What About Those Who Never Hear the Gospel?

Everybody responds to God’s love and grace, one way or another. But what about those who die before they get a chance to respond?

To pick an extreme example, what about those Palestinian children who perished last week and who presumably never heard the gospel, never heard that God loves them, and never heard about Jesus?

What about Israeli children who have been killed by suicide bombers?

And what about the children caught up in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan?

What happens to them?

In a recent article I asked the question, “What happens to babies who die?” It should be a simple question, but religion makes it complicated.

Religion says it depends on original sin, the age of accountability, being judged in the light of current revelation, and so on. Grace simply says it depends on Jesus.

Religion: “Babies are hell-bound brats”
Grace: “Babies are treasures from heaven”

In that article I gave three reasons why babies go to be with the Lord. (1) Because of the cross, no one is condemned on account of sin, (2) babies are not unbelievers, evildoers, or workers of iniquity, and (3) grace is for the helpless, and there is no one more helpless than a baby.

In this article I want to give you a fourth reason why babies and children who die go to be with Jesus. Here it is: Those who can’t take the test, can’t fail the test. Allow me to explain.

The gospel test

The gospel has traditionally been portrayed as a kind of admissions test, as in, return the right answer and you’ll gain entrance into the kingdom. (What is the right answer? For some it’s raising your hand, coming forward, repeating a prayer, getting water baptized, joining a church, etc.)

The implication is that if you don’t take the test – if you return a blank test sheet – you won’t get in.

Let’s think about that for a minute. What happens to those who are unable to take the “gospel test”?

I worked in academia for 20+ years and I sat on countless exam boards. In all that time I can’t recall ever failing a student who was incapable of taking a test.

If someone didn’t show up for an exam, perhaps because of illness or a family crisis, we gave them another chance. And if they couldn’t take the retest, we bent over backwards to help them pass. I can recall spending hours on panels looking for excuses to pass students who, for legitimate reasons beyond their control, weren’t able to sit a test.

And we think God is less gracious than a college exam board?! What’s wrong with that picture?

Bad news from Timbuktu

How would you react if the University of Timbuktu sent you the following letter:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Our records show that you did not attend the exam on Monday. Consequently you have been given an F for this course. This failing grade will go on your permanent record which will be made available to prospective employers.

If you got this letter, you’d wonder, Who are these people? and What is this exam I’m supposed to have taken? You would probably think somebody was playing a joke on you and you’d laugh. You’d show the letter to your friends and they’d laugh too.

So why isn’t anybody laughing when religion sends the same message about those who’ve never heard the gospel?

Religion: Those who can’t take the test, fail the test.
Common sense: Those who can’t take the test, can’t fail the test.
Grace: Jesus passed the test for you!

Religion is not only ungracious, it’s unjust for it would condemn the innocent and helpless. Grace, in contrast, says “the kingdom is for such as these.”

To be fair, many theologians are like the university exam board; they are looking for excuses to pass those whom religion condemns. Their brains are saying one thing, but their hearts are saying another. Unhappily, the result is confusion and uncertainty. Grieving parents are given mixed messages and are left wondering what has happened to their deceased children.

Eternity in their hearts


The Bible says the heavens declare the goodness of God (Ps 19:1). The good news of his grace is written into the fabric of the universe “so that men are without excuse” (Rom 1:20).

You don’t need to go to an evangelistic rally to hear the gospel. Read Don Richardson’s book Eternity in their Hearts and you will learn how isolated tribes and “unreached” people groups have an awareness of God’s grace that is supernatural. Study the etymology of Chinese characters and you will see they knew the gospel long before western missionaries showed up.

But I am not talking about men who are without excuse; I’m talking about children who die young. What happens to them? I don’t exactly know, but there are two things I’m sure of: (1) God has this figured out, and (2) he has more grace than a college exam board!

On this subject I can’t quote scripture and verse and say “the Bible says this.” Actually, the Bible says very little about life after death and what happens to dead children. But the Bible does say an awful lot about the goodness of God and it is him that I trust.

Are we so faithless to doubt that God hasn’t got this figured out? Do we really believe he will condemn those who died before they had a chance to respond to his love and grace?

The most populated country: Heaven

Religion would condemn billions of children giving us the impression that hell is full and heaven is relatively empty. But when I read the scriptures I wonder if it isn’t the other way around:

I looked, and there was an enormous crowd – no one could count all the people! They were from every race, tribe, nation, and language, and they stood in front of the throne and of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They called out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who sits on the throne, and from the Lamb!” (Rev 7:9-10, GNB)

It is a mistake to think that 95% of humanity is going to be lost. Don’t underestimate God.

Heaven will be full of people from every tribe and nation, including Palestinians, Israelis, Syrians, Iraqis, and all the tribes that make up Afghanistan.

And it will be full of children who died before they got an opportunity to respond to the gospel. I’m absolutely certain of this.

