What happens when the unevangelized die

19 Mar 2024

Whenever I speak at Lesson 9 of Perspectives, there are people - including myself - who have challenges with the idea of what happens when the unevangelized die.

I have asked the same question of a few others over the course of my life, and read a few books that touched on the subject. The responses range from “no human is without excuse and none are worthy of heaven; apart from Jesus none are saved” to “God gives everyone an opportunity in some way” to universalism–everyone ends up in Heaven.

I firmly believe that “there is no other name by which man must be saved” - but I also balance this with the understanding that the unevangelized have never heard of Jesus, and had no chance to either accept or reject him. I look up to the heavens and ask, with Abraham, “Will not the judge of all the earth do what is right?”

I think the reality is that there are many things we don’t definitively know. I have to acknowledge that. We can be informed by Scripture and we can theorize about a great many things but we don’t know.

That doesn’t mean we are impassionate about the state of the lost. There’s enough to suggest that lost humans are forever apart from God. If we follow the heart of God and become more and more like Christ then we, too, will be “seeking to save the lost” and “going after the 1”. (Not that we can save anyone, of course, but we should be passionately seeking to be used by God in the process.)

The ideas of “unevangelized” and “unreached” are really less about “who gets to go to Heaven” - as if we, by our actions, could keep some people out - and more about whether we have been obedient to the command that Christ gave his church.

We have to do the job that God has called us to do, and let him be responsible for the fruit.