Monday, July 16, 2012

The Problem of Hell and Those Who Never Heard About Jesus / The Gospel

This is one of the most frequently asked questions concerning salvation and there are several factors one must understand in order to fully appreciate the biblical answer. 

1) The first hindrance is the idea that we are born morally neutral, akin to a “tabula rasa,” but this is completely wrong. In reality, we are born sinful and are hence deserve the appropriate outcome for being sinners. The Bible is clear in saying that even from conception were are sinful:

Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me.“

and to make matters worse, we even inherited sin from our forefather Adam:

Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”

2) The second idea that people have a hard time grasping is the idea of fairness. The main argument of why it is wrong for God to send people who never had a chance to hear about Jesus to hell is that it is “not fair.” Now, as we just learned, God is actually being fair because we are born into corruption and furthermore everyone has sinned:

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

If everyone is born sinful and (even if they weren’t) all have sinned, God has not been unfair to anyone, but justly gives what is deserved. The only “unfair” thing God has done is that He actually let’s anyone go to heaven in the first place, because none of us deserve it!

3) The third issue is that people say they never had a chance to know about God, but in fact the Bible makes clear that this is absolutely false. See what Paul says in the book of Romans:

Romans 1:20  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

See what is being said here? There is absolutely no excuse for not knowing God. In fact, even God’s invisible attributes can be seen from creation!

4) Finally, it is a commonly held fallacy that people just go to hell for not believing in the Gospel. No one can go to heaven without accepting the Gospel, but this is different from saying the sole reason people go to hell is that they do not believe the Gospel. The reason anyone goes to hell is because of their sins. One of those sins may be that you have rejected and thus do not believe the Gospel that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, however it is not the only sin for which one is sentenced to hell. The man who has genuinely never heard the Gospel, he will not be held guilty for rejecting the Gospel, but will nonetheless be guilty for the other sins he has committed.

In conclusion,

For the one who has never heard the Gospel:

1) In his innermost and in the totality of his being his is sinful from birth.

2) He has committed thousands, if not millions, of sins that any good judge must justly punish.

3) He has absolutely no excuse about not knowing about God’s attributes, power, or nature and is responsible for sinning despite having that knowledge.

4) Rejecting the Gospel will not be held against him, but he is still culpable for all his other sins.

Emotionally, this may at first be unsatisfying, but the truth and logic of it is sound and in accordance with the truth God has shown us. Remember that God did send His only Son to die on our behalf and that we can receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal life for free! This truth, once understood and accepted, brings more emotional and intellectual satisfaction than anything else can in the whole world.


wakawakwaka said... you claimed the early church fahters all taught faith alone..please take a look

The Predestined Blog said...

@ wakawakwaka

The reformers language and hence protestant language since that time, delves deep into the ins and outs of forensic justification due to Roman Catholicism's different understanding. As such, you will not find the fine nuances in the early church father's b/c that was not an issue. HOWEVER, the question is "Do the early church father's support salvation by faith alone apart from works" and the answer to that question is an emphatic YES. You have even quoted multiple statements on your own blog that shows nothing less. The evidence you bring against this idea is about the place of works that I don't entirely disagree with. Remember, the knife cuts both ways, if NONE of these quotes deal with forensic justification by faith alone then none of them deal with the forensic declaration of justification by faith and works. This quotes do talk about the fact that works have a very important place in the Christian's life, mainly that it is the true manifestation of one's faith. You stated that the language of Luther, Calvin, and the Reformer's are not their for our view justification, but on the same note it is not there for yours either (as I said this was not an issue at that time). Again, it is apparent; however, that the idea that salvation is a product of faith alone is clearly in their writings. Whether you feel their other writings dispute this is another question, nonetheless, the idea of justification by faith alone is clearly seen in the church fathers.

The Predestined Blog said...

@ wakawakwaka

Here are some additional references on the early church father's and sola fide





Chad Pritchard said...

Well stated blog.

Anonymous said...

your sources contradict each other

"A clear line of development of this doctrine from the Apostles to Martin Luther simply does not exit"

The Predestined Blog said...

Not sure what you mean by my sources contradicting. The link you have is interesting reading. Thank you for reading the blog. It has been idle for a long time. God bless.

stanislav setsurinvich said...

One said Augustine taught evanglical ideas of salvation the other one said he did not. One said there is no clear line between Martin Luther and the apostles in terms of sola fide while the other one said ancient Christian believed in faith alone as according to protestant evangelicals

stanislav setsurinvich said...

In short the source from RTS said the ancient Christians don't believe in sola fide but cripplegate said they do

The Predestined Blog said...

This is a big topic with lots of twists and turns. My comment above does state that there is some confusion and that the early church fathers were not having the forensic justification debate, so they have some apparent conflicting launguage and doctrines. What is clear is that there seems to be clear evidence in favor of forensic justification. Good reading for all of us to dive into. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Well people one source claims teaches forensic justification is denied by another. So I don't see that as "clear" evidence but maybe you do its okay

The Predestined Blog said...

There surely is tension between forensic justification and works+faith approach no doubt. Please don't mistake me for "one sourcing" claims. I understand there is confusion in the early church. Some of the same people seem to confirm both sola fide and a works based approach cf Augustine. The real question is how do protestants deal with the works based component and how do Roman Catholics deal with the sola fide statements? It is difficult for both sides. The point I am simply making is that the ideas of forensic justification are there even if they are contradicted by the same author. The statement often comes up that the church fathers did not teach forensic justification that is simply not true. This is not to say they taught exclusively forensic justification.