“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”
– Romans 1:20
In last week’s article we answered the question: “Do all babies go to heaven?” We discovered several verses in the Bible that imply that the answer is “yes.” Babies, young children and adults with mental handicaps don’t have the intellectual ability to understand their own sin or even the simplest gospel message. So, it stands to reason that they will all fall under God’s grace on Judgment Day. But what about the two billion people on Planet Earth who have the intellectual ability to understand the gospel but never have an opportunity to hear it? Where will they spend eternity?
The Apostle Paul tackles this question in Romans 1:18-20. After having made the case in verses 16 and 17 that salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone, Paul makes it clear that God’s wrath is being poured out on those who have rejected God and chosen a path of godlessness and wickedness. The New Testament is clear that Hell (eternal separation from God) is a just punishment for those who reject God’s offer of grace through Jesus Christ, break God’s laws and choose instead a course of selfishness and rebellion. But could Hell be a just punishment for those who have never heard of God’s grace or learned God’s laws revealed in Scripture?
According to Romans 1:20, the answer is: Yes. Wait a minute! Is the Bible actually saying that those in India, North Korea, and Iran who have never even heard of Jesus would be considered guilty for rejecting Him? How could God do such a thing?
Well, God could do such a thing because He has made provisions to reveal Himself and His most basic laws to every single person on Planet Earth—even those who never hear the name of Jesus Christ. Consider Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Long story short: God has made it plain to everyone on the planet that He is real, He is powerful and His divine nature is good and just. God has revealed Himself even to those who don’t have a single copy of the Scriptures in their native tongue.
You see, there are two kinds of revelation: special revelation and general revelation. Special revelation includes: 1) The Bible, 2) Jesus Christ, and 3) the ministry of the Holy Spirit. God has revealed Himself (His character, His laws, His will and His means to salvation) in a very clear and detailed way through His Word, through the ministry of His Son and through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in each Christian.
But millions of people on Planet Earth haven’t received this special revelation. They don’t have access to a Bible. They don’t have an indigenous Christian missionary to tell them about Jesus. And they have never even heard of the Holy Spirit. However, every person on Earth has free access to general revelation. General revelation includes God’s creation and science. Even those who don’t have the opportunity to read the sixty-six books of the Bible have opportunities every day to read the sixty-seventh book of the Bible: nature. Yes, nature (i.e., God’s creation) is like a sixty-seventh book of the Bible because it reveals at every turn the fingerprint of God.
God has blessed us with five senses that allow us to touch, taste, smell, see and hear the handiwork of God all around us. The beauty of God is revealed in the tapestry of color spread across the horizon with every sunrise and sunset. The power of God is revealed in the roar of a hurricane and in the vast expanse of billions of stars scattered across the night sky. The goodness of God is revealed in the heart-melting coo of a baby and in the first fruit blossom of spring. And the justice of God is revealed in every soul’s yearning for what is right, just and fair. Yes, God’s fingerprints are everywhere around us. Therefore, according to Romans 1:20, those who reject God and His laws “are without excuse.”
Because God desires every person in every nation to come to a knowledge of the truth and avoid eternal punishment (1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9), He has provided a means by which any person on the planet can discover these basic truths about God: He is real, He is powerful, and He is good and just. But sadly, most people across the planet who have never heard the gospel turn their backs on God. And this shouldn’t surprise us. After all, if Christians—who have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit—are tempted to ignore God’s revelation, how much more so are those tempted who are living in spiritual darkness?
It’s imperative that Christians throw them a lifeline. Every person on Planet Earth needs to be given the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus and make a personal decision whether to accept or reject him. Every person deserves to know the full truth about our Creator, His plan for our lives and his offer of eternal life in heaven. Every man, woman and child needs to be introduced to God’s grace that can cover our sin and empower us to live lives that please God. From the heart of the American Bible belt to the most unreached islands of Indonesia, Jesus Christ is our only sure hope for this life and life eternal. So, God’s command to Christians is clear: Stop keeping your faith to yourself, and get involved in world missions. Pray, give and serve. The world desperately needs Jesus.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit www.fccvv.com and join us for worship Sundays at 10 am.