If you have lost a baby or child, you can be certain too. Don’t put your faith in religious arguments, but trust in your heavenly Father who loves his kids even more than you love yours.


88 Comments on What About Those Who Never Hear the Gospel?

  1. Paul,
    I was looking forward to you dealing with what happens with those who are without excuse in this one since you dealt with babies in your last post. Who are those without excuse? Why are they without excuse? Why does grace not cover them? Could you address these questions more clearly please?

    • The Bible says “men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

      • Hi Paul
        Thanks for your speedy answers to my previous question which has led me here.
        The posts you sent me to have answered 1&2. But 3 remains;
        All men are without excuse ( rom 1.20) This suggests that EVERYONE has the ability to love God and it is OUR failure rather than His selective dispensing of saving grace that determins whether we are saved or not. Does this debunk the notion of Divine election?

  2. David Weaver // July 29, 2014 at 12:30 am // Reply

    I am reading with interest, but my question is. Jesus said the way to hell was broad and many choose that and the way to heaven is narrow and few find it? Also, if that is the case why do we even evangelize? why have missionaries risk their lives for the Gospel? Why did the NT command us to take the Gospel to the world? It seems we would be better off not doing all that and let God sort it all out later? Lastly doesn’t that mean that abortion clinics are doing a better job of populating heaven than Christians?

    • I addressed this issue in the comments in the previous post, but I can see I need to address it again here. Some may respond say that if all babies/young children go to heaven, then it would be better to die in infancy than risk becoming an adult unbeliever. By that logic, it would’ve been better if God had never placed humanity on planet earth.

      If the Garden of Eden story tells us anything, it tells us that God desires a family to share his love, and there is no love unless it is freely chosen. You have been given a great gift and it’s the same choice that Adam had. It is the opportunity to participate in the adventure of living loved. You get to walk in the spirit in an uncertain world. You get to enjoy heaven-on-earth and eternal life here and now (John 17:3). Be thankful for this, for babies who go to be with Jesus probably don’t experience any of these good things.

      • I would add this thought. Jesus doesn’t actually say that the way to hell is broad, but that the way of destruction (can mean “waste, consumption”) is broad (Matt.7:13). As you said, Jesus is the way to life, to the Father (John 14:6), here, now on earth. Living apart from this life is wasted, not fulfilling God’s intention for us. A life of dissipation. Many Christians even miss this “life” available while on the earth, waiting for heaven when they die. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to hell.

      • SO should we tell people to close their ears and not hear the goodnews, because the choice puts them in hell?

      • See my comment above for a response.

      • To Sanny G, if you read this, so much later: no Sir, we tell people to open their ears and hear the Good News, because the choice will put them in heaven for eternity.

      • But if all babies go to heaven, is it really about free will? What are the odds that every baby who dies would choose Jesus? And if babies get a pass on free will, then how important can free will actually be to God?

      • You might just as easily ask why God allows babies to be born in the first place, since they seem to have little choice in that too. Free will is very important to God – the cross is the proof.

      • Free will is important to you my dear brother Paul but is free will really important to God?…
        ‭‭John‬ ‭6:43-44‬, ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:11, 14-21‬

      • Free will and personal choice has become enshrined as a sacred cow which the modern church culture has erected . A church culture I might add that is completely unaware that it is enveloped in and steeped in individualism and which has virtually abandoned the ancient non individualistic paradigms of our Hebrew and apostolic fathers. To our Hebrew and apostolic fathers -being chosen for divine divine adoption, becoming born again and becoming a member of Gods household and family was no more a personal individual choice than having a personal choice over being naturally born, becoming a member of a natural family or household is a personal free will choice.
        The irony is that we are so thoroughly culturally indoctrinated by the notion of human free will as the primary agency of salvation that we don’t even bother to question this modern dogma and we sneer at anyone who would suggest otherwise. Yet the ancient truth stands:
        “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
        ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭
        “You did not choose Me but I chose you”
        ‭‭John‬ ‭15:16‬ ‭

      • If there is no such thing as freedom and choice, why do the Scriptures consistently exhort us to choose? Why is the Holy Spirit called the Spirit of liberty? Why is the fruit of the gospel freedom? Why does Peter exhort us to “act as free men” and Paul encourage us to “use your freedom”? Of course there is freedom for God is love there can be no love without it.

        As for freedom being a modern concept, the scriptures record the very first words man ever heard: “You are free”.

      • The Scriptures don’t teach that there is no human choices involved in divine redemption. They do however teach that human choices aren’t the primary factor in human redemption but rather that the mercy of God is the primary factor in moving humans to choose redemption rather than reject redemption which is always the human default choice apart from the mercy of God.
        “For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”
        ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:15-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬
        Also your assumption that apart from free human will their can be no love isn’t congruent with reality. Did your children freely choose to be conceived and to born? Yet there was nothing but love involved in their complete absence of free will choice in that. None of us freely choose our birth , our family, our race our intelegence and about million other critical issues yet we are loved and we love. Love is independent of free will . In fact divine love and mercy involves no free will on the part of the objects of divine love and mercy. We don’t choose Divine electing , adopting and redeeming love any more than children choose parental electing or adopting love.
        Divine mercy which elects and adopts some and not others never undermines divine justice .
        Everyone gets divine justice but not everyone gets divine mercy. One can be selective in showing mercy without undermining justice. Selective mercy never undermines justice.

