What about tribes in Africa who have never even heard of Jesus? Are they destined for hell?
Originally posted 12/7/2004 on bibleforums.org:
God has revealed Himself to everyone through nature (Romans 1). Now, you may think that’s pretty limited revelation, but I don’t think it’s so important exactly what or how much God reveals about Himself; it’s how you respond to whatever revelation He provides that is important.
See Acts 17:26-27: “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
Also see Deut 4:29, Prov 8:17, Jer 29:13, Matt 7:7, and Luke 11:19, which all tell us that those who seek God will find Him. Someone who has never heard the gospel may not know who it is they are seeking, but if they respond to the little that God reveals to them, He will continue to reveal more of Himself.
We like to draw lines and put things in boxes, and make sure everybody in the world fits into category A, B, or C. Even if we get the categories right, who’s to say we got the boundaries right? I believe that there are boundaries, and God knows where they are, but it’s not that important for me to know where they are (when it comes to someone else’s salvation).
Originally posted 3/15/2005 on bibleforums.org:
If a Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, etc. recognizes their sin against God, repents of their sin, and has faith that God will provide atonement for their sin, they can be saved. Do they have to know about Jesus in order for His atonement to be effectual? I don’t know; people in the OT didn’t know about Him specifically. Did Noah know that a Messiah was going to come? However, if someone rejects God (or Jesus, who is God) and chooses to follow a man-made version of God, they will not be saved.