most of them may have been exposed to the Gospel, but not all. Some are finding Christ through general revelation. The Bible is very specific that in you seek God you will find Him. He will make it possible for anyone that seeks Him because of general revelation, that is, because of what they see in God’s creation. Others are coming to Christ because of specific revelation where someone once planted a seed in the heart of a nonbeliever.
There is evidence that many are dreaming dreams and seeing visions that lead them to seek Christ as prophesied in Joel 2:28. Again, if they seek Him they will find Him. He will make a way.
Joel chapter two is all about the Day of the Lord. In this context, the word day means in indefinite period of time. The Day of the Lord commences with signs such as the labor pains Christ spoke about in the Olivet Discourse. (Mat 24:4-14; Mark 13:5-13; Luke 21:10-19) The day of the Lord ends with the new heavens and new earth (Rev 21:1).
There is testimony that men and women in countries where the Gospel is banned are seeing visions and dreaming dreams that point them to Christ. While there are those who would dispute this, there are some compelling testimonies of men and women that have been saved because of these dreams and visions. Undoubtedly, there are some of these testimonies do not stand in the light of Scripture, but there are many that do. Several videos of these testimonies are available at: http://www.muslimtestimony.com/. (Please note that hyperlinks outside of this website may alter over time).
Most of the people giving these testimonies were already seeking God in some way. Some just doubted the Quran, others had had some contact with Christians, others were seeking God through general revelation, while some were able to secure a Bible and read it. There are some who never even gave any thought to the real Jesus. They were taught that Isa, the Muslim name for Jesus, was not God’s son, nor was He God; so they could not believe in a Jesus that was God’s son or was equal to God. Yet, after the vision they sought the real Jesus and found Him.
To summarize. No one in any country or culture can be saved by their religions, their gods, idols, leaders, governments, their good works, etc. The only path to salvation is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. One must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He was born of a virgin, grew as a man, never sinned, died on the cross as a sacrifice in our place, was raised on the third day and today sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for our sins.
There are many people locked in regions that do not allow the Gospel to be preached, where there are no Christians, no missionaries, no Christian broadcasts, no Christian outreach, no Bibles, and no mention of Christ whatever exists. Yet even in such places seemingly locked away from Christianity, people are coming to Christ and believing in Him as their Savior. Let us praise God for that; let us pray for those places and the people in them and let us continue to make attempts to reach people in those places so that we can tell them the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).
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