      • So God’s love and mercy are selective? Yet Jesus said for God so loved the world, not just a select few. Jesus also said if I be lifted up I will draw all unto me, not just a select group. John wrote, “He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe…” (John 1:7). And Paul wrote, “God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved” (1 Tim 2:3).

        It is abhorrent to suggest God chooses to save some and damn others without regard for their beliefs – by that logic there would be believers in hell – and it’s absurd to suggest this is just.

        Did your wife freely choose to wed you or did you select her against her free will? Barry, you’ve expressed your view. We disagree. Peace.

      • momzilla76 // August 10, 2016 at 3:20 am //

        Babies really don’t get a pass on free will death stole it from them. So God in mercy does not hold their lack of life experience against them.
        There is no unrighteousness in God according to Romans 9 yet the traditional view/explanation of election makes God very unrighteous so obviously there is something not correct with it. Why? The traditional understanding has God purposefully making people unable to choose redemption yet condemns them for being unredeemed. How is that unrighteous? They are obeying God’s life plan for them perfectly by being sinners yet the traditional view has God sweeping them off to hell for…(drum roll please) being sinners. God cannot remain righteous while sending people to hell for doing and being exactly what He made them to be blaming them all the while for being lawless and unclean.

      • Barry,

        I’m not exactly sure why you are blogging this.
        I mean, if it’s all pre-destined. It’s kind of a waste.

        If a reader is pre-destined to be saved he will be saved; regardless if what you say. Conversely; if a reader is damned to hell (per your interpretation, not mine), what you say doesn’t matter for them either. And I would contend that it’s very unlikely any condemned person (by your interpretation, not mine) would even have interest in reading any Christ-focused blog.

        Seriously, by your own definition, your blogging is useless and pointless. Those who will be be saved will be saved. Unless of course; you don’t actually believe what you say. Which doesn’t make sense either.
        Why do it? Just so you can argue on a blog?

      • Ego sum sortis meae “I am the master of my own destiny” – That would be another sacred cow enshrined by American culture which also has no foundation in biblical reality .
        “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?”
        ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:18-20‬ ‭NASB‬‬

      • momzilla76 // August 24, 2016 at 12:27 am //

        Divine justice is fully undermined by the concept of election. The lost are condemned to an eternity of punishment for rejecting Jesus and being sinners. Yet they had no ability to be anything but sinners who reject Jesus. In fact if there is no free will they are obeying the life plan dictates of God perfectly and yet He is still going to punish them for it eternally. This completely contradicts all descriptions of God’s perfect justice as shown in scripture. Condemning people to eternal punishment for being and doing exactly what they were created to be. Unjust to the extreme as well as highly cruel and demented.

    • Christians do not populate heaven God does , humans populate earth.

    • Just a thought. Jesus was talking to the Jews when he made that statement regarding ”finding the narrow path to life”. Jesus said narrow is the road and few are they who find it. Very few Jews “found” faith in Messiah.

      • Whether Jesus had Jew or Gentile in his minds eye when he spoke this is completely irrelevant to my point . If you are accurate then few Jews will be in Heaven and most Jews will be …ah ….elsewhere ( I better not mention those 2 biblical four letter “f” or “h” words that describe the smoking section for the dead lest I be censored ). Either way you take JESUS words here “few vs many”, “wide vs narrow” and “large vs small” speaks that MOST won’t make it in any ethnicity, culture, time or language.

    • Kai Ben-Elohim // June 2, 2016 at 4:02 pm // Reply

      Has anyone considered this:
      The NARROW way is the way of grace and the WIDE path is our works and self efforts? We fall from grace by resorting to the law and dead works.
      We tend to screw our own lives up by adding to the gospel. We then languish and wander aimlessly, frustrated at our lack of progress until we once again jump on the grace train to the Kingdom. BTW, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand, in you is here” etc… means that it is not some future event.
      It is difficult for a human to simply rely upon Christ’s complete and finished work and abundant grace. We always want to ‘add’ a bit of works to the leaven…

      • God bless you David. JESUS HIMSELF is both the narrow gate and the narrow way. The narrow gate is to trust entirely in JESUS alone to get us into the Kingdom and the narrow way is to trust Entirely in JESUS alone to live HIS unique life in and through us.
        The narrow way which is the only authentic Christian life is the JESUS in us life. While the narrow gate is to trust in JESUS FINISHED work of the cross the narrow way is to trust in Jesus ONGOING works in us .
        The temptation is always to separate doctrines about JESUS from JESUS Himself. It’s never about the concepts of forgivness and grace alone but about JESUS Himself the person alone plus nothing living for us, in us and through us. Most arguments about doing or not doing get settled when we grasp and accept JESUS Himself as the way, the truth and the life. Most folk want to point to the concepts of grace etc as the way, the truth and the life. I fear for many who trust and these concepts but do not know the Person.

