Have you ever thought of what will happen to those who have lived and died without knowing the Gospel? Are they forever condemned? Will they burn forever in the gruesome lake of fire? Or will they still be saved through God’s grace even though they never repented of their sins?
These are just some of the questions that have boggled the minds of many theologians and biblical scholars. But sad to say, they have arrived at the wrong conclusion.
In this blog, let us take a look at what the Bible really say about those who have not heard of the Gospel.
Different Problematic Beliefs among Christians
If you have asked yourself about the fate of those who haven’t heard of the Gospel and truth of God, you might have found differing and most often conflicting answers.
For the majority of Christians, they believe that unless you accept Christ as your Savior, you will never be part of His Kingdom and you are in danger of the lake of fire. Does this belief sound fair? What if you were born thousands of years ago on a remote island and all you heard were the superstitious beliefs of your ancestors? Will God hold you accountable for the things that are not within your control? Will God punish you for being born in the wrong place and at the wrong time? Will God toss you in the ever-burning lake of fire because you haven’t heard of Him?
Certainly, there’s something wrong with this belief. God is the God of mercy, love, and justice. He will not punish anyone who hasn’t heard of the Gospel simply because they didn’t have the chance to learn about God’s way.
Another belief is that God will save EVERYONE no matter what they believe. After all, the most favorite verse of the Bible tells us, “God so loved the world.” So in the minds of these Christians, they believe that God will ultimately save every single soul on this earth. They assume that salvation is possible apart from God’s special revelation and calling.
However, if this is the case, God would be UNFAIR. If God will save everyone, including the unrepentant or those who live their lives without knowing God, then why should Christians try hard in doing good works? Why not just live a life of revelry, carousing, and sinfulness? After all, whether we heard of God or not and whether we believe in Him or not, we will be saved?
Obviously, this thinking is also incorrect, and sadly, it has crept into the minds of thousands of Christians. In this point in time, we need to examine what the Bible actually says about this topic.
The First Resurrection
Not known to many Christians today, there is more than one resurrection. We read in Revelation 20:6:
“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
Here’s an astounding TRUTH hidden to most Christians today! Knowing this truth will unlock the magnificent understanding of God’s plan of salvation. Thus, it is a must that you gain a deeper appreciation of this truth that is about to be revealed to you.
The first resurrection includes those who will be saved during this lifetime, and this will happen during the Seventh Blowing of Trumpet. The Apostle Paul talks about this first resurrection:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51-52).
From this passage, we can see that those who are called, chosen, and faithful of God will be raised first from the grave (Revelation 17:14). They are the ones who have endured unto the end, who have not given up (Acts 14:22).
Contrary to popular belief, there will only be a few people who will be part of this first resurrection. Christ Himself said that only a FEW will find the narrow road that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14). Throughout the history, the true Church has only been a small persecuted group (Luke 12:32). In fact, Satan is the current god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4) and has deceived the WHOLE world (Revelation 12:9).
Thus, at the first coming of Christ, there will have only a handful of saints who have endured until the end (Revelation 14:1-5). These saints will be resurrected during the first resurrection.
This leads us to the next question, “If there’s a first resurrection, then will there be a second resurrection? If yes, who will be part of the second resurrection?”
“Rest of the dead”
So what will happen to those who were not included in the first resurrection? Revelation 20:5 tells us:
“But the REST OF THE DEAD did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”
After Christ 2nd coming, He will reign on this earth together with His saints for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). After the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, then the “rest of the dead” will be resurrected! This is the second resurrection! The second resurrection will happen after the millennial reign of Christ.
Who are the rest of the dead? They are the ones who have NEVER HEARD of the truth, the ones who have not heard of the Gospel, and the ones who didn’t know the REAL Christ of the Bible. For the first time, the truth of the Gospel shall be revealed unto them, and they will be taught by God’s way of life.
Ezekiel 37:1-12 graphically and vividly depicts how the rest of the dead will be resurrected. Jesus Christ talked about the people who have not known the truth. He talked about the Queen of Sheba and the inhabitants of Nineveh, Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon given the chance to obtain salvation (Matthew 11:21-24, 12:41-42).
From the time of Adam and Eve, everyone will be given their chance. God is just and merciful that He will extend salvation to all and the Bible indicates that most of those who will be resurrected in the second resurrection are repentant.
This is the truth about those people who have lived and died never having the opportunity to learn God’s truth: they will be resurrected in the future and be given the opportunity that they never had. God is both the God of mercy and justice. His main objective is to save all of the humanity. But He will not force His way of life to the incorrigibly wicked and unrepentant sinners.
However, we must strive to be part of the first resurrection for there is a greater reward (Revelation 20:6). If we are called now, we must strive hard to be in God’s kingdom where we will be given the opportunity to extend God’s salvation to the rest of humanity.