“There’s no such thing as sin, so there’s no need for someone to believe in Christ.”
“They can’t help being pagan since they grew up in a pagan society, so why should they be sent to hell for not believing in the God of the Bible?”
“It’s not fair and doesn’t make sense for someone to die and go to hell when they haven’t heard about Jesus Christ.”
“There are many ways to God, so there’s no need to believe Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.”
These are just a few of the many excuses unbelievers nowadays come up with to try to reason away or dismiss the reality that they need Jesus Christ to save them from their sins. Based on what scripture tells us, none of these statements really hold any merit. With the exception of Bible prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled, God has already given mankind an overwhelming amount of evidence in the real world (science, history, spirituality, etc.) that testifies convincingly of his truthful words. Anyone who would deny that is simply deceived and despises the truth.
Let’s take for example the idea that someone grows up in a pagan household or pagan society. Will God really expect them to believe in Jesus? If they die without hearing the gospel, is it really fair for them to be dropped into hell? God tells us several times in his word about situations like these.
In Leviticus 5:15, 17, God makes it clear that even if people “sin through ignorance,” he will still hold them responsible for their sins. In other words, whether or not people are aware that they’ve sinned, he still holds them guilty until atonement is made. This principle is obvious in Leviticus 5:17 when Jehovah states,
And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he wist [knows or knew] it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.
Paul expounds on this principle in Romans 2. He explains how every human is aware of God’s law of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil despite weak attempts by atheists to try to sidestep this inherent truth:
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) Romans 2
Even if heathens don’t have a printed Bible, God’s law, they will still perish for their sins. Why? Because God has left enough witnesses to steer even the most backwoods, uncivilized heathens toward salvation. This Romans 2 passage (which implies that God’s word is not only in print, but is spiritual) is linked closely to what Paul stated in Romans 1:20 when he said God’s existence, power, and expectations for mankind to worship only him were “clearly seen” “by the things that are made.” This is why all the sinners committing all kinds of sin, including the worship of other gods in pagan societies, “are without excuse” for not following Christ.
This isn’t the only place Paul points out this stark truth. When he and Barnabas were preaching the gospel and a man was healed by God at Lystra, they had to strongly insist the pagans stop trying to worship them as gods in Acts 14. Paul laid out to them why their pagan worship was unwarranted since the only true and living God “left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness,” (Acts 14:17).
Additionally, at Athens where Paul was surrounded by a plethora of temples and altars to Greek gods, he highlighted their inherent knowledge of the true and living God reflected in their altar TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Paul bluntly brought attention to their ignorance in how they attempted to worship him, showed them how God left witness of himself in creation and in the affairs of men, how God’s witness of himself demonstrated that “he be not far from every one of us,” how to properly worship God, and the fact that the Lord “now commandeth all men every where to repent,” (Acts 17:22-31).
Since what Paul said to idolaters was true in the first century, how much more is it true today since the gospel of Jesus Christ is spread even more broadly than it was back then? The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so that means he still requires all men everywhere to repent because they are without excuse for not doing so. Therefore, all the excuses and “what ifs” that unbelievers think up to try to resist God’s truth are meaningless and worthless hot air. No one anywhere at anytime has any good excuse for rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Featured image: Section of the Jordan River used under CC license from Open Rivers website.)