      • Kai Ben-Elohim // June 3, 2016 at 9:05 am //

        Yes! That’s very good.
        Thanks for the reply.

  3. I was just thinking about this very question over the weekend…Romans 1:20 came to mind (which you cited). This past Friday I had a discussion with the father of my son’s good friend with regard to “religion”. Religion has buried the Truth under layers of behaviour modification and good works to appease an angry God. I wish this person read this post, but I think he’s already upset with me for disagreeing with him. My two favourite things about this most recent post are: 1) the breakdown of the Chinese characters, “lamb” and “me” equals “righteousness”, and 2) the cartoon at the very end. My Heavenly Father’s will is that none should perish….He’s made every possible provision to see that happen.

  4. Well, since Daddy didn’t give us a specific rule on this one, He must want us to go with what we know about His heart.

  5. gatordeano // July 29, 2014 at 3:35 am // Reply

    Watch out. As far as babies and many children go you might get labelled an “inclusionist” 🙂

    • Only by those who are confused about what Christ did.

      • I’ve always seen children and infants as innocent myself and my reasoning was always that I assumed their soul has not yet been developed enough to choose rebellion or sin (even though in my own parenting experience I clearly witnessed signs of this rebellion and self centred Adamic behavior very early – even in the first year of life in the form of “no I won’t do it your way. I will do it my way.” And the like. Along with that I know God doesn’t grade sin on an “innocence or age” scale. “The soul that sins shall die.” is a pretty across the board divine statement. Any people are shocked, amazed and even outraged at God when young people die. Yet in the light of Gods clear declaration that the soul that sins shall surely die- shouldn’t we be shocked and amazed at Gods amazing patience and grace than EVERYONE doesn’t die the moment they sin?
        Shouldn’t we be shocked that anyone survives after their first sin?
        We have such a twisted and watered down sense of justice because of our inner rebellion that we don’t even realize it. We are like a gang of Hells angels bikers making evaluations about justice and we don’t even realize it. But when He comes we will see not only how we completely underestimated Gods love and grace . We will ALSO see how we underestimated His perfect purity, holiness and justice and just how much more frightening Gods blazing hatred and wrath against sin really is.
        For now we can only look at Gods holiness and warpath against sin by looking at the fact that He killed His only beloved Son to propitiate His justice and wrath against His own elect.

  6. I know that God reaches out to those who are isolated. I will try and share briefly. My foster sister was in an orphanage in Iran as a very young child. She was alone in a room absent a window, but she expressed that a bright light and window would appear and that she knew it was God speaking to her. He comforted her and reassured her that she and her younger sister would be alright. She felt His presence and knew that it was only a matter of time and she along with her sister would be leaving that place and going to another place far away. She felt His love and could not deny His existence. No one had to tell her about God. She knew Him. It was many years before we met, but the Lord worked through some very difficult circumstances that Satan meant for her bad. He worked them all for her good (Romans 8:28). He really did. Her story is more fascinating to me than any made for TV movie. She and I became fast friends our senior year and the Lord used me to help her and her sister get out of an abusive home. Her adoptive father was not a nice guy and his 3rd wife was mentally deranged as was her mom that also lived with them. It was a very sick situation. I encountered the bizarre things that went on in there home and alerted my father who was an Lt.Col Army Chaplain and my mother. They alerted the authorities and the next thing we knew we were in a court room and my parents won custody of both girls. God has a beautiful way of working things out for our good. He can use whatever satan has intended for our harm and provide a glorious escape route and deliver us from ALL our distresses. I saw this firsthand and have experienced it in my own life. God is so much smarter than we are and HE is truly good!!! He really does have it all figured out!

    • Wow – amazing story! Thank you for sharing, Amy.

    • Amazing and touching story, and indeed, that’s how God is. Full of love, full of compassion, and He has already planned out every detail in our lives. Sometimes we go through trying times (as in the case of these 2 girls), but soon after we emerge into the glorious future that He has planned for us.

      Also, with regard to babies etc, people can go on arguing about it, but Jesus was very clear when He said: Unless you become like one of these, you will never see the kingdom of heaven (paraphrased from memory only). So it’s very clear that children who die go directly there, straight into His loving arms. I am quite certain that the Palestinian children who died in the current conflict are with Him right now. Nevertheless, we all should be praying for no more deaths on either side. It’s really too much. God in His love can bring an end and a perfect solution to all this. (Sorry for going off on a tangent.)

  7. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13, 14 NASB)
    Evidently Jesus will be surprised at your claim that more than “the few ” will be in heaven.

    • “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). I believe the verse you are quoting is before the cross…we are now under grace…”Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13)…not really pertaining to the topic of those who never heard the Gospel…

      I also have a story to share. My dad was in the navy during the Second World War; he was a signalman. His ship split in two and he and many other sailors were in lifeboats in the middle of the ocean for many hours before they were rescued. He told me that there was not one man out in that sea who was not praying that he would be rescued. My dad’s words: “In a time of crisis there is no such thing as an athiest”. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the intuitive knowledge on the inside of each and everyone of us often comes to the forefront in times of crisis. For the religious, God would reject these. For those who see God as their Abba, He would welcome them with open arms.

    • I would say “the many” are those who have rejected Christ.

      “The few” are those who have received Him. If you compare the total adult population against the number of true believing Christians, you will understand that. This is what makes evangelism so much of a priority. At the judgement seat there will be no excuses.

    • All written in the bible is for our education but not all from our application you must know the speaker the audience the timeline before or after the cross old or new covenant era and most speacilay read it in context bro.

  8. i think this is a repeat story from me, I remember years ago, JIm Kroft a disciple {for lack of a better term] of Derek Prince,told us a story of about him and some others on a missionary trip to south america,he said they told the natives about Jesus,and they had never heard about him before.He said a older man came up to him after the get together and said to him [ “I know this person you talk of.”} and Jim said it was a surprise to him,imagine Jesus got there before they did.so for what its worth,God is big enough to get the job done.

    • He certainly is, Earl.

    • David Weaver // August 3, 2014 at 7:06 am // Reply

      So than evangelizing and sending missionaries is a waste of time and money and effort. If God is going to do it all there is no need. Why did Jesus command us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel? (Im not against all this just trying to sort out my grace beliefs)
      But alot of this sounds borderline universal-ism, the only ones not saved are the real bad ones, but that speaks of works.

      • No, thats not what im saying at all,im simply relaying the story,……… send them and God bless them,Im simply saying God is big enough to get the job done. youll notice I said the older man said he knew the man they were talking about,take it for what its worth.maybe being a older man he had heard years before. “my word will not return to me void.”

  9. olayimika daniel // July 29, 2014 at 8:21 am // Reply

    so greatfull for sharing this great truth with saints.thanks so much.Abba has you to build me so great.

  10. Joe A. Serge // July 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm // Reply

    Innocence is not a ticket to eternal life. Salvation is not entitlement. It is a gift. We had no say where in the world we’d be born, who our parents would be,and the hour of our death. God’s in control and we should remember that instead of seeking to spell out the politically-correct way God must surely deal with infant deaths and adults who never heard of Jesus.. .. .

    • Joe: yet Jesus said that if you do want to see the kingdom of heaven, you need to become like a little child.

  11. Paul,
    Does this mean that all men who have never received Jesus as Savior are without excuse, and therefore lost, even if no one ever shared the Gospel message with them?

  12. Lol. That cartoon is funny.

  13. Unless and until the sighted soul rejects That which is Grace that soul finds its ends in Him. Until you cut yourself off – you’ll be grafted in, or, you are grafted in. We fuss over the difference of that last part – though the Means/Ends are the same for they (those Means and Ends) are no less than God Himself.

  14. Bishop Johnson I think you and Paul agree on most lines here. It is not that ignorance is found offered up to Him as either a moral excuse or a legal justification. The only solution for Man – for In-sufficiency – just is All-Sufficiency Himself. It is not so much that nothing less will do, but rather it is that nothing less can do. In-Sufficiency of the sort we speak of multiplied by infinity just does not – cannot – sum to the All-Sufficiency of the sort we speak of – namely God. The Means offered are that of Christ, which of course we both agree upon. Sin has been dealt with – that is – the sin of the world has been taken away. Sufficiently. Which of course we agree on. The line here which Paul seems to be drawing differs from inclusion not in Means/Ends, but in the present state of affairs for this or that soul unaware of those Means/Ends. Where inclusion finds such For-They-Know-Not-s within Him both now/here and then/there, Paul’s line finds such For-They-Know-Not-s yet outside of Him here/now and yet to be found in Him then/there. And, of course, those whose eyes see Him, who embrace His rest are found in motion by the very same Means/Ends as all of the above. The Means/Ends never changes. What changes is who He offers Himself to, and, also, what influence Man’s sin finds before the Lamb. That ceaseless Accuser named Satan – rightly – accurately – lists to me as I stand before Him, before my God and my Judge, my manifold horrendousness of sins. I reply to him, to that Accuser, “Yes. You are perfectly correct. And what of it?” And then I hand to that Judge my All-Sufficient Resume’ which He Himself has previously filled out. The only question which remains is what our Rescuer, that Lamb, will do with that emaciated freak whom the Accuser drags into His presence who happens to be unaware of Him. And we already have the answer: While we were dead…….unalive to Him, He yet spread His arms wide, high atop His Hill, and poured Himself out for, and into, such dead, unalive freaks. There are those who are unalive to Him, for whom we have our answer, and, there are those who are alive to Him. There is a juncture, a moment of volition, it seems, for some but such seems to be only a means/ends of escape from His presence, as the Means/Ends of escape into His presence are quite Another Something.

    • Paul ….by “freak” I meant to imply “wretch”…..the guy a pharisee such as myself would just know ain’t gonna be embraced by Him…. I was aiming for that nuance… sorry for a poor word choice 🙂

  15. Hi Paul
    Are you saying that you’re in until you die then you’re out if during your lifetime you have had the opportunity to take the test? (Accepting that if before death you pass the test ie confess Jesus as Lord and believe God raised him from the dead you are eternally saved)
    God Himself must determine what constitutes the opportunity but, to go off at a very important tangent,
    for those given the opportunity what determines whether they confess and believe as above?
    I consider this latter issue important because many people I have spoken to about Jesus have said they can only believe if God determines it.
    How can it be other is the question I then have to ask myself.

    • “In” what? If you mean “in Christ,” then no.

      • Thanks Paul.
        I mean acceptable to God and destined for heaven as opposed to hell.
        I am however more interested in your understanding of whether and how truly free will exists.
        Thank you & blessings.

  16. Lewis,

    Those who foist determinism must do more than foist – they must present coherent ontological regressions which show such ends to be not axiomatic but necessary. Within the interior geography of the Necessary Being we find in His immutable love those volitional (non-machine) motions amid / among Self-Other-Us. Hard Stop. Hebrews 11 finds an array of contingent selves volitionally knocking on His Door – yet unable to enter Him. Trust is necessary – and – it is ours to give/withhold, but, it is not sufficient. He must open. And He has.

    • Thanks.
      You may have answered this in your reply but could you answer -what allows some to knock right?

  17. steven conneen // August 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm // Reply

    Hi Paul,
    I didn’t take the opportunity before so I will now. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question in your last post. I really appreciate your insight into God’s grace and your dedication to propagate this wonderful message. I am a hard learner and struggle so much to fully grasp and rest in the freedom of God’s grace. My attitude takes a turn south….I spend a week fighting and harboring bitterness with my wife and it seems the road back to God for me is an impossible trek. So I really appreciate reading your posts about God’s grace.

  18. Lewis,

    In the next/other thread of “Conversations about hell…” I answered with a comment that starts with “Who gets credit…” etc.

  19. Lewis:

    In Hebrews 11 we find Man prior to Christ volitionally knocking on God’s Door in Faith yet unable to enter His Rest. Faith is necessary but not sufficient. His infusion of volition into all men isn’t enough. God must yet open the Door and in Christ we find His Door – Himself – finally opened and He thereby gets all the credit. The capacity to walk comes from my legs. In walking I gain no glory – steal no glory – from Him, for by Him I have my legs. I glorify Him by taking steps, and, should I refuse to properly employ what is His teleological purposes (taking steps) I only serve to offend His Glory and glorify my own purposes. The capacity of Volition is no different. Such can glorify Him and His purposes by being employed according to His Desire, or, such can be used in a self-serving fashion. If it is used to knock on His Door that is great as such is His Design/Desire yet the Creature could not do so but for the fact that God has capacitated Man with volition. Such Volitional Faith (Trust) – while necessary – just is not sufficient, for He, God, The Door, must open. And He Has. On each and every front then we find that God gets all the credit should the Creature find itself in Heaven, whereas, should the Creature find itself in the Dark Outside, it is the Creature alone who gets all the credit.

  20. Thank you.
    Are you saying that God decides who is and who is not destined for eternal life with Him?

  21. Grace is freely given. It can be rejected or accepted (received). Those who receive cannot take credit for receiving. They just need to be grateful for it.

    Those without excuse are those who have rejected it. There is this constant refrain of “What about those who have not heard?” It seems to me these will be dealt with on an individual, not collective, basis at the judgement seat. There the Judge knows exactly what to do and no one needs to teach Him or second-guess what His decision will be. That is none of our business. Our business is to do whatever we can (by His Grace that operates in us) to ensure that as many as possible hear the Good News of Grace so they have the opportunity to receive. Jesus and the Apostles made this a priority. We should too.

  22. Can you please help me understand what JESUS was referring to in the following Scripture? Luke 13:24: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” That seems opposite to free grace of salvation. It’s confusing to me and a little unnerving. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Paula, in this verse Jesus is saying, “I am the way”. There many ways that lead to destruction, but Jesus is the only way to life. Look at the next verse – “I never knew you”. If you know Jesus, you have eternal life that no mistake or preacher can steal from you.

      “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
      -John 17:3


      • Hi LJP
        I think the point being made was “that’s ok if you are fortunate enough to be one of the chosen few who know Jesus as Lord but what if you are not?”

      • If you are not “fortunate” to know Jesus as Lord….

        Good fortune has little to do with entering the Kingdom. Accidents of geography have little to do with it. Even your parents may be believers, Pastors or evangelists. That doesn’t make you one.

        Each person has the opportunity to personally receive or reject the Good News of Grace. At the Judgement seat of Christ, there will be no excuse. That is why Jesus gave us the Great Commission. Re: Luke 13:23ff, referred to above, there will be no more opportunity once the door has been closed. Right now the door is wide open.

        Have they not heard? “But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Romans 10:18 NIV)

        Maybe some of us are sitting back on our recliners, but every moment there are God’s servants tirelessly preaching the Gospel in the uttermost parts of the earth.

        The reality is that we should be doing the same. It is the one job we were given to do.

  23. Thank you for that explanation. It helps a lot. I do have another Scripture that sounds like it opposes the teaching of hyper grace, and I’d really appreciate an explanation. Thank you so much! 1 John 2:4-6

  24. Is there any hope for unbelievers (having heard of Christ but did not embrace Him in their life time) who commit suicide, that in the moment of transition from death to life, that their spirit reached out to Christ and He responds to save them? Similar to the thief on the cross receiving Christ before dying? Is it wrong for us the bereaved to cling on to this hope?

    • My opinion, Susan? Yes, there is hope. Even until the last nanosecond, there is hope. In that last, dying moment, all he has to do is whisper, or call out in his spirit, Help me Lord, or Forgive me Lord, and his eternity is secure. That’s how good God is. Suggest you go to Youtube and search for Tamara Laroux, and hear her testimony. You’ll understand what I mean. There are many more testimonies like that.

      • I have always assumed that the offer of grace is extended until death but is that in fact true? Is it possible that the offer of grace and opportunity to receive new life is unique to each person – even extending beyond the point of death for some? And is it possible for others the extension of the offer grace is removed long before the point of death? God is all wise, good, merciful and just and He knows the hearts intents and motives of each one intimately .
        “He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “T ODAY IF YOU HEAR H IS VOICE, D O NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

        Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”(‭Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭7, 11-12‬ NASB)
        I have known men whom God pursued relentlessly and they resisted God and put him off and suddenly they had no more conscience about God and lived the rest of their lives and died totally hardened. Did their “Today” come an go? Wasn’t their a day for the Jews in the desert when God said , “You shall never enter My rest.”??
        God alone knows each one uniquely.
        But nowhere does it say there is no opportunity to receive Jesus after the point of death- or am I mistaken on that?

  25. I think God has set eternity in the hearts of ALL men on this planet. God spends our whole lives wooing us, drawing us to Him. He goes by many names, depending on what location you are around the world. I agree with Paul. I think we will surprised as to who is ‘in’ and who is ‘not.

  26. Stephen John Sponsler // January 1, 2017 at 5:35 am // Reply

    The difference between a freedom to exercise self will called ‘choice’l and Free Will as A Reality which is in God’s Will I feel are not the same thing at all. Thy Will be done..His Will is Free…and that’s where it begins and ends. The choices of self will I do not see as the same thing as Free Will (as just delineate ). The LORD said: “Apart from Me you can nothing’.. I have come to set the Prisoners Free. If the Truth sets you Free you are Free indeed. How? By God’s Will. Only God’s Will is Perfect . No one comes to the Son unless the Father enables them. If I can choose by my sense of self will..then I just saved myself by my own righteous of filthy rags that can’t see the forest for the Tree through squinted eyes and plugged up ears..and Christ is just something out ‘there somewhere’ to believe in for my sake. Granted, that is not the context of this write up which I felt was a good way of putting things that perhaps even a bit sup-positional? Are we to suppose that God’ in His foreknowledge Said that virtually every baby ever born is automatically gaining entrance into the Kingdom despite not having the Seed of Eternal Life ?

  27. I’ve read through the many comments and I guess I just take this verse being very direct. Destruction can come though belief in cults, too many to number or rejection of any beliefs. Salvation comes through one, Jesus Christ. He is the gate. We have freedom to choose our way, the fact that He in His infinite wisdom knows how we will choose, does not negate our ability to choose.

  28. Hi Paul, great post. I have a couple of questions though. You use the analogy of Jesus passing the test for someone who never even knew about the test which I really love. This implies that a person who never heard the Gospel is under grace and so saved. How does this all fit in with justification and being born again by Jesus? Someone who has faith has received the Holy Spirit is then born again, gets a new nature and gains eternal life. How does someone not hearing the Gospel and going to heaven tie in with this? Do they by default have the Holy Spirit? Are they born again? (I thought only a person who is born again (has eternal life) enter God’s Kingdom (which I thought can only happen by faith)) Can someone who never hears the Gospel (who would then be under grace) and then hears it and rejects it go from being justified to not justified?

    • The implication you draw is understandable, but incorrect. Someone who has not called on the name of the Lord is not saved and needs to get saved. My point in the article is not to preach universalism, but to challenge the default view that those who don’t get a chance to hear the gospel in this life (eg: babies, the mentally handicapped, etc.) are damned.

      Those who receive the good news of Jesus are saved; those who reject him are lost; those who lack the opportunity to do either are in the Lord’s hands. All I’m trying to say is that God has this figured out.

      • Hi Paul. Thanks for the reply! Please don’t misunderstand me, I am totally on the same page. I absolutely believe that babies and people who never heard are most likely under God’s grace and are loved by Him so much.

        What I’m trying to understand is how this all fits into the “salvation model” (if you will) of being declared righteous and justified by faith. It seems to me that being judged righteously and the Final Judgment is based upon whether you are justified (washed clean). Those who have rejected Jesus do not have this and those who have accepted Him do. Now what I’m trying to understand is, those babies who never got the chance to hear the Gospel, are they already “washed clean” per default or are their spirits upon death brought to Jesus to be washed clean and then they are declared righteous? Because it seems to me that it’s illogical to say that any baby who is still under grace before they can understand sin and willfully reject Christ is automatically justified, because this justification is not something we can lose (if we believe in eternal security). It seems to make more sense to me to say that they all have to also go through Christ and be washed clean. I hope that my comment makes sense 🙂 my brain does some weird acrobatics at times

      • Your conclusion is consistent with the premise, but I disagree with the premise. Since a baby has not accepted Jesus, they are not justified. But since they’ve not rejected Jesus, neither are they condemned. I know many will disagree with me and I have much more to say about this, but the short version is I don’t believe in the sin gene, meaning I don’t believe babies are hell-born brats. The Bible says all have gone astray, not all are born astray.

      • “Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.”
        ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭22:9-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬
        “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.”
        ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭51:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬
        The first passage is Messianic. The second is not.
        That doesn’t matter- what matters is that the insprited text clearly teaches that while the human infant soul appears to be incapable of moral and spiritual choices the human infantile spirit even in utero is fully capable of both.
        This is a mystery but the Scriptures have not left us to have to guess about the ability of humans to make both moral and spiritual choices before and at child birth.

      • That seems a rather large conclusion to base on a single scripture. Yes, I know there are one or two others (eg: Ps 58:3), but there are far, far more saying we go astray rather than a born astray. As a father of four I can attest that babies aren’t capable of much at all.

  29. College seems much more forgiving in your area than in the United States. lol

  30. 🤔 One way into Gods Kingdom…Every tongue confess etc… and the scripture ‘The truth shall set you free’ problem today is scripture has been twisted by so many. Come judgment day l believe God will see the heart of each person and know if they had heard the truth what they would have done with it…lt’s God’s call 😉

  31. Thanks for the article Paul. However, I still have one question — what about people raised in a non-Christian home (while still being able to access Jesus), especially with parents/leaders doing everything to make them not place their faith in Christ (whether it’s force into another religion or fostering doubt)? I have trouble realizing that said people have a disadvantage compared to people raised in Christian home.

  32. Thank you for this article and for all your work! I agree, we don’t have to doubt the Love and the Grace of God! We know that God is Love and God is Good! He is no respecter of persons and He wants to see all of us well, trusting in Him. If we can’t hurt a child, then how is God in His Goodness? He who tells us to love our enemies and bless them? He who is good even with the ungrateful and with the selfish and with the wicked? How He can be then with children? Who can ask such a question? How we see Jesus acting with people and how can be with children? Children depend of adults until they learn to choose between right and bad, parents and adults are responssible for them. God leads us with His Word, with His Spirit, from inside out and trough other people. We have to use authority given by Jesus to speak the blessings over us and our children and He will fulfill them! God is a Giver of all good things! If we know to give good gifts to our children, if we would not harm the children, but protect them, then how they can be with a loving Good God? May our children and all the children, be safe, blessed going out and blessed coming in, healthy and whole, feel loved, happy, receive and live in all the blessings, live in divine health and divine life, living abundant life overflowing with all good things,in Jesus Name! Amen! God bless you all! Praise the Lord!

  33. faithinspire21 // April 26, 2022 at 1:42 am // Reply

    I believe that God gave us the freedom to choose right from wrong, He has never forced himslef upon us but he has only shown us His love by giving up His one and only begotten son to repay us for our sins, and in his heart that we would be willing to accept His free gift of salvation he doesn’t want us to suffer, cause Jesus paid it all, all we need to do is just believe in His Son and the reason why He died, and what he did for all. God hates sin but not the sinner Jesus died at the cross to pay for our sins, he knew very well that we would never be perfect until all his believers will be with him when he comes again for those who are willing to believe the reason
    why (Jesus) came to die and to believe he has risen he has given us the choice to chose him,or not and those who chose to believe will be with Jesus for all eternity. why would an unbeliever have the benefit of going straight to eternity when he doesn’t believe in the sacrifice Jesus went through for all and no man can have an excuse they never heard of the Gospel cause His word is made available in so many ways even in the languages cause God is so wonderfully cleaver since the beginning…..

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